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MOONLIGHT Casts a Dark Shadow

By Laura Garber (Ebert Young Writers Participant)

Beware of the high praise Barry Jenkins’ MOONLIGHT receives: this is a film that needs breathing room and sober, uninterrupted thought. Jenkins tackles a social construct within three developing acts that proves to help (but even more so hinder) character development. Distinctive chapters titled in the nicknames Chiron has been given (“Little”, “Chiron”, and “Black”), forms the link between identity and self-realization. …

Bobbing Heads Prove the Blues Work

By Laura Garber (Ebert Young Writers Participant) 

Daniel Cross’ I Am the Blues is a rhythmically stunning documentary focused on the key legends of Mississippi and Louisiana blues. Audience participation is involuntary; feet shake the floor, heads sway in time with the music. It’s a feel-good documentary that exemplifies the importance of this type of filmmaking.

The lack of a complicated plot leaves room for the story to flourish. I Am the Blues follows the charismatic last…

Things To Come: An unassuming yet provocative take on freedom and transition


By Ken Reyes (Ebert Young Writers Participant)

Perhaps not all movies are meant to have a riveting plot. Sometimes we walk out feeling disillusioned, only to revisit those feelings and find sobriety settling in.

That was the case for Things To Come (L’Avenir), a French-German film written and directed by Mia Hansen-Løve, who won the Silver Bear for Best Director at the 66th Berlin International Film Festival. Mostly set in a mild, pasty Parisian atmosphere, the film was…

Behind every successful man, there is a great woman: THE PATRIARCH

By Nicole Lockwood (Ebert Young Writers Participant)

Hawaii’s premiere screening of the New Zealand film, The Patriarch (2016) was a reunion for director Lee Tamahori and lead actor Temuera Morrison: the dynamic duo also worked together on Once Were Warriors(1994) and in its sequel What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? (1999). 

The Patriarch tells the story of two Maori families that compete for the local sheep shearing contracts, but they also seem to be stuck in an…

Shadows of a lost story and a lost filmmaker

By Veerle van Wijk (Ebert Young Writers Participant)

“Heroes come in different sizes, a little woman can be a big hero.” This is the key trigger that pushes Finding Kukan forward. Director Robin Lung started this magnificent documentary when finding out about the lost Oscar-winning documentary Kukan, a film about the life of Chinese people during the Japanese invasion. She was especially interested in the story of Li Ling-Ai, a Chinese-Hawaiian woman that worked on Kukan along wit…

TONI ERDMANN Highlights Anxiety and Humor in This Years Darkest Comedy

By Laura Garber (Ebert Young Writers Participant)

Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann depicts the shadow of comedy and despair. The film’s use of real time gives clear indication that the audience will easily relate from the start. Ade utilizes her 2-hour-plus film to build up to the final scenes with small bursts of regular life climactic dramas. From a dog’s death to a bad massage, every detail almost seemed stagnant after the 2-hour mark, leading you to believe that patience is a hard…

To Walk in the Footsteps of my Grandfather

By Josh Lee (Ebert Young Writers Participant)

95 and 6 To Go, a documentary directed by Kimi Takesue, tells the story of a hardworking and family-oriented grandfather in his last few years, as his granddaughter (the filmmaker herself) follows her passions for film-making. This story is centered around her graduate screenplay as her grandfather, Tom Takesue, becomes enthralled by the story and begins to offer suggestions that linked grandfather and daughter in the most obscur…

You can’t choose your family, but you can choose to be happy: Desperate Sunflowers

By Nicole Lockwood (Ebert Young Writers Participant)

Desperate Sunflowers (2016) is a Japanese film adapted from the 2010 bestselling novel Iya na Onna, written by Nozomi Katsura. The director, Hitomi Kuroki, has had an extensive acting career in both Japanese film and television, and with Desperate Sunflowers she now makes her debut as a director.  All through the film I kept thinking to myself, “You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.” Desperate Sunflowers…

Stubbornly Ready to Burst in to Flame

By Kristin Ann Rivera (Ebert Young Writers Participant)

“Without love, what reason is there for anything?”

Ohio Blue Tip Matches. The matches are the inspiration for the first poem written by Paterson, the main character in Paterson, played by Adam Driver, a new thought-provoking film directed by Jim Jarmusch. This is where the real story begins. In the morning, just before work, sitting at the kitchen table, cup of milk and cereal, Paterson holds the little blue and white matchbox.

WHAT A WONDERFUL FAMILY! – A Hilarious Take on Divorce, Values, and Relationships

By Ariel Ushijima (Ebert Young Writers Participant)

In the new feature film What a Wonderful Family!, the first scene begins with a simple phone call at home.  A woman picks up the phone to answer and the caller is blunt with the man on the other line saying, “It’s me! It’s me. Don’t you know?” The woman is confused and accuses the man of being a phone scammer. After our caller does not introduce himself, we find out that it was the father figure of the house, Shuzo Hirata…

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