In Review: Ma Belle, My Beauty

An ultramodern look at love and sex shuffles about onscreen in Marion Hill’s misty feature debut Ma Belle, My Beauty, projecting queer lust with a bountiful but chill sense of possibility. Most excitingly, the film presents the sexual-romantic entanglements of its characters outside of the cinema’s typical binaries. Here Hill serves us a drama closer to reality, where polyamory and bisexuality are presented with frank naturalism, unfetishized as more purile films might examine them as othered. But though unpretentious clearheadedness Hill provides regarding sex in the modern world creates a bounty of freshness to the experience of watching the film, that frankness doesn’t translate to characters we find all that interesting. Nor does the picturesque lifestyle of those characters feel recognizably relatable on a human level.

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In Review: CODA

It is difficult to not view CODA, Sian Heder’s lighthearted sophomore feature, with a substantial amount of goodwill. Presenting a lovable cast in an uplifting coming-of-age narrative, the film shines by showcasing an underrepresented kind of family: a deaf household with one hearing child. But it doesn’t take long into the film to discover that despite its under-examined circumstances, CODA plays too firmly and safely within a particular formula, liberally ripping off two dozen or so movies whose heartwarming stature it wants to emulate.

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In Review: John and the Hole

Opening with promise and displaying tantalizing initial threat, John and the Hole quickly squanders its potential not long after its delayed opening titles. The feature directing debut of Pascual Sisto, and adapted by Nicolás Giacobone from his own short story “El Pozo”, the film pairs stark imagery with an intentionally vacuous perspective on its titular young man. But beneath its enigmatic austerity is an arduous 90 minute effort to unlock its character study only to find an empty cave echoing back your frustration. The most embarrassing selection of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and sure to be one of the year’s worst films, John and the Hole is all empty aesthetics and reactionary psychology performatively, even petulantly without depth. 

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In Review: Land

Seldom is cinematic grief drawn as starkly as Robin Wright paints it in Land, her feature directorial debut in which she also stars. As Edee, Wright crafts a state of being where loss is something to sit in, a chair to perch in and look out to the vastness of your own private pain. Edee has retreated to the mountains, staring out into their abyss as her grief evolves with them (and the cabin she rehabs) to the turn of the seasons. She cannot see anything but her suffering. Not the traffic of the city, not reminders of her past. Certainly not other people.

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