I Am Not Your Negro (2017)

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Image via miff.com.au

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This unusually constructed documentary is an illustrated recitation of the words of James Baldwin, American writer and social critic. It begins with a letter to his agent about an idea to write the stories of Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X, all men who are outspoken about civil rights and all assassinated in the 60s. Continue reading

This Beautiful Fantastic (2016)

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Image via imdb.com

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This slightly oddball, feel good film is formulaic in many ways but with idiosyncratic styling that lends it an off-kilter, other-worldliness. Beginning with a fairy tale realism, we see Bella Brown (Jessica Brown Findlay) abandoned as a baby in a park. Watched over by ducks until she is found, she grows up without a family and with a fear and loathing of nature.  Continue reading

Israfil (2017)

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Image via iran.britishcouncil.org

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The second feature from Iranian director Ida Panahandeh, Israfil is a quiet exploration of the repercussions of the cultural oppression dealt with much more histrionically in Leila. Unlike Leila, where the thoughts of the protagonists were spelt out to us, Panahandeh lets us watch and feel and imagine. Continue reading

Leila (1997)

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Cultural oppression is a battering ram that destroys everything in its path. There are those who help wield it and those who throw their hands up in protest but do nothing. So it is with the lives of Leila (Leila Hatami) and Reza (Ali Mosaffa). Married because of family expectation but finding love and companionship, their problems begin when Leila finds she can’t have children. Continue reading

Negar (2017)

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Image via filcin.com

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Introduced by the director of the Iranian Film Festival Australia (IFFA) as a rare example of an Iranian action film, I expected a touch of Hollywood and a breakneck pace but Negar was much more. Better described as a subdued psychological thriller, Negar weaves a fragmented but compelling story as the eponymous heroine struggles to understand her father’s apparent suicide. Continue reading

Passengers (2016)

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Passengers is a neat example of how female characters are stereotyped in Hollywood films. With only four named characters of substance, it’s not surprisingly that only one is female, Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence). Her role is to meet the romantic and sexual needs of the hero, Jim Preston (Chris Pratt), and to provide a framework for the essential goodness and heroism of his masculinity by personifying the worst of archetypal femininity. If you plan on seeing this film, and I wouldn’t rush out to do so, perhaps read no further. I won’t give away any plot points that aren’t obvious from the outset but I will probably say enough about the characters that you have a pretty good idea of the entire film. So, spoilers. Continue reading