By: Trevor Chartrand In the delightfully surreal Death of a Ladies’ Man, director Matt Bissonette addresses some hard-hitting subjects in a mature (yet somehow silly) way. This darkly funny film was heavily influenced and inspired by the work of Leonard Cohen, and the late artist’s presence in the film will not go unnoticed. The film explores themes and ideas present in Cohen’s music, and features a soundtrack that includes plenty of Cohen songs.
Cherry is, at least, three different movies – a romantic drama, a war movie, and a crime thriller. Despite how off-kilter it is as a genre-bender, it may have worked had the filmmakers been interested in the story or characters. Instead, Cherry is an indulgent vehicle for its filmmakers to flaunt their bold experimental choices and test their boundless clout.
Showing different perspectives from the streets of Istanbul, filmmaker Elizabeth Lo explores the day-to-day lifestyle of stray dog Zeytin in Stray. There are brief transitions to other viewpoints provided by fellow pooches or human beings, but Zeytin is certainly the star of the show.
DreamWorks Animation hits another homer with The Croods: A New Age, a sequel that’s on par with its clever Oscar nominated predecessor, that’s just as funny but so much weirder.
Making her directorial feature-length debut, Land is an unusually small effort from actor Robin Wright (The Congress). Atmospherically dour with beautiful cinemtaography, Land is also in the same meditative spirit as 2007’s Into The Wild, a film written and directed by Wright’s former husband Sean Penn.
The World to Come, the second feature from Norwegian filmmaker Mona Fastvold (The Sleepwalker), is a plodding meditation on love and grief that is salvaged from mediocrity by the palpable chemistry between its lead actors. Still, the film doesn’t offer much that is fresh of exciting and rehashes some tired lesbian period piece tropes.
Directed by William Olsson and written by Canadian author Catherine Hanrahan (adapting from her semi-autobiographical novel of the same name), Lost Girls and Love Hotels follows Margaret (Songbird’s Alexandra Daddario), an American with a steady job in Tokyo who fills in her loneliness with alcohol, one-night-stands, and kinky sex. One evening, she crosses paths and has a sincere connection with a stoic gentleman named Kazu (Takehiro Hira). Kazu doesn’t feel as enamoured as she does at first…
In Minari, a Korean family travels from California to build a new homestead in Arkansas; in hopes that they’ll be able to create a farm and make a decent living selling their culture’s food to local markets. This premise, however, is merely a clothesline for writer/director Lee Isaac Chung to hang up different moments in this family’s life that will, eventually, piece together their memories and future.
By: Jolie Featherstone Based on Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s best-selling memoir “Guantánamo Diary,” The Mauritanian details the harrowing true story of Slahi’s fight for freedom after being imprisoned without charge – or any solid evidence – by the US government in the wake of September 11.
Fans of last year’s spooky slow burn His House should be interested in Keith Thomas’ The Vigil as well, a bottled horror that has even more paranoid, claustrophobic dread also set against cultural values.