MONSTER (Melbourne IFF 2023) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Monster tells the story from the perspective of each of its key characters, each retelling revealing more about the truth of what has happened in a nuanced and sensitive way. Across its two-hour run time, Monster keeps its secrets until its final moments, leaving us with the feeling that we have earned its trust and are worthy of the precious, beautiful truths that lie at its heart.

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BROKER – Review by Diane Carson

Broker reveals loving families through baby brokers. In South Korea, Japanese writer/director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Broker follows Sang-hyeon who runs a baby broker operation. The sympathetic twist is that Sang and his younger partner Dong-soo sell abandoned newborns only to deserving couples who will love and care for the babies. Subplots involve the recent mother So-young returning, police tailing her, mobsters owed money, and a stowaway orphan boy.

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Telluride Film Fest 2022: A Woman’s Wrap – Diane Carson reports

Over Labor Day weekend, the 49th Telluride Film Festival presented thought-provoking films to its full complement of attendees, a nice rebound from the all-mask 2021 event. As always, no one could come close to seeing all the enticing films on offer, so tough choices and constant second guessing rules. This year women directed and dominated exceptionally strong selections that tell stories of quite different time periods and subjects. Intelligently and insightfully observing internal and external struggles, revealing the specificity of contemporary and historical pressures (so remarkably relevant today), the fest’s films reached out and inspired as they informed. We are, indeed, a global community.

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BROKER (MIFF 2022) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

As seen most famously in his Palme d’Or winning 2018 film Shoplifters, there is nothing Hirokazu Kore-eda seems to like more than tales about grifters told with compassion and humanity. Once again, the notion of “family” – defined in its loosest sense – lies at the heart of Broker. What is being brokered here are babies, but as one of the police women central to the film’s plot notes, to frame what is happening here as a “professional child trafficking ring” may be reductive and missing the point entirely of what is really at stake. Broker is a film about grifters, sure, but at its core it is a low-key but heartfelt, sincere and totally unique exploration of the wondrous, nuanced complexity of how people both survive and connect on a fundamental level.

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AIR DOLL – Review by Diane Carson

Air Doll watches an inflatable sex doll come to life and reveal Tokyo. Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda has a well-earned international following as well as numerous awards. The distribution company Dekanalog, dedicated “to the release of the most unique filmmaking voices,” will now provide on-demand access to Kore-eda’s 2009 Air Doll, a provocative look at contemporary Japanese society and the individual need for, as well as the elusiveness of, affection.

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THE TRUTH – Review by Brandy McDonnell

The French-language family drama marks the first film written and directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda outside his native Japan. But “The Truth” has such an air of authenticity that it seems like the auteur, who won the 2018 Palme d’Or at France’s Cannes Film Festival for “Shoplifters,” has been making movies in Paris his whole life.

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THE TRUTH – Review by Martha K Baker

This story might have been more promising on paper than it is on film. Certainly, the cast promises more than any of the stars deliver. The director, Hirokazu Kore-eda, became known last year for his film Shoplifters. Those who thought that movie was overblown should not expect much from The Truth.

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SHOPLIFTERS – Review by Marietta Steinhart (Guest Post)

Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Shoplifters is a tender, strangely powerful and sad exploration of what makes a real family and implies that we often find true compassion among the strangers we encounter in the world. The film won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, claimed the FIPRESCI Prize for Best Foreign Language Film at Palm Springs International Film Festival and is nominated for a best foreign-language film Oscar.

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