Ma ma

In Ma Ma, the lead character, Magda, finds out she has advanced stage breast cancer. Magda, played by Penélope Cruz, is surrounded by males as she goes through chemotherapy, recovery, and illness again, and we see how her ordeal affects them: her philandering ex-husband, Raúl, her new husband, Arturo, her son, Dani, and her doctor…

Jafar Panahi’s Taxi (2015)

“Relax, he’s one of us,” says Omid, the entrepreneurial DVD bootlegger, after the customer realizes that Omid’s taxi driver is the famous Iranian director Jafar Panahi. Omid reassures his customer that though Mr. Panahi is himself a filmmaker, he doesn’t object to his business. In a very funny twist, the customer turns out to be…

The Assassin by Hou Hsiao-Hsien (2015)

The poor women of Weibo can’t catch a break. Huji, Governor Tian’s favorite concubine, gets pregnant and becomes the target of a sorcerer’s campaign headed by her chief rival, the governor’s wife Lady Tian. Lady Tian, despite having given her husband three sons and a life of devotion, can’t quite get his undivided attention. And…

Mill Valley Film Festival 38: Leonine Films Picks

MVFF 38 celebrates this year the women of film with many of its highlighted events and films: Suffragette, starring Carey Mulligan; spotlights on and tributes to Sarah Silverman, Brie Larson, Catherine Hardwicke; and, a very special exhibition honoring screen icon Ingrid Bergman on the centennial of her birth. In addition, the festival’s cleverly-named “Mind the…

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution

A short but very telling footage of J.Edgar Hoover being interviewed with regard to the Black Panthers captures him saying, “justice is merely incidental to law and order.” This attitude, which arguably prevailed among many American law and order officials at the time, succinctly underscores the difference between what the Black Panthers wanted to say…

The Fragility of Memory: Zhang Yimou’s Coming Home

Zhang Yimou’s latest (which showed at both the Cannes and Toronto Film Festivals in 2014), represents, in the director’s words, “a return to an earlier state of mind and an older approach to creativity.” Lu Yanshi (Chen Daoming) returns to his family after 20 years in a labor camp, only to find that his beloved…

CAAMFest 2015: La Salada

In the post-show Q&A after a CAAMFest screening, director Juan Martin Hsu made a compelling case for the uniqueness of his film with respect to contemporary Argentinian cinema; he suggested that La Salada portrayed new and first-generation Argentine immigrants such that they are not the “punch line” in the narrative, as they are frequently portrayed…