Alexandra Zawia

TIFF 2014 | Los Hongos (Oscar Ruiz Nava, Colombia) — Discovery

By Alexandra Zawia / September 7, 2014

By Alexandra Zawia Los Hongos translates to “The Mushrooms,” and while there are a couple of joints smoked in Oscar Ruiz Navia’s follow-up to his acclaimed debut feature Crab Trap, the alluded-to hallucinogens never arrive. Metaphorically speaking, young graffiti artists Ras (Jovan Alexis Marquinez Angulo) and Calvin (Calvin Buenaventura Tacon) might be mushrooms; their street-art…

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TIFF 2014 | From What Is Before (Lav Diaz, Philippines) — Wavelengths

By Alexandra Zawia / September 3, 2014

By Alexandra Zawia Golden Leopard winner Lav Diaz’ From What Is Before is (pace Michael Haneke) the chronology of a mass murder. It’s the anatomy of a barrio in the rural remoteness of Manila’s coast, and a reflection on individual and collective strength and failure when outward conditions change. It’s an associative analysis of a…

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TIFF 2014 | Amour fou (Jessica Hausner, Austria/Luxembourg/Germany) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Alexandra Zawia / September 2, 2014

By Alexandra Zawia Biographies reveal that the German Romantic writer Heinrich Von Kleist always wanted to die. When you consider that his witty, darkly subversive, socially critical and emotionally charged body of work never got the recognition it deserved in his lifetime, that death wish is easier to understand. Still, some trepidation on his part…

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TIFF 2013 | Why Don’t You Play in Hell? (Sono Sion, Japan)—Midnight Madness

By Alexandra Zawia / September 4, 2013

By Alexandra Zawia Sono Sion’s cinema is marked by disproportion. Taking great pleasure in busting through form and conventions, his films are often regarded as being “too” everything: too loud, too violent, too implausible, etc. Why Don’t You Play in Hell? is all that, and much more. Its entertainment value defies any rational analysis, and…

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TIFF 2013 | Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón, US/UK)—Special Presentation

By Alexandra Zawia / September 3, 2013

By Alexandra Zawia To start with the obvious, the visuals in Gravity are impeccable, which is not due simply to the presence of virtuoso cinematographer Emmanuel Luzbeki—Alfonso Cuarón understands the spatial possibilities of the frame. Characteristically using reflections to add depth to an image, he finds himself an a priori amplified playground in a film…

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TIFF 2013 | We are the Best! (Lukas Moodysson, Sweden/Denmark)—Special Presentation

By Alexandra Zawia / September 3, 2013

By Alexandra Zawia Boredom and sports are the most prominent enemies in the lives of two pre-teen girls in urban, middle-class Sweden in 1982, which gives them a perfect reason to form a punk band, even though they can neither sing nor play any instrument. Setting out to prove that “Punk’s not dead,” Klara (Mira…

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TIFF 2013 | Night Moves (Kelly Reichardt, USA)—Special Presentation

By Alexandra Zawia / September 3, 2013

By Alexandra Zawia It’s remarkable how Kelly Reichardt takes on different genres and makes them her own, undermining expectations by moving elliptically within specific conventions and creating a radical atmosphere. In Meek’s Cutoff, she chose to shoot a Western from the restricted perspectives of her characters, as if from underneath the brims of their hats,…

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TIFF 2013 | Joe (David Gordon Green, USA)—Special Presentation

By Alexandra Zawia / September 3, 2013

By Alexandra Zawia Ex-con Joe (Nicolas Cage), last name Ransom, is a right-doer with a killer dog in a fucked-up, miserable world deep down South ruled by unemployment and an economic situation for which the word “crisis” is inadequate. It’s a place inhabited by alcoholic and abusive parents, hookers, and teenagers who are trying to…

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