REVIEW: Así habló el cambista [The Moneychanger] [2019]

“Enjoy every penny earned and spent” Mr. Schweinsteiger (Luis Machín) ran a good game in Uruguay by helping unsavory folks launder money through him for a percentage. He was smart too, refusing to work with politicians knowing they’d eventually screw something up and drag his name down with them. Unfortunately, however, the man he willingly […]

REVIEW: Jauja [2014]

“The desert devours everything” Colonialism, Manifest Destiny, and any other act by a foreign nation to claim the land of an indigenous people as its own are performed with a desire for power and prosperity. It’s about ego and entitlement—the search to create a mythology that glosses over genocide for the “heroism” of a brute […]

TIFF19 REVIEW: Pelikanblut [Pelican Blood] [2020]

“I’m the lucky one” Writer/director Katrin Gebbe is not messing around with her latest film Pelikanblut [Pelican Blood]. What starts as a psychological drama about a mother desperate to provide her new daughter the love necessary to free her from the demons of a traumatic past gradually escalates into a supernatural thriller augmenting what science […]

TIFF19 REVIEW: Pesar-Madar [Son-Mother] [2019]

“Would you do it?” Directed by Mahnaz Mohammadi (her feature fiction debut) and written by Mohammad Rasoulof (a renowned Iranian filmmaker), Pesar-Madar [Son-Mother] is about exactly what its title infers. The labels themselves are somewhat subverted, though. Split into two halves with interstitials, “Son” actually centers on Leila (Raha Khodayari) while “Mother” stars Amir (Mahan […]

TIFF19 REVIEW: Nobadi [2019]

“Stop calling me bloody master!” Heinrich Senft (Heinz Trixner) is alone on his little patch of land within a gated senior citizen community, his pension sustaining ready-made meals and the care for his dog Argus. When the latter passes away suddenly in the night, Heinrich has nowhere to project his grief but the veterinarian who […]

TIFF19 REVIEW: I Am Not Alone [2019]

“My spirit has survived” Despite the title of Garin Hovannisian‘s documentary on Armenia’s 2018 “velvet revolution” being I Am Not Alone, journalist/activist/Congressman Nikol Pashinyan was exactly that at the movement’s beginning. Word came down that former president Serzh Sargsyan was to be voted in as the nation’s latest Prime Minister—an unjust and demoralizing development considering […]

TIFF19 REVIEW: Tenki no ko [Weathering with You] [2019]

“Or maybe not not” Teenagers get plenty of flack these days with derogatory labels thrust upon them by older generations refusing to truly look outside their window at how much the world has changed. They’ve a lot to shoulder with the pressure of living up to impossible and antiquated expectations, confusion as to a future […]

TIFF19 REVIEW: Love Child [2019]

“There’s no going back” The year “2012” doesn’t pop-up on-screen at the beginning of Eva Mulvad‘s documentary Love Child because it’s an era-specific story. No well-known international news headline is about to arrive as motivation for why Sahand and Leila fled Iran for the hope of sanctuary far, far away. The real reason for that […]

TIFF19 REVIEW: Jallikattu [2019]

“Go straight for his heart” The day breaks and the rhythm of a community sparks with music, breathing, and rote action that keeps everyone in a familiar balance. They visit Varney the butcher (Chemban Vinod Jose), accept their pound of red flesh, and head to church. Everyone is happy. Everyone is at peace. Plans for […]

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: Mientras dure la guerra [While at War] [2019]

“But we’re Christians” Director Alejandro Amenábar spoke very briefly before the screening of his latest film Mientras dure la guerra [While at War] and the main sentiment was this: “It could happen anywhere.” He doesn’t, however, just mean rebellion or uprising. He doesn’t mean a coup or military dictatorship either. What he and co-writer Alejandro […]