• Sibyl

    Sibyl

    ★★★

    A stellar Virginie Efira stars as a psychotherapist who gets absurdly involved in the personal affairs of an emotionally tormented actress in Justine Triet’s sophisticated but convoluted comedy-drama Sibyl. Essentially, a woman’s story, Triet tries too hard to make sense of this woman’s life by over complicating her relationships. There are subplots that don’t string together and and that help push her story forward. But overall, there’s so much assurance in the story that you are just swept away by…

  • Time

    Time

    ★★★★

    In one of the most moving, intimate documentaries I’ve seen in recent memory, Time follows a woman’s long-suffering and enduring fight for the release of her incarcerated husband. Garrett Bradley captures Fox Rich’s story in such a sweeping, dramatic way that it blurs the line between documentary and a dramatic feature. It is stylish and immersive on how it moves the camera and how Bradley observes her subjects. It makes us witness a real drama unfold in real-time. Time’s great…

  • One Night in Miami...

    One Night in Miami...

    ★★★

    Actress Regina King directs her first feature adapting Kemp Powers’ stage play about a fictionalized meeting between four Black icons in a Miami motel room in One Night in Miami…. The film’s theatrical traditions are present obviously, but King tries her best to open things up even when the material does not allow for any form of cinematic movement. Judging a film adaptation of a play will always be unfair and faulty, but King deserves every bit of praise for…

  • News of the World

    News of the World

    ★★½

    Paul Greengrass (Jason Bourne and Captain Phillips) reunites with Tom Hanks as a traveling news announcer in this efficiently mounted but uninspired Western News of the World. Don’t get me wrong, the film is gorgeously shot and technically accomplished in all levels but the story’s lethargic, old-fashioned mechanics overstay its welcome. This feels like a period Liam Neeson movie where he has to save a young girl against some bad guys. Instead it has the everyman “good guy” Tom Hanks…

  • Relic

    Relic

    ★★

    Despite some strong performances from its three actresses, Relic is not that scary. It actually feels insulting. Directed by Natalie James, Relic follows a dementia-stricken matriarch who got lost following an episode. In turn, her estranged daughter and granddaughter returns to her home and search for her. James builds her film with a lot of unconvincing metaphors and surreal body horror setups to convey the message. But what sticks to me is its unappealing treatment of dementia as a main…

  • Swallow

    Swallow

    ★★★

    In his audacious, and striking film debut director Carlo Mirabella-Davis centers his narrative on a woman who develops a strange compulsion of consuming inedible objects in this absurdly provocative Swallow. Heightened by an arresting, fearless performance from Haley Bennett, Swallow builds up its promising metaphor into a great stylistic effect. Besides its great production design and cinematography, the film’s first half truly captures the weird scenario in a wildly convincing manner. In this, Bennett and Mirabella-Davis delicately and slowly sketches…

  • This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection

    This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection

    ★★★½

    Lesotho’s first ever entry to the Oscars for 2021 Best International Feature film is a blistering proclamation and a reclamation of one’s honor and dignity in This is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection. Led by a fierce performance from the late Mary Twala, the film uncovers the struggle of an old woman and her community trying to save their homeland from the oppressive establishment and industrialization. Director Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese injects his film with the raw beauty of Lesotho’s…

  • Tampopo

    Tampopo

    ★★★★

    In Juzo Itami’s ingenious strange comedy, a group of misfits help a restaurant owner learn how to cook great ramen noodles in the first “ramen-Western” Tampopo. In the film, Itami immerses the viewer into the glorious, sensory pleasures of food culture and its relationship to human interaction. Figuratively and literally, Tampopo carries the badge of “food-porn” genre in all caps. Aside from its central storyline, there are “side-dishes” (if you may) or diversions that the film presents. It features vignettes…

  • Pieces of a Woman

    Pieces of a Woman

    ★★

    Relying heavily on the fierce shoulders of its leading actress, Kornél Mundruczó makes an unsatisfying effort concerning a mother’s grief in losing her newborn baby in Pieces of a Woman. Mundruczó certainly appeals with his daring choice of opening his film with a 30-minute birth scene that sets the stage for an impending tragedy. Unfortunately the film peaked too soon, as the film scrambles for momentum and resonance. Despite the strong performances, Pieces of a Woman does not cover all…

  • Sylvie's Love

    Sylvie's Love

    ★★★

    Owing hugely to the cinematic influences of Douglas Sirk and Wong Kar-wai, director Eugene Ashe’s mid-century romance throwback Sylvie’s Love strikes a chord with arresting lead performances from its handsome leads. The film is unabashedly melodramatic, but its insistence on fantasy regarding Black lives on screen marks this film as somewhat refreshing, a true rebellious middle-finger to the establishment. No violence is portrayed against Blacks, or harassment displayed. Ashe paints a dainty, impassioned but not too idealizing in its look…

  • Ordinary Love

    Ordinary Love

    ★★★

    Oscar nominees Lesley Manville and Liam Neeson makes a convincing couple facing cancer diagnosis in directors Glenn Leyburn and Lisa Barros D'Sa’s absorbing but uninspired adult drama Ordinary Love. The film essentially documents the tragedy of confronting such scenario in a wooden, uneventful way. Despite the stellar turns from its cast and great naturalism, the story does not give any new perspective to the drama or unique tension that can elevate the prosaic matter of things. It is devastating but…

  • Nomadland

    Nomadland

    ★★★★½

    Chloé Zhao (The Rider) makes a deeply evocative, meditative look on a woman’s journey of grief, and self-actualization in Nomadland. Adapted from Jessica Bruder’s non-fiction book, the film explores a group of older-generation, mostly White working-class Americans who live in their vans in search of employment. Zhao proves to be the right director for this type of material that blurs the line between fiction and non-fiction as she has showed in her prowess in bringing raw naturalism and urgency in…