Elisha has written 84 reviews for films rated ★★★★ during 2020.

  • The Young and the Damned

    The Young and the Damned

    ★★★★

    SPOILERS (for this film, Pixote, and City of God):

    I see a lot of people drawing a link between this film and City of God, but I think it’s a lot closer in kinship to Pixote. There is, for instance, no pure soul such as Benny to mourn over here. Love is never found at all, and it is only sought after when it no longer has a chance to grow. Any imagined escape is an escape back into the…

  • Sympathy for Lady Vengeance

    Sympathy for Lady Vengeance

    ★★★★

    Finally finished Park Chan-wook's Vengeance Trilogy!

    SPOILERS:

    This is possibly the darkest, dark comedy I've seen in recent memory. Initially, the tonal shift from the first two films felt jarring. But I think when viewed in the context of each successive film's stylistic evolution, it makes sense. Sympathy for Lady Vengeance builds on the animated respites and stylistic excesses of Oldboy to find a comedic visual language that revels, not in self-parody, but in humorous and thematically-appropriate absurdity.

    It also…

  • The Cruz Brothers and Miss Malloy

    The Cruz Brothers and Miss Malloy

    ★★★★

    “My sons, nuns are never armed with love and compassion. However, you will be safe here for a while. And you have never even been safe before.”

    Kathleen Collins has held a special place for me this year, ever since I watched Losing Ground in June. I finished her beautifully bittersweet book of short stories, Whatever Happened to Interracial Love?, a week or so ago and I loved it. I'm also halfway through Notes from a Black Woman's Diary, and…

  • Take Your Bags

    Take Your Bags

    ★★★★

    Black cinema that tells me where I'm from is a way to drive out the loneliness. Here, the knowledge doesn't bring anguish—although maybe it should. Rather it brings me peace. I feel that I might know where to go from here, and that someone else has known too.

  • Labyrinth of Dreams

    Labyrinth of Dreams

    ★★★★

    A great, brain-bending thriller/romance. In large part due to its surreal direction and sound design, but also due to a “what the fuck” plot that’s loaded with the trappings of desire in all of its irrationality. I spent the entirety of the film being lost in the former and gobsmacked by the latter, so I have little to note here beyond my immediate impression of how good Ishii is at crafting a dream-like atmosphere within the physical rules of a…

  • Pickpocket

    Pickpocket

    ★★★★

    My first foray into Sixth Generation filmmaker Jia Zhangke’s filmography is his 1997 (great year) feature debut, Xiao Wu.

    SPOILERS:

    "Do you like hearing me sing?"

    "Yes, I do."

    This film moves effortlessly from one rung of loneliness to another, as a shifting socio-political landscape leads to abandonment in one’s friendships, romantic partners, family, and finally, oneself and one’s community. Crime crackdowns, state-mandated construction projects, lonely bath houses, new technology and even cigarette brands point to a world that is changing…

  • Four Women

    Four Women

    ★★★★

    Wow. First foray into Julie Dash’s short films. May make me revisit Daughters of the Dust.

  • Duck Soup

    Duck Soup

    ★★★★

    Gotta get through a lot of movies tonight so I’ll be brief. Watched this with Pops and we both had a good ass time. Some of the gags ran a bit too long, but the one liners, satire, and third act—which wasn’t over until the fat lady sang—are truly unmatched. .

  • Bush Mama

    Bush Mama

    ★★★★

    You can watch this film, along with others from Gerima and Shirikiana Aina HERE!


    SPOILERS:

    Wow. Ok that second viewing did the trick. Don’t know how I saw the humanity at the center of this as coming secondary to its messages, but I was dead wrong. Gerima was bringing forth surrealism while focusing on small emotions and big ideas in what is easily one of the greatest student films of all time.

    It captures the disillusionment, not only with one’s environment and…

  • Schizopolis

    Schizopolis

    ★★★★

    “In the event that you find certain sequences or ideas confusing, please bear in mind that this is your fault, not ours. You will need to see the picture again and again until you understand everything.

    Shoutout to Dennis Lim for putting me on to this film via his Criterion Top 10 list. Gleefully self-indulgent, outright hilarious, and filled with endless surprises and dots to connect. After watching, I brushed up on the textbook definition of schizophrenia just to be…

  • Water Lilies

    Water Lilies

    ★★★★

    SPOILERS:

    Céline Sciamma’s debut feature Water Lilies perfectly captures the heartbreak, confusion, and wonder that are so essential to bringing coming of age films to life.

    It begins well enough, with confident direction that establishes its characters and their relationships with little to no dialogue, and a sense of rhythm that’s apparent from the films opening sequence onward. There’s a sense of both jealousy and curiosity when Marie watches the majestic synchronized swimming routines, and it’s when she does so…

  • My Dinner with Andre

    My Dinner with Andre

    ★★★★

    It almost feels pointless to talk about a film that does all of the talking itself. I think a discussion about it would be better with someone else over the phone. Anyways, today I’m going to set aside some time to do nothing. And after that, I’ll break a few habits, indulge in a few impulses, and see if there’s any more attention to be paid to everything and everyone.