Review: ‘Identifying Features’ is devastating and captivating.

IDENTIFYING FEATURES

Directed by Fernanda Valadez
Written by Fernanda Valadez & Astrid Rondero
Middle-aged Magdalena (Mercedes Hernandez) has lost contact with her son after he took off with a friend from their town of Guanajuato to cross the border into the U.S., hopeful to find work. Desperate to find out what happened to him—and to know whether or not he’s even alive—she embarks on an ever-expanding and increasingly dangerous journey to discover the truth. At the same time, a young man named Miguel (David Illescas) has returned to Mexico after being deported from the U.S., and eventually, his path converges with Magdalena’s. From this simple but urgent premise, director Fernanda Valadez has crafted a lyrical, suspenseful slow burn, equally constructed of moments of beauty and horror, and which leads to a startling, shattering conclusion. Winner of the World Cinema Dramatic Audience and Screenplay Awards at the Sundance Film Festival.
Every once in a blue moon a film comes along that pushes you past your own emotional boundaries. The heaviness of the stories in Identifying Features swallows you whole. You are forced to confront the realities that are far too often swept under the political rug here in the US and are dreaded in Mexico. With a score that vibrates your already unsettled soul, the handheld cinematography puts you in the shoes of any one of these individuals getting shoved back across the border… And those who don’t ever make it. The alternating scenes from a mother to a son build up a visceral tension to an ending that is beyond shocking. The intimacy of the sound editing and long lingering beautifully shot close-ups force you to remain engaged no matter how badly you’d like to look away. Identifying Features is brilliant in its unyielding honesty. You will sink so far into the depths of these families’ grief, digging out will take more time than you’ll realize. It’s nothing short of captivating.
This film is now playing in virtual cinemas. Click here to find a Kino Marquee virtual cinema supporting a theater near you.
Mexico /In Spanish with English subtitles / 94 min

Review: ‘The Twentieth Century’ is a satirical feast for the eyes.

Aspiring young politician Mackenzie King (Dan Beirne) dreams of becoming the Prime Minister of Canada. But his romantic vacillation between a British soldier and a French nurse, exacerbated by a fetishistic obsession, may well bring about his downfall. In his quest for power, King must gratify the expectations of his imperious Mother, the hawkish fantasies of a war-mongering Governor-General, and the utopian idealism of a Québécois mystic before facing one, final test of leadership. Culminating in an epic battle between good and evil, King learns that disappointment may be the defining characteristic of the twentieth century!

If you are a cinephile with any sense of humor, The Twentieth Century will delight you to no end. It’s Monty Python meets golden era Hollywood musical mixed-media delicious. (It’s basically the most appropriate mouthful I can begin with… nudge, nudge, wink, wink) It’s the wackiest and most wonderful way to jump headlong into the holiday season in 2020. It’s easy to see why it won three Screen Canada Awards and jury accolades at TIFF and Berlin. Writer, director, and editor Matthew Rankin gifts us with one of the most unique and visually lush cinematic experiences. The attention to detail is flawless and the writing will bedazzle you. While I find the plot difficult to properly describe, that’s all the more reason to watch. I guarantee you have never seen anything akin to The Twentieth Century, ever.

The complete and total commitment from these actors is to be applauded. The laugh out loud absurdity of the dialogue fraught with overt sexual innuendo is pushed gleefully further with a large percentage of the cast being performers in drag. The scenery often consists of sharp-angled, backlit, triangular towers sometimes wrapped with black & white political iconography. I fully expected a Fred Astaire dance number but was too distracted by the fetish shaming and the nationalist propaganda. It simply goes from weird to completely batshit. Performances across the board are magic. Fun fact: The film is (loosely) based on a true story! What, what, what?! While I know zero about the dynamics of the Canadian government and identity, I can say that The Twentieth Century stands out from a line of great indie films that arrived on the scene this year. Even without the national connection, the story screams a global political familiarity in your face all while making you merrily cringe in fits of laughter. It’s one of a kind.

Arriving in Virtual Cinemas on November 20, 2020!
Runtime: 90 Minutes
English Language
Color
Not Rated
🏆 Winner of the Best Canadian First Feature Film Award at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival
🏆 Winner of Best Film at the 2019 Los Cabos International Film Festival
🏆 Winner of the FIPRESCI Prize at the 2020 Berlin International Film Festival
🏆🏆🏆 Nominated for eight Canadian Screen Awards and Winner of three

Review: ‘ A BRIDE FOR RIP VAN WINKLE’ is eternally mysterious.

PRESENTS THE ACCLAIMED NEW MASTERPIECE
FROM LEGENDARY JAPANESE DIRECTOR SHUNJI IWAI
A BRIDE FOR RIP VAN WINKLE
リップヴァンウィンクルの花嫁
Synopsis: Nanami is an apathetic, part-time junior high school teacher, whose only solace comes from connecting with others on “Planet”, a new social network service. One day, a young man named Tetsuya messages her and asks to meet in person. The two begin dating and quickly become engaged. When Testuya begs Nanami to increase her guest list for the wedding, Nanami reaches out to online-friend, Amuro, a self-proclaimed jack-of-all-trades, who hires actors to play Nanami’s guests on her big day. A few weeks following the ceremony, Tetsuya’s mother confronts Nanami with allegations of lying and cheating. Heartbroken and despondent, Nanami checks herself into a hotel and manages to get hired there as a maid. One day, Amuro offers Nanami a housekeeping job in an old mansion, whose sole resident’s infectious spirit helps Nanami to open her heart. However, Nanami soon realizes that Amuro, the mansion, and its occupant aren’t what they seem – and even dreams have limits.
There is something otherworldly about Iwai Shunji‘s latest film. While A BrideFor Rip Van Winkle runs just minutes shy of 3 hrs, the story is vastly engrossing. Our beautiful lead actress, Haru Kuroki, gives us an honest and quietly bold performance that allows us to feel each beat in real time with her. We are along for the ride just as much as she is. The classical soundtrack adds an ethereal quality to mysterious turns in the script. To speak too much about the plot would ruin it for the viewer. I can say that it will be unlike anything you’ve seen before. It certainly speaks to the power of social media. It tackles isolationism and the yearning to feel truly connected physically and emotionally. A Bride For Rip Van Winkle will surprise and delight to no end. You can check out the trailer below and catch the film in theaters this Friday.

A BRIDE FOR RIP VAN WINKLE opens in cinemas November 10th!

Color
Japanese Language with English Subtitles
179 minutes
Not Rated

Review: ‘Indivisible’ takes the family bond to the extreme.

INDIVISIBLE
(Indivisibili)In a complex and incredibly nuanced new film, sisters must decide if physical and emotional separation is what they need to survive. Indivisible is a story of exploitation and personal desire.
Daisy and Viola are conjoined twin sisters living in the suburbs of Naples. They are blessed with beautiful voices and, thanks to their performances at local weddings, communions, and baptisms, have become the breadwinners for their entire family. Kept isolated from the world by their exploitative father, their lives are turned upside down when one of them falls in love for the first time… and they discover that it is possible for them to be separated.
Angela and Marianna Fontana play conjoined twins Dasy and Viola. Sought after for their singing talents and local idolatry, everyone wants a piece of them. Born into a selfish family living off the girls’ fame, they are forced to perform, threatened by guilt and permeating greed. While one sister yearns to be surgically divided, the other feels devastated by the idea. In bold performances from these real-life twins, we are rooting for their ultimate happiness. Despite being attached at the hip, each young woman gives a brilliant performance. Full of dreams and determination, these ladies own the screen is presence and ability. Battling religious fanaticism and the seduction of escapism, our leading ladies ooze with charisma. Indivisible takes a heartfelt and intimate approach to dismiss the sideshow mentality. Every theme in this script is some sort of double entendre. With beautiful cinematography on top of a clever and unexpected script, Indivisible is one of a kind.
The film is currently playing in New York City and opens theatrically in Los Angeles today. A national rollout will follow.

100 mins | Italy | in Italian with English subtitles | 2016

Written and Directed by Edoardo De Angelis
**NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE – TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2016**
**WORLD PREMIERE – 73RD VENICE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL**

**OPENING NIGHT – OPEN ROADS**

Review: Now available on VOD, film festival favorite ‘ANGEL OF NANJING’ soars.

Balance Films and Blue Bus Productions PresentsANGEL OF NANJING

In the US, depression is a subject we either tackle with prescription drugs or after a suicide. Most of us are so consumed with our own lives, we oftentimes fail to look beyond the emotional scope of our own noses. In a new documentary by Jordan Horowitz and Frank L. Ferendo, ANGEL OF NANJING, one solitary man makes it his mission to save the souls on The Yangtze River Bridge.

SYNOPSIS:

The Yangtze River Bridge in Nanjing is one of the most famous landmarks in China. It is also the most popular place in the world to commit suicide. After hearing reports about this from the news, Chen Si, an average man with no professional training, decided to do something about it. On September 19, 2003, he went to the bridge with a heart-shaped sign that read, “Nothing is impossible. When God closes a door he opens a window.” That morning he saved someone, and has dedicated his life to standing vigil on that bridge ever since. Incredibly, he’s saved over 300 lives since he began.

 

Despite all the lives he’s saved, Chen’s mission has taken an unexpected toll on him. He feels incredible guilt when he learns someone committed suicide while he wasn’t at the bridge, and even more when he is there and is still unable to save them. He’s become a heavy smoker and drinker, and often finds himself battling with depression. He is also under growing pressure from his family to quit, who cannot understand why he spends so much time and money helping others when he has his own family to worry about.

ANGEL OF NANJING

The film has an incredibly organic feeling from its handheld camera work to the pulled back moments when Chen is speaking to the men and women so seemingly desperate to jump. Once rescued, the audience feels as if they’re part of the healing as they are treated to intimate face to face conflict resolution. It is a perfect snapshot into the Chinese culture. Suicide is considered extraordinarily shameful. Chinese media always refers to a desperate or depressed individual as in a “bad mood” in any aftermath coverage. Once you accept the familial implications of a suicide, you begin to understand Chen’s pragmatic approach. Cultural tactics are perfectly balanced with genuine tenderness resulting in incredibly touching rescues. Chen is a complex man, struggling with the sense of responsibility to those in such despair and his own happiness. Horowitz and Ferendo do absolute justice to Chen and this unique scenario. As an added bonus, the film’s score is both haunting and glorious. It is something I would seek out on its own. As a whole, ANGEL OF NANJING is a beautiful story of hope and humanity.

ANGEL OF NANJING

ANGEL OF NANJING is now available! Check out the trailer below…

Award-winning documentary debuted on VOD (iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play) February 16

Winner – Best Documentary, Phoenix Film Festival
Wi
nner – Best Documentary, Catalina Film Festival
Winner – Best Documentary, SaMo Indie Fest
Winner – Best Documentary, Big Apple Film Festival
Winner – Best Documentary, New Jersey Film Festival

Directed by Jordan Horowitz and Frank Ferendo, ANGEL OF NANJING tells the story of an ordinary man doing something extraordinary, and at great personal sacrifice. It is a personal portrait of a man, who in a country of over one billion people, has chosen to dedicate himself to making a difference, one person at a time.