TIFF17 REVIEW: Verdwijnen [Disappearance] [2017]

“Until we all drown in it” Vignettes depicting a young girl playing the piano on a darkened concert stage come and go throughout Boudewijn Koole‘s Verdwijnen [Disappearance]. They provide bookends to the whole, his film seemingly a visual representation of the melody—both as this single chapter in Roos’ (Rifka Lodeizen) life and its entire duration […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Hva vil folk si [What Will People Say] [2017]

“You haven’t done anything wrong” The Toronto International Film Festival synopsis calls Iram Haq‘s latest film Hva vil folk si [What Will People Say] an “empathetic story of family, community, and culture.” I would call it straight up social horror made scarier when you discover that it was partly inspired by the artist’s own life. […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Beyond Words [2017]

“A change of perspective from high to low normally brings new discoveries” An African man—a hopeful immigrant—says something very interesting to his prospective lawyer Michael (Jakub Gierszal) at the start of Urszula Antoniak‘s Beyond Words. When asked if he has a better excuse for finding refuge in Germany than the simple desire to choose his […]

FANTASIA17 REVIEW: Tiere [Animals] [2017]

“Animals don’t kill themselves” Discovering that screenwriter Jörg Kalt committed suicide before bringing his script Tiere [Animals] to life adds a lot of context to how one deciphers Greg Zglinski‘s film. The director had read it the year before Kalt’s death, lauding it while on a Zurich Film Foundation committee in the hopes of helping […]

FANTASIA17 REVIEW: 帝一の國 [Teiichi no kuni] [Teiichi: Battle of Supreme High] [2017]

“Could any man dream for more?” We are defined by moments, decisions made by us or for us by another. For Teiichi Akaba (Masaki Suda) it was always the choice between love of the piano (his mother’s passion) and a desire to please his father (Kôtarô Yoshida‘s Josuke Akaba) by following a path towards political […]

FANTASIA17 REVIEW: Junk Head [2017]

“And you call yourself God” After finding acclaim with stop-motion animated short Junk Head 1 in 2014, writer/director/animator Takahide Hori decided to expand its science fiction-infused world to feature length. The result is a two-hour adventure following one man’s descent through a subterranean infrastructure built by clones entitled simply Junk Head. It takes place centuries […]

FANTASIA17 REVIEW: La noche del virgen [Night of the Virgin] [2016]

“To the strangers who crossed paths” Don’t mess with a Nepali “cantara” on New Year’s—especially if you’re a virgin. Had young Nico (Javier Bódalo) only been warned, he might have avoided the worst nightmare of his life. While his virginity wasn’t for a lack of trying (or spilled drinks, vomit, and curt rebukes), somehow surviving […]

REVIEW: Moscow Never Sleeps [2015]

“You can’t just pretend I never existed” Writer/director Johnny O’Reilly found himself in Russia during college and decided to stay despite Hollywood opportunities after releasing his debut narrative feature The Weather Station. He sought to film a personal story set in his adoptive home Moscow, one that would touch upon its myriad complexities. So he […]

REVIEW: ישמח חתני [Ismach Hatani] [The Women’s Balcony] [2016]

“Evil decrees upon evil decrees with evil decrees of evil” There’s more to ישמח חתני [Ismach Hatani] [The Women’s Balcony] than the American marketing machine has thus far presented. Billed as a feel good comedy of communal spirit—and correctly so—there are much weightier issues at play. This isn’t merely a farcical war between a synagogue’s […]

REVIEW: Yella [2007]

“I want you to love me again” There’s a glimmer of hope in Yella Fichte’s (Nina Hoss) eye when things finally seem to be going in the right direction. She’s earned a new job starting the day after tomorrow, one that should fill her empty bank account and lead her towards prosperity. But before she […]

REVIEW: Bacalaureat [Graduation] [2016]

“Do what’s best for you” The amount of corruption to simply exist within the borders of Romania as displayed by Cristian Mungiu‘s Bacalaureat [Graduation] is insane. So much so that I feel bad admitting to what it reminded me of on a much more insidiously vile scale. Yes, it was nearly impossible not to see […]