Mia Madre 6.5


There are two fairly compelling stories in Mia Madre. The first is of Margherita (Margherita Buy), an Italian film director who is faced with the unenviable task of shooting a movie about a union strike at a factory in an economic environment where the subject matter hits too close to home. On top of that, she also has to deal with the manic personality of Barry Huggins (John Tuturro), an eccentric Hollywood actor who has been brought on to a play a supporting role in the film. He struggles with his Italian and often slides off into melodramatic rants, retelling embellished story after embellished story whilst growing progressively more frustrated and bringing down everyone’s stamina.

Morris_poster 6.5


In essence, Morris from America is a straightforward coming-of-age story, which uses a handful of recognizable tropes in depicting its 13-year-old protagonist as he begins to discover himself. There are run-ins with the “establishment” authority, impromptu adventures in the big city and, of course, girls.

Sun Choke 7.5


At its start, Ben Cresciman’s Sun Choke plays to very common fears – those of being ill, trapped under the domineering control of another person, and not knowing the true motivations of that caretaker. And then there are different terrors exploited, as the film’s scope widens and moves from a sterilized mansion in the Hollywood Hills to the streets below – a sense of recklessness, of a lack of self-control, a gradual spiraling into the loss of one’s grasp on reality.

lace_crater 7


With its deadpan treatment of the supernatural (ghosts are depicted as otherwise normal-looking folks with pale, sensitive skin who wear potato sacks to avoid the sun), Harrison Atkins’ Lace Crater at times resembles a Saturday Night Live parody of mumblecore sensibilities. And to be fair, the film dabbles in a particular degree of self-awareness the script pulls off some light jabs at the type of movie it initially establishes itself as before spinning off into something else entirely.

being-good-poster 6.5

Japan Cuts 2016: BEING GOOD Review

Seemingly taking place in what must be the most emotionally damaged neighborhood in at least a hundred miles of its setting, Mipo Oh’s Being Good is a multi-character study that takes an ensemble-style, “everything is connected” approach. This kind of story can go one way or the other – on one hand, this can set up massive third-act payoffs and large, rippling messages, but on the other, cohesion and story development can often be stunted in the process.