Seattle International ’19 Review: ‘Long Time No Sea’ Fails to Capture the Heterogeneity of Indigenous Culture

Taiwanese director Heather Tsui’s debut film, Long Time No Sea (只有海知道, 2018), may have intended to bring awareness to the indigenous Tao people of Orchid Island, but it drastically falls short by focusing on their struggles through the perspective of the mainland. Continue reading “Seattle International ’19 Review: ‘Long Time No Sea’ Fails to Capture the Heterogeneity of Indigenous Culture”

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DuVernay Introduces the Real Boys of the Central Park Five in “When They See Us”

Written and directed by the great Ava DuVernay, When They See Us tells the story of the young Kevin Richardson (Asante Blackk), Yusuf Salaam (Ethan Herisse), Raymond Santana (Marquis Rodriguez), Antron McCray (Caleel Harris) and Korey Wise (Jharrel Jerome), five black and brown boys no older than sixteen-years old who were falsely accused of raping a female jogger in Central Park on April 19th, 1989. Criminally abused and coerced by police detectives led by Linda Fairstein (Felicity Huffman), and prosecutor Elizabeth Lederer (Vera Farmiga), we see these boys and their families stripped of everything for nothing.

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Continue reading “DuVernay Introduces the Real Boys of the Central Park Five in “When They See Us””

Seattle International ’19 Review: ‘A Family Tour’ Mourns the Price of Political Dissidence

Chinese director Ying Liang is perhaps most well-known for the personal price he paid for producing When Night Falls (2012), a docudrama which sealed his permanent exile from his homeland. A scathing critique of China’s totalitarian regime, When Night Falls focused on the death of Yang Jia, a man who was arrested and horrifically beaten by the police for riding a bicycle without a license. After repeated harassment from the authorities, Jia eventually stabbed six policemen to death and was given the death sentence. When Night Falls, or its Mandarin translation I Still Have Something to Say (我还有话要说), is focalised from the perspective of Jia’s grieving mother. By directing this docudrama, Liang was viewed to be sympathetic towards political dissidents in China and hence, was forced to pay the price with exile. He now lives in Hong Kong.

Acting as a follow-up to When Night Falls, Liang’s A Family Tour (自由行, 2018) works as a semi-autobiographical film on the consequences his exile has had on his loved ones who still reside in China. If I Still Have Something to Say is a testament to his legacy of active political dissidence, A Family Tour is a quietly devastating rumination on whether this dissidence is actually worth the personal sacrifice. With Liang’s latest film, there is a very real sense that there is nothing left for art to say. If the artist has to lose their loved ones in the name of a futile activism, there comes a point when art becomes a purely selfish endeavour rather than a heroic one.  Continue reading “Seattle International ’19 Review: ‘A Family Tour’ Mourns the Price of Political Dissidence”

Overlook Film Festival 2019: Imaginary Friends Aren’t So Fun Anymore in ‘Z’

Imaginary friends are a common part of childhood. Kids use figments of their imagination to create their own fantastical realities, usually to cope with bullying, troubles at home, or just to escape somewhere new for a little while. But in Brandon Christensen’s newest film, Z, imaginary friends are something much more sinister and violent.

Eight-year-old Josh Parsons (Jett Klyne) has made a new friend. His name is Z, he loves 2% milk, and no one can see him except Josh. At first, his parents, Beth (Keegan Connor Tracy) and Kevin (Sean Rogerson), pay Z little mind; he’s just an imaginary friend that will disappear with time. That is, until Josh begins acting out in school. He becomes aggressive, yelling at and hitting his classmates. Z’s presence begins infiltrating their home and Beth begins to realize that Z may not just be in Josh’s head. As is horror tradition, the father thinks he is acting ridiculous and wants to brush off any strange behavior as part of growing up.

Continue reading “Overlook Film Festival 2019: Imaginary Friends Aren’t So Fun Anymore in ‘Z’”

Fragments Film Festival ’19: ‘Out’ exhibits an essential part of the LGBTQ+ experience

“Mum, I’m gay.”

For those outside of the LGBTQ+ community, the weight of these three words (or their counterparts; “I’m bisexual”/“I’m transgender”, etc) can be difficult to comprehend. Many well-meaning people even question the necessity of such a declaration, blissfully unaware of the continued assumption that everyone is cisgender and heterosexual. For LGBTQ+ individuals, however, ‘coming out’ is often an intrinsic part of our personal development; the reaction of family and friends to one’s true self has ruined as many lives as it has made. Within this community, the majority of us have our own story – whether that story be tragic or comic, neat or messy, drawn-out or quickly resolved— and it is the broadcasting of these tales that Denis Parrot’s documentary Out concerns itself with.

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The film takes clips of individuals either informing their relatives of their sexuality/gender or reflecting on their coming out stories, and presents these videos in a clear manner void of all context bar the name of the person, their location, and the time of recording. Largely – though not entirely – from the perspective of young people, these intimate moments are captured and memorialised. Assembled roughly within Parrot’s film, the viewer is exposed to the full range of experiences, from the breathtaking relief of loving acceptance, to the despair of violent rejection. 

Continue reading “Fragments Film Festival ’19: ‘Out’ exhibits an essential part of the LGBTQ+ experience”

Podcast #6- The Films of Summer

Happy summer! The sixth episode of the Much Ado About Cinema podcast has arrived!

In this episode, I talk to Hannah Ryan and Llewyn Taing about movie-watching in the summer! We get into the summer “blockbuster” trope, whether it is still relevant, and some of the summer movies we are looking forward to this season. Hope you enjoy!

On our Patreon page, we set a goal of $75 to start working on our podcast and four months ago we hit that goal, thanks to your help! Every time we gain a new Patron, we come one step closer to saving enough money to pay to our writers. You can help us with as little as $1.

Available on iTunesSpotifyGoogle PlayStitcher, and anywhere else you access your podcasts!