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Sally Jane has written 510 reviews for films during 2016.

  • The Man with the Suitcase

    The Man with the Suitcase

    Two readings:

    The first is born of a lifetime of anxiety. Living with strangers (as I have done many times in the past) means never quite being comfortable in your own home, even once you start to get to know them. (For me, anyway.) Few random roommates have crossed that barrier to friendship; being closeted saw to that in a lot of ways. Regardless, even at the best of times, I retreat to my room often, unable unwilling unprepared (spoonless)…

  • Tell Me

    Tell Me

    CW: WWII, Holocaust reference

    Perhaps the most important thing a documentary filmmaker can do is give voice to those without one. Akerman sits down with women with stories to tell, histories to share, and just lets them talk. She knows how to set her camera just so it has their faces, their hand gestures, their table settings, giving you enough to know these Jewish women as they tell of love, violence, and faith before and during World War II (she…

  • Portrait of a Young Girl at the End of the '60s in Brussels

    Portrait of a Young Girl at the End of the '60s in Brussels

    CW: sexuality, consent

    Pointedly set in April 1968, you can feel the youthful dissent pervading every frame as the titular woman disconnects from the standard teenage narrative to explore her city, her sexuality, and her life. Most notable (to me) is the intense isolation she expresses at the end as she is tacitly rejected after a dance with another girl; being the only queer girl you know is draining. Most remarkable, to me, is in the movie theatre, with the…

  • Blow Up My Town

    Blow Up My Town

    CW: feminism, suicide, mental health

    It's sad knowing that there are still people who would argue against this film's sentiment. Second wave defiance that eats a poor kitty along with it, a disorderly breakdown of urban European domesticity, this film gradually but not slowly, loudly but not violently peels away normality, each new chore shedding yet more reason until she is taping up the doors, no longer bearing any resemblance to household chores. This breakdown is less a depiction of…

  • Toute une nuit

    Toute une nuit

    It seems like such an obvious idea: spend a night in a small area, following various people through nocturnal connections, disconnections, and missed connections. Akerman's film evokes the solitude of the post-midnight world even as people touch, move, speak, dance with each other; few lines of dialogue break the stillness. Everything remains in shadow, even as the lights come on. The movements are confined, swaying, sometimes furtive, sometimes desperate, always framed by sidewalks, walls, doorways, windows, counters, chairs, streets, cars,…

  • Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

    Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

    CW: race, gender, xenophobia, personal insults to Brad Bird

    The most damning thing this film says about Russia is that the US is not its enemy, which is not to say it gives us a nuanced look at any of the locales it seemingly arbitrarily throws its protagonists to. As ever, I ask more and more, and mostly, I just want someone to go to India or UAE and not spend a few shots exoticizing it. This film, to its…

  • Zootopia

    Zootopia

    CW: race, white supremacy

    My nephew insisted we put this on, then quickly got distracted by all his new toys. Regardless, it fit nicely into my Disney consuming schedule, so here we are, on the other side of perhaps the perfect encapsulation of how white people view racism: as a thing of the past caused by non-white people. That seems to be the metaphor, anyway, with a few stand-in counter-examples. It also doesn't necessarily understand the layers of the term…

  • The Babadook

    The Babadook

    CW: grief, mental illness, abuse

    I respect if this film resonated with you in terms of how it portrayed depression, PTSD, grief, or other emotions or mental illnesses, but I just did not want to be given yet another externalized metaphor, especially not one that was wielded in a manner that seemed like an excuse for child abuse. Had there been some visible consequence for her actions even under the influence of the Babadook either in regards to her relationship…

  • If I Were You

    If I Were You

    CW: race, gender, slut shaming reference

    A white cishet woman's midlife crisis crosses with her husband's mistress's nervous breakdown, and what ensues is a gross display of cisheteronormativity, white privilege, and slut shaming. The positive sides of this include a gesture toward female friendships, some occasional jokes that kinda work, and one or two Shakespeare moments that put me in mind of someone's bad Slings and Arrows impression (even a bad impression makes me a little happy). It also isn't…

  • The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom

    The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom

    CW: race, gender, family

    The first problem here is the Asian diner owner who serves as a mystic mentor for the white main character. Another tired old stereotype mixed with a totem-mythology reference for good measure. It's completely unnecessary and harmful, and it stops this charming film cold to have this random insert. It's a lack of imagination to even stoop to using this stereotype, which is the least problem when it comes to being a racist trope. Given that…

  • Hello, Dolly!

    Hello, Dolly!

    CW: gender, race

    Complicated gender norms pervade this. It's clear "It Takes a Woman" is intended as characterization of Mathau's character's misguided notions on love, women, and marriage, but the film never establishes his better qualities--never explains why Dolly is set on marrying him--except to say she wants to redistribute his wealth for him (and good for her, that's good ass praxis). His consent in that endeavor seems almost irrelevant to the film and when it's revealed, watering down her…

  • It's a Wonderful Life

    It's a Wonderful Life

    ★★★★½

    " But he did help a few people get out of your slums, Mr. Potter, and what's wrong with that? Why... here, you're all businessmen here. Doesn't it make them better citizens? Doesn't it make them better customers? You... you said... what'd you say a minute ago? They had to wait and save their money before they even ought to think of a decent home. Wait? Wait for what? Until their children grow up and leave them? Until they're so…