Category Archives: Reviews

1985 (Yen Tan, 1985)

In 1987, a group of gay activists in New York formed the Silence = Death Project, which began with the plastering of posters around the city featuring a pink triangle against a black background with the statement ‘Silence = Death’ below it. The group’s manifesto addressed the ongoing AIDS crisis, declaring that the silence about the oppression and annihilation of gay people must be broken as a matter of survival. Their logo would later be offered to the protest group ACT UP, with which it remains closely identified, as recently seen in Robin Campillo’s film, 120 BPM. Alongside the calling out of other institutional forces like the Vatican and the Food and Drug Administration, the Silence = Death Project’s original poster also included the question “Why is Reagan silent about AIDS?”.

Set two years before this project’s launch, 1985’s writer-director Yen Tan uses silence to address both the stigmatisation of the Reagan administration and the growing AIDS epidemic. The words “gay” and “AIDS” are never spoken onscreen, but their significance looms large over this muted, moving drama, where the only real ostentatious quality is the decision to shoot it in black and white and on Super 16mm film…

Full review for VODzilla.co

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I Think We’re Alone Now (Reed Morano, 2018)

In the majority of post-apocalyptic stories, when there’s seemingly a lone survivor in the world, one of the major struggles the character tends to face is intense loneliness. I Think We’re Alone Now differs from most in the genre in that its lead is content in their solitude. When it turns out more of humanity’s survived than they thought, it’s actually an inconvenience…

Full review for SciFiNow

Waru (Various, 2017)

In Māori, ‘waru’ means ‘eight’, and appropriately this anthology feature is directed by eight different Māori women. Comprised of eight single-take sequences following different Māori women on the morning of a tangi (funeral) for a young boy, also named Waru, every chapter starts with the timestamp of 9:59am, implying that each sequence is happening concurrently.

But this is not a case of following eight different parties who all just happen to be congregating at the same service. While some segments concern people on the ground at the tangi, including Waru’s two grandmothers, others come nowhere near it…

Full review for Little White Lies

Mandy (Panos Cosmatos, 2018)

If his 2010 debut feature Beyond the Black Rainbow established Panos Cosmatos as a director whose filmmaking style is hard to define, follow-up Mandy pretty much cements it…

Full review for VODzilla.co

Shirkers (Sandi Tan, 2018)

From Jodorowsky’s Dune to a film about Tim Burton’s cancelled Superman, documentaries about movies that never got made have proved a popular prospect over recent years. Sandi Tan’s energetic Shirkers, ostensibly an entry in this subgenre, differs for a few reasons.

Firstly, it’s directed by the helmer of the original film it concerns, which shares the same name. Secondly, it’s about an independent Singapore-made film the world never got to see, rather than a Hollywood property. Finally, and most crucially, the original Shirkers was actually completed. The reason it was never released is because one strange individual involved in production stole all of the film’s materials once the 1992 shoot had wrapped…

Full review for Little White Lies

MFKZ (Shôjirô Nishimi/Guillaume Renard, 2017)

Scattered throughout animation MFKZ (aka Mutafukaz) – a collaboration between French company Ankama Animation and Japanese studio Studio 4°C (Tekkonkinkreet, Mind Game) – are a number of narrative-interrupting title cards that reflect something about the film’s various eccentricities. Some are posed as questions before expository information, such as in the case of ‘Who Are These Mysterious Wrestlers?’ One, in particular, stands out: ‘The Movies Have Never Seen Sh*t Like This!’ Although you can trace the DNA of a few notable influences, They Live and Akira among them, one might find that an accurate summation of MFKZ as a whole…

Full review for SciFiNow

Maniac (Cary Joji Fukunaga, 2018)

Netflix miniseries Maniac, from Patrick Somerville (The Leftovers) and Cary Joji Fukunaga (True Detective), is an enticing prospect even before taking the stacked cast into account. Led by Emma Stone and Jonah Hill, it also has Sally Field, Justin Theroux and Sonoya Mizuno (Ex Machina) supporting, with the likes of Gabriel Byrne and Hank Azaria regularly popping up…

Full review for SciFiNow