REVIEW: Lazzaro felice [Happy as Lazzaro] [2018]

“He’s staring into the void again” Writer/director Alice Rohrwacher asks an interesting question with Lazzaro felice [Happy as Lazzaro]. How would we treat a saint? Would we acknowledge his/her goodness and understand their grace to be something to mirror? Or would we scoff at their innocence to call them naive, their loyalty to call them […]

REVIEW: Roma [2018]

“We are alone” To know that Roma is a semi-autobiographical account of writer/director Alfonso Cuarón‘s own childhood growing up in a Mexico City middle class family is to truly understand the weight of personal events opposite public ones. Placing the timeframe as 1970-71 means something for this country with a government takeover of poor village […]

REVIEW: Manbiki kazoku [Shoplifters] [2018]

“Sounds fishy” When times are tough, you improvise. Look at the Shibata family for example. Osamu (Lily Franky) and Nobuyo (Sakura Andô) both work part-time jobs to bring home meager earnings that can be added to the pension Grandma Hatsue (Kirin Kiki) collects as a result of her husband’s passing. They also have her home […]

REVIEW: Marlina Si Pembunuh dalam Empat Babak [Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts] [2017]

“This is my prisoner” Considering the seemingly endless number of Hollywood male directors tackling women empowerment films as a means to declare themselves feminists while also—wittingly or not—preserving their careers at the expense of the women they’re seemingly in solidarity with, you must give renowned Indonesian director Garin Nugroho credit for recognizing the treatment he […]

REVIEW: 버닝 [Beoning] [Burning] [2018]

“Should I forget it ‘isn’t’ here?” Jong-su (Ah-In Yoo) never tells Hae-mi (Jong-seo Jeon) what “metaphor” means. They’re standing in Ben’s (Steven Yeun) kitchen as he chops ingredients for a pasta dish and talks philosophically with a smug smile until the question comes up. He defers answering her to Jong-su since he’s the writer of […]

REVIEW: Gräns [Border] [2018]

“You shouldn’t listen to what humans say” Customs officer Tina (Eva Melander) stands at attention while a line of passengers exiting an international flight walk by, her nostrils perpetually flaring. She’s sniffing them as a means of discerning which might have illegally undeclared possessions on their person. An “Excuse me” later and her partner is […]

TIFF18 REVIEW: Retrospekt [2018]

“Every Wednesday and … coffee” I can’t think of a better term to describe Esther Rots‘ Retrospekt than her own: “sensory cinema.” We get a feeling for what this means during the opening scene as Dan Geesin‘s score and Bas Kuijlenburg’s boomingly operatic baritone drowns out the action onscreen with English lyrics telling a story […]

TIFF18 REVIEW: The Third Wife [2018]

“One day you’ll like it for real” It’s 19th century Vietnam and fourteen-year old May (Nguyen Phuong Tra My) has just been married to a wealthy landowner named Hung (Long Le Vu). She wears a genuine smile on her face, this next chapter in life as hopeful as it is scary. She has two other […]

TIFF18 REVIEW: Las niñas bien [The Good Girls] [2018]

“So happy. We’re so happy.” Sofía Hernandez (Ilse Salas) has everything: three children she can ignore, servants and maids to take care of her every whim, and a husband (Flavio Medina‘s Fernando) who inherited his wealth from his father and still has yet to really work for it thanks to Uncle Javier (Diego Jáuregui) managing […]

TIFF18 REVIEW: Posledice [Consequences] [2018]

“I am what I am” Andrej (Matej Zemljic) is an eighteen-year old abuser. He’s stopped going to school, started getting into fights, disrespects his parents, and most recently hit a teen after she berated him for his not wanting sex. It’s an escalating series of incidents that no one is willing to deal with anymore, […]

TIFF18 REVIEW: Saf [2018]

“Everybody lies” America isn’t the only country with a portion of its population rejecting refugee clemency (although it’s the most high profile due to international stature, economic wealth, and so-called Christian charity). It’s also not the only one blinded to its hate when confronting the matter. Because that’s what it is to look down on […]