• Neptune Frost

    Neptune Frost

    ★★★★½

    HIFF #11

    "Fuck Mr. Google"

    Another HIFF, another banger finish. This one is a literal bang. Neptune Frost has it all and can be described with any and all adjectives but on a first watch it's impossible to wrap your head around all the music, songs, words, colors, movement and dancing, dreams, revolutionary spirit, and futurism or ideas of (neo)colonialism, state institutes like the police, drone strikes, technology as a tool for liberation and understanding and sharing and oppression, gender…

  • Mars One

    Mars One

    ★★★★

    HIFF #10

    Gabriel Martins draws an effective family portrait while occasionally experiencing hard time balancing individualism and the family unit's cohesiveness when his primary goal so clearly favors collectivism. Mars One nevertheless comes to a satisfying conclusion where nothing is resolved but togetherness and progression keep you optimistic. It's my kind of optimistic, simplistic working class cinema and also ripe with coincidences which could take noir style fatalistic forms if the style and ending was darker and characters less sympathetic.…

  • Decision to Leave

    Decision to Leave

    ★★★½

    HIFF #9

    The experience of anticipating and watching a Park Chan-wook movie is exciting and nerve racking but not an easy thing to encapsulate with words. Decision to Leave is the first time I've gone through this process in the "natural" way of seeing it in theaters and the maestro doesn't disappoint in giving your money's worth. Visual inventiveness (and the inventiveness and brilliance of it can't be overstated) makes at times confusing story beats seamlessly tie together, producing audible…

  • Nitram

    Nitram

    ★★★½

    HIFF #8

    Spoilers

    I'm always willing to criticize films about actual killers but I'm also always going to watch them so this whole genre brings out the worst hypocrite in me. Nitram at least doesn't give any recognition to the killings and instead chooses to focus on the social relationships of the killer prior to it. Some problems arise when you have to spend a whole movie with this man but similarly to another film in the festival dealing with…

  • Both Sides of the Blade

    Both Sides of the Blade

    ★★½

    HIFF #7

    Sad to see Denis fumble the bag like this after making her best film in 2018 but considering Both Sides of the Blade borrows some of its ideas from Let the Sunshine In you could guess it was coming. Let the Sunshine In had strength in its understated moments and visual storytelling whereas I found the dialogue severely lacking. Both Sides of the Blade's dialogue is often equally obnoxious, even if it feels realistic during a couple arguments,…

  • Petite Maman

    Petite Maman

    ★★★★½

    HIFF #6

    There are no directors I know who better understand what young children are feeling or thinking and how their world is constructed than Celine Sciamma. She gives so much agency to this diverse group of people that isn't at all absent from cinema but their place is always either outside the adult world or in the fringe of becoming adults in which the case focus is basically still on the adult world, just shot from a child’s perspective.…

  • Brainwashed: Sex-Camera-Power

    Brainwashed: Sex-Camera-Power

    HIFF #5

    "Perception is not whimsical but fatal"

    I can't believe Nina Menkes attended the festival! I absolutely love every film I've seen by her (Great Sadness of Zohara, Phantom Love, and Queen of Diamonds) and wish she had done more in her experimental style. Granted there are still a couple I haven't seen. Brainwashed is a departure since it's a documentary and quite traditional at that but not too distinct thematically from any of her other films. Menkes methodically…

  • Mass

    Mass

    ★★★★

    HIFF #4

    Insanely tight collaboration of performances, script and visuals packages a world of emotions and ills of (American) society into a single room of tepidness and repression. A clash of different states and complex reactions of grief, hate and remorse lead to contradictions and meandering but also to answers and understanding, compassion that might still be left, that could be the bridge to stitch the gaping holes in their life. Although it’s hard to see at first this throughline…

  • The Territory

    The Territory

    HIFF #3

    Another important Brazilian film in the festival that sticks it up to Bolsonaro's horrible government and the destruction they cause. This focuses on an indigenous people called Uru-eu-wau-wau and their battle against hateful rhetoric, land grabs and murders in the midst of a pandemic that for a time was denied by the government. As the forest continues to burn and battle intensifies the release of this film is an urgent matter in order to spread the word about…

  • Neon Spring

    Neon Spring

    ★★★★

    HIFF #2

    I've recently gotten into techno and house music but the clubbing scene is very new to me so I thought a film like this would be fun to watch. Although Neon Spring's intentions aren't solely with a trancelike venture into the raves of Riga, the topics it deals with are as dark as the back alleys of its clubs. Laine isn't having a great time handling her parents' separation which also leaves responsibility for Laine's brother to her…

  • Three Tidy Tigers Tied a Tie Tighter

    Three Tidy Tigers Tied a Tie Tighter

    ★★★

    HIFF #1

    Another case of throwing everything to the wall and seeing what sticks. A lot of it does. Gustavo Vinagre'a film is a decent rumination on Brazil's culture with its queer and anticapistalist viewpoint which gets repressed under Bolsonaro's right-wing government. Three Tidy Tigers is also cute, amusing and often dreamlike that seems to take the piss out of the general absurdity of life.

    It's set during the pandemic, though this pandemic has a twist instead of just being…

  • Red Desert

    Red Desert

    ★★★★★

    There hasn't been many days when I haven't been thinking about Red Desert since I last saw it. And now I finally got an opportunity to write about my obsession at school so it's even a productive obsession. I might end up posting some of the stuff here once I rewatch Zabriskie Point since it will also play a part in that essay which is mostly about escapist spaces in Antonioni's movies.

    Also, HIFF starts today so I'm hoping to interact with you more active than I've been doing in the past two weeks or so (if I have time).

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