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Movie Review: Tallgrass Film Festival

This week, KMUW's Fletcher Powell sets aside his usual weekly movie review and instead looks at a few of the movies he's most excited about at this year's Tallgrass Film Festival.

For the second year in a row, Tallgrass will be showing the most recent winner of the Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, arguably the most prestigious film award in the world. And also for the second year in a row, it’s a movie from a highly acclaimed Asian director, this time from the genre-bending Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho, who made the dystopian action film Snowpiercer, the raucous creature-feature The Host, and the sort-of animal-rights-sci-fi movie Okja. This new one’s called Parasite, and, well, that’s actually all I’m going to tell you about it, both because it seems to be blowing the minds of everyone who’s seen it, and also because I don’t want to know anything about it going in either.

Speaking of acclaimed Asian directors, Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike is back with the Yakuza love story First Love, in a special late-night screening on Friday. Miike has made more than 100 movies, many of which are exceedingly violent and wildly disturbing, but he’s not just about shock value. The guy’s got impeccable craft and he’s constantly surprising, able to turn a story 180 degrees on a dime. Miike’s films are exciting for many reasons, but chief among them is that you never truly know what you’re going to get.

One thing Tallgrass has done a really good job of is to shine a light on independent filmmakers, and I was fortunate enough to sit on the jury for this year’s Stubbornly Independent award, which goes to a movie made for under $500,000. Our winner was the drama Once Upon A River, but I also want to highlight Clementine, a quiet and intimate story of discovery and healing. It subverts our expectations by somehow being both much more and much less than what we think, and from its hypnotic score to its gorgeous photography, it’s exactly the kind of movie that ought to make us all realize how much we can do even without a giant budget behind us.

Fletcher Powell has worked at KMUW since 2009 as a producer, reporter, and host. He's been the host of All Things Considered since 2012 and KMUW's movie critic since 2016. Fletcher is a member of the Critics Choice Association.