OF FATHERS AND SONS

Syrian documentarian Talal Derki has gained the trust of one Jihadist family and is allowed to document their life for two years. In those two years, Osama (13) and Ayman (12) will go from everyday children playing games of soccer and jacks to the next slate of Jihadist soldiers, whether they want to or not. Not that Osama or Ayman voice any interest in life outside Jihad. Maybe they don’t have one — though we do learn in a late voiceover that Ayman is pursuing education instead of soldiering — or maybe Derki never asked. His main subject, Osama and … Continue reading OF FATHERS AND SONS

CHEF FLYNN

By the time Flynn McGarry was ten, he knew he wanted to be a chef. By twelve he was hosting a French Laundry-inspired supper club in his Studio City, California home. When he was fifteen, he made the cover of the New York Times Magazine for his pop-up dinners in New York, L.A., and San Francisco. Fame and fans came fast, as did his critics, but McGarry soldiered on. Without the distraction of high school, McGarry kept his goal singular: be the best chef he could. He relocated to New York City’s Lower East Side, and in 2018 McGarry opened … Continue reading CHEF FLYNN

AT ETERNITY’S GATE

The year is 1888, and Vincent van Gogh must leave Paris. There is nothing left for him here. Cafés won’t show his work, the artists’ collectives are more concerned with bureaucratic policies and money than painting, and van Gogh’s closest, and possibly only, friend, Paul Gauguin is leaving too. He is headed south, to Madagascar; a place where they have never even heard of painting. Where should I go, van Gogh asks. South, replies Gauguin. And so he does. Down to Arles, a rural village of the Mediterranean coast where van Gogh (Willem Dafoe) will spend the next year opening … Continue reading AT ETERNITY’S GATE

FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD

Like most franchise movies of the past decade, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald begins en media res. And like most franchise movies of the past decade, the filmmakers aren’t interested in catching you up on who’s who, what’s at stake, or even what’s going on. It’s up to you to come to the cinema like good little Hermione Grangers with every book, movie, and Pottermore article fully digested and ready to be regurgitated at the drop of a hat. Not that it’s going to make Grindelwald any less boring, but at least you will know who is talking to … Continue reading FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD

INFINITE FOOTBALL (Fotbal Infinit)

  Laurențiu Ginghină wants to change how the game of soccer is played. Why? In 1987, Ginghină fractured his fibula during a match and could no longer play. A year later, the mis-healed fibula placed undue strain on his tibia, further handicapping him. Refusing to blame either himself or his opponent for the injury, Ginghină blamed the game. Surely there must be a safer way to play soccer. His solution: tweak the playing field, lop off the corner and turn the rectangular field into an octagon. This would also increase the dynamics of the game, as players tend to run … Continue reading INFINITE FOOTBALL (Fotbal Infinit)

DFF Review — BIRDS OF PASSAGE (Pájaros de verano)

Birds of Passage — from directors Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra — is a masterpiece. Set in Colombia and spanning the years 1969 to 1980, Birds is divided into five sections, songs really, that recount the tale of ancient rituals, tight-knit tribes, and the sudden and violent encroachment of capitalism thanks to the profitability of the drug trade. Like most stories depicting the rise and fall of an empire, it begins with an attraction. Specifically, between the young Zaida (Natalia Reyes) and the bachelor Rapayet (José Acosta) at Zaida’s coming out ceremony. With a flurry of images, Gallego and Guerra invoke … Continue reading DFF Review — BIRDS OF PASSAGE (Pájaros de verano)

DFF Review — WILDLIFE

Wildlife’s signature image (seen below) is of a husband and wife pensively looking at each other across an empty chair. Momentarily, their only child will occupy that chair, but his presence will not unite them. Instead, it will only amplify the gulf between the two. Set in 1960 Montana, Wildlife finds this suburban family caught in an existential crisis. Jerry (Jake Gyllenhaal) has been terminated from his position at the local country club. The officially cause: “overstepping his boundaries with the clients,” which Jerry interprets as being too friendly — he was actually gambling with the golfers. Emasculated, Jerry quietly … Continue reading DFF Review — WILDLIFE

DFF Review — ASH IS PUREST WHITE (江湖儿女)

It’s only a matter of minutes before a loaded gun is produced. Not unusual considering Ash is Purest White revolves around two gangsters, but this is mid-90s China and unregister firearms are illegal and come with a heavy penalty. Just showing someone the gun is enough to make your point; firing it would seal your fate. Qiao (Tao Zhao) is the girlfriend, and Bin (Fan Liao) is the gangster on his way up. Rival gangs are a constant menace, and sudden attacks are a way of life. Most are harmless, a few are even a simple case of mistaken identity, … Continue reading DFF Review — ASH IS PUREST WHITE (江湖儿女)