FANTASIA18 REVIEW: 打ち上げ花火、下から見るか? 横から見るか? [Uchiage hanabi, shita kara miru ka? Yoko kara miru ka?] [Fireworks] [2017]

“If …” In a nation of repressed emotions, three young teens find themselves confronting their feelings at what might be their last opportunity to do so. Shy Norimichi (Masaki Suda) can’t stop himself from starring at Nazuna (Suzu Hirose) while his more confident best friend Yûsuke (Mamoru Miyano) admits to wanting to declare his love […]

FANTASIA18 REVIEW: BuyBust [2018]

“People die from following orders too” Police director Alvarez (Nonie Buencamino) and his prized team leader Dela Cruz (Lao Rodriguez) are finally making headway with their war on drugs throughout the slums of Filipino capital Manila. They’ve already cleaned sections long-thought lost to crime and currently have one of kingpin Biggie Chen’s (Arjo Atayde) mid-level […]

FANTASIA18 REVIEW: Vuelven [Tigers Are Not Afraid] [2017]

“We forget who we are when the things from outside come to get us” You know things are bad when the art coming out of an area reaches a point where “dark, metaphorical fairy tale” becomes a necessary style to wield as intense catharsis. There’s probably better markers to highlight when a community’s abject horror […]

FANTASIA18 REVIEW: ルームロンダリング [Rûmu rondaringu] [Room Laundering] [2018]

“Don’t cry. Smile.” According to Kenji Katagiri‘s debut feature Rûmu rondaringu [Room Laundering]—and I have no reason to disbelieve him—Japan has a law stating that landlords must divulge whether a previous tenant died or suffered a violent crime within any newly vacated property to all prospective replacements. But while this rule makes sense considering people […]

FANTASIA18 REVIEW: Lifechanger [2018]

“I’m not ready to die” To take Justin McConnell‘s horror film Lifechanger at face value is a mistake. You won’t understand this truth right away, though, because it starts out being exactly what you thought. Emily Roberts (Elitsa Bako) awakens covered in blood next to an emaciated corpse as a man’s (Bill Oberst Jr.) voiceover […]

FANTASIA18 REVIEW: Blue My Mind [2018]

“I’m wasting my youth on trains” Adolescence is a metamorphosis from youth to adulthood—a time defined by its constant state of flux physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Puberty is the backbone to this period because of the changes it inflicts. It alters our hormones and appearance while also providing a moment with which to be reborn. […]

INTERVIEW: Xavier Legrand, writer/director of Custody

It’s always a treat to see a director whose work you’ve enjoyed in short form make the leap to features—especially when the latter debuts at a venue as auspicious as the Toronto International Film Festival. This is exactly what happened with Xavier Legrand last year. Less than half a decade after earning his first Oscar […]

TFF18 REVIEW: Phantom Cowboys [2018]

“Give it hell. Turn left.” It would be easy to dismiss Nick Reyes, Larry Young, and Tyler Carpenter as three variations on the same thing: poor American youth. The simple fact their stories are combined within Daniel Patrick Carbone‘s poetic look at nature, nurture, opportunity, and struggle in rural areas of our country entitled Phantom […]

TFF18 REVIEW: All These Small Moments [2018]

“And then, somehow over time, I stopped smiling” It’s called All These Small Moments for a reason—one that becomes clear with a final, out-of-nowhere moment of voiceover narration in case you hadn’t figured it out yourself by acknowledging how formative, complex, and emotionally draining each one of writer/director Melissa B. Miller-Costanzo‘s dense scenes prove. Whether […]

BERLINALE18 REVIEW: Les rois mongols [Cross My Heart] [2018]

“They’re good guys doing bad things” While you can debate the success of politically motivated events like 1970’s October Crisis in Quebec, Canada, you can’t question their danger removed from the cause. The media reports the carnage whether terrorist bombings or kidnappings and murder. They provide an objective account of what’s happening—in this case the […]

BERLINALE18 REVIEW: Cobain [2018]

“My little man” There’s a scene in Nanouk Leopold‘s Cobain where the titular fifteen year-old (Bas Keizer) tells his estranged, junkie mother Mia (Naomi Velissariou) that he wants to help. Her response is to ask whether she cares about what he does, the answer tragically understood before his mouth utters the word “No.” To watch […]