Thursday, April 2, 2020

let the circle be unbroken



What I like particularly about Alison Colbert's collection of poems, Let the Circle Be Unbroken, is how of the time it was written it is. Published by Women Writing Press in 1976 and with poems dated between 1970-1974, Colbert addresses topical subjects of the era including protests against Nixon and the Vietnam War. These poems, mostly distinctly-set in the city, are written in a way that feels immediate. They also address concerns of female artists. In "Anne Sexton a Suicide," there's a push-and-pull, repetitive nature in the poem of praise and also hope to move past "women famous for violence of poetry, selling self-hatred." "The circle" becomes a place for women to "sit upon the ground and tell sad tales about the death of queens." 

Perhaps the most potent pieces are towards the end which are elegies for her brother who died in an car accident. That push-and-pull continues here as well in the vacillating between the tragedy itself and the mundane objects that surround it: bills for the plot, clergy gratuities, limos.


I picked up this tiny, teal paperback, with its plain cover and an open-faced, grinning Colbert on the back, second-hand in Provincetown. I like finding books like this, especially when the poems are as skillfully rendered as these--books that belong to another time but still feel alive.


-Jeffery Berg

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

coral road



Since Garrett Hongo's Coral Road is a "pilgrimage"--mostly through stories of Hongo's ancestry of Japanese-Americans in Hawaii--it makes sense that it begins in motion, "out of Hilo." The winding shapes of the poems feel fluid, akin to the constant ruminating of the past and the forward push of moving and thinking in the present. There are many long, elegant sentences throughout, rich in detail and sound. In "A Child's Ark," a poem which the speaker remembers a favorite TV show from the 1950s, the idea of movement is expressed in succinct verbiage where "kids would wend their way through the attractive curves of a game path." This is one of the more unassuming and surprising poems here and is, in a way, the crux of the book itself. Elegantly-constructed, Hongo illustrates how haunted the speaker is since youth in re-creating--"mapping out a village of my own" from distinct physical and emotional details that can be pulled. Many of the poems confront art and artists, photographs and pieces of history (including the scraps of census and immigration docs included within the book) with verve and complexity. I am thinking of the second section in particular of letters from the American Japanese detained in the country during WWII which summon Hikmet and Neruda. In the third section, the poet speaks through an artist: there's a plotting of dense vision and detail which ultimately ends up with "limed pigments"--"my symbols spare and cerulean." I was particularly amazed there, how Hongo is able to move through so much and ultimately end on something beautiful, simple. This dissonance between muchness and "the little to tell" runs throughout. As do images of fire in all sorts of ways, from a cane field ablaze, to torches, comets, "alabaster light over the empty Hawaiian sea," and a lit cigarette. Hongo also touches upon the remove of the artist: painted infernos are merely "benign." What more can be done sometimes other than looking--whether at the remnants of an old Shell station (the word "shell" a play upon the literal sea-laden image which this book is soaked in) or in "Holiday in Honolulu"--a photograph of Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong--and, out of so much richness and pain, trying to express everything simple, deceptively so, and blue.

-Jeffery Berg

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

familiar strangers



Murat Sayginer, the talented Turkish creator of The Flying Fish, which I reviewed last September, brings a sense of dizziness and calm in his short film, Familiar Strangers. Using "deepfake technology," (a notable effect in The Irishman) Sayginer gives us a rotating two-line assembly of two hundred-fifty four faces, all famous actors. Admittedly, I didn't recognize them as actors for the first few seconds of the near four minute short (you can visit Murat's insta for a closer look of the individuals). A pleasant, hazy blending of all the faces was the immediate effect it had on me, before noticing their specific features. Familiar Strangers is backed with Bach's Air on the G String, which adds to its timeless feel. As he did in The Flying Fish, Sayginer mixes classicism with new tech effectively and evocatively. ***

-Jeffery Berg


Tuesday, March 10, 2020

the way back



Ben Affleck has long been an actor of particular blankness. He is a gruff, imposing, masculine presence, without much tics to speak of--akin to a certain kind of Hollywood star that lends well to audience projection. In The Way Back, Affleck, who has battled addiction and the ensuing media storms around it, plays a former high school basketball star who is now an alcoholic construction worker. Relationships with his family and his wife, in current separation, are strained. Suddenly, in what seems to be literal divine intervention, he is asked by the head priest of his old high school to coach the basketball team. Through Jack's (Affleck) brash, unconventional style and long untapped personal talents, he whips the team into shape and guides them to hard-fought victories.


This is the simple framework of Gavin O'Connor's plainspoken film, in a similar vein to his craggy sports drama Warrior. We watch Jack before, and also in the midst of, balancing his life as a coach while hitting his local bar, and also sneaking hard liquor into coffee tumblers, and going back again and again to the fridge for cans of beer. The film gets tripped up a little mid-way by giving us the reason why Jack may have turned to drinking and is so emotionally blocked and removed (this also happened in Kenneth Lonergan's Manchester by the Sea, featuring Affleck's brother Casey in his pent-up Oscar-winning lead--yet, the shape and feel of that film feels both much more organic and elegantly constructed). Both films show the difficulties men can face expressing their emotions and dealing with grief. The Way Back ends up over-explaining in a few treacly stretches. Still, Ben Affleck's effective turn, the sturdy ensemble, Rob Simonsen's bittersweet score, and the grayish, weathered feel (the cinematography is by Eduard Grau) of the movie, helps it stay afloat. It also--thankfully--occasionally eschews some sports drama cliches, which for a mainstream Hollywood movie with a familiar arc, is pretty admirable. **1/2

-Jeffery Berg

Friday, March 6, 2020

scream, queen! my nightmare on elm street


One of my earliest memories of a horror movie that truly frightened me to my core was Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge. Not only the school bus intro but one glimpse of Freddy's shadowy profile out the window in the yard. This was still when Freddy (Robert Englund) was a terrifying menace and lesser a gooey, wisecracking menace. I was around seven years old or so at a friend's sleepover, who rented it from our local video store. The video cassette covers for the Nightmare series, like many of my generation, is burned in my brain.



The movie soon faded a bit from memory and hasn't been one that I've gone back to too often in the Nightmare saga (admittedly that would be the first, third and, my favorite, the fourth in the group). When I would later watch the bus scene as an adult, it seemed clunky and funny; I am fascinated that I was petrified of it as a child. Also missing for me as a child (and not mentioned out loud by my sleepover cohorts) was the overt gay subtext in the film--though the imagery of inexpressible, sweat-soaked sense of panic that lingered through much of my adolescence, is what still immediately comes to mind when I think of Elm Street 2. Little did I know then as a child, watching in a sleeping bag in the dark on VHS, the plight gay men were going through at the time, including the film's lead actor.


The documentary has been a vital part of recent years of unearthing niche subjects and making them feel more universal. The extraordinarily in-depth Never Sleep Again was a quintessential study of the Nightmare on Elm Street films, and one that left anyone fascinated by the movies on a high of all the interviews and commentary.



Roman Chimienti and Tyler Jensen's Scream, Queen! My Nightmare On Elm Street hones in on the lead of Nightmare 2, Mark Patton. Patton was a young, attractive up-and-coming star who was rising to fame in the midst of the McCarthy-esque, homophobic era of AIDS. Scream, Queen!, a brisk, seemingly frivolous study, traces this era quite astutely, with biting clips galore from the mediascape of the times. Often, the industry becomes its own monster. Patton, who is still ridiculed to this day for his part in Nightmare 2, was told by his agent to "act straight" and basically lost his way in the entertainment world thereafter. This sensitive topic of "straight-acting" has rarely been brought up by movies or documentaries in general, though it remains an inherent cog in the Hollywood machine. Just last night I viewed this year's The Way Back, where a burly Ben Affleck's sensitive cry-side is buried under layers of shouty, masculine machismo uplift. The straight man and his bristling masculinity still remains an alluring role model for men. Patton's casting as the "final girl" archetype of a slasher pic still seems quite subversive.



Scream, Queen! opens with dazzling montages of horror movies of the past, its rich tradition and its appeal to gay men in particular (the monster as "bully"; the final girl as wish fulfillment). Overall, it's well-edited and well-scored (an appropriately throbbing synth nostalgic ride by Alexander Taylor). When it centers upon Patton, it's at its most alive and intimate. We see a brief autobiographical sketch of him, all through photographs and film, and then to his present state--living away in a beautiful, artsy little dwelling in Mexico. Now, his appearance weathered by illness and hurt, he's seen as an activist, emerging out of his home for American horror conventions and screenings, to speak about his experiences from the heart. The director of Nightmare 2, Jack Sholder, seems strangely uncomfortable of his movie's homoerotic subtext--as if it were something to wash away rather than embrace--something to him that's a curious, morbid accident. When Patton finally confronts the screenwriter of Nightmare 2, who was long dismissive and jocular of both Patton's performance sexuality, Patton's brow shakes, as if he is nervously and finally coming to terms with a demon that has long followed him. It's an exquisite scene and one that compliments the gory struggles of his character in the original film. Ultimately, there is catharsis in this unique doc and celebration. ***

-Jeffery Berg

Thursday, February 27, 2020

the man




Taylor Swift's Wolf of Wall Street-inspired clip for "The Man"--my favorite tune from her Lover album. 

Thursday, February 13, 2020

fantasy island


If the vintage TV series Fantasy Island, like many Aaron Spelling projects, offered comfort and projections of aspiration in the late 70s and early 80s, Blumhouse's Fantasy Island--a twisty, sludgy thriller landing in the wake of a new decade--offers an unending sense of unease and swoops of corny comedy. Directed by Jeff Wadlow, with little visual complexity, the movie is, in a way, an off-brand Diet drink version of Fyre Festival docs and the winking, winding, genre-play horror films of the past few years from the Blumhouse brand.



The plot requires leaps and bounds of suspensions of disbelief, which I can usually roll with, especially in a movie like this, but Fantasy Island is patently so creaky, it quickly loses tension and interest. We meet a group of contest winners--Melanie (Lucy Hale), Patrick (Austin Stowell), Gwen (Maggie Q), and two cringey, dude-bro friends Brax (Jimmy O. Yang) and J.D. (Ryan Hansen)--who are ushered into Fantasy Island by the mysterious Julia (Parisa Fitz-Henley) and the island-owner Mr. Roarke (Michael Peña). On Fantasy Island, Mr. Roarke is here to make your ultimate fantasy come true! From here on out, the plot swings into alternate realities and timelines ensue.



The appealing cast--giving their all, despite the muddled script (by Wadlow, Chris Roach, Jillian Jacobs), the lush locales (shot in Fiji) and the continuous, rigorous tossing and turnings make Fantasy Island a sort of entertaining curiosity in the current cinema landscape. Yet, at a 109 minutes run-time, the jig runs thin fairly quickly. Patrick's story-line--his wish of being a soldier--is particularly lugubrious. At times, I was taken back to the strand of characters in island-set peril in Irwin Allen and James Goldstone's When Time Ran Out... Watching Fantasy Island, I yearned for 1980 simplicity or even Aaron Spelling-soft-core corn. Complicated genre pictures are welcome, especially if one has the skills of Jordan Peele, but the rip-offs that have paled in comparison are a chore, especially when swabbed with bad sentimentality. Wadlow impressively hobbled this together on a mere seven million dollar budget, so there will probably be more on the horizon. If you do choose partaking in this feeble adventure, I do not suggest making a drinking game out of taking a sip anytime someone says the word "fantasy." *

-Jeffery Berg

Sunday, February 9, 2020

the 2019 jdb awards

Here are my personal film awards for 2019!

A look back at 2018 when the awards were spread out among a variety of films! Eighth Grade took Best Picture and Sandi Tan won for Director and Documentary for Shirkers.



picture

PARASITE




nominees

FOR SAMA
THE IRISHMAN
THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO
LITTLE WOMEN
MARRIAGE STORY
ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD
PAIN AND GLORY
PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE
3 FACES



director

Bong Joon-ho, PARASITE



nominees

Pedro Almodóvar, PAIN AND GLORY
Noah Baumbach, MARRIAGE STORY
Céline Sciamma, PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE
Martin Scorcese, THE IRISHMAN



actor

Adam Driver, MARRIAGE STORY



nominees

Antonio Banderas, PAIN AND GLORY
Woo-sik Choi, PARASITE
Leonardo DiCaprio, ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD
Jimmie Fails, THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO



actress

Alfre Woodard, CLEMENCY



nominees

Marianne Jean-Baptiste, IN FABRIC
Lupita Nyong’o, US
Mary Kay Place, DIANE
Octavia Spencer, MA




supporting actor

Jonathan Majors, THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO




nominees

Tom Hanks, A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD
Aldis Hodge, CLEMENCY
Song Kang-ho, PARASITE
Joe Pesci, THE IRISHMAN



supporting actress

Zhao Shuzhen, THE FAREWELL




nominees

Laura Dern, MARRIAGE STORY
Jennifer Lopez, HUSTLERS
Carmiña Martínez, BIRDS OF PASSAGE
Tilda Swinton, THE SOUVENIR




ensemble

PARASITE



nominees

BIRDS OF PASSAGE
DIANE
THE FAREWELL
MARRIAGE STORY



original screenplay

Bong Joon-ho & Jin Won Han, PARASITE



nominees

Pedro Almodóvar, PAIN AND GLORY
Noah Baumbach, MARRIAGE STORY
Joe Talbot & Robbie Richert, THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO
Quentin Tarantino, ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD



adapted screenplay

Greta Gerwig, LITTLE WOMEN



nominees

Hu Bo, AN ELEPHANT SITTING STILL
Micah Fitzerman-Blue & Noah Harpster, A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD
Christian Petzold, TRANSIT
Steven Zaillian, THE IRISHMAN



foreign film


PARASITE




nominees

BIRDS OF PASSAGE
PAIN AND GLORY
PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE
3 FACES



documentary

FOR SAMA




nominees

AMERICAN FACTORY
APOLLO 11
HONEYLAND
WRESTLE



cinematography

Yao Hung-i, Dong Jinsong, & David Chizallet, LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT




nominees

Fejmi Daut, HONEYLAND
David Gallego, BIRDS OF PASSAGE
Claire Mathon, PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE
Jörg Widmer, A HIDDEN LIFE



film editing

Jean-Luc Godard, THE IMAGE BOOK



nominees

Davíð Alexander Corno, A WOMAN AT WAR
Atanas Georgiev, HONEYLAND
Todd Douglas Miller, APOLLO 11
Thelma Schoonmaker, THE IRISHMAN



original score

Cavern of Anti-Matter, IN FABRIC



nominees

Disasterpiece, UNDER THE SILVER LAKE
Matthew Herbert, GLORIA BELL
M83, KNIFE+HEART
Emile Mosseri, THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO




original song

“Guarding the Gates,” QUEEN & SLIM



nominees

“Collide,” QUEEN & SLIM
"Control," HER SMELL
"A Glass of Soju," PARASITE
“La Jeune Fille en feu,” PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE



art direction / production design

PARASITE



nominees

A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD
THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO
ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD
PAIN AND GLORY



costume design

Arianne Phillips, ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD



nominees

Julian Day, ROCKETMAN
Jacqueline Durran, LITTLE WOMEN
Andrea Flesch, MIDSOMMAR
Mitchell Travers, HUSTLERS



make-up & hair

BOMBSHELL



nominees

JUDY
ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD
ROCKETMAN
US



sound design

CLIMAX



nominees

A HIDDEN LIFE
1917
ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD
ROCKETMAN



visual effects

1917



nominees

AD ASTRA
CRAWL
DIAMANTINO
STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER


-Jeffery Berg

Saturday, February 8, 2020

jeffery berg's top 10 films of 2019

2019 brought an array of films from around the world with different styles and stories. Many portrayed an unsettled state, especially in terms of economic division. Here is my Top 10 of the year.


10.

FOR SAMA



Brutal, searing diary-as-film from Waad Al-Kateab. An urgent love letter to the filmmaker's daughter in the midst of constant life-threatening conflict.


9.

LITTLE WOMEN



Rich and dense adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel. Not the pedestrian retread it could have been. Greta Gerwig's keen direction and script gives it immediacy and sense of the personal.


8.

ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD


Quentin Tarantino's immersive re-imagining of Hollywood on the eve of Sharon Tate's murder. Eclectic, richly-evoked details (that L.A. radio soundtrack!) boost the experience.



7.

THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO



An elegiac story of a man trying to reclaim an old home in increasingly gentrified San Francisco. Beautifully-told, with touches of whimsy embedded in a tale of pervasive sadness and frustration. A bold directorial debut from Joe Talbot.



6.

3 FACES


Another powerful snapshot of Iranian life from Jafar Panahi. This one travels to the countryside where Jafar takes an actress to connect with a family of a daughter who may or may not have killed herself.



5.

PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE


A flashback story of a painter commisioned to do a portrait of an aristocratic woman. Since the subject is unwilling, the painter studies her in detail on their daily walks to capture her essence. I was taken aback how well-executed the compositions in this film are and by its inherent, seemingly unforced tension that brims from the screen.



4.

THE IRISHMAN


Martin Scorsese's much-ballyhooed Netflix epic is a much more modest-than-expected story of key mob hit man. Exquisitely edited by Thema Schoonmaker and Joe Pesci is particularly sly and compelling. "Is that all there is?" the film asks. This is a cremation, in effect, of the twentieth century but with sudden resonance within aspects of America's current presidency.



3.

MARRIAGE STORY



Noah Baumbach's tender rendering of a bi-costal divorce and the legal drama that consumes it. I feel like these kind of smart family dramas, ones made with such careful attention, aren't made too much in America anymore, so I found it particularly moving and refreshing.



2.

PAIN AND GLORY


Director Pedro Almodóvar and his male muse Antonio Banderas return with a rhapsodic, semi-autobiographical dream of a movie. Gorgeously executed and wryly funny. A story of the past and present colliding, and of filmmaking itself.




1.

PARASITE





Maybe it’s a bit anticlimactic to have this as another number one on another best of the year list. But I didn’t see a movie that was kicking on all cylinders as astoundingly as this one. The ensemble is great, the script is energetic and crackling, amazing set designs (that unforgettable house!), and striking social commentary of class division and the cannibalization of others that hits its points home (literally, like a stone), but also comes leaves you feeling muddled and uneasy. Watching again, knowing its twists and turns, I found it an even more stirring ride.



other notable films from 2019 (in order of preference):

A Hidden Life, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Midsommar, Birds of Passage, Hustlers, The Wild Pear Tree, Atlantics, Rosie, Joy, The Farewell, American Factory, Booksmart, Us, Diane, Honeyland, Daughter of Mine, The Souvenir, Apollo 11, Gloria Bell, Rocketman, Harriet, I Lost My Body, Wrestle, 1917, Ma, The Third Wife, The Image Book, An Elephant Sitting Still, Knives Out, Judy, Ready or Not, In Fabric, Transit, Sorry Angel, Holiday, Diamantino, A Woman at War, Uncut Gems, Queen & Slim, The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open, Climax, Just Mercy, Black Mother, Clemency, Downton Abbey, Never Look Away, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Under the Silver Lake, Velvet Buzzsaw, Jobe’z World, Her Smell, One Child Nation, Sauvage, Jojo Rabbit, The Lighthouse, The Report, Ash is the Purest White, A Land Imagined, Family, The Gospel of Eureka, Ms. Purple, Pet Sematary, State Like Sleep, I Used to Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story, The Dead Don’t Die, Rust Creek, Fyre, Annabelle Comes Home, Furie, Crawl, Knock Down the House, High Flying Bird, Western Stars, Tigers Are Not Afraid, Dear Ex, Roll Red Roll

-Jeffery Berg

Monday, February 3, 2020

the turning


There have been so many incarnations and riffs off of Henry James' 1898 The Turn of a Screw--from 1961's Jack Clayton film The Innocents to Alejandro Amenábar's 2001 film The Others--that it seems unnecessary for yet another one. However Floria Sigismondi's gorgeous-looking The Turning is a moody update situated on a fog-drenched estate in the cellphone-less early 1990s. I call The Turning another entry in the recent string of Gen X-disillusionment pictures: from the taunted classmate desperately re-creating teendom in Ma, to adults in Us and It: Chapter 2 revisiting their demons. Even non-horror pictures like Marriage Story, The Last Black Man in San Francisco, and Hustlers are survivalist tales from different American perspectives that dabble in the thematics of social structures.


Mackenzie Davis, who was so appealing as the titular nanny in Tully--another piece of Gen X despair--returns here as governess Kate with a prominent blond bang and chin-length chop, roomy sweater and boot wardrobe and a hip little yellow sports car. She approaches her new employment in a gated, rambling mansion with awe. Leaving behind her best friend roommate (Kim Adis) and a mentally-disturbed mother (Joely Richardson), Kate seems determined "to make a difference" in the lives of parent-less children and perhaps has found a new idyllic existence. But things seem off with the introduction of the icy Mrs. Grose (Shakespearean actor Barbara Marten going all-in with a steely turn). And while little Flora (The Florida Project's Brooklynn Prince, doing here what she did best there: offbeat spontaneity) seems precious, the creaky mansion has its quirks--a twisting hedge maze, an eerie mannequin in the bedroom, and a shadowy, off-limits wing of the upper floor. When moody bad boy Miles (Finn Wolfhard) shows, Kate is rattled, and the evil ghost of former groundskeeper Quint (Niall Greig Fulton) starts making his presence known.


While nothing too surprising happens plot-wise in The Turning, and its conclusion is an almost disastrous muddled mess (my audience left in groans), I found myself intoxicated with the look and feel of the film, especially for a studio horror pic. Sigismondi is known for her film The Runaways and her incredible oeuvre of music videos for artists such as Bjork, Marilyn Manson and David Bowie. Her work here is often beautifully composed. Cinematographer David Ungaro captures the landscapes and gloomy interiors elegantly. Also bonus is a surprising, rich, grunge-era inspired soundtrack of newer and older artists (Courtney Love sings a catchy theme tune, "Mother"). I was also compelled by Davis, engaging throughout, who tows the tricky line between the film's sense of reality and, perhaps, insanity. This atmospheric flick is set under the spell of the news of Kurt Cobain's (perhaps the ultimate ghost of Gen-X) death which introduces the "present day." Even if the results of the film are a bit messy, I admired Sigismondi's risks, the vibe of the picture and its feel of a bygone time, lingered. ***

-Jeffery Berg

Sunday, January 26, 2020

rosie




In the beginning of Paddy Breathnach's film Rosie, a young woman (Sarah Greene) is in a car with three kids in the backseat and one in the passenger, desperately dialing numbers for a place to stay--for at least one night. Her husband John Paul (Moe Dunford) is working in a restaurant kitchen, almost at the end of his shift. The family, squeezed out of their last rented home when their landlord sold it, have dwindling options of a place to stay as each minute, each hour ticks by.


Taking place overall within the space of a near two days, Rosie, is a close, compelling, and breathtakingly anxious portrait of a family living out of their vehicle in Dublin. Breathnach, with cinematographer Cathal Watters, employs hand-held camera and set-ups of tight, cramped spaces to add to the feel of the movie's claustrophobic situation. Acclaimed writer Roddy Doyle's first original screenplay in years, is precise in its dialogue and devastating in its intimacy. What I appreciated about this film particularly is that while tension simmered throughout, Greene, in her rigorous, believable turn, doesn't constantly blow up at those all around her, who thwart her at nearly every turn. How many times can one scream and get anywhere? This pent-up howl is Rosie. Greene is aided by a young cast playing her children with grace and spontaneity. The film was released in limited release in the States in 2019, but has seemed to have fallen by the wayside in favor of flashier work. This is definitely another fine picture from our era in world cinema that compassionately and urgently addresses economic anxiety for those who have been ignored. ***1/2

-Jeffery Berg