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by Valeriy Kolyadych

11 May 2016


There’s a moment in High-Rise when all semblance of order and propriety finally breaks down—and it’s set to a Portishead cover of ABBA’s “SOS”. It’s a wonderful sequence, editing together scenes from multiple areas of the titular high rise, shedding light on how this disintegration of social order is playing out.

It’s also a great encapsulation of the burgeoning careers of British cult director Ben Wheatley and his wife and screenwriting partner, Amy Jump. Like previous Wheatley films, Kill List and A Field In England, stylistic flourishes are frequently utilized to portray waning sanity in visceral, stunning ways.

by Valeriy Kolyadych

10 May 2016


North Korea is known for many things: a repressive government, widespread starvation, cults of personality, and general insanity. What it’s not known for is its film scene—a celluloid history that would rival anything by the Russian or French masters. At least, such was Kim Jong-Il’s hope when he abducted famed South Korean director Shin Sang-ok and his wife, actress Choi Eun-hee, with the intent of forcing the two to make North Korean films to rival those that he had seen from outside the regime.

by Valeriy Kolyadych

9 May 2016


A female-only boarding school is the setting of The Blackcoat’s Daughter. Covered, positively blanketed in snow, it’s isolated, the nights an unrelenting pitch black. Inside are two girls, Kat (Kiernan Shipka) and Rose (Lucy Boynton), both left behind during a February break, waiting for their parents. They wander through empty hallways, but the subtle noises—screeching creaks and low groans—betray the assumption that they’re alone here.

by Valeriy Kolyadych

6 May 2016


The looming threat of global warming (or, in more neutral terms, climate change) has been strangely divisive despite the fact that it is a near universally agreed-upon phenomenon among environmental experts. The Anthropologist (screened at the International Film Festival Boston), which follows anthropologist Susan Crane and her daughter Kathryn Yegorov-Crate as they visit communities profoundly affected by climate change, approaches the issue from a different direction. Rather than tackling climate change as the abstract, data-driven phenomenon that it’s often painted as, the film gets down and dirty, showing the struggles of various people affected by climate change adapting to their changing worlds.

by Valeriy Kolyadych

6 May 2016


In Under the Shadow (2016), Shideh (Narges Rashidi) plops a VHS tape in and exercises in front of the television, and jerks from side to side to the sounds of Jane Fonda’s affirmations against dancy ‘80s music. Not too long after, a familiar piercing groan is heard. Air-raid sirens. Shideh snatches up her daughter, Dorsa (Avin Manshadi), and the two retreat to the basement of their Tehran apartment building, where a small group of neighbors huddle together in the dark. When it’s over, they move back upstairs, acting as if nothing happened. This is the status quo.

Screened at the Independent Film Festival Boston 2016, the world of Babak Anvari’s debut feature is Iran in the ‘80s, after the Islamic Revolution and during the lengthy Iran-Iraq war. The shadow in the title could mean many things: the looming specter of war and death, the long shadow of post-revolution Islamic conservatism. The latter, in fact, is most important to our heroine, Shideh, a liberal housewife whose participation in leftist groups during university led to her expulsion and torpedoed her chance to return and pursue medical studies. When we meet her, she is told by a school official that “he wanted her to hear this: she will never be admitted back.”

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