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‘The Gravedigger’s Wife’ :: Somalia’s first-ever Oscar submission 2022
Charming and wistful without ever feeling maudlin, The Gravedigger's Wife is a beautiful love letter to the power of love and family. It is a striking first from a filmmaker and cast..
ANTIGONE - HOW DARE WE!
Slavoj Zizek’s modern adaptation of Antigone brings the ancient tragedy up to date, with politicians and decision-makers in all roles. Antigone is used to explain democracy, the women's movement and moral philosophy - by both opponents and supporters of totalitarian..
Timbuktu :: The Nightmarish Perversion of "Justice"
Timbuktu movingly attests to the human will to resist the terrors and injustices of absolutism. It encapsulates the essential truth of violent extremism: to destroy grace and beauty..
‘HYENAS’ :: Another newly restored Masterpiece!
The Senegalese director Djibril Diop Mambéty's allegory about the destructive effect of global financial powers on society's morality has been newly restored...
When a City Rises :: Sydney Film Festival
One of the most complete accounts of the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests to date. It’s also, at times, an unbearably tense picture which unfolds with urgency of a thriller..
‘In Between Dying’ :: Hilal Baydarov’s seventh film in the last three years
The enigmatic and strangely arresting tale of a man who can't escape death. In Between Dying is a rather curious cinematic experience, but it’s one that is striking and unique in its..
VENICE 2021 :: Ennio: The Maestro
Ennio is Giuseppe Tornatore’s well-rounded portrait of Ennio Morricone, the most popular and prolific film composer of the 20th century, the one most loved by the international public, a two-time Oscar winner and the author of..
Cinema Regained :: The new restoration of Chess of the Wind
A long-lost, legendary classic of Iranian New Wave cinema, The Chess Game of the Wind, was probably the most internationally celebrated revelation/restoration of 2020..
It's Showtime :: The 14th Annual Iranian Film Festival - San Francisco
Due to the current pandemic situation, the Iranian Film Festival will be VIRTUAL this year, presenting a record-breaking 60 films at its 14th annual event, September 18-19, 2021..
HAUGESUND 2021 :: Charlotte Sieling :: Director of Margrete – Queen of the North :: Interview
The Danish director discusses her film about the monarch that ruled Scandinavia. Ten years in the making and going six centuries back,..
VENICE 2021 :: Awards
Venice’s Golden Lion goes to Happening by Audrey Diwan. Other big European winners of the evening include Paolo Sorrentino, awarded the Jury’s Grand Prize for The Hand of God, and Penélope Cruz who..
Avicii: True Stories :: So wake me up when it's all over
An Icarus style portrait of a sensitive young man who was thrust too readily into the hedonistic world of the international music scene..
Movie Review :: The Macaluso Sisters
There's undeniable beauty and truth to The Macaluso Sisters that cannot be overlooked. Genuinely moving, captivating and, most importantly, grounded in pure, unadulterated humanism..
Samereh Rezaie :: Actress and director
Afghan actress- director Samereh Rezaie talks about how important it is for the international community to continue supporting women and human rights in Afghanistan..
VENICE 2021 :: Orizzonti :: Promises :: Isabelle Huppert
Promises opened the Orizzonti line-up of the 78th Venice Film Festival - follows the current French film trend of broaching topics associated with public governance where..
Margrethe II, Queen of Denmark, hired to design set on new Netflix film
Queen of Denmark is to design the sets for a forthcoming Netflix film adapted from a novel by Karen Blixen, it has been announced..
‘Stillwater’ :: A tale of hard-earned second chances
Stillwater isn't perfect, but its thoughtful approach to intelligent themes -- and strong performances from its leads -- give this timely drama a steadily building power..
Persian Lessons :: Movie Review
Director Vadim Perelman creates a skilfully unfussy period style, avoiding genre cliches to focus on characters who are finely brought to life by an excellent cast..
‘Born a Champion’ :: A love letter to jiu-jitsu
Real-life Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Sean Patrick Flanery (The Boondock Saints) stars as an aging fighter pulled into an underground Dubai tournament..
August 20-28
Karlovy Vary 2021

Michael Caine to receive Crystal Globe at 2021 Karlovy Vary film festival. He will join Johnny Depp and Ethan Hawke at this year’s film festival in Karlovy Vary..
VENICE 2021 Competition
'Parallel Mothers' to open the 78th Venice Film Festival
The Spanish director, Pedro Almodóvar, who claims "It was in Venice, in 1983, that I was reborn as a director" will present his film..
Cannes 2021 :: ‘Titane’ Wins Palme d’Or
Julia Ducournau becomes only the second female director to claim Cannes' top prize. The grand jury prize was awarded to A hero, of Iranian Asghar Farhadi, and for Hyutti No. 6..
‘Gringo: The Dangerous Life of John McAfee’
Filmmaker Nanette Burstein tries to unravel the strange behavior of John McAfee, who left his life as a software mogul to become a recluse in the jungles of Belize..
Berlinale 2021 :: Souad :: Movie Review
'Souad' is remarkable not just for its razor- sharp, nonjudgmental insight, but also for the nuanced performances making each character rounded yet ultimately unknowable..
Berlinale 2021
Summer Special highlights

Cinema is back in Berlin! The Berlinale Summer Special opened on June 9 with a red carpet gala. Here are a few snapshots of the event. During the Summer Special from June 9-20..
CANNES 2021 :: ‘Year of the Everlasting Storm’
A sweeping and melancholic first trailer has arrived for Neon’s Secret Cannes Project, “The Year of the Everlasting Storm.” With films by Jafar Panahi, Anthony Chen, Malik Vitthal, ..
A New Book Reveals
Why Frank Sinatra believed Marilyn Monroe was murdered

"I tried to paint the portrait of a man very few people got to know as well as I did, I think he knew someday I'd share the stories he..
BERLINALE 2021 :: Awards :: 13 June :: 2 More Winners
The Berlinale adds two more winners to its list with Alice Diop’s We and Dasha Nekrasova’s The Scary of Sixty-First. The films scored the Awards for the Best Berlinale Documentary..
CANNES 2021
Netflix Declined Cannes Invite

Netflix Declined Invites to Premiere the Palme d'Or winner Jane Campion’s ‘The Power of the Dog’ and Andrew Dominik’s ‘Blonde’. Cannes general delegate Thierry Frémaux revealed..
CANNES 2021 :: 6 - 17 July
The Cannes behemoth is back

16 filmmakers who have already taken part in the competition are battling it out with eight new entrants; 14 Europeans will be vying for Cannes’ coveted top prize..
14th Annual Iranian Film Festival :: San Francisco
Call For Film Submissions Open For the 14th Annual Iranian Film Festival – San Francisco, the first independent Iranian film festival outside of Iran. To submit your film, please..
‘The Long Excuse’ :: Review
Writer-director Miwa Nishikawa’s somber reflection on the strains of marriage and parenthood is punctuated with beautiful existential undertones. Centered on liars and swindlers — self-deception is the theme of..
Putin: A Russian Spy Story :: TV Series (2020)
An exploration of how Vladimir Putin deployed his knowledge of spy-craft as a politician, and how modern Russia evolved through an acute sense of betrayal, pride and anger..
‘Driveways’ :: Review
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

The modest story of a mother, her son and an elderly neighbor feels like a salve right now—and gives Brian Dennehy a deserving swan song. Understated yet powerful..
Spreading Propaganda Through Films and TV
Intelligence agencies in Iran are increasingly using state-funded entertainment productions to spread state propaganda and improve their image among the public..
'Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade' :: Clever and Chilling Anime
In an authoritarian Japan, Fuse, part of an anti-terrorist police brigade, faces an internal enquiry. On a recent operation he hesitated to kill a female terrorist because of her youth..
Golden Globe Winners 2021 ::
'Nomadland' director Chloé Zhao won Best Director, making history as the first woman of Asian descent to take home that award, while the film itself won Best Motion – Picture Drama; Soul, Borat, The Queen's Gambit..
'How Fernando Pessoa Saved Portugal' :: Eugène Green
For years Portugal was the only country in Europe where there was no Coca-Cola. The director discusses his new "mini-film," devoted to the great Portuguese poet, advertising..
Copenhagen 2021 :: Vinterberg's 'Druk' snatches Five Robert Statuettes
In the category, Vinterberg was, among other things, up against himself, as he was also nominated for his role in the film “Riders..
Zindagi Tamasha :: Circus of Life :: 2020
‘It went from love to wanting to kill me.’ Sarmad Khoosat was the darling of Pakistan’s entertainment industry until his new film fell foul of fundamentalists – who called for him..
'No Choice' :: Tokyo 2020
It’s a slippery path up the mountain of human rights. Three good women clash when a determined lawyer takes on the case of a homeless girl against an idealistic doctor in Reza Dormishian’s legal thriller..
'Wife of a Spy' :: An intriguing marital battle
Winner of the best director award at the Venice Film Festival. An absorbing, exotic, well-paced thriller with moments of disconcerting realism and horror. Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s..
"Actress's Ears" Put Film Screening in Jeopardy
Panthea Bahram, a famous Iranian actress, whose presence last year with shaved head at the press conference to a movie made news; reacted to the removal of "Killer and..
'Hope Gap' :: A Bracingly Original Drama
There's an unusual calmness to this drama that feels bracingly original. William Nicholson's Hope Gap benefits from a starry cast in the stagey story. Nighy and Bening are as good..
'Killer and Wild' removed from the Fajr Film Festival
A movie with Iranian actress Leila Hatami in the leading role was excluded from a major Film Festival event in Iran due to her 'shaved head and exposed ears' ..
'I WILL CROSS TOMORROW'
Maria is a Greek policewoman, struggling with her money problems, teenage daughter, old mother.. Yussof is a Syrian rebel, on his way out of a war-ridden Syria. Both have killed unwantedly, both feel guilty, but together..
51st Edition Of IFFI 2021
The 51st edition of India’s International Film Festival (IFFI) kick started on 16th January at Goa, which opened with the Indian premier of the movie ‘Another Round’ by Thomas Vinterberg..
'Alone' :: Movie Review
"Alone" is admirably straightforward, exploring tried- and-true archetypes with suspenseful execution. Director John Hyams demonstrates a minimalistic knack for showing and not telling,..
'The Female Voice of Iran' :: Feature documentary 2020
Independent documentary about female singers inside Iran and their deep wish: "I want my voice to be heard." Captivating...beautiful music and stunning..
'The Father' :: Movie Review
Sundance: Florian Zeller's film makes an inexplicably cruel element of the human condition recognizable in a way that only good art can. Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman Inside the Brutal Matrix of Dementia..
‘Money Heist’ :: As smart as it is relentless
Like a criminal who has trapped themselves within a situation in which there’s no simple escape, Money Heist is a riveting, inescapable show with a narrative jackpot at the end of it..
'Vivos' :: Ai Weiwei's Mournful Ode to the Disappeared
Vivos is a documentary feature film by artist and filmmaker Ai Weiwei, portraying the human impact of Mexico’s ongoing crisis of enforced disappearances..
Family Romance, LLC (2020)
Love is a business at Family Romance, a company that rents human stand-ins for any occasion. Founder Yuichi Ishii helps make his clients’ dreams come true. But when the mother of 12-year-old Mahiro hires Ishii to..
'Let Him Go' (2020)
Kevin Costner excels in a gripping neo-western thriller. Let Him Go is a moving and gripping Western with particularly strong performances from Diane Lane as a grieving yet resolute mother and from Lesley Manville as her..
In Memoriam of Korean filmmaker Kim Ki-duk
In the small pool of filmmakers known for being provocative, Kim Ki-duk was the oddest of ducks. South Korean filmmaker Kim Ki-duk has died in Latvia aged 59 after contracting..
'The Life Ahead' (2020)
Loren has made it again! She's an absolute Goddess. The characters are colorful and empathetic, and even if the plot is simple, the cast keeps it up. Specially, Sophia Loren.. Sempre adorabile!
'What We Did on Our Holiday'
An exceedingly funny comedy that definitely borders on Black Comedy but still tinkers in the realm of being light hearted. It has a very kind of Outnumbered feel to it in which the kids play their innocence, yet brilliantly..
'Radiograph of a Family'
Iranian director Firouzeh Khosrovani triumphed at IDFA 2020 with her fourth film Radiograph of a Family, winning the main award in the IDFA Competition for Feature Length Documentary and the IDFA Competition for Creative Use of..
'Falling' :: Viggo Mortensen's Directorial Debut
A beautifully controlled drama about age, memory and forgiveness. Often abrasive, occasionally sweet, and sometimes grasping for transcendence, "Falling" doesn't feel like..
'Careless Crime' (2020) :: Movie Review
Iranian director Shahram Mokri, known for his single-shot films and his decided penchant for time-loops, achieves formalistic excellence in his latest effort..
Secrets of the Surface (2020)
Filmed in Canada, Iran, and the United States, 'Secrets of the Surface' examines the life and mathematical work of Maryam Mirzakhani, an Iranian immigrant to the United States who became a superstar in her field..
'Another Round' :: Review
Thomas Vinterberg reteams with "The Hunt" star for a darkly comic referendum on booze. Four friends, all high school teachers, test a theory that they will improve their lives by maintaining a constant level of alcohol in..
'There Is No Evil' :: Premiered at the 2020 Berlin Film Fest
Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof's 'There Is No Evil' has triumphed at the 70th Berlinale, picking up the Golden Bear. The director himself was not present..
'Tesla' :: Sundance Review
A fascinating, if unconventional, look at the singular life of Nikola Tesla as played by Ethan Hawke. Appropriately bold and ambitious, Tesla takes a number of risks that don't always pay off -- but Ethan Hawke's performance..
Documenting the Struggle for Women's Rights in Iran
One of the women featured in this short documentary, Nasrin Sotoudeh is now serving a decades-long sentence in Evin Prison in Iran. Released alongside Jeff Kaufman's..
'Bacurau' :: A John Carpenter-Inspired Revenge Fantasy
A settlement in rural Brazil, a doctor (played by a gaunt and fierce Sônia Braga), a school, a (disused) church, even a brothel, but no sheriff. Something strange is happening..
TALE OF THE SEA :: Film Review
One of Iran's major filmmakers is at the top of his game with this Ingmar Bergman-esque meditation on old age. One man's madness as a metaphor for the surreal lives of a whole nation..
'Ordinary Love' :: There is nothing Ordinary about Love
"Ordinary Love" is not a movie solely about cancer. It is a raw, on-screen adaptation of what hundreds of couples experience when their limits are tested - physically, mentally..
13th Annual Iranian Film Festival :: San Francisco
Call For Entries Open for the 13th Annual Iranian Film Festival – San Francisco, the first independent Iranian film festival outside of Iran..
'1982' :: Premiered at TIFF :: 2019
During the 1982 invasion of Lebanon at a private school on the outskirts of Beirut, 11-year-old Wissam tries to tell a classmate about his crush on her..
‘Driveways’ Review: Won’t You Be My Neighbor? ‘Driveways’ Review:
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

By David Fear, rollingstone.com
May 14, 2020 12:45PM

The modest story of a mother, her son and an elderly neighbor feels like a salve right now —and gives Brian Dennehy a deserving swan song.

Understated yet powerful, Driveways is a character study anchored in fundamental decency -- and a poignant farewell to Brian Dennehy. -- Rotton Tomatoes

What resonates is the movie's understanding of how we come and go through life, of how a house becomes a home, of how even the smallest acts of kindness can open doors that never quite close.
-- Roxana Hadadi (Pajiba)

"For a movie about isolation and the risk of reaching out, it's a generous example of how nourishing a sense of connection really is."

You might be craving those loud, brash, blowed-up-real-good blockbusters that’d normally lay claim to half the screens of multiplexes this month. It’s almost the beginning of summer, and who has the willpower to fight that seasonal Pavlovian urge? (Just watch out for any action movie in which A-list stars are in a race against time with a killer virus. Still too soon.) Or maybe, during this particularly dark timeline we’re stuck in, you’re in need of something more intimate, intricate and attuned to human interactions — “smaller” portraits of person-to-person connections that feel way too scarce in real life these days. It’s tough out there. We have a tonic for you.

Driveways, Andrew Ahn’s family drama that hit VOD and virtual cinemas last weekend, would be worth seeking out even if we weren’t in the middle of a global catastrophe; it’s the sort of modest, unassuming independent film that reminds you why, several decades and underground revolutions later, such things remain a viable alternative and a necessity. Essentially three elliptical character studies gently bouncing off each other, you can classify the story under the heading “Nothing happens, except life.” It’s mournful by nature, but it ain’t heavy — it’s so delicate, in fact, that you worry a slight breeze might knock it sideways. But the director’s sophomore feature brims with so many tender mercies, so many quietly observed moments, that even its light touch leaves a mark. Timing is everything. Had you caught this during its festival run in 2019, you’d recognize it as a first- rate lo-fi showcase for one young newcomer, one eminence grise and one just-north-of-breakthrough star. See it now, and it feels like a salve.

Kathy (Watchmen‘s Hong Chau) has been tasked with cleaning out her late sister’s house, deep in the suburbs of New York’s Hudson Valley. Her reluctant companion is her eight-year-old son Cody (Lucas Jaye), who she calls “Professor.” She hadn’t talked to her sibling in years; it isn’t until the duo arrive at the place that Kathy even realizes her estranged family member was a hoarder. Neither mother nor son particularly want to be there. Cody doesn’t really want to be anywhere — he’s the kind of shy, recessive kid who’s happy to keep to himself. The idea is to get the place ready to sell and then get out of Dodge. In the meantime, they move in and bide their time.

Living next to them is Del (Brian Dennehy), an elderly widower who watches the world pass by from the perch of his porch. It isn’t that he views these new next-door neighbors with suspicion, exactly (though the baseball cap that identifies him as a Korean war vet initially makes you wonder if there may be lingering anti-Asian prejudices). It’s more that Del is a man who likes his routine, and isn’t fond of strangers in general. Still, when his friend forgets to pick him up for their afternoon bingo game at the V.F.W., Kathy gives him a ride. And when Cody has to duck out of a playdate with two knucklehead boys, Del lets him stay at his house until his mom comes home. They bond over barfing stories (the kid has a nervous stomach) and go to the library. He invites the old guy to his birthday party. A tentative friendship between these two loners starts to form.

As with Ahn’s debut movie, the coming-of-age-and-coming-out tale Spa Night (2016), the mode here is casual, yet almost voyeuristic in the way it captures the interactions between these three everyday people. He has a great eye for tiny but telling details, like the way Cody anxiously picks a sticker on a hardware store’s counter; ditto a shot in which you see first Del’s giant paw and then the boy’s small hand dip into a bowl of popcorn. Bits of backstory are dropped like breadcrumbs — she’s studying to be a nurse; Cody’s social awkwardness isn’t new; there’s a reason the sisters weren’t close — yet neither Ahn nor screenwriters Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen are precious about filling (or not filling) in the blanks. Even the broader characters that hover on the periphery, notably Christine Ebersole’s oh-it’s-not-like-I’m-racist neighbor and Jerry Adler’s geriatric slowly slipping into dementia, never drift into caricature or wear out their welcome.

As for the cast, Hong Chau has already established herself as both a felon-level scene stealer and a reliable supporting player, and the single mom she gives you here is a sustained portrait of wariness and weariness. (She can make a fidgety drag on a cigarette feel like an aria.) But she has a great feel for understatement, and the movie’s affectionate, slow-and-low rhythm suits her. You feel like you’re watching this woman thaw in real time. Jaye follows her lead by putting Cody’s neuroses and sensitivity front and center yet never treating them like defining tics. Every so often, he gives you a peek at what this square-peg boy is feeling. It’s one of the least precocious turns from an child actor ever.

And then there is Dennehy. When the venerable performer passed away last month at the age of 81, he left behind one of the most distinguished careers in American theater, a legacy as a gentleman and a hellraiser, a strong claim to being the modern interpreter of Eugene O’Neill’s work, and an insanely varied resumé (name another actor who garnered awards recognition for playing both Willy Loman and John Wayne Gacy). We knew him as John Rambo’s pursuer in First Blood, the voice of Django in Ratatouille, the “understanding boss” Sheriff Cobb in Silverado, Chris Farley’s dad in Tommy Boy, and a million other roles. What we didn’t know was that he had one last great turn in him before he’d be gone, one that would remind you of what an imposing presence and, paradoxically, a gentle giant he could be onscreen. He’ll make a seven-course meal out a line like “Po-TA-to salad, boys!” It’s the long silences, however, that resonate. There’s no lion-in-winter grandness, no raging against the dying of the light. Del is an old man, who’s grown unexpectedly fond of this young man in need of a grandfather figure. Stillness is the move here. Eventually, we arrive at the Monologue.

It’s near the end of Driveways, and there’s no need to spoil what directly precedes it nor the exact contents of Del’s anecdote. It’s not fancy. It involves hitchhiking. And the sense of regret, happiness, sorrow, a rich past remembered and the wish that time was not destined to run out that Dennehy gives this story is something to behold.

When it ends with a perfect, miniature gesture of compassion, you feel as if you’ve just witnessed a minor-key miracle. You also feel the loss. There may be tears (on your end). And for a movie about isolation and the risk of reaching out, it’s a generous example of how nourishing a sense of connection really is.

*          *          *

Synopsis

Cody’s summer begins with a road trip. Accompanying his mother Kathy, he travels to the house where his late aunt used to live. While Kathy is busy cleaning out the place, the almost nine-year-old has to pass the time on his own in the unfamiliar neighbourhood.


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