Faces Places is Varda at her most intimate

In The Gleaners and I (2000), Agnes Varda used the new medium of digital filmmaking to reflect on her mortality, combining her personal life with the story of the homeless she was telling. Later on, Varda would make The Beaches of Agnes (2008), a film examining her cinematic career and its relation to her off-screen…

Private and Public Lives Collide in Ingrid Goes West

  In Ingrid Goes West, Matt Spicer—who also co-wrote the film with David Branson Smith—brings to the fore the transformative power of social media, in this case, Instagram; not just its capability to sate desires of fame and solidarity, however, but also its destructive force of alienation, the desperate need to refresh and see a…

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…