Hey everyone! I hope you are all doing well. I am deeply ensconced in Sundance Film Festival and will have reviews of all the films I have been watching (I am not doing daily logs like I’ve done in the past because I’m trying to enjoy the experience more this year.) So far it has been a terrific festival and I’m so glad to be back attending in person again.
If you missed it I was on Good Things Utah for the first time as their movie critic. Check it out
In the meantime, I have a few current films to update you all on.
It’s always fun when you see a film that helps you dive into a different culture and country. Such is the case with Amitabh Reza Chowdhury’s new film Rickshaw Girl. It tells the story of a teenage girl named Naima who dreams of making it as an artist in Dhaka, Bangladesh. This is based on a popular children’s book and the director weaves together animation and live action to tell Naima’s story.
The film is helped by a vibrant and lovely performance by Novera Rahman as Naima and the animation is a nice touch when telling the story of an artist. I only wish the animation had been done in 2D instead of CG to make it feel more like Naima’s art.
They also make the choice to have some dialogue in Bengali with no subtitles and some in English. I’m guessing this is to add to the chaos of the city but it felt like chaos for chaos’ sake. Still, there’s enough here to enjoy in the sweet story and Rahman’s performance to recommend it. You can find it on amazon (ad) and other streamers to rent.
6 out of 10
Fairways to Happiness
We can all use a little boost in our spirits every now and then, right? I know I can. Well, if you are looking for a quick motivational documentary than Fairways to Happiness might be a good choice. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel and could definitely be called cheesy but I like a self-help cheeseball movie every now and then.
In the film Doug Morrione is inspired by his move to Dubai to interview expats and people from around the world on what makes them happy. He also weaves in the struggles of an amateur golfer name Eugene, and examines why so many get joy out of the solitary peace of the golf. I don’t golf but I can understand the appeal. For me it is being in a lake surrounded by water that gives me joy. For others it might be art or hiking. Whatever it might be what is it that makes humans happy? That’s an interesting question Morrione dives into.
If you like this kind of motivational, self-help documentary than Fairways to Happiness is a fun easy watch.
6 out of 10
The true gem of this group is the latest film from Hirokazu Kore-eda called Broker. Kore-eda is a filmmaker I love, and while his films always do well at Cannes and other international festivals I don’t think he gets enough credit here in the states. He makes lovely films full of humanity and Broker is no exception.
Like his 2018 film Shoplifters, Broker tells the story of a fractured family brought together by crime. It is set in Korea (Kore-eda’s last film was set in France called The Truth so evidently he can direct in any land or language!) but Broker is about a group of people that are operating a human trafficking ring where they sell babies to struggling couples that are left at a baby box in a church.
Song Kang-ho is fantastic as Ha Sang-hyeon, the leader of the trafficking ring and Lee Ji-eun is great as a young Mother who leaves her baby and then becomes involved in the enterprise. Obviously human trafficking is terrible but Kore-eda works hard to bring out the humanity in each character so by the end you at least understand where they are coming from even if you don’t agree with their choices.
I’d say Shoplifters is still the better of the two films but Broker is definitely worth checking out and supporting.
8 out of 10