Too Late to Die Young (Dominga Sotomayor, 2018)

Recipient of this year’s Leopard for Best Direction in the International Competition at Locarno, Too Late to Die Young is not Dominga Sotomayor’s first feature since her debut breakthrough Thursday Till Sunday (2012), as the 58-minute Mar (2014) premiered in between. It does, however, feel like a direct continuation of that first feature’s preoccupation with the implications of parents’ life-altering decisions upon the children they take along for the ride. In Thursday Till Sunday, a road trip was the backdrop for a story of a teen discovering her parents may be separating, while Too Late to Die Young, which opens with another car journey, is concerned with multiple children being uprooted…

Full review for Sight & Sound

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Locarno 2018. Interfaces and Headspaces

The so-called ‘desktop movie,’ a film visually told predominantly or entirely through the setup of a computer screen, has had a couple of high-profile examples over the last few years. Among these are Nacho Vigalondo’s Open Windows (2014), Patrick Cederberg and Walter Woodman’s short Noah (2013), and, most notably in terms of mainstream success, Levan Gabriadze’s Unfriended (2014). 2018 would seem to be a major year for the genre, if you can call it a genre just yet, with the wide release of sequel Unfriended: Dark Web, Timur Bekmambetov’s Profile playing festivals, and now the release, through Sony, of Aneesh Chaganty’s Searching. It is worth noting that Bekmambetov also produced the two of those 2018 titles he didn’t direct, so there’s at least one benefactor devoted to making the form catch on. With the exception of something like Kevin B. Lee’s essay film Transformers: The Premake(2014), the desktop movies that have gained critical or commercial traction have tended to stick to the mode of horror. Given that the Internet’s terrors seem endless, it’s an understandable creative instinct. Searching stands out, though, as it’s firmly in the mode of an investigative thriller: after his 16-year-old daughter disappears, a desperate father (John Cho) breaks into her laptop to find any clues he can in order to find her. At this year’s Locarno Festival, Searching played late at night to up to 8,000 attendees in the open-air cinema at the Piazza Grande. In the context of the festival as a whole, an interesting comparison to the film came in the form of an entry in the festival’s Signs of Life strand, devoted to experimental cinema…

Full feature for MUBI Notebook

Terminal (Vaughn Stein, 2018)

One of the funnier personality types in a good comedy is an incredibly stupid character who thinks they’re incredibly smart. On the other hand, one of the most unbearable types of film to sit through is one where a projection of wily intelligence proves to be masking a dunderheaded vacuum. On that note, here’s a review of Terminal

Full review for VODzilla.co

A Touch of Sin, A Touch of Class

Alongside directing some of the most vital Chinese films of recent memory (including A Touch of SinThe WorldPlatformStill Life and many more), Jia Zhang-ke is also a teacher at a Shanghai film school. As such, the director was happy to take some time out of his schedule as the President of this year’s Concorso internazionale Jury to speak to this year’s Filmmakers Academy class at Locarno, alongside members of the Critics and Industry Academies…

Full feature for Locarno Daily

Locarno: Leonardo Guerra Seràgnoli on ‘Likemeback’

Following his first feature in 2014, the Rinko Kikuchi-led “Last Summer”, Italian writer-director Leonardo Guerra Seràgnoli returns with “Likemeback,” a young women-led drama exploring smartphone addiction. This time around, he follows three Italian teenagers – played by Angela Fontana, Denise Tantucci and Blu Yoshimi – on a boat-based vacation in Croatia, celebrating the end of high school. They share everything on social media, but their addiction to those platforms, along with conflicts concerning their insecurities, take multiple dark turns that look to be life-ruining.

As “Likemeback” received its world premiere at this year’s Locarno Festival, Seràgnoli spoke to Variety about the film’s themes concerning social media, collaborating with his stars on the story, and the appeal of setting a social media cautionary tale out at sea…

Full interview for Variety

Xavier Giannoli talks MUBI’s ‘The Apparition’

From the director of Marguerite and The Singer, The Apparition is a French drama concerning a journalist (Vincent Lindon) being hired by the Vatican to assist with a canonical investigation into a young woman (Galatéa Bellugi) in a small French village, who claims to have been visited by the Virgin Mary.

With MUBI now releasing The Apparition in British cinemas and on their service at a later date, we spoke to writer-director Xavier Giannoli about his procedural drama just before the film’s British premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival…

Full interview for VODzilla.co

The Apparition (Xavier Giannoli, 2018)

Following his 2015 film Marguerite, a comedy drama loosely inspired by a true story, writer-director Xavier Giannoli returns with a drama that’s all about determining the truth in a story…

Full review for VODzilla.co

Writing by Josh Slater-Williams