International: Middle East Reviews

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Review: In TIKKUN, Israeli Director Avishai Sivan Creates An Atmospheric Netherworld

Shot beautifully in black and white, Israeli artist and filmmaker Avishai Sivan's Tikkun tells a story about a young orthodox Jewish man, embodied astonishingly here by first time actor Aharon Traitel, slowly losing his faith after a near-death experience. With...

Review: WEDDING DOLL, A Smile That Speaks Volumes

When Hagit smiles, it's unabashed. Her face lights up. Her countenance is contagious. How could you not love a smile like that? Here's the thing: when children smile like that, we're touched. When adults smile like that, we wonder what's...

Review: BASKIN, Confidently Creepy, Weird, Bloody And Awesome

When many people think of contemporary Turkish cinema, the first thing that comes to mind is the Palme d'Or-bait that is the films of Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Methodical (ahem, slow) dramas like Once Upon a Time in Anatolia and Winter's...

Rotterdam 2016 Review: RADIO DREAMS And Waiting for Metallica

Despite being brought up and educated in London, Iranian filmmaker Babak Jalali shot his sophomore feature Radio Dreams in the Bay Area of San Francisco. His stylistic preferences and personal signature aesthetics began to take bolder shape in his...

Review: MUSTANG, An Impressive Debut Of A Turkish Woman Filmmaker, Deniz Gamze Erg├╝ven

The school's out for the Summer, but for the 5 luminous protagonist orphan sisters, the indignity of being virgin brides in a 'wife factory' has just begun. After some innocent water splashing horseplay with the boys on the beach, they...

Fantastic Fest 2015 Review: ZINZANA, Thrills, Chills, And Kills In A Police Station

Two men in a police station. One is locked up, the other should be. The first genre film from United Arab Emirates, Zinzana (aka Rattle the Cage) is a refreshingly potent, teasingly intense drama. It begins with Talal (Saleh Bakri)...

Melbourne 2015 Review: SPEED SISTERS, A Slick And Slight Delight

Speed Sisters is a slick and entertaining documentary about a group of obsessed and undermined women who compete professionally in the West Bank rally race circuit. Providing a point of view that is strictly and politically feminine, the film surprisingly...

Cairo 2014 Review: MELBOURNE, An Intense Domestic Suspense

One of the most gripping films I've seen in ages, Nima Javidi's fiction feature debut Melbourne just won the Golden Pyramid for Best Film at the Cairo International Film Festival, and deservedly so. It proves that you don't need an...

Cairo 2014 Review: DECOR, A Modern Meta-Twist on the 'Woman's Picture'

Maha and her husband Sherif are talented set designers, who have been hired to work on their first commercial film (as oppose to the independent, art house films they usually prefer). On the first day of shooting, when Maha is...

Cairo 2014 Review: SILVERED WATER, SYRIA SELF PORTRAIT Will Break Your Heart

We often see fleeting images of war and its victims, or brief scenes of torture on the news, but these are often presented in a sensational way, or sometimes sanitized, or more than often, ignored if they are happening in...

Cairo 2014 Review: THE CUT, A Good Epic Journey

With the exception of Atom Egoyan's Ararat, the Armenian Genocide has not had much attention in Western cinema. German-Turkish filmmaker Fatih Akin, whose previous films have often looked at issues of the marginalized, transnational cultures and violence, attempts to tackle...

Cairo 2014 Review: THEEB Doesn't Quite Live Up to its Promise

Stories of war or violent conflict can often seem more acute and terrifying through the eyes of a child, especially if it is only from the periphery, when the child knows less than the audience. Theeb, Jordanian director Naji Abu's...

Busan 2014 Review: The Wonderfully Surreal SELF-MADE Has More Than A Few Screws Loose

Shita Geffen's Self-Made could be the strangest film I have ever seen. Part black-comedy, part surreal drama, and all feminist parable, the film follows two very different women as they inexplicably swap identities.This is vastly complicated by the locations...

Review: THE CONGRESS, Ambitious And Mostly Successful

Loosely based on the sci-fi musings of Stanislav Lem, Ari Folman follows up his Oscar-nominated Waltz With Bashir with this ambitious and mostly successful exploration of celebrity, cinema and the subconscious. One of the biggest criticisms of Cinema, and Hollywood...

Cannes 2014 Review: SELF MADE, Funny, Savage, And Smart

Shira Geffen made a splash in 2007 with her debut Jellyfish, a film she co-directed with her husband, writer Etgar Keret. This time Geffen is going solo, and though she may not have many credits on her resume, her confidence...

Review: WADJDA, A Young Girl's Quest For A Bicycle Unveils Saudi Arabian Society

From Vittorio De Sica to Pee-wee Herman, bicycles have been a source of motivation and inspiration for film artists who want their characters to take a journey of discovery. The latest example is the titular character in Haifa Al-Mansour's Wadjda,...

Fantastic Fest 2013 Review: GOLDBERG & EISENBERG Is Chilly, Funny Stalker Tension

It's too soon to tell whether Oren Carmi is Israel's answer to the Coen brothers, whom he lists among his influences, but his debut feature, the darkly comic Goldberg & Eisenberg, shows promise. I get the impression that a grim...

Fantastic Fest 2013: Navot Papushado Drunkenly Reviews Papushado And Keshales' BIG BAD WOLVES

17:00 and I'm sitting in the tent of the " Fantastic Fest " in Austin Texas just outside the world's coolest movie - Alamo Draft House. My stomach blows some good pounds of barbecued meat 's fine " Smith ."...

TIFF 2013 Review: Tahrir Doc THE SQUARE Is A Modern Masterpiece

Let's cut right to the chase - Jehane Noujaim's epic, astonishing documentary The Square is easily one of the most complex, most nuanced, and frankly most important documentaries made about the ongoing political developments in Egypt. Heck, I'll go further,...

ISF13 Review: INCH'ALLAH Covers An Incendiary Topic With A Long Fuse

Inch'Allah is a film that is already controversial. In its first session, playing as part of the Australian Israeli Film Festival, it has been pulled. A punter in Melbourne complained it was a propaganda film and biased against Israel in...