2011-2020

Aida Begic – Djeca AKA Children of Sarajevo (2012)

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Winner of the Un Certain Regard award at the 65th Cannes Film Festival, Aida Begic’s Children of Sarajevo (Djeca, 2012) is a tightly-focused drama, portraying life in contemporary Bosnia from the point of view of the war orphans now reaching maturity. Marija Pikic plays Rahima, a 23-year-old woman who, after a misspent youth, has found solace and direction in Islam, practising the Hajib and wearing a headscarf. Read More »

Cristian Mungiu – Dupa dealuri AKA Beyond the Hills (2012)

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In an isolated Orthodox convent in Romania, Alina has just been reunited with Voichita after spending several years in Germany. The two young women have supported and loved each other since meeting as children in an orphanage.

Alina wants Voichita to leave and return with her to Germany, but Voichita has found refuge in faith and a family in the nuns and their priest, and refuses. Alina cannot understand her friend’s choice. In her attempt to win back Voichita’s affection, she challenges the priest. She is taken to hospital and the people of the monastery start to suspect that she is possessed. —Wild Bunch Read More »

Ulrich Seidl – Paradies: Hoffnung AKA Paradise: Hope (2013)

Synopsis:
The final installment in Ulrich Seidl’s Paradise trilogy, ‘Paradise: Hope’ tells the story of overweight thirteen-year-old Melanie and her first love. While her mother travels to Kenya (‘Paradise: Love’) and her aunt does missionary work (‘Paradise: Faith’), Melanie spends her summer vacation at a strict diet camp for overweight adolescents. Between physical education and nutrition counseling, pillow fights and her first cigarette, Melanie falls in love with the camp director, a doctor forty years her senior. As the doctor struggles with the guilty nature of his desire, Melanie had imagined her paradise differently. Read More »

Andrey Zvyagintsev – Elena (2011)

Elena and Vladimir are an older couple, they come from different backgrounds. Vladimir is a wealthy and cold man, Elena comes from a modest milieu and is a docile wife. They have met late in life and each one has children from previous marriages. Elena’s son is unemployed, unable to support his own family and he is constantly asking Elena for money. Vladimir’s daughter is a careless young woman who has a distant relationship with her father. A heart attack puts Vladimir in hospital, where he realizes that his remaining time is limited. A brief but somehow tender reunion with his daughter leads him to make an important decision: she will be the only heiress of his wealth. Back home he announces it to Elena. Her hopes to financially help her son suddenly vanish. The shy and submissive housewife then comes up with a plan to give her son and grandchildren a real chance in life. Read More »

John Smith – Citadel (2020)

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Filmed from the artist’s window during lockdown, short fragments from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s speeches relating to COVID-19 are combined with views of the London skyline. Read More »

Khavn – Mondomanila: Kung paano ko inayos ang buhok ko matapos ang mahaba-haba ring paglalakbay AKA Mondomanila, or: How I Fixed My Hair After a Rather Long Journey (2010)

Quote:
A joyfully outrageous slice of life in the slums set to a punky soundtrack, Mondomanila is a slap in the face of Western expectations of politely miserabilist depictions of the downtrodden. A hyper kinetic, super stylised wild carnival of the destitute, it follows a midget, a one-armed rapper, a ‘day-glo fairy’, a disabled pimp and their friends as they try to get as much sex and drugs as they can (‘the only solution to their problems’, we are told by main character Tony at the beginning) and tackle a racist white paedophile. A toothless showman opens this exuberant bad taste spectacle, promising something horrible and creepy, but the Mondo-style shockumentary aspect is underpinned by the crude reality of life in Manila, making the film vital and energising. Read More »

Gaspar Noé – Lux Æterna AKA Lumiere Eternelle (2019)

Two actresses, Béatrice Dalle and Charlotte Gainsbourg, are on a film set telling stories about witches – but that’s not all. ‘Lux Æterna’ is also an essay on cinema, the love of film, and on-set hysterics.
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I think this film is admirable in many ways although not devoid of flaws, the main one being that for the nth time, Noé pulls the same expectable tricks with colorful lighting, flickering images and references to his classics (even just the title, “Lux Aeterna” is the György Ligeti eerie choir piece used in “2001: A Space Odyssey”), etc. So that does get a little unimaginative, especially since the atmosphere and development are very close to his latest long feature, “Climax”. Read More »