Elevate Difference

Reviews tagged film

Unruly Girls, Unrepentant Mothers: Redefining Feminism on Screen

Unruly Girls, Unrepentant Mothers: Redefining Feminism on Screen by Kathleen Rowe Karlyn is a fascinating look into the movies and television I watched as a kid. As a woman in my mid-twenties, I can safely say that my age group, for the most part, was the target audience when the films and television shows mentioned in the book were being produced. Or, at least, one of the target audiences.

Elena Undone

When I discovered that the director of Elena Undone was the same Nicole Conn who’d directed Claire of the Moon, I was a bit nervous.

Sleepwalking Land

Based on the novel by Mia Couto, Sleepwalking Land showcases the bittersweet journey of an older man and a boy as they meander through the war-ravaged countryside of Mozambique. Initially, Muidinga and “Uncle” Tuahir are seeking the basics: food, shelter, and safety from traveling gangs. Tuahir had pretended to be Muidinga’s uncle when they were residing in the Xalala refugee camp. The boy was presumed dead until Tuahir noticed otherwise, and by claiming a familial bond, the man was able to take the boy under his wing.

I Am From Titov Veles (Jas Sum Od Titov Veles)

The film begins with a visual icon of the industrial world: the factory’s spires rising like a cathedral, emitting billows of smoke into the sky. Then, a woman’s legs, wrapped like a present in ribboned slippers and a skirt of delicate fabric. She is walking quickly along a wall; she is hurrying. Behind her, out of focus, a man rides on a machine in the factory yard. It becomes obvious that she is surrounded by a workers’ strike, and she sits down and suddenly notices a tiny bug on her hand. She is delighted, in awe.

Partir (Leaving)

David McKenzie’s Asylum is a flawed but breathtakingly compelling portrait of violent sexual obsession, deception, and mental illness. Unremittingly dark, this film also presents us with a woman who rails against the constraints placed on women in 1950s middle class Britain. Stella (Natasha Richardson) is a bored housewife who makes her home on the grounds of a mental hospital outside London.

The Air is on Fire, David Lynch (9/24/2010)

A couple of years ago, David Lynch spoke at my graduate school. At one of the top communication colleges in the country, he refused to take media questions and would only talk about transcendental meditation. Flanked by men in suits who sat in high-backed chairs behind him on the stage, Lynch urged us each to dive into the reflecting pool of our soul. One woman stood at a mic in the auditorium aisle and said, “I meditate, and I understand your films.”

Le Refuge (The Refuge)

A film like Francois Ozon’s Le Refuge could only be French. It is beautifully shot, populated with complicated and not and entirely likable characters, and deals with taboo subject matters in a nuanced fashion. The film centers on Mousse (Isabelle Carré), a sharp-tongued young woman who struggles with heroin addiction. When her lover Louis (Melville Poupaud) dies from and overdose and she finds out she’s pregnant, she decides to keep the baby against the wishes of Louis’ aristocratic mother and escapes Paris for a beach-getaway in rural France.

My Tehran for Sale

Granaz Moussavi’s documentary-style film (winner of an Independent Spirit Award in 2009) is an understated peek inside the contradictory nature of everyday life in Iran. My Tehran for Sale opens with a scene that would probably be familiar to many Westerners: young adults at a rave. Things suddenly take a turn when Iranian moral police raid the barn where the party is being held to arrest and assault party-goers.


Winner of the Amnesty International Film Prize at the Berlin Film Festival in 2009, Storm is the story of prosecutor Hannah Maynard’s (Kerry Fox) and key witness Mira Arendt’s (Anamaria Marinca) struggle to obtain justice through the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the Hague. This docudrama directed by Hans-Christian Schmid derives from the real life story of international criminal prosecutor Hildegard Uertz.

Words and Money

The creative culture industries have always been, and will continue to be, an important arena of concern for feminist politics. This is not only because feminism has had to rigorously contest the regressive versions of femininity mass produced by these industries for mainstream audiences but also because feminism has challenged these perceptions by generating alternative media, literature, and film.

The Things We Carry

The Things We Carry tells the story of two sisters coping with the death of their drug-addicted mother Sunny (Alexis Rhee). After leaving her mother and sister Eve (Catherine Kresge) to travel the globe, Emmie (Alyssa Lobit) returns home upon news of her mother’s death.


Manchester is taking a photograph of his girlfriend Noon. She’s asleep. He develops the film while she naps and goes outside to lay on a dingy blanket on the gravel driveway that leads to their makeshift garage-turned-apartment. Did she consent to being documented? No one seems to care. When Noon wakes up, she goes outside naked and has sex with Manchester in broad daylight. A seemingly enviable hipster couple sequestered from the world in their own squalid little space, it doesn’t take long for things to go south.

Adrift (Choi Voi)

At last year's Venice Film Festival, Adrift won the FIPRESCI (International Federation of Film Critics) Prize. With its lush scenery, layered characters, and startling soundtrack, it’s not hard to see why the film stood out to an international panel of jurors. The film is in Vietnamese with English subtitles and is set in various Vietnamese locales, including Hanoi, Quang Ninh, and Hoi An. Jam-packed streets filled with tiny tuk-tuks and motorcycles are juxtaposed with lonely, gorgeous beach campfires at sunset.

The Cinematic Life of the Gene

The Cinematic Life of the Gene is a challenging and complex collection of essays that uses cinematic representations of genetics and cloning to consider the cultural impact of genetic breakthroughs. Jackie Stacey draws on some of the most well known theoretical works regarding cinema, art, and the body to consider the fascinating link between cinema and genomics.

Dinner for Schmucks

In the formulaic plots that have developed in mainstream comedies over the last several years the re-occurring theme seems to be male idiocy. The Will Ferrells and Steve Carrells of the comedy world have delighted in creating man-children characters who don’t exist on the normal plane of human intelligence. They come equipped with stock sex jokes, like not understanding the female anatomy, or overconfidence that their incorrect knowledge of basic vocabulary is accurate.

The Extra Man

Based on the Jonathan Ames novel of the same title, The Extra Man is a film about, among other things, the amusing network of personal eccentricities that are produced when people engage with each other in society.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

Bella Swan has never been a character I’ve related to. She’s frustratingly timid, overwhelmingly insecure, and apparently has no interests or hobbies aside from her obsession with Edward Cullen. Sure, she’s had her redeeming moments, and yes, it was Bella who saved Edward from exposing himself to the Volturi in New Moon.

The Karate Kid

Age has always been a dicey variable in the Karate Kid universe. In The Karate Kid, Part III — perhaps the most preposterous entry in the series — the twenty-eight-year-old Ralph Macchio passed himself off as a “kid” abandoning college, with his character dating the seventeen-year-old Robyn Lively (thus lending a creepy and statutory quality to the relationship). This time around, the “kid” is truly a kid — even if the “karate” is kung fu and not karate.

The Red Riding Trilogy

Movies about rape, murder, and child abuse should not be photographed this beautifully. Channel Four Film’s Red Riding Trilogy, shown as a miniseries in the UK but as three movies in the U.S., is one larger story connected by characters, place and the unrepentant horror of Yorkshire, in the northern England. In the north, as the characters say, they do what they want. The three films are set in three years, 1974, 1980, and 1983, respectively.

Robin Hood

Being the rabid Ridley Scott fan that I am, last week I went to go see his new movie, Robin Hood, at the theatre.

Afghan Star

One of my favorite bands, The Avett Brothers, have a lyric in one of their songs claiming, “May you never be embarrassed to sing.” Since viewing Havana Marking’s documentary, Afghan Star, this lyric has been on repeat in my brain, reminding me, as Afghan Star aptly illustrates, if embarrassment is all that we have to risk, the

Get Low

Robert Duvall. Sissy Spacek. Bill Murray. If that’s not an easy sell, I’m not entirely sure what film would be. As expected, the acting in Get Low is phenomenal across the board. Even up and comer Lucas Black more than holds his own with these legends. The acting is the magic the movie tries so hard to make. Unfortunately, the allure of the fanciful southern folktale misses the mark. There are magic moments but Get Low fails to sustain itself consistently.

Nakigao (Crying Girl)

You may have already heard about Nakigao (Crying Girl), a DVD released in Japan last month. It features eleven young Japanese actresses crying over real-life dramas they’ve had. And… that’s about it. The DVD is being marketed toward Japanese men, either for sexual or ego enjoyment purposes.

Waking Sleeping Beauty

We all know the Disney Renaissance well.

From Criminality to Equality: 40 Years of Lesbian and Gay Movement History in Canada

I was around eight years old when I went to my first Pride parade with my mom and her girlfriend. I was fourteen when my mom went on national television for a campaign demanding the right to marry for lesbians and gays. And I was twenty-five when I married my long-term girlfriend within months of same-sex marriages becoming legal in my country.

The Runaways

There’s nothing quite like entering a movie theatre on a bright, sunny day and getting completely engulfed in both the darkness of the space you're in and the story being told.

Dowaha (Buried Secrets)

Dowaha (Buried Secrets) is the second feature film by Tunisian director Raja Amari. The film follows the story of Aicha, a teenage girl who lives with her spinster sister and older mother in the basement of a crumbling, abandoned mansion in a remote area. The women are hiding from something unknown and live in a different reality of total seclusion, other than the occasional trip into town to sell piecework at a fabric shop.

Act of God: Meditations on Lightning, Life and Chance

What happens to a person whose life is touched by lightning? How does getting struck by lightning—or losing a loved one to lightning—change a person’s world view? Are such events random acts of nature or are certain people destined to be struck by lightning? Questions of fate, destiny, God’s will, and nature’s intention permeate Act of God: Meditations on Lightning, Life and Chance, a 2008 film directed by Jennifer Baichwal. Baichwal says the idea behind the film was a simple question: how do people find meaning in randomness?

An Oscar Win for International Women’s Day

The Oscars have been over for five minutes. My cheeks are flushed, there are tears in my eyes, and my stomach is doing flips. It has finally happened! A woman has won the Academy Award for Best Direction and Best Picture. The winner is not just any woman, but Kathryn Bigelow, the amazing genre filmmaker and director of The Hurt Locker.

Woman's Prison

Although Woman’s Prison is not a documentary, writer/director Katie Madonna Lee presents a realistic story of poverty and the struggles women, children, and to some degree, men face who experience it. From birth, Julie Ann Mabry is a quiet, shy person, who just wants to be safe with her mother (played by Lee). Sadly, her father takes away that option by murdering her mother, and she is left quietly battling predators, including her uncle. When Julie encounters heart-wrenching situations, she does not lose hope.