Everything Everywhere All At Once

a24/139 mins.

Ronan Moore

If you want to read a quick review: it’s as good as everyone says it is.

I got the privilege to see this alongside my fellow filmmakers at UNCSA, and both times I saw it, they talked about how evident it was that Daniels (the directing duo of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) absolutely love making movies. They’re not selective, they’re not picky; they love everything about making and watching all different kinds of movies. The brand of these particular directors can be off-putting for some, as they veer in the direction of very silly and zany setups before revealing the true heart underneath. I strongly hope to see more from them after this, but they made Everything Everywhere All At Once like it was the last film they were ever going to make, and you can tell in the best possible way.

The films follows Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh), an older woman who runs a laudromat with her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan). Evelyn finds herself rather displeased with her life, with a daughter (Stephanie Hsu) who never calls and endless taxes to hash out. On the day she goes to visit the IRS in hopes to resolve things with the inspector (Jamie Lee Curtis), she’s swept up into an incredible adventure across the infinite multiverse, tasked with stopping the nefarious Jobu Tupaki, who’s closer to Evelyn than Evelyn may realize.

I find the best way to describe films from Daniels is to take two elements that you wouldn’t believe are from the same film. In this film, you will find Michelle Yeoh fighting two men in order to prevent either from inserting a buttplug, and in the same runtime, you will find Michelle Yeoh convincing someone why it’s worth it to live your life regardless of how small you may feel when existence is so big. It’s ridiculous and it’s tender. It’s insanity and it’s loving. I have seen many brazen souls shed a tear at this incredible feat of filmmaking. Believe it or not, this is a stroke of googly-eyed genius.

Jasper Mall


window pictures/84 mins.

by ronan moore

As I’ve grown up, I’ve asked my mom a lot of questions about what she did when she was my age. One thing that was a certified staple of her teen years was going to the mall with friends. Decades ago, malls were the place to be, but evidently, their prominence as social spaces has faded due to the advent of shopping online and other technological advances that have worn down the attractiveness of what malls have to offer. More malls are closing everyday, and thus, stories like the ones found in Jasper Mall are becoming harder and harder to find.

Jasper Mall tells the story of a lot of folks, but the documentary centers around a superintendent/security officer/caretaker named Mike. Mike provides a lot of history around the mall, from its inception and success in the 80’s to its slow but sure quelling of occupants. We also meet many of the storeowners, even as several of them prepare to pack up and leave, knowing that maintaining a future there is not viable. Even so, the mall is not dead. We meet a few of the previously mentioned occupants, like an interracial high school couple and a group of men who gather to play dominoes every afternoon. In a way, at the expense of the mall’s success, the viewer gets to know everyone on camera more intimately.

Thanks to a Q&A session with Bradford Thomason, one of the directors, the audience got to learn more about the ideas behind the making of the documentary and even more about the people featured in the film. Apparently, there was a shoplifiting incident that Mike removed his mic to go take care of, much to the chagrin of Thomason and Brett Whitcomb, the other director. There were moments and places that they hoped to capture, but weren’t able to for one reason or another. In general, it was a delightful experience to be able to learn about this place that used to be enormous; and though its emptiness has grown, there will always be a lot of soul within the walls of this old mall in Jasper, Alabama.

a/perture was delighted to host this film and Q&A for one night only. Thomason also confirmed that physical versions of the film will become available, so keep an eye out for that!

2022 Oscars – Documentary Shorts

by Ronan Moore and Brandon Yunker

Audible:

I remember high school football games as explosive, cacophonous events. Being in the marching band, there was rarely a second where I wasn’t surrounded by noise. That said, even though I’ve slightly damaged my hearing (wear proper ear protection, folks), I could never imagine living in a world where the only way you are capable of interfacing with sound is by feeling it. When you see these kids living in that every day, it is bound to make you think about a few things.

Audible follows the football team at Maryland School For The Deaf, and I want to say that it’s not around until the 10-minute mark until we hear a word spoken, and even longer until there’s genuine narration like one is usually expecting from a documentary. Because of that, the time we get in the interviews with the teammates feels much more intimate, especially when it comes to creative sound design that does a lot to simulate what a deaf football player’s experience might be like on the field.

We closely follow Amaree for the majority of the runtime, getting to know his history and his struggles, as well as his strengths. Through sign language, he speaks intelligently and thoughtfully about the people in his life, much more so than a lot of people I’ve met over the course of my life. Whether he’s talking about the relationship he’s slowly building back up with his once-absent father, or reflecting on his late friend Teddy, Amaree’s perspective on things is, in all honesty, one I wish to adopt.

I’ll admit, I never really went to football games willingly – I was required to as part of my school’s marching band. I was invested in the game maybe once or twice a season. Now, I’m here wishing I’d gotten to know people better. The skill and determination that this Maryland team exudes is one every viewer can learn from. Though Audible doesn’t shy away from saddening and difficult material, it proposes an inspiring spitfire attitude towards life. No matter what adversity you face in life, if you have the courage to keep going forward, you can accomplish incredible things.

When We Were Bullies:

Jay Rosenblatt has been in the filmmaking game for a while. He has experience with crafting an interesting presentation around a story. I’ll give him credit for the unique aesthetic he manages to accomplish over the course of this film’s runtime. But as you get further and further into this film, you start to realize something about Rosenblatt himself: he’s a jerk.

 When We Were Bullies tells the story of a bullying incident where an entire fifth grade class ganged up on a kid named Richard (referred to as Dick throughout the documentary) and savagely beat him for something that wasn’t his fault. Rosenblatt actually interviews another man named Richard, who was the person that was actually responsible for what Dick had allegedly done. As Rosenblatt reaches out to more of his classmates, they all express some regret for the events that had occurred.

Rosenblatt even interviews the teacher of his class, who remarks that this film could end up being ‘tedious’. I have to say, she wasn’t wrong. Rosenblatt’s aesthetic was not intriguing enough that I wasn’t wishing I wasn’t doing something else with my time. That is, until the closing minutes roll around. Because of Dick’s declining of an interview about the event that was more than likely quite traumatic for him, Rosenblatt takes the opportunity to make the film about himself and his classmates. He expresses a strange pride in pointing out that we’ll never get to hear from Dick, and despite filling his last minutes with sympathy pleas for the people who bullied Dick, he ends it with an apology that couldn’t feel more hollow.

We all love when a film shocks us with something we didn’t expect to witness, but I have to make an exception to that rule. I was unexpectedly disappointed by the lack of growth displayed in Rosenblatt’s conclusion about the events that transpired. Every second he spent pontificating on how the sympathy should be directed toward the bullies, the more I balked at my screen at the blatant ignorance of someone else’s feelings. If I can urge you to do anything with this article, it’s to have some sympathy for your fellow human beings. You may not be perfect, but I can promise you this, readers: you’ll be a better person than Jay Rosenblatt.

The Queen of Basketball

Good documentaries allow us to meet people from all walks of life and to explore as much of their lives as they are willing to share. The Queen of Basketball allows us the privilege of getting to know one of the greatest basketball players ever in Lusia Harris. Harris was a pioneer in women’s athletics, winning three national championships, an Olympic silver medal and the only woman to ever be drafted by an NBA team. 

The documentary follows Lusia’s life as the daughter of sharecroppers to legendary athlete to coach and mother. Her story is told through her own words, allowing us to be charmed by her personality and her spirit. The film is well edited, flowing between archival materials and interviews with Lusia. The film touches upon several aspects of who she was, and what a remarkable person she was. The film explores how she connects race, gender, and even mental illness as she describes her struggles with her post-basketball life. 

Timing is a tragic element to Lusia’s story. Part of legacy is that she was the “first” for so many things that were not that long ago. She was the only black athlete on the women’s team, she scored the first points in women’s Olympic basketball, and she was the first female inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. But unfortunately for Lusia, the NCAA didn’t it acknowledge women’s basketball until after she graduated. And upon graduating there was no genuine women’s professional basketball league in the United States as the WNBA did not arrive until 1996. Ultimately, the fact that film has been nominated is poignant as its nomination comes after Lusia’s death in January. 

The Queen of Basketball manages to pack in all these issues into twenty-three minutes of conversation with Lusia Harris. And while the film is distressing in exploring how society couldn’t keep up with Harris, in listening to Lusia, one can’t help but feel that she doesn’t let the inequalities that she faced define her spirit and attitude. Despite pondering what might have been, she stands on her own two as a legend for so many people, and as the title states, the true queen of basketball.

Three Cheers for Benazir

Three Cheers for Benazir introduces us to a young and displaced Afghan refugee named Shaista who is at a crossroads. He has just married his sweetheart Benazir and is starting a family with her while he is contemplating joining the Afghan army to bring honor and a stable paycheck to his family as well as pursue an education and the opportunities it provides. 

The film is beautifully shot and plays like a narrative film. In fact, the way that the events unfold as we watch Shaista struggle with the decision almost feels like a narrative. We follow him as he meets with his family and various friends as he begins the process of applying for the military only to face opposition from everyone he knows. By the end of the film, we find out his decision amidst tragic circumstances as his family attempts to keep afloat amidst the turmoil that has engulfed their home for decades.

Three Cheers for Benazir is a film about decisions and their consequences. It is hard to ignore that while Shaista is struggling to decide his future, something not so different from what any young person faces, he must consider the decisions made by all the parties involved in the War in Afghanistan. Like The Queen of Basketball, it is a timely film as it was originally released only months before the fall of Kabul by the Taliban in 2021. The beauty of the cinematography and the intimacy with which we follow Shaista and his family only underscores the sobering account of how a person is to navigate tough decisions with no discernible clear path ahead.

Lead Me Home

It is estimated that there are half a million people who are homeless in the United States on any given night. It affects people from all walks of life, of different backgrounds, of different generations. And you may very likely know someone who has been homeless for a period of their life, whether it was for a substantial amount of time or a brief period. 

Lead Me Home captures the depths of what homelessness looks and sounds like. It features interviews with a diverse collection of individuals who describe some of what they’ve experienced and what they feel they need. The film intercuts between these interviews and cinema verité’ sequences with some of the interviewed subjects as well as volunteers attempting to assist the homeless as well as government officials trying to get a grasp of how to address homelessness. The film takes place in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle over a four-year period and these locations are just as much a subject as the people who are interviewed. The always moving and always breathing cities don’t offer any type of refuge for the subjects as we observe them trying to make tough decision about their day-to-day life. It is sobering to hear their stories and watch them, knowing that there are so many more people like them in a city near you. And while the film clearly tries to bring awareness to this issue, it does so in a way that doesn’t feel heavy-handed and gives us a more nuanced representation of this issue and causing us to think about it in a different way.  

Licorice Pizza

by Brandon Yunker

“Just say yes. Even if you don’t know how to do something, just say yes.” The lesson for working as an actor in Hollywood comes around the middle of Paul Thomas Anderson’ s LICORICE PIZZA. There is something so simple and yet so powerful about this affirmation. It’s freeing. It’s optimistic. And it’s infectious, just like the film itself.

The ninth film by Paul Thomas Anderson follows the budding relationship between the adrift 25-year-old Alana Kane (played by Alana Haim) and the 15-year-old go-getter Gary Valentine (played by Cooper Hoffman) as they seek to find success, and their sense of purpose in the early 1970’s San Fernando Valley. The return to the Valley, is a bit of homecoming for Anderson. A native of Los Angeles, several of his films have used it as a backdrop, including Boogie Nights and Magnolia. But what’s different this time is that Licorice Pizza is a light-hearted romp into the wonderfully awkward years of young adulthood. Sure, there are stakes, but for the most part they aren’t particularly high. The film captures the golden years of self-discovery through its charming and dynamic characters of Alana and Gary. 

The film revolves around the couple that is clearly interested in taking their relationship to a serious level, but neither one of them is sure about the other’s commitment. Alana is facing pressure as the youngest daughter of a well-to-do family who seems be the only one without any sort of real plan for the future. Gary is an ambitious but aging child actor who is transitioning to the next phase of his life and seeks to become a successful entrepreneur. It is a fascinating dynamic to follow that is played well by the lead performers in their film debut. 

This contrast in characters is what brings a spark to their relationship and what grabs our attention. The pacing of the film is laid back. It’s the early 70’s after all! But there is this electric synergy on screen when we watch Alana and Gary struggle to find their place in the world and with each other. The setting itself provides a rich tapestry of historical events such as the 1973 oil crisis and, as one could imagine, an eccentric variety of entertainment figures ranging from directors and talent agents to producers and politicians. And on top of the pie is the soundtrack featuring music from the era. It’s an effective time capsule, aided by naturalistic lighting.

But what might be most endearing about Licorice Pizza is that it’s funny. Much of the development of plot and characters comes through subtle dialogue and actions that are catchy. I was surprised by how many tidbits of dialogue and phrases in jest were swirling around my head hours and even days after watching the film. The interactions between Alana and Gary are almost never completely honest; they speak around each other and tease one another throughout the film and its cute and refreshing to see them get under each other’s skin. 

Licorice Pizza is its own kind of romantic coming-of-age story. It doesn’t attempt to tell a classic story of romance and young love in a way that most films do. It follows the beat of its own drum which is rooted in faith and persistent optimism that things will work out in the end and that your partner will ultimately have your back. And for the two main characters, that commitment means everything. 

The Batman

by Ronan Moore

warner bros/176 mins.

I’d be surprised if you didn’t know who Batman was. At least nine different films with the name “Batman” have come out since the mid 60’s, all featuring billionaire Bruce Wayne stopping the efforts of a criminal, some sympathetic, some sadistic. Matt Reeves’ interpretation of the Caped Crusader is not an enormous departure from previous entries in the pantheon of Batman, as this entry certainly owes its existence to Nolan’s trilogy. However, I do not think that a director’s love for the character has ever been so apparent. This movie forgoes connections to other DC films in order to completely hone in on a variety of aspects that the character brought to audiences on the page. Reeves’ infatuation with the character makes for a curious case study in fandom, for better or worse.

The Batman starts with this particular interpretation of the character (Robert Pattinson) in his second year of vigilantism in Gotham City. The police know him, and save for Jim Gordon (Jeffery Wright), they don’t much like him. Much to their chagrin, working with Batman is the only chance they have at stopping the newest threat to Gotham – a deranged serial killer with a penchant for brain teasers known simply as The Riddler (Paul Dano). Every member of this cast puts out spectacular performances, with my personal favorite being that of Jeffery Wright, whose casual use of “man” when referring to the guy dressed in gun metal grey gives me a good chuckle.

Unfortunately, I do feel that the film wavers when it comes to consistency across its 3-hour runtime. There are many moments, like the introduction of Pattinson’s Batman, that excited me and even gave me goosebumps, but there are just as many moments where I feel the mystery is drained from this detective story because Matt Reeves seems to struggle with subtlety in a lot of cases, making it feel like you’re being told important plot elements just to move the story along. There are also a handful of plot elements that, while not necessarily poorly written, are not essential to a story that’s already packed so tightly. It’s apparent, after some deliberation, that this movie did not require almost 180 minutes to tell a solid and effective story.

Public perception will be interesting to watch, especially since the Batman character is a role model of many men, young and old, across the world. I think it’s especially interesting when considering the fact that Zoë Kravitz’s Catwoman not only serves as a rather forced love interest out of obligation to source material, but also does not truly get the agency she deserves in her own story. What I hope this film will inspire is conversations about masculinity, and the lessons we take away from a man that is still learning how to truly be a hero. But who knows? Ultimately, it’s an entertaining, if a bit bloated, cinematic experience that is definitely worth an eighth of your day.

Black Cinema 2022 & Black Is Beautiful Exhibition Recap

By Janiah B. Rorie

As we come to the end of February and Black History Month, I want to briefly summarize the experience from my visits to the Reynolda House Museum here in Winston-Salem for the exhibition Black Is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite of which the Black Cinema film series was curated to celebrate. Our featured films were chosen from the 1960s and 1970s to highlight Brathwaite’s participation in the cultural movement that was “Black is Beautiful” which started in the 1960s to combat traditional European and Western beauty standards.

The exhibition focuses on photographs from the Black Arts Movement also known as the Harlem Renaissance, a critical period for African Americans where Brathwaite and his brother cofounded the African Jazz Art Society & Studios which was composed of designers, playwrights, dancers, artists, and the Grandassa models. The Grandassa models are a primary feature of the exhibit, with images of various African American women including Brathwaite’s wife. Also included were some of the garments and jewelry worn by the models at the time for some of the photos that were taken. My favorite part of the exhibition was that there was music playing the entire time that matched the aesthetic of Brathwaite’s photographs, as a lover of both visual and performance art it tied everything in for me in a personal way.

After visiting the Kwame Brathwaite exhibit and seeing all of the films featured in our Black Cinema series here at a/perture, I do wish that more people were able to have the full experience of viewing both the film series in its entirety and the exhibit. Seeing the exhibition once before the full series of films and once after provided a great deal of perspective. I hope in the future people will feel more comfortable to attend these collaborative events as the conversations with those who did come to view the films were engaging and insightful.

2022 Oscars: Animated Shorts

by Ronan Moore

Animation has always been very near and dear to my heart, so it was a joy and a privilege to be able to check out this year’s Oscar-nominated animated short films. I’ll do a short blurb about each, give it my rating, and tell you which one I think should win. I can’t wait any longer to talk about these shorts, so let’s jump into it!

Affairs of the Art

beryl productions/16 mins.

A quirky artist reflects on her life and the people she grew up with, comparing their journeys with her own to ultimately reflect on where they’ve all ended up today.

The fluid style is sincerely impressive, and it’s always nice to see 2D animation in a world where there’s less of it every day. Unfortunately, I can’t say I liked everything else as much as I liked the animation. There’s not much of a story; rather, a series of loosely tied together anecdotes that the protagonist narrates outside of her own scenes. I’m happy to have had the opportunity to see it, but I don’t think it should win.

Rating: /

Bestia (Beast)

maleza studio/16 mins.

A woman, Ingrid, works for the Chilean Intelligence Directorate in 1975. Her relationship with her feelings, her dog and her body all come to a front to reveal the true nature of the situation in which she lives.

A wholly disturbing and authentic look at a piece of Chilean history. The complete lack of words adds to the immediate unsettling nature of the short. The animation style gels well with the type of story being told, and is used in a very clever way at the end. I would encourage you to research “Chilean military dictatorship” if you’re looking for more context behind this short, but be warned; just like in this short, there is no regard for human life or wellbeing. Very uncomfortable, but I must say that it lacks the edge to justify it. I am unsure if it deserves the golden statue.

Rating: ///

BoxBallet

melnitsa animation studio/15 min.

Olya, a talented ballerina, and Evgeny, a roughed-up boxer, meet each other by chance. From there, an unexpected love begins to blossom.

This film never slows down too severely from where it starts, and it’s one of my favorites because of that. I laughed a lot at this one, and while the only spoken words in the entire runtime are rather R-rated, I was really invested in the relationship between the nimble ballet dancer and the gruff boxer! It even offers an interesting realistic twist that, while uncomfortable, ends up making the resolution that much sweeter to witness. I’d be quite happy if this one ended up winning.

Rating: ////

The Windshield Wiper

leo sanchez studio/15 mins.

A lone man in a cafe poses the question: “What is love?” A series of vignettes try to find the answer to his question.

I’ve actually seen this animation style one other time, in a show called Love, Death and Robots that I would emphatically recommend for you to check out on Netflix. But to get back on track, Alberto Mielgo’s vivid, lifelike style is so enchanting to watch – I’m shocked it isn’t rotoscoped. As for the story behind the short, the idea isn’t bad. However, it’s easy to tell that it needed more time in the oven, and that ends up hurting what impact this short could have had. The storytelling that weaves throughout each segment is decent, but nothing to write home about. Definitely worth seeing, but doesn’t hold a candle to this last short.

Rating: ///

Robin Robin

aardman animations/31 mins.

Robin, a bird raised by mice, sets out to find food for her family, and ultimately ends up finding herself in the process.

I should tell you that I’m probably a little biased when it comes to this one. Aardman is responsible for Wallace and Gromit, a franchise that was fundamental in my animation upbringing, and I’ve always been charmed by what they put out. So when they put out a cute musical about a bird growing up with a family of mice, I already knew this one would be my favorite. Adorable character design, whimsical songs, top-notch production design and a heartwarming story? Game over, man. This one should win, and I hope it does. It’s currently streaming on Netflix, so please go check it out.

Rating: /////

I hope y’all have an opportunity to come check these out at a/perture starting this Friday! Click the link below to get your tickets now!

A Look at the Live-Action Oscar Shorts

by Brandon Yunker

Ala Kachuu – Take and Run

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ALA KACHUU (TAKE AND RUN) (Maria Brendle, 2020) is a film designed to bring awareness to an issue, in this case, the concept of bride kidnapping. For this very reason alone, the film succeeds. I certainly wasn’t aware of the practice that, despite still its illegality, is still occurring in Kyrgyzstan. But beyond simply bringing attention to this issue, the short is well-crafted, following the journey of a young woman named Sezim (Alina Turdumamatova), who seeks to live her own life in the face of cultural customs and the frightening practice of ala kachuu. 

The film opens with Sezim setting her sights on studying in the big city, only to find herself at odds with her traditionalist mother. She leaves home and enters the world on her own, which ultimately leads to her being kidnapped and forced into marriage. She wants to leave the confines of her marriage but struggles with the decision as it will bring her shame within her community as it would be seen as violating custom. The juxtaposition of this decision is an effective plot device, and soberingly, a realistic one. 

Realism is the draw to the film. There aren’t any exuberant swells of score or filmmaking tricks. The camera is close and intimate and the performances authentic, especially Alina Turdumamatova. It is an emotionally draining and visceral film as we watch the dark and violent aspects of human nature play out in such beautifully desolate setting.  The mark of a quality film is that it makes you feel something as well as think. Ala Kachuu certainly hits both of those marks.

On My Mind

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A seemingly quirky film that turns into something more meaningful and profound, ON MY MIND (Martin Strange-Hansen, 2021) explores the little things that make our relationships worthwhile and the unsinkable moxie of the human spirit. Despite its straightforward plot, the film soars because of its visual poetry and the heart of its performances. The film is about a man named Henrik (Rasmus Hammerich) who is desperate to sing a karaoke song so that he can share a recording of it with his wife who is ill. It mostly takes place within an empty bar. The only other people inside the bar are the caring bartender Louise (Camilla Bendix) and the curmudgeonly bar owner Preben (Ole Boisen). 

The film is beautifully simple in its premise but poignant in its execution. The cinematography really captures the desolate feeling of being stuck inside this bar by making the space feel deep and dark. But the camera does a great job of capturing the intimacy and vulnerability of Henrik, a man who is willing to give all his money away just so he can do this song for his wife. The final image of the film is hauntingly beautiful and does a great job of providing closure for our characters.

Please Hold

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Funny and thought-provoking, PLEASE HOLD (KD Davila, 2020) is a charming short that is easy on the eyes but doesn’t hold back its satirical bite. Through its humor, the film addresses two major issues that perfectly present in this current moment: the imperfections of our justice system and our over reliance on technology. The film is about the misadventure of Mateo (Erick Lopez) who gets mistakenly arrested by a police drone sometime in the near future. He spends his days and weeks trying to breakthrough and prove his innocence to the flawed justice system, only to get caught up in the technical mishaps of the artificial intelligence that runs the prison. 

The film manages to hit the right balance of comedy and tragedy as Mateo tries and faills. And tries. And fails. Despite the comedy of watching him struggle, I couldn’t help but think about the underlying issues of the justice system. It subtly touches on mistaken identity, the inequality of the bail system, for-profit prison. A lot of thought-provoking topic that are squeezed into this science ficition comedy. 

It wasn’t difficult to immerse myself in Mateo’s shoes. The production design really sells a slick and shiny automated prison system as well as giving you a sense of the confines of being locked up. The commercials and graphics used as Mateo tries to hire an attorney makes the world truly come alive. There is a lot of production value within this short film, really elevating it beyond your normal prison movie. PLEASE HOLD manages to get the gears working in the brain while as the same time, tickling your funny bone.

The Dress

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THE DRESS (Tadeusz Lysiak, 2020) is about many things. It is about discrimination. It is about the objectification, and abuse, of women. It is also a character study into how loneliness changes how we perceive ourselves and how we navigate the world. 

The film is about a lonely maid named Julka (Anna Dzieduszycka), who struggles to find a romantic partner because she of her dwarfism. She finds a potential suitor in a truck driver named Bogdan (Szymon Piotr Warszawski), causing her to confront her insecurities and the realities faced by someone with her physical characteristics in order to take a chance  

Anna Dzieduszycka does a phenomenal job of bringing the feisty and love-starved Julka to life. She inhabits the world well and by following her from cleaning hotels to playing the slots to sitting alone in a dark apartment, we really feel her sense of alienation. The film is effective and layered and is well-structured that the twist at the end feels painfully earned.

The Long Goodbye

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While it may be the shortest of the live-action shorts, THE LONG GOODBYE (Aneil Karia, 2020) arguably concentrates the most intensity in its nearly thirteen-minute runtime than the other shorts up for nomination. The film follows a traumatic day for a British-Asian family as they are caught up in the middle of a far-right paramilitary group out for nothing more than bloodshed and carnage as they descend up immigrant families in a London suburb. The film is a tour-de-force for Riz Ahmed, who plays the protagonist. Ahmed also cowrites the film with Karia and the short features his music. 

The visual energy and sounds of the film fuse together, pulling the viewer in with its force. The beginning of the short lulls you in with the chaotic calm of a family get-together before turning into a frenzied state of panic and anarchy as the far-right group emerges to terrorize the community. The camera shakes and Ahmad’s rap becomes blistering as the intensity of the raid emerges. The film ends with Riz breaking the fourth wall and reciting a poem as the we’re left to sit and absorb what we have seen and heard. 

The film gives us enough context to understand what is going on without being too specific about character development or plot, but this kind of film doesn’t need that. It is effective it how it bombards our senses. We get to see and hear the horror as this family is persecuted and the weight that such subject matter carries. THE LONG GOODBYE is fast, furious, and insightful.

Black Cinema Shorts

Janiah B. Rorie

In the final installment of the Black Cinema 2022 series, we have four short films by three directors, Jacqueline Shearer, Alile Sharon Larkin, and Fronza Woods. These women contributed to the filmmaking industry in various ways beginning in the late 1970s and early 1980s, creating short films and documentaries that highlighted the African American experience with primary focus on the experiences of African American women. The shorts Killing Time/Fannies Film (Woods), Your Children Come Back to You (Larkin), and A Minor Altercation (Shearer) give viewers some understanding of these experiences and tackle subjects surrounding the intersections of racial identity, gender, and class which prompts my overall five slash rating.

Starting with Killing Time/Fannies Film, I would give the two shorts the same slash ratings of five slashes. Even though Woods kept both shorts very much simple and to the point I felt connected to them more than the films by the other two directors, not because those films were any less interesting or entertaining but the themes in Woods’ shorts were not stereotypical or what would be expected for the time in my opinion. With Killing Time specifically and its dark, yet humorous subject matter, I was pleasantly surprised and intrigued the most. Fannies Film reminded me of sitting and having conversations with older relatives which I found to be heartwarming as well as saddening because many of the relatives I have had conversations like Fannie Drayton’s with the interviewer have passed away.

For Your Children Come Back to You, I can honestly say I have various grievances with the film that impact my individual slash rating for it. I would give this film four slashes primarily for the visual aspects because the content of the film itself is based around varying negative stereotypes which was disappointing. Content wise, the aspects of the film I did like were that viewers are able to get perspective from the child in the film on topics like social inequality, wealth, and class. One fact I learned watching this film is that the child, who is played by Angela Burnett is the daughter of filmmaker Charles Burnett (Killer of Sheep) who is credited for cinematography and editing for Your Children Come Back to You which I found interesting.

The final short film is A Minor Altercation (Shearer) which I disliked the most out of the four shorts. It was hard for me to understand what exactly the intentions of the film were supposed to be. The film bluntly explores topics of race and discrimination with themes related to school desegregation. I mainly felt more uncomfortable with how the film ended rather than with the subject matter. There was not any clear resolve to the literal or hypothetical conflicts within the film and I would like to know more about why that is, or if there was any reason Shearer chose to set up the plot of the film in the way that she did. I would give this film an individual rating of three slashes.

The Worst Person In The World

by/ronan moore

neon/128 min

I think young people are tired of being told how easy they have it. Telling people younger than you that life only gets harder isn’t the incentive you think it is. Life is always hard – and you choose to do with that information what you will. You can try to plan out the rest of your life, or you can try to live in the moment. You’ll more than likely end up doing a mix of both. You may feel like you have no idea how to do it. Neither does Julie.

Joachim Trier’s final installment in his Oslo trilogy is separated into fourteen parts, spacing out a narrative that isn’t necessarily structured to be observed back-to-back. Over the course of the film’s runtime, Renate Reinsve’s Julie tries to figure out the direction in which to guide her life, which people to surround herself with, and most importantly, how she wants to reflect on the person she is when all is said and done. Her journey is as hilarious as it is heartbreaking. A soulful through-line ensures that you endure her struggles as if they were your own, because, in all honesty, they very well could be.

Though Julie herself is rarely confident, Joachim Trier and Eskil Vogt’s script flies along with its unusual structuring, boasting strong characterizations and devastating dialogue. Though its style veers on the self-indulgent side from time to time, the strongest, most emotional moments rarely suffer from this. The Worst Person In The World is an intimate story with moments of extraordinary beauty, both happy and sad. It’s hard to tell where it might go next, but when you decide to tell a story about life, isn’t that the most authentic way to do it?