Billie, Funny Face, Botox and More: My Films of the Week #9

As a lifelong cinephile, I have always consumed a copious amount of films. In this new feature, I keep track of the films I watch during the week. (Also, Click here to buy my book of thoughts on film, Eye of the Beholder, on Amazon!)

Botox
(Kaveh Mazaheri, 2020, Iran/Canada)

Iranian drama with dark comedy undertones and a tinge of surrealism about three siblings, who come up with a get-rich-quick scheme involving psychedelic mushrooms. But an unexpected turn threatens to abruptly bring their plans to a halt. Engaging and visionary, this film is an immersive one, filled with intensity and moments of poetry.

 

This Is My Desire
(Arie Esiri and Chuko Esiri, 2020, Nigeria/USA)

Set in Nigeria, this is the story of two parallel lives in Lagos of people doing all they can to ensure a good life for themselves and their loved ones. A film that is observational in nature and effectively humanizes the theme of migration before setting off on their journey to other countries, a take that is surprisingly seldom explored.

 

Poppy Field
(Eugen Jebeleanu, 2020, Romania)

A closeted queer gendarmerie is sent to a protest at a cinema screening an LGBTQ film, threatening to expose his identity to his peers. A focused drama utilizing long, uninterrupted takes for a deeper connection and understanding of the lead character’s psychological travails.

 

Funny Face
(Tim Sutton, 2020, USA)

An exploration of contemporary gentrification via the traditionally American story of outlaw runaway lovers. Simultaneously vintage and modern, Tim Sutton’s film is embellished by moments of poetry, and a stirring blend of poetry and harshness.

 

Why Not You
(Evi Romen, 2020, Austria/Belgium)

A young man from a small Northern Italian village, who struggles to discover his identity and with his own drug addiction, experiences a life-changing first-hand terrorist attack. An interesting take on the coming-of-age drama that nonetheless feels unrewardingly undeveloped and fails to make any statement.

 

Billie
(James Erskine, 2019, UK)

Packaged at the definitive documentary of the oft-explored life-story of jazz icon Billie Holiday, is actually the story of an unwritten biography about her. Represents nothing of her creative essence and is content with being the usual mystery/true-crime documentary. Depicts Holiday as a victim of her time rather than a trailblazer. Avoid.

 

The Priest’s Children
(Vinko Bresan, 2013, Croatia)

The plans of the new Catholic priest of a small Croatian town to tamper with contraception in the name of God backfire dramatically. An interesting and somewhat ambitious satire on a pressing, ethical topic. Surprises for its sophisticated reflection the broader meaning of family and how it is shaped by religious beliefs.

 

The Oak Room
(Cody Calahan, 2020, Canada)

A slow-burn, yet engrossing mystery movie constructed from a series of stories told to and by bartenders over the course of a dark and cold night. Simple in nature, yet wonderfully creative. Enriched by an immersive atmosphere with gothic lighting, and by great acting by all cast members.

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