TIFF17 REVIEW: Skyggenes Dal [Valley of Shadows] [2017]

“What we don’t understand scares us” Six year-old Aslak (Adam Ekeli) lives a quiet life with his single mother Astrid (Kathrine Fagerland) in a rural town adjacent to farmland and a mountaintop forest. He’s too young to understand all that’s happening around him—especially considering he’s generally told to keep away from the adults when they’re […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: The Crescent [2018]

“Yeah, sweetie. Daddy got lost.” It starts by enveloping us in marbleizing paint—overlapping colors raked to warp dots into abstract patterns—and the loud aural pulses of a musical soundscape as heavy and permanent as those oils are fluidly malleable. We assume it’s merely a sensory aesthetic Seth A. Smith constructs to provide the tone for […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Du forsvinder [You Disappear] [2017]

“We just want to make sure you’re well enough” What if it was an established fact that free will as a concept was dictated by our body’s chemistry? Every decision we think we’re making is really made implicitly by our organs—more correctly, they are dictating to our brains what it is we want. That shopping […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Los Burritos [Cocaine Prison] [2017]

“If it doesn’t happen, what can I do?” If you’ve ever watched season three of “Prison Break” and wondered what was going on with Sona’s weird open air slum-like community barely watched by guards, know that the truth isn’t very far off. Just look at Bolivia’s San Sebastian Prison in Cochabamba, a small concrete establishment […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Cardinals [2017]

“Good to have me back” The big story surrounding Grayson Moore and Aidan Shipley‘s feature debut Cardinals playing the Toronto International Film Festival stems from the fact that both men graduated from the city’s own Ryerson University. As a longtime festival venue/partner, this premiere will inevitably be treated as a homecoming. But don’t let that […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Black Kite [2017]

“For a drop of water I’ll tell you my whole story” With the world caught in a time and place allowing it to quickly judge so much on so little, tiny human stories like Black Kite prove to be their most potent. Ask Americans about the Taliban and some will probably say the term is […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Verdwijnen [Disappearance] [2017]

“Until we all drown in it” Vignettes depicting a young girl playing the piano on a darkened concert stage come and go throughout Boudewijn Koole‘s Verdwijnen [Disappearance]. They provide bookends to the whole, his film seemingly a visual representation of the melody—both as this single chapter in Roos’ (Rifka Lodeizen) life and its entire duration […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Porcupine Lake [2017]

“Never ever squeal. That’s a rule.” Teenage Bea (Charlotte Salisbury) is in desperate need of an escape from her mundane, isolated life. We can assume Toronto’s big city living isn’t yet something she’s embraced due to her tendency for fainting spells whenever anxiety grows. Mom (Delphine Roussel‘s Ally) therefore keeps a tight leash, protecting her […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Hva vil folk si [What Will People Say] [2017]

“You haven’t done anything wrong” The Toronto International Film Festival synopsis calls Iram Haq‘s latest film Hva vil folk si [What Will People Say] an “empathetic story of family, community, and culture.” I would call it straight up social horror made scarier when you discover that it was partly inspired by the artist’s own life. […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Beyond Words [2017]

“A change of perspective from high to low normally brings new discoveries” An African man—a hopeful immigrant—says something very interesting to his prospective lawyer Michael (Jakub Gierszal) at the start of Urszula Antoniak‘s Beyond Words. When asked if he has a better excuse for finding refuge in Germany than the simple desire to choose his […]

FANTASIA17 REVIEW: Most Beautiful Island [2017]

“I’m so tired of the possibilities” It’s easy for Americans to look at a film like Eli Roth‘s Hostel and find themselves afraid of the situation presented as one they could fall prey to if the circumstances arose. We’ve been instilled with that anxiety for decades—the notion that our freedoms at home do not transfer […]