Reviews of four indie films that were released in the past couple of months: The Blonde One, Distant Harmony, Out of Omaha, and Send Me to the Clouds.
American Factory: ** ½
Luce: * ½
Whether it’s Fritz Lang’s M or Neill Blomkamp’s District 9, allegories have always played a prominent role in film history. So it shouldn’t be surprising that many contemporary directors have made films that play as political or economic allegories. Scores of recent films – Beatriz at Dinner, The Shape of Water, Get Out, Isle of Dogs, Us, Transit, and so on – have used the stories of particular individuals to convey larger and more abstract messages about pressing societal issues, such as immigration, inequality, and racism.
In the past month, however, two new releases served as a reminder that such allegories don’t always “work.”
(NOTE: A version of this article was published here.)
**** (out of 4)
In an ideal world, nobody would have to endure the things that happen in Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts’ For Sama. Framed as a letter to al-Kateab’s daughter Sama, the documentary tells the story of al-Kateab and her husband Hamza, two Syrians who lived in Aleppo during the Syrian Civil War. After the initial protests against Bashar al-Assad gave way to armed conflict, the couple stayed in the eastern part of Aleppo, where Hamza set up a hospital. Even as Aleppo came under siege, the two of them refused to leave, only capitulating when the city finally fell to Assad’s forces in late 2016.