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Analyzing Execution, House Development, and Female Role in Politics and Opinion

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THERE IS NO EVIL

Filmed in secrecy and banned from its country, Iran, director Mohammad Rasoulof’s latest indictment on human justice and rights explores the effects of fatal execution, seen through the eyes of those responsible for such duty in the prisons.

An anthology of four involving, mysteriously crafted stories, the film is an alarming statement on the consequences and traumas of execution: an observational take on a devoted father, husband and son, who deeply takes care of the women in his life; the agony and anxiety of a soldier waiting orders to execute someone and going on a violent spiral; A man meeting up his family for a birthday at the countryside where is confronted by his consciousness, and a doctor trying to develop a relationship to his estranged niece while venturing a remote mountainous area. Each story deeply explores such effects with heart-moving results.

Winner of the Golden Bear Award for Best Film at last year’s Berlin Film Festival, it is a highly tense, mind provocative and thrilling moral tale, brilliantly influenced by the poetical aesthetic of Kiarostami and the political urgency of Jafar Panahi.

(Kino Lorber. 5/14. Film Forum NYC, Virtual Cinemas and On Demand.)

DEAD PIGS

A representation of fortune, hard-work and honesty, pigs are revered in China more than our Western minds can imagine. In this nail-biting capitalist and house-development satire, thousands of them are mysteriously dying and dumped into the river, while five lives are intersected within common ground. Both funny and touching at equal levels, Cathy Yan’s feature film debut gathers a broken and troubled pig farmer, a distinguished busboy living a double life, an elite young woman seduced by vanity and wealth, an old-fashioned beautician and an American architect in a pot-boiling atmosphere that soon will collide with principles, traditions and the inevitable quest for survival. Smartly silly, visually entrancing and inventive, the film is loosely based on true events, depicting the contrasts between the privileged and the excluded classes with contagious irreverence. Despite the satirical tone prevailing throughout the narrative, this Sundance Special Jury Award Winner is an efficient, stylish and timely humanist comedy about cultural and financial influences.

(Film Movement. 5/13. Metrograph and other Virtual Cinemas.)

THE PERFECT CANDIDATE

A charming and engaging rom-com, Saudi Arabian director Haifaa Al Mansour’s feminist revolutionary take follows Maryam, a young female doctor who is constantly confronted and diminished by the misogynist and male-dominant Muslim society, as she decides to run for the Council chair in the municipal elections. She is motivated by the lack of assistance and commuting access to the local hospital, where she (tries) to treat everyone possible- many male patients refuse her help.

Sensitive, timely and superbly performed by a fabulous ensemble cast, including unforgettably eccentric and hysterically funny characters who populated the young doctor’s world, Mansour (who previously explored another feminine universe with the cult “Wadja”) conceived a memorable and crowd-pleasing soft comedy with a triumphant message of freedom and gender equality.

(Music Box Films. 5/14. IFC Films, Virtual Cinemas, On Demand.)

THE COLUMNIST

Addressing the dangers of online bullying, defamation and mental disorder, this ultra-violent, gory dark comedy from the Netherlands is a frenetic horror fantasy that feels like an intersection between John Waters and Almodovar. A fierce columnist for a famous socio-political newspaper, Femke (a convincingly complex performance by Katja Herbers) has been enduring abuses of all sorts on her social media pages, due to her unmasked stirred opinions. When the death threats increase, she sees no other solution to keep her family safe (her daughter is the smartest and outspoken libertarian teen of her school) but to go on a hunting down for those trying to take her peace away. Armed and enraged, she plans meticulously encounters with her online “fans” putting down one by one, in a bloody representation of female overcoming prejudice, the role of social media’s opinion, the importance of expression and tolerance in such mediums, and the psychological damage of online excesses.

Directed by Ivo van Aart, it is a darkly funny and stylish, Gothic-infused twisted new entry to the female revenge universe that has been constantly explored lately. This time around things get more subversive and provocative.

(Film Movement. Now Playing in Virtual Cinemas and On Demand.)


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