‘The Photograph’ is a Testament to the Power of Gesture

A prostitute struggles to save money for her far-away family while suffering gross mistreatment from her pimp. When she moves into an aging photographer’s spare room, she finds herself growing to care for her new landlord. Through their newfound friendship, the two are both able to heal emotionally and spiritually. Indonesian director Nan Triveni Achnas delivers a film that deftly expresses pain, sorrow, love, and care. The Photograph’s (2007) main actors execute their scenes with poignancy. (RMM: 3/5)

Norwegian Favorite ‘Fools in the Mountains’ is a Situational Comedic Treat

When two guests identical in appearance but opposite in nature arrive at the Hurumhei Hotel, the receptionist – and the other guests – confuse them for the same person. Normally a sharp-minded hard worker, the receptionist believes he is going insane. Meanwhile, the hotel manager’s daughter disguises herself as a bellhop to prove to her parents that she isn’t a spoiled child. One of the most famous Norwegian films, Edith Carlmar’s situational comedy Fools in the Mountains (1957) (in Norwegian, Fjols til fjells) entertains while offering a glimpse into Norwegian culture. (RMM: 4/5)

‘Very Annie Mary’ Charms Us With the Awkward yet Compassionate Nature of its Titular Heroine

A woman struggles to break free from the yoke of her father’s authority and become her own person. Matters are complicated when she must care for him after he suffers a stroke. Still, she dreams of moving into a house of her own and helping her friend “Bethan” (Joanna Page) go to Disneyland. In Sara Sugarman’s Very Annie Mary (2001), the titular character charms us with her awkward yet kind-hearted nature. Colorful characters throughout the film make for a quirky, fun, and at times sad story. (RMM: 4/5)

Brazilian Favorite ‘O Ébrio’ Chronicles the Exploitation of a Kind-Hearted Man by Those He Holds Dearest

A medical student is made destitute and homeless after his family loses their property due to a series of faulty business practices. Shunned by his relatives, he turns to the church, which gives him a second chance at life. When his participation in a radio singing contest gives him money and fame, he finishes school and becomes a doctor. In Gilda de Abreu’s Brazilian classic, O Ébrio (1946), a kind-hearted man is taken advantage of by the people he holds dear. (RMM: 3/5)

‘The Crime Thief’ Shows Us a Psychopath in Action

When a writer witnesses a woman commit suicide, he convinces himself that he carried out the crime. Bored and craving attention, he begins writing anonymous letters to the press detailing the murder. Nadine Trintignant’s The Crime Thief (in French, Le voleur de crimes) explores the mind of a psychopath as his deadly affliction becomes more evident. (RMM: 3/5)

‘The Kite’ Explores the Unique Kind of Strife Brought by Borders

A teenage girl from a Lebanese village must leave her mother and brother to cross the Israeli-Lebanese border as she is off to fulfill an arranged marriage to her cousin. Meanwhile, she and a border soldier fall in love from a distance. In The Kite (2003), director Randa Chahal Sabag explores the traditions of the Druze community while communicating the unique kind of strife brought about by political unrest and ever-changing land borders. (RMM: 3/5)

Wendy Toye’s Fast-Paced ‘The Teckman Mystery’ Stimulates Conversation on Film Censorship in Old British Cinema

A successful writer is asked by his publisher to write a biography on a man who recently died in a plane crash. Initially reticent, the writer finds himself drawn to the story as he begins to uncover the case’s details. But some would rather this mystery remain unsolved, and the situation soon becomes dangerous for all innocent – and seemingly innocent – characters involved. Despite facing censorship from the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), Wendy Toye delivers a fast-paced story whose unraveling compels us to continue watching in The Teckman Mystery (1954). (RMM: 3/5)

Through the perspectives of women, Sabiha Sumar explores violence and unrest in the name of religion in ‘Silent Waters’

In a Pakistani village in 1979, a mother watches in sorrow as her teenage son becomes indoctrinated into a group of radical Islamist militants bent on converting the entire country to Sharia law. As her relationship with her son crumbles, she experiences flashbacks from her childhood in 1947, another time of political unrest when the country of Pakistan was forming. In Silent Waters (2003), director Sabiha Sumar explores violence and unrest through women’s perspectives, who often stand to suffer the most as its result. (RMM: 4/5)

Mystery, Melancholy, Memory, and Comfort Pervade Júlia Murat’s ‘Found Memories’

In Found Memories (2011), Júlia Murat quietly observes the daily happenings in a tiny Brazilian village. When a young photographer arrives to photograph the few elderly residents and their homes, she finds herself captivated by the setting’s antiquity. In just a few days, she grows close to the village bread baker, who spends her days lost in memories and routine. Beautifully composed visuals in each frame paired with minimal yet expressive acting add movement to a story steeped in mystery, melancholy, and – strangely – comfort. (RMM: 5/5)

Featuring Striking Visuals, ‘Rachida’ Captures the Essence of Fear and Resignation in a Community

During the Algerian Civil War, a young school teacher tries to live her life as she witnesses violent terrorism instill fear into the community. First-time director and Algerian Yamina Bachir hits the ground running, exploring civility’s disintegration in a country otherwise filled with culture, tradition, and love. Though a bit slow in pacing at times, Rachida (2002) is both poignant and visually striking. (RMM: 3.5/5)

Ida Lupino’s ‘Outrage’ Tackles the Subject of Rape at a Time of Strict Regulations on Content

A young, newly-engaged woman ready to start her life is raped on her way home from work one night. Suffering mentally from the attack, she abandons her life, her family, and her home in an attempt to forget what transpired— and to regain some semblance of faith. Ida Lupino’s Outrage (1950) tackled rape when it was even more taboo than today. Film regulations of the period further limit its scope of exploration on the subject. (RMM: 3/5)

A Compelling Immigrant Narrative is Marred by a Weak Script and Acting in Ela Thier’s ‘Foreign Letters’

In 1982, a young girl and her family must adjust to life as immigrants in America after leaving Israel to escape war. While exchanging letters with her best friend back home, the young daughter finds a new, lifelong friend in a quiet Vietnamese girl in her class. Based on her own childhood, Ela Thier’s Foreign Letters (2012) chronicles the struggles of assimilating to a new language and culture while yearning for the one you left. Unfortunately, its engaging subject matter does not cancel out its weak script and static acting. (RMM: 2.5/5)

‘Mabel’s Strange Predicament’ is Both Funny and Foundational in the Making of the Modern Sitcom

Mabel Normand directs, writes, and stars in this silent short film alongside the always charming Charlie Chaplin. Mabel’s relationship with her sweetheart is threatened at a fancy hotel when a staggering drunk (Chaplin) starts meddling in her affairs. The small cast of characters soon finds itself in several sticky situations. Mabel’s Strange Predicament (1914) entertains while laying the foundations for the modern sitcom. (RMM: 4/5)

‘Corpo Celeste’ sparks conversation about the church and its place in society today

A 13-year-old girl struggles to find her place in society after moving back to Italy with her mother and older sister. Soon, she finds herself wrestling with the tumultuous growing pains of youth while trying to make sense of the Catholic church and her place in it. Alice Rohrwacher invites us to look—alongside her heroine— at a society from the outside and observe the ways in which religion permeates a people. (RMM: 3.5/5)

Though Steeped in Patriotic Pathos and Historical Context, ‘Tomka and His Friends’ Sustains the Energy of a Children’s Adventure

When occupying Nazis set up camp on their soccer field after the withdrawal of Mussolini’s Italian forces, a group of boys vows to defend it. Together with the partisan resistance, they fight for freedom from fascism – and have quite a bit of fun in the process. Xhanfize Keko’s Tomka and His Friends (1977) offers a unique spin on a sub-genre of child adventures, grounding it in history while infusing it with patriotic pathos. (RMM: 4/5)

Though Nostalgic and Sweet, ‘Dogfight’ Reminds Us Not to Romanticize the Past

In 1963, a  group of young marines spend a night in San Francisco before being deployed to Vietnam. When one invites a shy, frumpy girl to a party called a “dogfight,” he has no idea that he will have fallen for her come morning. Director Nancy Savoca captures a moment of love and tenderness during a time of political upheaval. Historical context in Dogfight (1991) adds a further layer of nostalgia while inviting the audience to look at the past through a more critical lens. (RMM: 4/5)

‘The Women Who Loved Cinema’ Illuminates Female Pioneers of Egyptian Film

In her two-part documentary series, The Women Who Loved Cinema (2002), director Marianne Khoury recounts prominent Egyptian actresses and filmmakers’ lives from the 1920s and 1930s. These women would advance the development of Egyptian cinema, leaving their mark on a growing industry. (RMM: 3.5/5)

Musings on Meshes of the Afternoon: Maya Deren explores the landscape of the subconscious

TCM will feature films from 12 decades—and representing 44 countries—totaling 100 classic and current titles all created by women. Read more about this here!   A woman picks up a flower on her way home and takes a nap in her living room armchair. What follows is a dream sequence with cyclical scenes of a shrouded… Continue reading Musings on Meshes of the Afternoon: Maya Deren explores the landscape of the subconscious

‘Krane’s Confectionery’ demonstrates society’s sexist mindset along with its refusal to acknowledge the need for self-care

A single mother who works as a seamstress struggles to support her children while she drowns in work. When she meets a man who challenges her to be a little more selfish, she finds herself reevaluating her entire life. Krane’s Confectionery (1951) demonstrates the ways in which men and women alike participate in the patriarchy while exploring a society’s refusal to acknowledge the basic need for self-care.(RMM: 4/5)

Surrealist Film “Daisies” Confuses and Entertains

When two young women realize that the world is terrible, they decide that they will behave basely. They spend their time tricking older men into buying them dinner, eating extravagant meals, and having fun. Vera Chytilová’s Daisies (1966) takes a colorful dive into comedic Surrealism while exploring both anarchic and nihilistic ideas. (RMM: 4/5)

‘Wasp’ Depicts a Family Strained by Circumstance yet Bonded in Love

A single mother in Dartford, England struggles emotionally and financially to support three young girls and a baby boy as she reconnects with an old flame from high school. Andrea Arnold’s Oscar-winning short film Wasp (2003) is an at-times charming and all-around painfully honest portrayal of a family strained by circumstance yet strongly bonded in love. (RMM: 5/5)

Cheryl Dunye’s ‘The Watermelon Woman’ Sparks Conversation on Subtle Racism Perpetuated in Assigned Symbols

The Watermelon Woman focuses on a queer black novice filmmaker’s quest for clarity on the life of a fictitious Black actress of the 30s and 40s who was known for her roles as the archetypical “mammy”. Director Cheryl Dunye deftly yet subtly comments on racism in its stealthiest forms in this funny and conversation-sparking film. (RMM: 4/5)

“Judy & Punch” Is a Comedy, Horror, and Satire in One Film

In a town ruled by ignorance and public stonings, a married couple works to bring their locally successful puppet show to the big stage. When the husband’s blinding ambition leads to tragedy, the wife seeks vengeance. Horror, comedy, and satire prove an interesting and entertaining – though not always compelling – mix in Mirrah Foulkes’… Continue reading “Judy & Punch” Is a Comedy, Horror, and Satire in One Film

‘A Fine Line’ Explores the Difficulties Female Chefs Face in a Male-Dominated Industry

In her first documentary and film, director Joanna James explores the struggles of top female chefs and restaurant owners to gain recognition in an industry ruled by men. At the same time, she tells the story of her own mother, chef and restaurant owner Valerie James, and her life of hard work and perseverance. (RMM:… Continue reading ‘A Fine Line’ Explores the Difficulties Female Chefs Face in a Male-Dominated Industry

‘Adam’ a Charming and Celebratory Exploration of the Trans and Lesbian Community

An awkward teen in his last summer of high school decides to spend the long break in New York City with his older sister, who fully embraces the city’s trans and lesbian activist community. The siblings, along with their friends, stumble their way through love, friendship, and pain. Based on Ariel Schrag’s novel of the… Continue reading ‘Adam’ a Charming and Celebratory Exploration of the Trans and Lesbian Community

A Missed Opportunity, “Renegade Dreamers” is All Heart but Little Substance

An interweaving of the past and the present, Karen Kramer’s documentary invokes the voices of the Beat generation to paint a picture of today’s atmosphere of political activism through poetry and song. While its heart is in the right place, Renegade Dreamers lacks the substance needed to make for an inspirational yet informative documentary, leaving… Continue reading A Missed Opportunity, “Renegade Dreamers” is All Heart but Little Substance

‘The Wandering Soap Opera’ both Confounds and Enlightens

Through the efforts of his wife and co-director Valeria Sarmiento, the final film of the late Chilean filmmaker Raoul Ruiz has finally made it to the public. The Wandering Soap Opera (in Spanish, La telenovela errante) presents Chilean life as an ensemble of soap operas, exploring their tropes while infusing each scene with its own… Continue reading ‘The Wandering Soap Opera’ both Confounds and Enlightens

‘Girls of the Sun’ is the harrowing narrative of women tried by war

Inspired by the real female Yazidi warriors fighting ISIS, a female battalion fights for the liberation of their town from extremists in the name of a free Kurdistan. A french journalist dedicated to chronicling the truth stands witness to their story. Director Eva Husson’s Girls of the Sun (in French, Les filles de soleil) sacrifices… Continue reading ‘Girls of the Sun’ is the harrowing narrative of women tried by war

‘Birds of Passage’ is a Frightening, Striking Masterpiece

During the 1960s marijuana craze in Colombia, an indigenous family finds itself further and further entrenched in a lucrative yet dangerously corrupt drug business. Directors Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra deliver the frightening yet startlingly beautiful masterpiece, Birds of Passage (in Spanish, Pájaros de verano) that chronicles this family’s rise and destruction. (RMM: 5/5) Review… Continue reading ‘Birds of Passage’ is a Frightening, Striking Masterpiece

‘Who Will Write Our History?’ tells the inspiring, heartbreaking history of the Warsaw Ghetto and the Oyneg Shabes Archive

During WWII, Polish Jews were locked away and left to die in the infamous Warsaw Ghetto. Through the work of daring souls like Emanuel Ringelblum, Hersz Wasser, and Rachel Auerbach, their accounts of life and death were written down and preserved in the Oyneg Shabes Archive. Based on the book of the same name by… Continue reading ‘Who Will Write Our History?’ tells the inspiring, heartbreaking history of the Warsaw Ghetto and the Oyneg Shabes Archive