• 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: Jusqu’à la garde [Custody] [2017]

    “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 […]

  • REVIEW: De sidste mænd i Aleppo [Last Men in Aleppo] [2017]

    “If I leave, it will be to the cemetery” It’s a shame that those who need to watch Last Men in Aleppo are those who won’t. I’m talking the brainwashed masses quick to call a liberal media “fake news” while they help facilitate legitimate fake news fabricated by enemy regimes hoping to plant dissent. They […]

  • REVIEW: Lady Macbeth [2017]

    “We did it” At the back of William Oldroyd‘s Lady Macbeth (adapted for the screen by Alice Birch from Nikolai Leskov‘s 1865 novella Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk) are the ideas of oppression, power, and the fluidity of both as the oppressed often find themselves clawing their way to a position of becoming oppressor above another […]

  • REVIEW: Dunkirk [2017]

    “He may never be himself again” War is often depicted as a quantifiable number of those who survived and those who did not. Many films choose this route, picking a battle to show the firefight’s chaos and cost. We remember the Battle of Gettysburg and D-Day as turning points, insane offensives that wrought heavy casualties […]

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film reviews

TIFF17 REVIEW: The Lodgers [2017]

“Our curse is to live” A family’s shame marks them forever—their fate sealed by birth, bound by a poem’s rules. They must be locked in their rooms by midnight, never let a stranger through the door, and remain together or else the one who stays dies. Rachel (Charlotte Vega) and Edward (Bill Milner) have lived […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: On Chesil Beach [2018]

“I wasn’t my family. I was me.” It’s 1962. Florence Ponting (Saoirse Ronan) and Edward Mayhew (Billy Howle) have just been married. She’s from a wealthy family and he a provincial one; her desire to be active in world affairs beyond her status’ ambivalence and his hope to be accepted as an intellectual with the […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Le sens de la fête [C’est la vie!] [2017]

“Can you repeat the options?” I went into Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano‘s latest film Le sens de la fête [C’est la vie!] knowing nothing about it. My assumption from their two previous works Intouchables and Samba was that it would prove a charmingly funny dramedy tinged with relevant politics and racial complexity. Boy was […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Papillon [2018]

“I have trouble seeing hope in hopelessness” It’s amazing how some tweaking can turn a decent film showing its age into a worthwhile project that earns its upgrade four decades later. To watch Franklin J. Schaffner‘s original Papillon adaptation is to see an arduous series of harrowing ordeals strung together for no reason other than […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: L’insulte [The Insult] [2017]

“Because that’s what they are. Just stupid words.” Despite the fact that Ziad Doueiri‘s (a crew member on some of Quentin Tarantino‘s early works) latest film L’insulte [The Insult] is set in Lebanon, the ensuing drama can’t help but feel familiar to what’s currently happening in America. As our president says bad things are happening […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Borg/McEnroe [2017]

“Who am I? The gentleman or the rebel?” Juan Martin del Potro just ruined the match-up everyone wanted to see at the 2017 US Open—a semi-final pitting Rafa Nadal against Roger Federer. Despite both being in their thirties, their rivalry has never stopped. What’s intriguing, however, is how amiable it has always been (or seemed […]

REVIEW: It [2017]

“Welcome to the Losers’ Club” There was a lot said about the new cinematic adaptation of Stephen King’s It when Cary Fukunaga signed on a few years ago. Enough about him as a rising auteur capable of infusing some magic into a story so intrinsically tied to the Tim Curry-starring miniseries from 1990 that his […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Svanurinn [The Swan] [2017]

“You were so good when you were little” What once was a traditional rite of passage for Icelandic children has now become punishment. Whereas her mother probably visited her Aunt Ólöf’s (Katla M. Þorgeirsdóttir) farmland to learn responsibility and work ethic away from the allure of her ocean-side city, young Sól (Gríma Valsdóttir) makes the […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Menoana e Mehlano ea Marseilles [Five Fingers for Marseilles] [2017]

“The land is all the scripture we need” Director Michael Matthews and writer Sean Drummond were drawn to the landscapes of South Africa’s Eastern Cape while traveling their homeland, especially the echoes of classic cinematic western environments. Learning about how its current towns arose—from the ashes of Apartheid-era cities mimicking European capitals by name—only cemented […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Gutland [2017]

“Well, it’s not impossible to learn” When a German drifter walks into the quaint Luxembourg village of Schandelsmillen with a scruffy beard, bag full of money, and stoically gruff attitude, we wonder what secrets his past holds. Jens Fauser (Frederick Lau) arrives with a single question: “Do you need help with the harvest?” That specific […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Kissing Candice [2017]

“I never know whether I’m awake or asleep” With a first scene as stylish as that from Kissing Candice, the words “music video chic” come to mind before you can even discover writer/director Aoife McArdle is a James Vincent McMorrow regular who also released a short in collaboration with U2’s 2014 release Songs of Innocence. […]

REVIEW: Papillon [1973]

“Blame is for God and small children” While Henri Charriere‘s account of his incarceration and escape from the penal colony known as French Guiana has a contentious history as far as it being an autobiography or novel of historical fiction, such debate is inconsequential to Franklin J. Schaffner‘s cinematic adaptation Papillon. Whether or not what […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Skyggenes Dal [Valley of Shadows] [2017]

“What we don’t understand scares us” Six year-old Aslak (Adam Ekeli) lives a quiet life with his single mother Astrid (Kathrine Fagerland) in a rural town adjacent to farmland and a mountaintop forest. He’s too young to understand all that’s happening around him—especially considering he’s generally told to keep away from the adults when they’re […]

REVIEW: Patty Cake$ [2017]

“Blood is thicker than Jäger” If you ever watched Hustle & Flow and wondered what it might look like rebranded for a younger audience, Geremy Jasper‘s Patti Cake$ has arrived—with a side of cultural appropriation. Admittedly this added “bonus” is a wild card attribute that has the potential of turning the whole very sour, very […]

REVIEW: De sidste mænd i Aleppo [Last Men in Aleppo] [2017]

“If I leave, it will be to the cemetery” It’s a shame that those who need to watch Last Men in Aleppo are those who won’t. I’m talking the brainwashed masses quick to call a liberal media “fake news” while they help facilitate legitimate fake news fabricated by enemy regimes hoping to plant dissent. They […]