ADAM – Melbourne IFF Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Playing in the prestigious Un Certain Regard category of this year’s Cannes film festival, director and screenwriter Maryam Touzani’s Moroccan-set feature film debut Adam is demonstrating further international appeal with its recent screening at the Melbourne International Film Festival.

Read more

RIOT GIRLS – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Jovanka Vuckovic’s feature debut Riot Girls is set in a future where the adult population has been decimated by a plague kids have remained immune to. Riot Girls makes Vuckovic’s punk sensibility explicit not only through its very title (riffing on the underground 90s riot grrrl movement), but by the subcultural styling of its two central characters, Scratch (Paloma Kwiatkowski) and Nat (Madison Iseman).

Read more

CULTURE SHOCK – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

The spirit of empathy makes Culture Shock an unforgettable and important horror film. There is no subtext here; it would take some determined, dedicated ignorance to miss how the film’s title refers to the immigrant experience, where desperate people trying to change their lives for the better are forced to accept a new culture at the expense of one’s original one, shattering their sense of identity and self.

Read more

Isabel Peppard and Josie Hess on MORGANA and Feminist Porn – Alexandra Heller-Nicholas interviews (World exclusive)

Morgana Muses is living proof that not only can the feminist pornography movement provide an empowering, creative space for women to express their desires, but it has also demonstrably changed the life of at least one woman for the better. Isabel Peppard and Josie Hess’s documentary Morgana is a dazzling portrait of an unforgettable woman. This fearless story about its eponymous filmmaker/porn star is almost guaranteed to stun even those who pride themselves on already having an open mind.

Read more

ALIEN CRYSTAL PALACE – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

The film is, to put it mildly, more of a sensory experience than an exercise in character development and complex plot mechanics; to explain the story feels like trying to describe the narrative logic of a lava lamp. A haptic celebration of camp, Alien Crystal Palace loosely follows a deranged scientist obsessed with bringing into the world a new kind of perfect being, marked by its defining androgyny.

Read more

KNIVES AND SKIN – Review by Alaxandra Heller-Nicholas

American filmmaker and artist Jennifer Reeder’s most recent film Knives and Skin is the crowning achievement of a career that has shown a notable interest in the experiences of young women. Reeder’s career as both a celebrated visual artist and a filmmaker collide here with spectacular effect; Knives and Skin is not just visually captivating, but also marked by an emotional intelligence and dark humor that renders it one of the year’s most unique cinema experiences.

Read more

SADAKO – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Sadako is a film about women, trauma and connections; the film shifts its focus from the fun structural gimmick of the haunted video motif to an explicit fascination with women of different generations who have experienced deep trauma. It’s central concern is not the seven-day-countdown, but rather how the stories of these women entwine; how they find each other and leave an impact on each other both physically, emotionally and psychically. For better or for worse.

Read more

THE IGUANA WITH A TONGUE OF FIRE – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Even by giallo standards, The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire is noteworthy for the extremity of its violence, participating in an ongoing spirit of ‘upping the ante’ that would peak in giallo’s classic era with outright nasty efforts such as Mario Landi’s near indescribably brutal Giallo in Venice at the end of the decade (a challenging watch for even the most dedicated giallo loyalists).

Read more

PERVERSION STORY – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Next to Mario Bava and Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci is unarguably one of the giants of Italian horror. His extraordinary Gates of Hell trilogy – City of the Living Dead, The House By the Cemetery and The Beyond – are still as simultaneously beautiful and terrifying as they were on their first release in the early 1980s, The Beyond alone undeniably one of the greatest horror films of that decade full stop.

Read more

Melbourne International Film Fest: Agnieszka Holland, Penelope Spheeris Retrospectives – Alexandra Heller-Nicholas reports

As the first iteration of the Melbourne International Film Festival helmed by incoming artistic director Al Cossar, the 68th year of the Australian festival continues its impressive recent commitment to showcasing the works of both emerging and pioneering women filmmakers. In terms of the latter, two of this year’s three “Directors in Focus” retrospectives are dedicated to the extraordinary careers of two very different but equally influential filmmakers, Agnieszka Holland and Penelope Spheeris.

Read more