Posts by Justin LaLIberty

PFF29: SUMMER OF 85 Review

François Ozon’s newest film will, unfortunately, inevitably be compared to Call Me By Your Name — which is a sort of blessing and curse. On one hand, it will make it decidedly more marketable, especially in the US. On the other, it’s a disservice to both films to lump them together solely because of the gay male relationship at the center of their respective narratives and the (admittedly not minor) matter of both also being ’80s period pieces. Summer of 85, like Call Me By Your Name before it, is based on a literary source and takes place in ’80s
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PFF29: JUMBO Review

Zoé Wittock’s feature film debut is destined to cause quite a stir by anyone reducing it to its basest sensibilities, so much so that it feels important to get a synopsis out of the way as early as possible to best unpack what else it has to offer. Yes, this is the movie where Portrait of a Lady on Fire breakout Noémie Merlant falls in love with (and has sex with) an amusement park ride. It’s also a really sweet coming-of-age story. Jumbo is hard to pin down; it’s a fantasy that is remarkably aware of reality. It knows that its
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PFF29: MANDIBLES Review

I have long admired Quentin Dupieux’s films more than enjoyed them. Maybe his sense of humor is just too wild for my sensibilities, or perhaps I’m just destined to not “get” it, but his tenacity is refreshing, regardless of how much I sincerely laugh at his creations. And Mandibles is no different. Structured as a buddy comedy, two aimless friends on a courier job (we don’t know what they’re delivering or to whom) discover a giant fly in the trunk of their car, and naturally, they desire to profit from this discovery. That’s the general setup here and where it
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CINE-WEEN 2020: Horror Films Directed By Women Available to Stream

It is October 1st, which will kick off an annual horror binge for many (with some diehards probably starting last month) and with that means a lot of genre staples in constant rotation — and few, if any, of those staples being directed by women. Below are some genre highlights with female directors that are currently available on streaming platforms. BLOOD DINER (1987, dir. Jackie Kong) Jackie Kong’s absolutely wild — and firmly 80s — riff on BLOOD FEAST needs to be seen to be believed. The plot is simple: two cannibal brothers that run a health food focused diner,
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THE WAR OF THE WORLDS Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review

Byron Haskin’s 1953 film adaptation of The War of the Worlds has become as synonymous with its literary source as Orson Welles’ famed radio play that incited mass hysteria in 1938. As the first screen adaptation of H.G. Wells’ novel, it paved the way for Steven Spielberg’s well-received 2005 iteration, a slew of direct-to-video and TV adaptations, and films like Mars Attacks! which explicitly reference it. Approaching Haskin’s film in 2020 was an interesting exercise — I hadn’t seen it in over twenty years — and one made all the better with Criterion’s brand new disc release. Almost everyone knows
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What I Learned In Attempting to Create a Comprehensive List of American Films By Black Filmmakers

I’m a white male that grew up in a state that was 98% white according to a 1990 census, that state being New Hampshire. I had very few minorities in my school classes through high school and even the college I attended, Keene State College, had only a 4% minority enrollment in 2010 when I graduated. Not only have I been afforded white privilege throughout my life, I wasn’t even exposed to anything else for the majority of that time – outside of various trips to NYC, Boston and other cities in the US, it was not until I moved
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Abel Ferrara’s TOMMASO Review

Abel Ferrara’s collaborations with Willem Dafoe all have an apocalyptic air to them; from the explicit apocalypse of 4:44 Last Day on Earth, to the death of Pier Paolo Pasolini (played by Dafoe) in Pasolini and, most abstractly, the nearing-the-millennium cyberpunk ode to technology and personal connection—and their approaching demise — in New Rose Hotel. This all considered, it’s a small wonder that the semi-autobiographical Tommaso feels as life affirming as it does, exchanging our current world of empty city streets and a life suddenly put on hold for bustling, pre-COVID, life in Rome — which isn’t to say it’s
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Black Directed Genre Films Available for Streaming

As a white person, I’ve been spending the past week trying to listen as much as possible and amplify the voices that urgently need to be heard. As a cinephile, I’m trying to share films that I’ve been exposed to that are created by Black filmmakers yet haven’t had the exposure they have deserved since their releases – the unfortunate, though hardly surprising, result of a film industry as rooted in racism as every other business in our country. Make no mistake, watching and sharing films is hardly the answer here, but they both offer a needed respite as well
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THE OTHER LAMB Review

Ever since the great pandemic of 2020 started taking shape in the US, I have been fetishizing the idea of escaping into the woods. This is far from a realistic, practical, or even safe thing for me to do under the current circumstances, but watching Małgorzata Szumowska’s religious cult horror/drama, I found myself making the journey for ninety-seven minutes without leaving my living room. The Other Lamb takes a page from several other cult pictures – Martha Marcy May Marlene is perhaps the most obvious jump-off point – and then brings it to nature, earning comparisons with Jennifer Kent’s brutal wilderness-set revenge
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FAIL-SAFE Criterion Collection blu-ray Review

By the time Sidney Lumet’s taut nuclear war drama Fail-Safe was released in US theaters in October of 1964, the world had already been treated to Stanley Kubrick’s wry comedy about the very same topic, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Both films were made by New York born filmmakers, then in their thirties, with acclaimed bodies of work already amassed (with Lumet coming off of The Pawnbroker and Kubrick off of Lolita). And despite the similarities of their creators, the films couldn’t be more different even if their ultimate messages are aligned.
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