TIFF19 REVIEW: Ema [2019]

“You’ll forget all this” There’s a lot to unpack in Pablo Larraín‘s dance film Ema. From two lead characters as unreliable to the plot as they are fickle with each other to an elaborate scheme preying on the weaknesses of man and the pleasures of flesh, it’s tough to know what the director wants us […]

TIFF19 REVIEW: The Lighthouse [2019]

“Bad luck to kill a seabird” You can stop yourself from worrying about story the moment you sit down for Robert Eggers‘ The Lighthouse since there is none—at least none of value besides the simple premise of two men isolated on a foggy island with nothing but their wits (and nightmares) about them. Thomas Wake […]

TIFF19 REVIEW: Harpiks [Resin] [2019]

“They ruin everything” Published in 2015, Ane Riel’s novel Harpiks [Resin] found itself the winner of four major Scandinavian literary awards on its way to international bestseller status. It’s no wonder then that it would be optioned as a film so soon afterwards by fellow Danes Daniel Borgman (director) and Bo Hr. Hansen (screenwriter). A […]

TIFF19 REVIEW: Håp [Hope] [2019]

“What do we tell the kids?” Tomas (Stellan Skarsgård) was married with three children when Anja (Andrea Bræin Hovig) met him. She didn’t want to fall in love, but twenty years and three more kids later show that’s exactly what happened. When Anja raised their babies, Tomas worked—a lot. When it was time for her […]

TIFF19 REVIEW: Entwined [2019]

“I long for the old ways” The death of their father triggers Panos (Prometheus Aleifer) and half-brother George (John De Holland) to take stock. The latter wants to stick together and move forward while the former chooses to start anew. Panos is a doctor who now recognizes the delicacy of life too well and wants […]

TIFF19 REVIEW: Marian paratiisi [Maria’s Paradise] [2019]

“God will punish you” At twelve years old, Maria Åkerblom heard the voice of an angel. It came in a dream and she spoke its words to those around her as though in a trance. She became a traveling sensation as soon as the pious caught on going city to city to tell God-fearing Finnish […]

TIFF19 REVIEW: Antigone [2019]

“My heart says to help my brother” A lot of people die during Sophocles‘ Antigone. The death of Oedipus puts his sons Eteocles and Polynices on the throne, their deaths spark their titular sister to fight for the latter’s right to be buried, and her eventual suicide leads to more dead bodies as only a […]

TIFF19 REVIEW: 1982 [2019]

“Don’t invite the war into our home” Before 2007, all Lebanese men were conscripted to serve in the military for at least one year. I’ve heard from multiple people that it wasn’t a question of citizenship, but ethnicity. If I ever visited before that year, I wouldn’t have been able to return to America without […]

TIFF19 REVIEW: Knuckle City [2019]

“I doubt your cries will reach Heaven” It’s 1994 and young Dudu and Duke have little in the way of inspiring role models to build lives for themselves in Mdantsane, South Africa. Apartheid is over and Nelson Mandela is president, but they’re taking notes from a father (Zolosa Xaluva‘s Art Nyakama) raving about how “real […]

TIFF19 REVIEW: Calm with Horses [2019]

“That’s not you” To cross the Devers family is to earn retribution. This is a known fact to all in the rural Irish town of Glanbeigh. Some strangers arrive and overstep their bounds without knowing (as if getting involved with drug dealers was an act whose danger can be unknown), but most everyone knows everyone […]

TIFF19 REVIEW: Hearts and Bones [2019]

“How many times have you risked your life without asking me first?” After witnessing famed Australian war photographer Daniel Fisher (Hugo Weaving) endure a traumatic experience in Iran during the opening of Ben Lawrence‘s Hearts and Bones, the sudden shift to a taxi driver (Andrew Luri‘s Sebastian Ahmed) will seem abrupt. It’s not, however, a […]