• Jacinta

    Jacinta

    ★★★★

    AFI Fest 2020: Movie #13

    "I don't think my mom meant to hurt me. She didn't know any better."

    Honestly, I'm still feeling so raw after this. This is an incredibly difficult, distressing story, and I can't recall the last time I was so shaken by a film. Earnshaw keeps rolling during some very dark moments, and while I understand the ethical questions around that, it seems that our subject was positively motivated by the camera, rather than sucked down…

  • Nasir

    Nasir

    ★★★½

    AFI Fest 2020: Movie #12

    "When you understand this, I hope your anger for me will subside."

    Impulsively snagged a ticket to this one after seeing a reviewer compare it to Kiarostami's work. Now having seen the film, I wouldn't have thrown that name out there myself, but the similarities are apparent in the pacing and some of the compositions. A major area in which Karthick's filmmaking differs from Kiarostami's is in the dialogue, specifically in how our themes are…

  • Jumbo

    Jumbo

    ★★★★

    AFI Fest 2020: Movie #11

    "What is it, if it isn't love?"

    While it has a good sense of humor about itself, what surprised me most about Jumbo was its earnestness. The commitment Merlant has to the role is magnificent, and almost startling in places with how far she takes it. We see the titular Jumbo through her eyes, and through them, it's a thing of great beauty. This is a woman who is so deeply in love, no matter…

  • She Paradise

    She Paradise

    ★★★★

    AFI Fest 2020: Movie #10

    "You have any idea what you’re getting yourself into?"

    The slender, 70-minute runtime and neon lights had me thinking this wouldn't give me enough to sink my teeth into, but I was amazed at how much Cozier achieves here. Her characters are impressively difficult to pin down. Our protagonist presents as sheepish, but she's constantly subverting her friends' (and our own) expectations of what she's capable of. We quickly identify the "mean girl" of the…

  • Wander Darkly

    Wander Darkly

    ★★★

    AFI Fest 2020: Movie #9

    "I've told this story so many times. It's almost like it's a fantasy."

    Compellingly imagines purgatory as a space where we're forced to sift through the events of our lives and understand them for what they truly were. Good memories are revisited and realized to be dark ones, and experiences that created resentment are reevaluated as misunderstood kindness. What we go through is objective, but our recollections of these events and the stories we tell…

  • Pink Skies Ahead

    Pink Skies Ahead

    ★★

    AFI Fest 2020: Movie #8

    "Have you been inspired lately?"

    Personal filmmaking is often the most powerful, though sometimes in translating our experiences onto the page, their significance gets lost entirely. The most intimate, transformative experiences of our lives can read as something so minuscule that the audience wonders why it's there at all. I make no assumptions about Kelly Oxford's personal life, but Pink Skies Ahead feels like that exact scenario. I'm happy for those who connected with this,…

  • Under the Open Sky

    Under the Open Sky

    ★★½

    AFI Fest 2020: Movie #7

    "The world must be a difficult place for a man like you."

    Frustratingly uneven. Though Kōji Hashimoto's strong lead performance helps carry us through the two-hour runtime, his character's arc is disrupted by the crowded storyline and frequent tonal shifts. The main reintegration story and the reality-TV subplot did not work well together, and the one-sided emotional bond that formed at their intersection read more creepy than genuinely sweet. This is a man who has…

  • Just Another Girl on the I.R.T.

    Just Another Girl on the I.R.T.

    ★★★½

    AFI Fest 2020: Movie #6

    Part of the Cinema's Legacy section of the festival. I wanted to watch something with a distinctly different feel from the rest of the line-up, and this provided that. The rebellious energy we start out with is fantastic, and it manages to maintain that as it matures into a more conventional narrative in the second and third acts. Some moments, because of their boisterous honesty, end up rather frustrating, but this is by large an entertaining watch.

  • Sound of Metal

    Sound of Metal

    ★★★★½

    AFI Fest 2020: Movie #5

    "Have you had any moments of stillness?

    Surprisingly sensitive and tender in the gentlest of ways. Losing your hearing isn't the end of the world, but for our protagonist, it's firmly the end of his world as he knows it. Everything is different now, and the seeming lack of control is paralyzing. There's a directness to this film that's so refreshing, seeing it laid out very clearly what paths a person can take and what…

  • Shadow in the Cloud

    Shadow in the Cloud

    ★★★★

    AFI Fest 2020: Movie #4

    "We're chaperoning and interloper."

    A thrilling, stylish ride through the sky. The story it tells is a familiar one, but the adrenaline rush this becomes makes it feel like the only movie you've ever seen like it. This is largely a one-woman-show, and Chloë Grace Moretz had me by the throat the whole time. The stakes were sky high (haha, cause they're in a plane), and the stress I felt watching her try to convince…

  • Really Love

    Really Love

    ★★

    AFI Fest 2020: Movie #3

    “You don’t want to put anyone first who will never do the same for you.”

    It’s easy to go along with two kind, attractive strangers getting together, but charm alone isn’t the same as real romantic chemistry. These characters have little in common, save for their pursuits of their respective passions. Maybe that’s enough for them, but as a viewer, this love story unfolds much too quickly. There’s a major pacing problem here. It is…

  • There Is No Evil

    There Is No Evil

    ★★★★

    AFI Fest 2020: Movie #2

    “What kind of animal could execute someone?”

    Bold, fearless filmmaking. Understandably one that will turn away a lot of people due to the patience it demands, particularly in the first and third sections, but I strongly believe it’s worth experiencing. I enjoyed this from the start, though I had no idea what it was actually building to. I sensed the hints along the way, the moments where I felt my attention being directed a certain…