Karlovy Vary 2018: ‘Miriam Lies’ Is a Harsh yet Necessary Coming of Age Story

In Latin America, there is no event more important for young girls than the quinceañera. Families will save up every extra penny to make sure that the celebration is a lavish affair, welcoming the girl’s progression into adulthood with a whole lot of pomp and circumstance. For Miriam (Dulce Esther Rodríguez Castillo), however, her 15th birthday is loaded with dread, as she has a secret that she doesn’t want the rest of her family to know about.

She has a boyfriend named Jean-Louis, who she only knows from chatting online. One day, she goes to meet him at a natural history museum, but upon seeing his face, something holds her back. She doesn’t talk to him, and runs away, explaining to her mom that he didn’t turn up. At first, this seems like natural shyness, but it slowly becomes clear that it’s because he’s black. The resulting film is a piercing tale that functioned both as a well-worked character drama and a seething critique of a racist society.

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Karlovy Vary 2018: ‘Jumpman’ is a Very Different Kind of Superhero Movie

The corrupt heart of contemporary Russia is mercilessly exposed in Jumpman, a savage look at a society that has lost its way. Telling the story of a boy who uses his rare ability to feel no pain to jump in front of cars in order to blackmail their owners, Ivan I. Tverdovsky has created a savage exposé of a world in which nothing matters other than the pursuit of capital.

It starts with Denis (Denis Vlasenko) being dumped at an orphanage. As he grows older, he gets diagnosed with congenital analgesia, which means that he doesn’t feel pain in the same way other people do. This ability to withstand intense physical pressure makes him a favourite with the fellow boys, who tie him up with a hose and pull it on from either side to see how long he can last. Then one day, his mother (Anna Slyu) returns to the orphanage and takes him back to Moscow. Once there, they devise their dastardly money-making scheme.

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Karlovy Vary 2018: ‘To The Night’ Fails the Talents of Caleb Landry Jones

This piece is written by our guest writer Redmond Bacon.

Caleb Landry Jones was everywhere last year, playing supporting roles in movies as diverse as The Florida Project, Get Out and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Displaying such a great range, with every character wholly different, his own moment in the spotlight has been well overdue. Sadly, for him, To The Night, which sees him play a trauma victim suffering from psychotic episodes, will not be the movie to catapult him to leading man status.

He plays Norman, a man who survived a deadly fire as a child which killed his parents. Now he is a father himself, living in an atelier-like apartment with his girlfriend Penelope (Eleonore Hendricks ). Its hard to say what exactly he does as a job, although it looks like he might be an artist — creating a model of the house that his parents died in and the opening scene showing him at an exhibition. He is in desperate need of help, his psychotic breakdowns leading to him smashing up the apartment and even raising his hand to Penelope. Its not a pretty film to watch, and he is not an easy character to like.

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Karlovy Vary 2018: ‘Panic Attack’ Is the Perfect Way to Exorcise Your Inner Cringe

This piece is written by our guest writer Redmond Bacon.

Have you ever been confronted with a sudden moment that threatens to upend your life forever? Everything might be going swimmingly, but you never know when a brief revelation, mistake or threat can suddenly turn everything upside down. “Panic Attack” is the ultimate exploration of this theme, telling six intercut stories of protracted moments that will make you cringe right up until the end. If you have ever done something you look back on and go “Oh god why!” then “Panic Attack” is the perfect way to exorcise those demons. It’s probably not as bad as what these people go through.

The film telegraphs its sense of cathartic gloom straight from the beginning, starting with a radio host blowing his brains out. Then, in no particular order, we are shown: a couple on a plane with an annoying fellow passenger, a wedding caterer who is being blackmailed, a webcam actress hiding her profession from her friends, a young boy suffering from some extra strong cannabis, and a woman painfully meeting up with her ex. I’ll leave most of the description there as to tell exactly what happens in each segment is to ruin the fun of discovering it yourself.

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Karlovy Vary 2018: Cancer Drama ‘Geula’ Tests the Boundaries of Faith

This piece is written by our guest writer Redmond Bacon.

The piety of an Orthodox Jew is tested in Geula (Redemption), a touching Israeli drama about the nature of religion, family and friendship. Unforced in its themes and unhurried in its development, its draws its quiet power from a strong central performance by Moshe Folkenflik.

He plays Menachem, who, to borrow the title of a Coen Brothers movie, is a very serious man indeed. Never seen without his yarmulke (sometimes even wearing it under a baseball cap) Menny is a strict follower of the Hasidic faith. Six years widowed, he even uses an old-school match-making service – known as The Shidduch – to find a new wife.

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Karlovy Vary 2018: ‘The Fireflies are Gone’ Captures the Complexities of Growing Up

This piece is written by our guest writer Redmond Bacon.

Coming of age can be a messy process. Caught in a limbo between the dull present and an unknowable future, teenagers have to navigate both their sense of self and who they would like to become. For Léo (Karelle Tremblay), only a month away from finishing school, the burden of expectation becomes too much. Not only does she tell her mother’s friends that she doesn’t know what she wants to do next, but she actually runs away from her own birthday dinner. Reminiscent of when Lady Bird, annoyed at her mother, simply jumps out of the car, this is a clear signal that this girl is going to live her life on her own terms, much to the consternation of those around her.

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