REVIEW: Il conformista [The Conformist] [1970]

“Slaughter and melancholy” At one point towards the end of Bernardo Bertolucci‘s Il conformist [The Conformist], Marcello Clerici (Jean-Louis Trintignant) turns to Manganiello (Gastone Moschin) and relays a brief synopsis of a dream. He talks about how he was a blind man who needed an operation that only his former professor (Enzo Tarascio‘s Quadri) could […]

REVIEW: Dnevnik masinovodje [Train Driver’s Diary] [2016]

“I wish you a quick first accident” Whether a result of suicide, drunken stupidity, or sheer dumb luck, train drivers the world over kill people. You’d like to believe it’s a rarity, but the truth is most likely the opposite. What then is life like for those who’ve chosen this profession? They’re constantly on alert, […]

REVIEW: Jia Nian Hua [Angels Wear White] [2018]

“There’s other ways to pay” Let’s think about the title to Vivian Qu‘s sophomore effort Jia Nian Hua [Angels Wear White] because the meaning goes far beyond the words themselves. On the surface it’s simply describing religious iconography and the idea that angels wear flowing white linens with halos on heads and harps in hands. […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Princesita [2017]

“The darker the night, the brighter the stars” Miguel (Marcelo Alonso) compares God to a fire when explaining how the ones our religions’ sacred books describe aren’t quite right. Our creator is simpler than those iterations. He has the power to turn wood into ash and water into steam. He has the power to transform. […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Vinterbrødre [Winter Brothers] [2017]

“Everyone has a little darkness in them” It opens in darkness—the beams from headlamp flashlights and sparks of metal on rock our only points of illumination. This is the oppressive environment holding the over-worked and under-paid miners while their boss sits in his factory office without a care as to who the men in his […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Of Sheep and Men [2017]

“In this country, the big fish eat the small fish” It’s the cusp of Eid in Algiers, Bab el Oued circa 2016 and the rams are running wild. Well, not wild per se considering each is bought, sold, and always owned. They seem to be a huge staple in this impoverished town as a means […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: شيخ جاكسون [Sheikh Jackson] [2017]

“You can’t guarantee living till tomorrow” The thing I could never wrap my head around religious-wise is the idea of strict right and wrong. As a Catholic it’s somewhat easy as far as sin and repentance. You’re allowed to do a lot as long as you feel remorse and guilt enough to learn your lesson. […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Licht [Mademoiselle Paradis] [2017]

“If you cannot see, you are not seen” Maria Theresia von Paradis was the daughter of Empress Maria Theresa’s Court Councilor and thus a young woman of standing despite the blindness that took her eyes before the age of five. Her father Joseph Anton and mother Maria Rosalia had the means to therefore teach her […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Soldatii. Poveste din Ferentari [Soldiers. Story From Ferentari] [2017]

“Come here before I get angry” Based on lead actor Adrian Schiop‘s fictionalized biography, Ivana Mladenovic‘s Soldatii. Poveste din Ferentari [Soldiers. Story From Ferentari] shows a world of poverty and futility possessing few avenues of escape for those born within. Schiop’s character Adi arrives at the Bucharest ghetto known as Ferentari to study its people’s […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Motorrad [2017]

“How did you get past the wall?” You won’t find a better locale for a film than Serra da Canastra in Minas Gerais, Brazil. Its rocky landscapes and serene hills are gorgeous, their quiet solemnity a perfect contrast to the loud gas-guzzling motorcycles director Vicente Amorim has roaming their dirt paths in Motorrad. The only […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Jusqu’à la garde [Custody] [2018]

“Which of you is the bigger liar?” It didn’t win the Oscar for best live action short in 2014, but Xavier Legrand’s Just Before Losing Everything was by far my favorite nominee. Discovering his debut feature Jusqu’à la garde [Custody] was constructed as an expansion of that story therefore made it a must-see. The short […]