BIFF 2018: High Life

There is no evidence for life on Mars. Despite SETI’s best efforts, nothing has come back from outside the solar system. Except for Earth, the universe appears to be cold, lifeless, and desolate. Yet the romantic pull of space is as hard to resist as Earth’s gravity; most movies set in space are about wonder, adventure, and the discovery of the unknown. Even if it’s full of killer monsters (Alien), at least they’re a change of scenery, and even if space is empty (Gravity, The Martian), at least there’s a spectacular journey with a happy ending.

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Women Run The Jewels In Widows

Widows is quite possibly the best film—if not top five, were we to entertain a conversation about the films-yet-to-go-wide (If Beale Street Could Talk, Creed 2, Jinn, etc)—of the year. The reimagined heist film, co-written by Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl, Sharp Objects) and director Steve McQueen (Hunger, 12 Years a Slave), is just damn good.

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#SFFILM: Minding The Gap

There are plenty of amazing skate videos out there, but I’d bet that Minding the Gap is the only one that evolves into a deeply intimate portrait of parental abuse. Skating is known as an emblem of childhood escape, and that’s where the film starts, but by the end of the film you’ll have witnessed a searing, honest case study of childhood trauma.

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Support The Girls

Hooters, in concept, is not a beacon of feminism. It’s the Joe Camel of gendered objectification. But in his new film Support The Girls, director Andrew Bujalski imagines a reclamation of the veiled strip club by a brilliant cast of employees. An unstoppable performance from Regina Hall, who plays the manager of a Hooter’s proxy called “Double Whammies”, leads an all-female team that gradually revolts against the “family friendly” system of subjugation.

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Eighth Grade Has Heart, But Not Much Else

I’ve never seen Lady Bird, but I imagine that the feeling I had while watching Eighth Grade is similar to what some people have said they felt watching Greta Gerwig’s acclaimed solo directorial debut – also produced by Scott Rudin and distributed by A24 – which is simply the underwhelming feeling one gets when watching a spoiled brat and her straight white girl problems. Lady Bird was nominated for Oscars, and as for Eighth Grade, there’s already some premature Oscar buzz. I think the appeal is that a lot of people do identify with those problems, and when someone comes along and pinpoints them so incisively and accurately albeit in a mediocre film, it’s enough for the film to become a critic’s darling. Like Gerwig, Burnham keeps it real, but I, on one hand, don’t think it’s enough.

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Sorry To Bother You Is Absurdist Trillism

When San Francisco is invaded by “park them anywhere” scootie bikes, Silicon Valley technology “geniuses” run companies that literally lie about workplace endangerment, , and black people get shot for being in their own backyards, I’m not sure if Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You is the absurdist version of our reality…or the other way around.

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Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

If anyone took children and their future seriously, it was Mr. Rogers. Won’t You Be My Neighbor?— this summer’s ode to the saintly man next door that I caught at SFFILM—proves as much. Sure, the film focuses on his legacy and work in detail. But what makes the film most interesting is that director Morgan Neville takes an acute look at the man himself. In doing so, we get to understand just how deeply Mr. Rogers cared: about children, people, the usage and progression of television, and even his weight.

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Upgrade Wants You To Do Anything But

Blumhouse’s latest nightmare, Upgrade, will make you question how much freedom we actually retain when we invite technological doodads into every facet of our lives

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In They Remain, The Grass Is Not Always Greener

If golden meadows, thick underbrush, and wisps of sun peeking through foliage all make you tremble with fear, you might

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First Reformed: The First Great Climate Change Film?

Not only is the church’s organ malfunctioning just weeks before the 250th anniversary, but Toller’s internal organs are enflamed with cancer. The planet’s organs are no better.

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How to Talk to Girls at Parties

If there’s one thing Neil Gaiman knows how to do, it’s tell a weird, human story about weird people with even weirder circumstances. If there’s one thing John Cameron Mitchell knows how to do, it’s create a frenetic musical with punk-y references. Somewhere in between is where you’ll find How to Talk to Girls at Parties.

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The Highs And Lows Of Korean Cop Dramas

As I discovered when I watched two popular Korean cop shows, there’s more to the medium than sexy oppas and kimchi slaps.

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If He Dies, He Dies: Infinity War Ramblings

The MCU has been so optimistic that it’s drawn a lot of criticism from many sides, with the ultimate question being: does anything change in this universe-do cataclysms actually matter, if they end nicely and neatly in candy coated technicolor and a joke? Clearly, DisneyMarvelCorp has been listening. For in Infinity War, that cycle metaphorically and literally ends.

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#SFFILM: Alex Strangelove

Laugh-out-loud hilarious and at times touching, Netflix’s Alex Strangelove stands out among recently trendy gay teen flicks with its unique and savagely honest portrayal of a teen’s confusion in grappling with his identity. Our young protagonist, Alex Truelove (Daniel Doheny)–senior class president awaiting acceptance into Columbia where his girlfriend will be attending–is plagued by tormenting doubt and fear, but as with many coming-outs, these agonizing feelings are entwined with the excitement of a first gay love.

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#SFFILM: The Pushouts

High school is a critical time for many young people. It’s even more so for those who are on the fringes, bearing responsibilities most youth shouldn’t have to at such a crucial point in their lives. Despite this, it seems that the American education system has not fully adapted to helping those most in need of help. That’s the entire idea behind The Pushouts.

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