'Hotel Mumbai' review
If I had bet the house on the most upsetting thing in a film about the Mumbai terror attack in India being the atrocities depicted, I would be homeless. 'Hotel Mumbai' packs a harrowing punch, strong enough to engage emotions in the manner Paul Greengrass does as he recounts the mass murder committed by Anders Behring Breivik in ‘22 July’. But distasteful garnishes of levity sour a reflection on a bleak moment in recent history.
The idea of rapper M.anifest’s record ‘Invisible’ was front and centre in my mind as the thesis of Jordan Peele’s stunning sophomore effort, ‘Us’ was rather bizarrely laid before us. I had just been put on to M.anifest’s song a few days prior, in which he reflects on the repressed of the social strata. Peele is very much concerned with the Invisibles of society, to chillingly violent effect, in a bloodthirsty satire that is more politically charged than most expected.
'The Burial of Kojo' review
Ava DuVernay’s distribution company, Array, came through in a big way for Ghanaian indie film ‘The Burial of Kojo’, providing final push that is sure to put Brooklyn-based Ghanaian filmmaker Samuel “Blitz” Bazawule on the radar of cinephiles globally.
'The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind' review
“Democracy is like imported cassava. It rots quickly.” This sentiment nods to the underlying decay that forms the poignant subtext of Chiwetel Ejiofor’s feature debut ‘The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind’. Based on a true story, Ejiofor’s project, as expected, does what it says on the can, serving bouts of inspiration and dignity but there is a consideration of detail that elevates this film to a quietly distressing experience for African audiences.
'Alita: Battle Angel' review
What makes Alita so special? It’s the only real question I had going into Robert Rodriguez’s 'Alita: Battle Angel'. My loose knowledge of this Anime/Manga adaptation had me looking towards the likes of 'Akira', 'Ghost in a Shell' and even 'Blade Runner' as I tried to measure expectations. The lengthy development period had me primed for a film dense with messy but ambitious ideas about humanity and identity. But Alita never reaches for such heights. And this disappointed for a second.
'Cold Pursuit' review
So, Liam Neeson dug a deep hole for himself ahead of the release of his latest film ‘Cold Pursuit’. Friends and colleagues have had to assure me that it will all be alright in the end for Neeson, that tanking the publicity for ‘Cold Pursuit’ and admitting to a racist blood lust wouldn’t drown out one of my favorite actors.
'High Flying Bird' review
Steven Soderbergh's 'High Flying Bird', produced by Netflix, is among other things a politically charged heist movie. Yes, on the surface it’s a sports drama about the minutia of an NBA lockout and how an agent and a prized client navigate their way through it, but we are working with an incredibly smart and layered screenplay here. Soderbergh and writer Tarell Alvin McCraney prod at ideas having to do with the commodification of sports talent, player agency and the capitalist system that is forced to taste its blood for the first time.
'Five Fingers for Marseilles' (2017) review
The window to one’s soul is through the eyes, we are told time and time again. But sometimes the hands of a man can paint an accurate portrait of his essence as South African director Michael Matthews shows in his 2017 debut feature ‘Five Fingers for Marseilles’. He does so in a manner that recalled Nicolas Winding Refn’s gripping angling of his protagonist in ‘Only God Forgives’.
January, action and 90-minute running times. Just a few of my favorite things. After weeks of mulling over prestige products as we enter Oscar season, spending time with Noomi Rapace in Netflix’s bodyguard thriller ‘Close’, was a welcome reprieve for aficionados of the genre, even if the film itself isn’t breaking new grounds.