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Witty, unexpected, and thrilling, The Innocent pulls off an excellent European heist film with modern sensibilities and its stylistic mix of genres. All at once, the film is a crime film, as well as a family farce, but also a screwball romantic comedy. The genres line up with the premise perfectly, but there’s something intriguing about the way director Louis Garrel uses each genre’s tropes. Abel’s clumsy spying over his mom’s ex-convict husband and drama pupil Michel is framed through noir techniques, while his friend Clémence gleefully interrupts his efforts with witty repartee. Abel’s suspicion of Michel’s schemes ironically leads to one of his own. And when his mom’s expressive acting techniques are used in that scheme, Abel expects fake emotions, only to reveal his true feelings. With each new twist, The Innocent plays with genre expectations for unexpected but delightful results.

Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama, Romance

Actor: Anouk Grinberg, Laëtitia Clément, Louis Garrel, Manda Touré, Noémie Merlant, Roschdy Zem

Director: Louis Garrel

Slow and almost silent, Edward Yang’s second feature film pins us down in a fast-moving city. In 1980s Taipei, Chin and Lung are childhood sweethearts who try to build a life together, but differences between their wants threaten to pull them apart. Chin bravely adapts to the changes she faces—moving house, shifting jobs, etc.—while Lung misses his promising baseball career and prioritizes familial debt. Through their relationship, the film captures the anxieties of a generation pulled between new Western consumerism and old Asian familial obligations. Watching the two lovers feels like being lost in a cold urban city, unable to move and not knowing where to go.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Chen Shu-fang, Chin Tsai, Cynthia Khan, Grace Chen Shu-Fang, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Ko I-chen, Ko Su-yun, Lin Hsiu-ling, Mei Fang, Peng Sun, Su-Yun Ko, Tsai Chin, Wu Nien-Jen, Yang Li-yin, 吴念真

Director: Edward Yang

Rating: Not Rated

Once banned by Chinese censors, Suzhou River depicts love and obsession amidst the gritty, urban underbelly of Shanghai. As the film is portrayed through an anonymous videographer, seen only by his hands, it’s easy to fall in love as he does, with the mesmerizing Meimei (Zhou Xun), performing as a mermaid in a dive bar. However, he can’t seem to trust her, as she flits in and out of his life, with no clear notice. Likewise, the tragic romance told by motorcycle courier Mardar can’t be trusted, given that the river’s inhabitants warped it into folklore. Faces can’t even be trusted, especially with the double casting of actress Zhou Xun as Meimei and as innocent rich daughter Moudan. Because of these contrasts and its ambiguity, Suzhou River sweeps us into an alluring, mysterious tale, but reminds us not to get caught by the current.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Jia Hongsheng, Nai An, Yao Anlian, Zhou Xun

Director: Lou Ye

Based on the true story of the last French woman executed by guillotine, Story of Women depicts wartime survival under the Vichy regime. While men were sent to fight in the war, women in France stayed home, in a country occupied by the Nazis, with their government collaborating with the Axis powers they were supposedly at war with. Marie-Louise Giraud is one such woman. Like her country, she is pushed to do crimes forbidden by the state, first for kindness, but eventually for comfort, but only she gets the death penalty for 27 abortions, when only a few Vichy officials have been tried for crimes against humanity, which includes the deportation of seventy thousand Jews to concentration camps. The contrast is made much more poignant with Isabelle Huppert and Claude Chabrol’s creative partnership.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Caroline Berg, Dani, Dominique Blanc, Evelyne Didi, Franck de la Personne, François Cluzet, François Maistre, Guillaume Foutrier, Henri Attal, Isabelle Huppert, Jacques Brunet, Jean-Michel Noirey, Lolita Chammah, Marie Bunel, Marie Trintignant, Nils Tavernier, Pierre-François Dumeniaud, Sylvie Flepp, Vincent Gauthier

Director: Claude Chabrol

Nakedness has been demonized or at least, has been considered inappropriate outside of certain situations. One such situation is the sauna, as the steam and high heat is considered therapeutic, especially in colder regions. In her directorial debut, Anna Hints documents the Estonian smoke sauna, not just as a cultural tradition, but as a sanctuary for women to bare their bodies and their troubles. The women are, of course, naked, but the sauna’s smoke and darkness obscures and keeps identities hidden, focusing on their stories and allowing a glimpse of women’s bodies at their most natural, without the sexualization often placed with the male gaze. Smoke Sauna Sisterhood is a refreshing take, one where plenty of women can finally see themselves in.

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Eda Veeroja, Elsa Saks, Eva Kübar, Kadi Kivilo, Maria Meresaar, Marianne Liiv, Merit Kask

Director: Anna Hints

For better or worse, friendship can be the most important relationship a child can have, especially when they move into a new school. Poison for the Fairies takes a look at an unusual friendship, one that’s forged not by regular schoolgirl hobbies, but by witchcraft, spells, and superstition. It’s incredibly unnerving how Flavia and Veronica’s dynamic gets, as each morbid claim gets questioned but is never fully explained, as each unanswered question slowly adds to the terror, and as each boundary gets pushed because of those few moments of calm. But it’s also incredibly tragic, considering the ways Flavia and Veronica are characterized. Writer-director Carlos Enrique Taboada makes it all the more creepy by centering the camera through their eyes, by capturing the uncertainty of this terrible friendship.

Genre: Fantasy, Horror

Actor: Ana Patricia Rojo, Anna Silvetti, Arturo Beristáin, Carmela Stein, Elsa Maria Gutierrez, Ernesto Schwartz, Hortensia Santoveña, Laura Almela, Leonor Llausás, Lilia Aragón, Luis Mario Quiroz, Marcela Paez, Maria Santander, Rita Macedo, Rosa Furman, Sergio Bustamante

Director: Carlos Enrique Taboada

While not its only cause, the increase of conflict and civil wars has spurred a global refugee crisis. Millions of refugees have been displaced from their homes, taking dangerous journeys to a hopefully safer place. Nowhere, now on Netflix, showcases one possible journey. Escaping a future totalitarian Spain, the film is centered on leading lady Anna Castillo, whose excellent performance pulls most of the tears here. With her character Mia’s ingenuity, she maximizes her shipping container’s resources and takes steps to ensure her survival. While some of the backstory can feel thin, after all, for most of the runtime Mia has only herself to talk to, this new one-location survival film is a thrilling addition to the genre. It’s a chilling reminder of what could be happening to the millions of refugees seeking safe haven around the globe.

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Actor: Anna Castillo, Antonio Buíl, Emma Sánchez, Irina Bravo, Kaabil Sekali, Lucia Soria, Mariam Torres, Said El Mouden, Tamar Novas, Tony Corvillo, Victoria Teijeiro

Director: Albert Pintó

Rating: R

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Hilarious and sweet, Meet the Patels is a charming collaboration between siblings Geeta and Ravi Patel. While the film is a documentary, it feels more like a real-time romantic comedy - which makes sense, given that it’s about Ravi’s quest for the perfect wife. Standard tropes, such as parental disapproval, are present here, but the film keeps it fresh as it focuses on the intricacies of Indian dating, specifically with traditional matchmaking and modern internet dating. However, like some of the best romcoms, the real heart of the story lies outside of Ravi’s love life. What drives the story is the dynamic between Ravi and his family. Balancing parental expectations with personal hopes is a struggle anyone can relate to, though this film presents this through comedic debates about marriage. At the same time, these debates end up insightful and oftentimes reveal fundamental principles the family believes in. It’s only through resolving familial issues that Ravi finally figures out his love life.

Genre: Comedy, Documentary, Drama, Romance

Actor: Audrey Wauchope, Geeta Patel, Ravi Patel

Director: Geeta Patel, Ravi Patel

Rating: PG