Shu Lea Cheang’s Radical I.K.U.

A soft critique of late-era Capitalism, I.K.U. (appropriately Japanese slang for orgasming), imagines a future world so accelerated in its everyday life that humanity has resorted to cyborgs for collecting the overwhelming amount of information. Inspired by Blade Runner (1982), the cyborgs are known as replicants, and collect data through sex. That information then takes…

Film of the Week: Menace II Society

Opening on footage of the 1965 Watts riots, Menace II Society frames its narrative in the larger socio-political context of reality. Although fictional, characters, their motivations, and the consequences they face, subsequently become reflections of the historical forces guiding the film, transforming the story into its own truth. Kaydee "Caine" Lawson (Tyrin Turner), a recent…

Film of the Week: Rebels of the Neon God

Once the story settles, the title Rebels of the Neon God comes across as an ironic jab towards the film’s protagonists, Ah Tze (Chao-jung Chen) and Ah Bing (Chang-Bin Jen), two hustler friends in love with the same girl, and Hsiao-Kang (Kang-shen Lee), a cram-school drop-out who runs away from home and stalks the latter…

Film of the Week: Europa Europa

Agnieszka Holland’s Europa Europa (1990) centers on Solomon “Solek” Perei (Marco Hofschneider), a German Jewish boy who survives the holocaust by pretending to be the enemy—first a Communist at the Bolshevik orphanage he takes flight to, and later, a Hitler Youth in the Nazi army. Solek survives through his ingenuity, carefulness (as a solder, he…

Film of the Week: The Hitch-Hiker

In The Hitch-Hiker, Ida Lupino upends the noir genre, playing on the fear of everyday Americans. Roy Collins (Edmon O’Brien) and Gilbert Bowen (Frank Lovejoy) are two friends on their way to Mexico for a fishing trip when they’re taken hostage by Emmet Myers (William Talman), a criminal on the run. A simple story, but…

Il Boom: Vittorio De Sica’s Kinetic Satire

If Antonioni’s L’Avventura (1960) contextualizes capitalistic consumption within existential ennui, then Vittorio De Sica’s Il Boom (1963) can be seen as L’Avventura’s obverse, situating materialistic greed in a comedic framework. Il Boom tells the story of Giovanni Alberti (Alberto Sordi), a failing building contractor massively in debt. Deeply in love with his wife Silvia (Gianna…

Film of the Week: Marseille

  Angela Schanelec’s Marseille begins with a close-up shot of a female driver seen from behind. The driver asks her passenger three questions, all of which are answered “no.” “Where is it,” “Do you know your way round,” and “Is there a map in there?” Marseille stars Maren Eggert as Sophie, a young photographer who…