Categories
Film

Review: Steelers

Whoever wrote the programme blurb for this film is doing their job well. Its final, irresistible line reads: ‘Who says you can’t be an ace rugby player and a fabulous drag queen?’ Lovely! Except the film could hardly be more cursory on the subject, since Dean, the player and queen in question, only speaks about […]

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Film

Review: Mekong 2030

Commissioned by Luang Prabang Film Festival, MEKONG 2030 comprises five short films by Southeast Asian directors, all of which are concerned with what the conditions of the Mekong River (flowing through each of their respective countries) will be in little under a decade’s time: “Soul River,” by Kulikar Sotho (Cambodia); “The Che Brothers,” by Anysay […]

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Film

Review: Spring Tide

In more than one scene in Yang Lina’s Spring Tide, Jianbo (Lei Hao) has to squeeze her way through crowds, the camera bobbing and weaving its way alongside her. This repeated action sets the tone of her embattlement. Jianbo is a journalist, a social reporter, who maintains a curious disconnection from her family life: her […]

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Film

Review: Minari

Appropriately enough for a film set in the past and during a formative moment in life, Minari begins with a look in the rear-view mirror. The looker is David (Alan Kim), a seven-year-old boy enroute to a new life in 1980s Arkansas with parents Monica (Han Ye-ri) and Jacob (Steven Yeun), and sister Ann (Noel […]

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Film

Review: Cenote

A cenote is a sinkhole, but the term originates from Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, where the Maya would draw water from them. Water, and the spaces in which it’s found, are often linked to a civilisation’s rituals (the Maya also used the cenotes for ceremonies of sacrifice), and Oda Kaori’s documentary-sensorium immerses itself in the cenotes […]

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Film

Review: Saint Maud

One thing that’s worse than having a new Mica Levi score to put up with is the prospect of new work by one of their imitators. In the case of Rose Glass’s Saint Maud, Adam Janota Bzowski’s choral phrases battle against discordant strings and resounding, heavy honks, mirroring the way the film pulls in two […]

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Film Friday Essay

The Act of Cinematic Witness: On “Dear Comrades!” and “Quo Vadis, Aida?”

Acts of cinematic witness come close to the limits of what a film can, in all good conscience, show. After Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah, a film that, as Gilberto Perez puts it, ‘bears witness visually to the act of bearing witness verbally,’ * the terms of dramatising or representing atrocities in film changed. No repeats of […]

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Film

Review: Mayor

“I literally can’t deal with this shit,” the mayor says, as untreated sewage seeps into the valley. It’s a cute line. It’s almost as knowing as the interaction between sentence and edit earlier in that sequence, when he complains over the phone that he “can’t put out fires every day”—cut to: a small dumpster fire. […]

Categories
Television

Review: Pretend It’s a City

In the plentiful footage showing Fran Lebowitz trudge along the pavements of New York City, she never seems more than a moment away from rolling her eyes at something—oftener still at someone—in her immediate vicinity. And that sets the tone for Pretend It’s a City, Scorsese’s follow-up to Public Speaking. Cultural figures make a skill […]

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Literary Matters

2020 Readings

(R) = reread, * = favourite. Molly Haskell: From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies. * Larissa MacFarquhar: Strangers Drowning: Voyages to the Brink of Moral Extremity. Laura Scott: So Many Rooms. Ocean Vuong: Night Sky with Exit Wounds. (R) V.F. Perkins: Film as Film: Understanding and Judging Movies. Robert Crawford: […]