Category Archives: Foreign-Language

FILM REVIEW: Caleb Landry Jones’s performance in NITRAM is brilliant!

Reviewed by Larry Gleeson. Viewed as part of the 37th Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

Based on real events and nominated for a whopping fifteen Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) Awards with eight wins, the Caleb Landry-Jones-led Nitram, directed by Justin Kurzel, and written by Shaun Grant,  tells the story of the worst mass-killing in modern-day Australia’s history, the Port Arthur Massacre on Tasmania, April 28-29, 2006, where 35 people were killed and 23 others wounded by lone gunman Martin Bryant.

Landry-Jones portrays the mentally-challenged character known as Nitram (Martin spelled backward). Nitram, the son of an overbearing, and often condescending mother, portrayed by Judy Davis, and a compassionate and loving father portrayed by Anthony LaPaglia, suffered from depression and displayed positive psycho-social characteristics.

With an adult physical appearance and long, disheveled hair, Nitram is shown going door-to-door selling a lawnmowing service. One homeowner with her small daughter told Nitram through a cracked-opened front door that her husband cut the lawn. Nitram pushed against the door as the woman attempted to shut the door asking, “how much does your husband charge you to cut the grass?”

Landry embodied the character of Martin Bryant with a physicality displaying a slowness in mannerisms and a disassociated personality. Nevertheless, Nitram did find a homeowner, a wealthy heiress, Helen, portrayed by Essie Davis, who Nitram up on his offer to cut the grass. Helen proceeded to invite Nitram into her home and into her life. A special relationship evolved bringing joy to the socially awkward couple, seemingly.

As time passed. Nitram developed an obsession with guns after losing his father and probably causing a tragic car accident that took Helen’s life. Nitram’s mother seemingly did not possess a full capacity to exhibit love and Nitram spiraled down a dark and dangerous path culminating in a series of murders and ended with the Port Arthur Massacre on Tasmania.

Nitram will not be in the running for the feel-good film of the year. Deft cinematography combines Hollywood framing with some handheld Verite-style work and a powerful narrative give the film a polished and highly-stylized look. At its core essence, Nitram is a character-driven, cautionary tale full of challenging scene work. Moreover, Jones was named Best Actor at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival and the AACTA  Best Lead Actor in Film, for his efforts as Nitram

While Nitram is not a feel-good film and has several disturbing and a couple of very violent scenes, it does attempt to shed light on the backstory of the dark days of the Port Arthur Massacre on Tasmania in its one-hour and fifty-two-minute runtime. The massacre itself was handled delicately with a closing scrolling text:

“On April 28th 1996, thirty-five people were killed and another twenty-three wounded in Port Arthur, Tasmania. The lone gunman was sentenced to thirty-five life sentences. The events of that day resulted in an overhaul of Australia’s gun laws and the introduction of a National Firearms Agreement. The reforms were agreed to in twelve days. Over 640,000 firearms were bought back by the government and destroyed. No State or Territory has been fully compliant with the National Firearms Agreement. There are now more firearms owned in Australia than in 1996.”


Caleb Landry Jones’s performance is brilliant and the supporting cast is superb. Nitram is highly recommended.


UPDATE: Saturday Afternoon Premiere at AFI FEST 2021 – Almodovar’s PARALLEL MOTHERS

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Today at 2:00 P.M, Pedro Almodavar’s PARALLEL MOTHERS, starring Penelope Cruz, is making an afternoon Red Carpet Premiere at the historic Chinese Theatre, in Hollywood, Calif. Visit for more information including ticketing.

Pedro Almodovar’s PARALLEL MOTHERS, starring Penelope Cruz, is slated for an AFI FEST Red Carpet Premiere, today, November 13th, 2021, 2:00 P.M., at the historic Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, Calif. (Photo from

UPDATE: There will be a post-screening conversation with Pedro Almodóvar(Director) moderated by film critic Alonso Duralde.

PARALLEL MOTHERS, follows two women Janis and Ana – both single mothers – from the moment they give birth to two daughters. Janis is thrilled by her accidental pregnancy, seeing it as perhaps her last chance at motherhood, while the adolescent Ana is scared and traumatized by the ordeal.

According to AFI Movie Club, Almodovar has been percolating the idea since 1999, when he first pitched it to Penelope Cruz while she was working on Almodvar’s ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER. This is the eighth collaboration between the Spanish duo. In addition, PARALLEL MOTHERS marks the 13th collaboration between Sony Pictures Classics and the production company El Deseo, which Almodovar operates with his brother Augustin Almodovar.

AFI FEST 2021 – Day 2 @AFIFEST

Posted by Larry Gleeson

It’s a great day at the AFI FEST 2021 in Hollywood, California!

Through November 14th, AFI FEST 2021 is offering the best in global cinema. Tickets are available for select screenings.

Here are a few recommendations for today.

Powerful, provocative and deeply moving: Bernstein’s Wall tells the life story of composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein (West Side Story). Utilizing Bernstein’s own words, harvested from his many recorded appearances on the radio, television and in-person interviews,  offering a strikingly intimate perspective, Bernstein’s Wall sceens today at 3:15 P.M. today with a runtime of 106 minutes. A music-lover’s dream come true!

BUY TICKETS UNCLENCHING THE FISTS (RAZZHIMAYA KULAKI) a World Cinema entry is also the Russia Official International Feature Film Oscar Submission. Recipient of the Un Certain Regard award at the Cannes Film Festival, Russian newcomer Kira Kovalenko delivers a raw, visceral experience, and the film is filled with harshly beautiful performances and is uniquely told from a woman’s perspective. Highly recommended!

BUY TICKETS Director/Filmmaker provocateur Sean Baker (Tangerine, Florida Project) is back with another raw, slice of life feature, Red Rocket. The narrative follows Mikey Saber (Simon Rex) as he tries to put his life back together in  oil refinery hometown of Texas City after spending 20 years of his life working in the porn industry. Plenty of action and a little frontal nudity as Baker once again proves he is a storyteller to be reckoned with.

“My favorite film at the Telluride Film Festival.” – Sam Stromberg

Media personality, Simon Rex, delivers a captivating performance as Mikey Saber, in Sean Baker’s latest film on the socially marginalized, Red Rocket.


BUY TICKETS Ali & Ava. Ali and Ava each live lonely lives in North Britain. Ali, a British Pakistani, is a former DJ turned compassionate landlord who meets Ava, an Irish-born schoolteacher and single mother of five, while picking up one of his tenant’s children from school. Despite their differences, sparks start to fly. As Ali and Ava’s relationship grows deeper, the shadows of their emotional turmoil and society’s expectations of them build as well. Can they find a way to keep their love alive?

BUY TICKETS   Huda’s Salon centers on the complex friction in the West Bank between the Palestinian resistance and the Israeli occupation. Reem, mother of a newborn baby and wife to a distrusting husband, gets her hair cut at Huda’s Salon one fateful day. There, Huda blackmails Reem into betraying their Palestinian community by providing intel to the Israeli Secret Service. The very next day Huda is found out by the resistance and Reem’s blackmail photo is discovered.

“Huda’s Salon reveals with disturbing candor the plight of Palestinian women striving to survive while being trapped on all sides.” –Julia Kipnis


Last but not least. The Shorts Program 1. 

The Shorts Program 1 comes with an “In-person Q&A” to following the screenings. Check out the line-up here: ZONDER MEER MISERY LOVES COMPANY NALUJUK NIGHT THE DEATH CLEANER (EL LIMPIADOR) LOVE, DAD (MILÝ TATI) BABYBANGZ A SUMMER PLACE The Shorts Program 1 is also available virtually. Following the virtual program, AFI Festivals Shorts Programmer Eric Moore leads a conversation between filmmakers Louise Monlaü (THE DEATH CLEANER), Diana Cam Van Nguyen (LOVE, DAD), Juliana Kasumu (BABYBANGZ), Alexandra Matheou (A SUMMER PLACE).


Opening Night Red Carpet AFI FEST 2021

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Last night, the AFI FEST audience at the TCL Chinese Theatre was treated to the World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM! Check out the exclusive photos from the red carpet, featuring Lin-Manuel Miranda, Andrew Garfield, Vanessa Hudgens, Judith Light, Robin de Jesus, Joshua Henry, Alexandra Shipp and more.

Check out the red carpet video tick, tick…BOOM!

Judith Light – AFI FEST 2021: World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM!
Andrew Garfield and Alexandra Shipp – AFI FEST 2021: World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM!
Andrew Garfield and Lin-Manuel Miranda – AFI FEST 2021: World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM!
Andrew Garfield – AFI FEST 2021: World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM!
Director Lin-Manuel Miranda – AFI FEST 2021: World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM!
Robin de Jesus, Andrew Garfield, Alexandra Shipp, Vanessa Hudgens, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Julie Oh – AFI FEST 2021: World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM!
Robin de Jesus – AFI FEST 2021: World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM!
Isabella Gomez – AFI FEST 2021: World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM
Julie Larson – AFI FEST 2021: World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM!
Alice Brooks, Cinematographer – AFI FEST 2021: World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM!

Tickets Still Available for Select In-person Screenings Tomorrow!









AFI FEST 2021 Starts Tomorrow!

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The best in global cinema starts tomorrow!

Powerful, enlightening, heartbreaking and heartwarming. Experience it all at AFI FEST 2021. Opening night kicks off tomorrow with the World Premiere of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s tick, tick…BOOM! And on Thursday, the Red Carpet Premieres continue with THE POWER OF THE DOG directed by Jane Campion and starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Jesse Plemons and Kirsten Dunst.

Don’t miss all of the screenings launching virtually!

Buy your tickets to in-person and virtual screenings today on


World Premiere

In this intimate sci-fi drama starring two-time Academy Award® winner Mahershala Ali and eight-time Academy Award® nominee Glenn Close, the moral complexities of cloning force a man to examine everything he knows about love, loss and happiness. Feature directorial debut from Academy Award® winner Benjamin Cleary. Screening in person Friday, November 12 at 7:30 p.m.



In this powerful exploration of how generations and families are held together amongst the greatest challenges, Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar’s latest film follows two new mothers (Penélope Cruz and Milena Smit) whose bond unravels in complicated and surprising ways that neither of them expected. After the screening at the TCL Chinese Theatre, join us for a special conversation with director Pedro Almodóvar and The Wrap’s Alonso Duralde. Screening Saturday, November 13 at 2:00 p.m.


This powerful documentary follows Dr. Pat Scannon and a team of professionals, volunteers and other veterans searching for those left behind in forgotten battles. AFI FEST is honored to host the World Premiere of this remarkable film on November 11 to celebrate all U.S. veterans. Screening in person Thursday, November 11 at 5:00 p.m and virtually beginning November 12.


Spinning wildly around such complex questions as the moral obligation of a citizen whose country is becoming increasingly oppressive and censorial, and the inherent privilege in speaking out against such injustices, the latest from celebrated Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid is a provocation as intimate as it is extreme. Screening in person on Friday, November 12 at 4:30 p.m.

(Sourced from AFI News)

Night of the Kings At Hollywood Legion Drive-In Cinema

Posted by Larry Gleeson

It was a beautiful Friday night evening in the heart of the movie-making capital of the world with the NEON production, Night of the Kings. I hadn’t been to a theatrical screening since I viewed Christopher Nolan’s Tenet on the silver screen at the Metropolitan Fiesta 5 this summer in downtown Santa Barbara, California, with five other mask-wearing moviegoers – the screening theatre was air-conditioned.

The Hollywood Drive-in Cinema, in the heart of Hollywood, Calif., moments before the opening scene of the special screening of Philippe Lecote’s epic drama, Night of the Kings, Friday, January 8, 2021. (Photo by Larry Gleeson)

Night of the Kings, written and directed by Philippe Lecote, was screened outdoors at the Hollywood Legion Drive-in Cinema, and the soft and cool breeze present throughout the film laid down an atmospheric ambiance that no indoor theatre could match. Blazing cinematography with vibrant red, orange, and yellow hues from cinematographer Tobie-Marier Robitaille rivaled Roger Deakins Academy-award winning work from BladeRunner 2049. Robitaille and Night of the Kings received Best Cinematography and Best Sound Awards from the 2020 Chicago International Film Festival.

Night of the Kings

With a surreal tone, Night of the Kings was set inside an infamous Ivory Coast prison, MACA. And, in a similar fashion to the 2017 Shot Caller, the prison seems to be run by a well-heeled influencer inmate. MACA is run by Blackbeard, a large man past his prime who appoints a storyteller for the annual “Night of the red moon.” The guards refer to the storytelling ritual in shamanic terms and that the inmates will be “in trance” all night long.

Enter actor, Bakory Kone, a young, fresh inmate who catches the eye of Blackbeard. Blackbeard anoints the young convict, “Roman.” Roman is the term used to describe the criminal who must entertain the prison population with a nighttime story. The only non-person-of-color (white) actor, Jean Cyrille Digbeau, is a half-baked loser walking around with a pet chicken perched and squawking upon his troubled spirit’s shoulder. But, Digbeau’s character, Half Mad, provides the key to the provocative evening-ending salvation.

Night of the Kings made its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, the oldest film festival in the world and a launchpad for the Academy Awards season, and Night of the Kings is slated as a Spotlight premiere feature on February 1st at 1:00 P.M., for the upcoming, mostly virtual, 2021 Sundance Film Festival, January 28 – February 3rd.

Night of the Kings turned out to be a special night at the drive-in. In addition to the relaxing atmospherics, exceptional cinematography, epic (literally and figuratively) production design, the stalwart performances, and the classic narrative combined with the writing and the seemingly spontaneous, dynamic, choreographed song and dance routines send this feature film into the stratosphere. Highly recommended!

Until next time, I look forward to seeing you at the movies!

And, yes, I ate the popcorn.

HollywoodGlee at the Hollywood Drive-in Cinema in the heart of Hollywood, Calif., for the special screening of Philippe Lecote’s epic drama, Night of the Kings, Friday, January 8, 2021. (Photo by Valerie Rapalee)






BECOMING ASTRID Opens in Los Angeles and New York

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Music Box Film’s Becoming Astrid, directed by acclaimed Danish filmmaker Pernille Fischer Christensen and inspired by events in Swedish author and literary icon (Pippi Longstocking) Astrid Lindgren’s formative years, is an engaging, heartfelt story of a teenaged Astrid Lindgren, played by Alba August in a breakthrough performance that delvers an emotionally riveting sojourn of the young writer’s early religious upbringing and her advent in becoming a storyteller of mythical proportions.

Screen Shot 2018-11-23 at 11.45.56 AM

After young Astrid accepts an internship at a local newspaper, she catches the eye of the married editor, Mr. Blomberg, portrayed by Henrik Rafaelsen, and soon becomes pregnant. Forced to leave her childhood home for Copenhagen to avoid the public outcry that could potentially remove her family from their stewardship of church land and to secretly give birth to a bastard child, Astrid perseveres learning difficult life lessons, eventually settling in Stockholm when her parents refuse her with her new son, Lars (Lasse). Reluctantly, Astrid leaves Lasse with a foster mother, Marie, portrayed by Trine Dyrholm, during her exiled time in Stockholm. Saving her money from a paltry secretary’s salary, Astrid visits young Lasse when she can. After Marie falls ill, Astrid uses her imagination and flair for storytelling to reconnect with her child. In spite of her struggles, Astrid emerges with a newfound courage that will form the foundation of a vast and beloved body of literary work.


While Astrid Lindgren is mostly remembered for her Pippi Longstocking and Karlsson-on-the-Roof book series, her titles have been translated into 85 languages and published in over 100 countries. Selling approximately 165 million books worldwide, much of her writing was based on her childhood memories growing up in a small Swedish village. Outspoken on topics as diverse as the Vietnam War, children refugees, nuclear power, and urban planning, she always had children and their future at the center of her concerns. In 1958, Lindgren received the Hans Christian Andersen Medal, the top international award in children’s literature.

Screen Shot 2018-11-23 at 11.44.30 AM

Becoming Astrid is an excellent film technically as well as aesthetically. The version I viewed was in Swedish and Danish with English subtitles and came in with a run time of a smooth 123 minutes. In addition, the film contained well-rounded cinematography, seamless continuity editing, a strong narrative structure, stellar acting performances, a beautiful mise-en-scene, and an uplifting and complementary, non-diagetic, musical score. Becoming Astrid recently won the Audience Award for Best Foreign-Language Feature in October at the recent Chicago International Film Festival and is a highly recommended film!

Becoming Astrid opened November 23rd at the Laemmle’s Royal Theatre in Los Angeles and in New York at the Film Forum and will soon be followed by a national rollout.