THE FAREWELL (2019)

A Chinese-American family returns home to attend a cousin’s wedding, except the wedding is fake and the family are really gathering to say goodbye to their grandmother whom they haven’t told is dying.

Awkwafina should have received more than just the hushed critical attention she got for this — she really anchors the perspective of an outsider watching a familiar yet alien culture navigate a complex situation, and does so with gravity and a genuine, moving charisma.

Each of the family members offers some insight into the clash of culture between East and West, but seldom do we really get to see that conflict from the modern Chinese perspective and what their own misconceptions of Western culture are like, especially regarding something as universal as a death in the family.

Deserves all the praise. It’s a wonderful film, highly recommended.

KINGDOM: s02 (2020)

Zombie plague + feudal Korea + beautiful cinematography + devious political machinations = an absolute winner following a similarly great first season.

Lots of twists and turns, great choreography and characters. It’s on Netflix now.

Highly recommended.

BACURAU (2019)

If Robert Rodriguez or Quentin Tarantino were scruffy indie filmmakers in near-future Brazil, this would be right at home in their collection.

Brought together by the death of their matriarch and then set upon by foreigners, the tiny town of Bacurau turns out to be anything but the quaint speck on the map it presents itself as.

Great tone and place and sense of community personality, every character feels real even if they never get a single line. Feels like part SERIES 7, part BLACK MIRROR, part BATTLE ROYALE.

Loose and rough and charming. Great fun, especially watching with a crowd of Brazilians who’ve taken up its spirit against their corrupt government and have been rallying around it.

Definitely check it out.