TIFF21 REVIEW: Kun Maupay Man It Panahon [Whether the Weather Is Fine] [2021]

People are murderous these days. The ambition behind Carlo Francisco Manatad‘s Kun Maupay Man It Panahon [Whether the Weather Is Fine] is undeniable. Set in the aftermath of 2013’s Typhoon Haiyan (aka Super Typhoon Yolanda), the film opens on Miguel (Daniel Padilla) waking to the fact that there’s no longer a house surrounding him and his couch. More sleepwalking in disbelief than searching with desperation, he moves to find his mother (Charo Santos-Concio‘s Norma) just as his girlfriend (Rans Rifol‘s Andrea) finds him. Everywhere they go has been shattered to…

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TIFF21 REVIEW: Silent Night [2021]

Tonight’s all about truth and love. The easiest way to make sure your child actors are up to swearing on-screen is casting your own. That’s exactly what first-time feature writer/director Camille Griffin does for her film Silent Night—and it’s with good reason. Art (Roman Griffin Davis) and twins Thomas (Gilby Griffin Davis) and Hardy (Hardy Griffin Davis) have made a pact with their parents (Keira Knightley‘s Nell and Matthew Goode‘s Simon) to say whatever comes to their mind without fear of punishment or retribution since they’re all going to die…

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TIFF21 REVIEW: Saloum [2021]

You’ll be sick to death of us by the end. The infamous “Hyenas”—three mercenaries running amok throughout Africa—are caught in the air with gold bars, the drug lord (Renaud Farah‘s Felix) they’ve been hired to extract, and a failed fuel tank leaving them with bad and worse options for an emergency landing. The Guinea-Bissau authorities won’t let them leave without a fight on the ground and they’ve surely alerted their Senegalese counterparts already, but Chaka (Yann Gael) knows of a secret beach from his past where they might be able…

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TIFF21 REVIEW: Flee [2021]

This is where my story begins. Documentarian Jonas Poher Rasmussen went to a lot of trouble to keep his friend and subject of Flee a secret. It’s with good reason too since the story divulged is one that could feasibly send him back to Afghanistan despite living the majority of his life in his adopted country of Denmark. More than just using a pseudonym (Amin Nawabi), however, the interviews also become rotoscope animation as a means of amplifying anonymity. There are obviously still risks involved from the simple act of…

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TIFF21 REVIEW: Paradis sale [After Blue] [2022]

Cut the bad weeds. It’s as though Roxy (Paula Luna) is standing at the gates of Heaven, being judged for what transpired during life on After Blue—a new planet devoid of computer screens post-Earth’s cultural destruction. Do we ever see the God she’s relaying her tale too? No. Or perhaps we are that God, judging her actions against whatever criteria we have in our own unprompted minds. The latter makes sense considering writer/director Bertrand Mandico operates under the cinematic Incoherence Manifesto that he co-wrote Katrín Ólafsdóttir. He “has faith in…

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TIFF21 REVIEW: Costa Brava, Lebanon [2021]

I flushed hope down the toilet long ago. What can you do when your homeland is falling apart? The easy answer is stay or leave, but both options carry too much complexity to simply choose and be done. For starters, not everyone has that choice whether due to finances, family, or a myriad other possible reasons. And those who are able must dig deep within themselves to rationalize why. Do you leave because of greater opportunity? Do you stay because you want to be part of the solution? Or do…

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TIFF21 REVIEW: Medusa [2021]

What did she do to you? Writer/director Anita Rocha da Silveira has created an evangelical town of purity in her Brazilian-set sophomore film Medusa. It’s the type of place all Christians wish they could send their children because they know they will be carried into God’s light. The young men form a militia group to honor His will against deviants that dare to embrace sin. The young women form a gang in the likeness of their heroine angel, donning white masks to confront and assault the so-called “sluts” and “whores”…

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TIFF21 REVIEW: Where Is Anne Frank [2021]

Everything is Anne Frank. The premise to Ari Folman‘s Where Is Anne Frank is genius. Rather than adapt the famed diary into a traditional narrative, he brings its target (Anne’s imaginary friend Kitty) to life. And since this figment of a sounding board only knows that which Anne (Emily Carey) wrote to her, finding form in the present is obviously going to leave many important holes. How did the war end? How long did it last? Did Anne become a famous writer? Did she and Peter van Daan ever have…

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TIFF21 REVIEW: Charlotte [2021]

The sad ones always feel more true. Similar to co-director Tahir Rana before tackling the project, I too had never heard of Charlotte Salomon before sitting down to watch it. This fact seems weird considering many hold her posthumous masterpiece Life? or Theater?: A Song-play as the first graphic novel. A pedigree like that shouldn’t be swept under the rug—especially not when you delve into her work’s content and begin understanding all she endured as a German Jew during World War II. You would think her name would be held…

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TIFF21 REVIEW: True Things [2021]

You’re my tribe. Kate (Ruth Wilson) is listless. She works a dead-end workers’ claim desk wherein her bosses are so redundant that they don’t think they’re doing their job unless they’re chastising their employees for not bringing in doctor notes. Her best friend Alison (Hayley Squires) is too busy with her kids to provide stimulating entertainment beyond a couple drinks at their local. And the only place she really has at her disposal to escape these doldrums is her parents’ home so Mum (Elizabeth Rider) can remind her about all…

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TIFF21 REVIEW: Ich bin dein Mensch [I’m Your Man] [2021]

Your eyes are like two mountain lakes I could sink into. Writer/director Maria Schrader‘s Ich bin dein Mensch [I’m Your Man] posits the question: What if Weird Science, but real? That’s not to say the conceit she and co-writer Jan Schomburg have created (from a short story by Emma Braslavsky) isn’t science fiction fantasy. I just mean that their romantic comedy isn’t saddled by the puerile male gaze of an 80s sex romp. It uses its skeptical lead character (Maren Eggert‘s ancient language specialist Alma) to confront the scenario she’s…

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