TIFF16 REVIEW: Past Life [2016]

“In tragedy you can’t escape fate” It’s 1977 and you’re the lead soprano in your first international concert. Rapturous applause and a flawless performance later you find yourself hobnobbing with classmates and audience members alike, the famed German composer Thomas Zielinski (Rafael Stachowiak) even enters to the crowd’s delight. But rather than let the electricity […]

TIFF16 REVIEW: Nikdy nejsme sami [We Are Never Alone] [2016]

“Those afraid to die are afraid to live” Fans of Quentin Dupieux should rejoice because I haven’t seen a film this absurdly hilarious since Wrong. Petr Václav‘s Nikdy nejsme sami [We Are Never Alone] is definitely bleaker, darker, and strangely realist, but it has that same sense of subtle humor to give you pause about […]

TIFF16 REVIEW: Tereddüt [Clair Obscur] [2017]

“Like a thorn” Life for a woman like Elmas (Ecem Uzun) in Turkey is a living nightmare. An eighteen-year old all but sold to a willing husband (Serkan Keskin‘s Koca) much older than she to clean his house, give her mother-in-law (Sema Poyraz‘s Kaynana) across the hall insulin shots, and—marriage or not—get raped every night, […]

TIFF16 REVIEW: Without Name [2016]

“Best to sleep with your pajamas on inside out, yeah?” For someone afraid of loneliness, Eric (Alan McKenna) sure loves putting himself in positions that can’t help isolating him from the world. A land surveyor who specializes in remote areas and works by himself unless apprentice-of-sorts Olivia (Niamh Algar) can tear herself away from her […]

TIFF16 REVIEW: Zacma [Blindness] [2016]

“Hatred conceals faith” The roles have been reversed for Julia Brystygier (Maria Mamona), the once powerful colonel in the USSR’s Ministry. She interrogated countless enemies of the state, namely Catholics who rejected the communist concepts ruling them. The human body was her canvas, torture her paintbrush—nothing was out of bounds as far as acquiring the […]

TIFF16 REVIEW: Fixeur [The Fixer] [2017]

“We’re journalists not activists. It’s not the same thing.” Some people can’t help themselves from striving to be the best whether that means winning a contest, getting a promotion, earning accolades, or proving you’re the only one able to accomplish an impossible task. They want to be relied upon for results. Radu (Tudor Istodor) is […]

TIFF16 REVIEW: Tyttö nimeltä Varpu [Little Wing] [2016]

“Varpu Vanamo raspberry nose, teeny weeny toffee toes” The director of Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?, the hilarious 2014 Oscar nominee for Best Short Film, is back with her sophomore feature narrative Tyttö nimeltä Varpu [Little Wing]. Taking on writing responsibilities this go-round, Selma Vilhunen supplies a much more dramatic work than […]

TIFF16 REVIEW: Jesús [2017]

“Don’t do anything stupid, lad” Adolescent hijinks turn tragic on multiple fronts in Fernando Guzzoni‘s Jesús despite my not being sure there was going to be a solid point to the film until mid-way through. Everything previous merely sat as a slice of life for the titular character, a normal everyday Chilean punk named Jesús […]

TIFF16 REVIEW: I blodet [In the Blood] [2016]

“We’re gonna have a great summer” If forty’s the new thirty, twenty-three can easily become the new thirteen. I think first-time director Rasmus Hiesterberg would agree as the man behind screenplays for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Swedish) and A Royal Affair delves into a med student’s coming-of-age drama in I blodet [In the […]

TIFF16 REVIEW: Werewolf [2017]

“It’s not your responsibility to keep him alive” Writer/director Ashley McKenzie‘s feature debut Werewolf picks up right where her 2012 short When You Sleep left off. We’re back in Canadian squalor on the poverty line with a couple barely staying afloat as society and addiction continuously seeks to drag them under into an abyss of […]

TIFF16 REVIEW: City of Tiny Lights [2017]

“Death weighs heavier than heartbreak” Small-time private detective Tommy Akhtar (Riz Ahmed) has all the swagger of a hard-boiled snoop: leather jacket on his shoulders and cigarette in his mouth, leaning against London architecture in the darkened night. His office resides above some shops, he makes friendly with local convenience store owner Mrs. Elbaz (Myriam […]