REVIEW: To Leslie [2022]

You’re trying to do what I didn’t do. Despite what she tells herself as she scrounges up enough money for that first beer at the bar before quickly pivoting to flirting for free drinks the rest of the night, Leslie (Andrea Riseborough) hit rock bottom a long time ago. Leaving home merely postponed that self-realization by allowing her to avoid the carnage left in her wake much longer than she should have. If she finds another motel to sleep in without paying rent and another man to facilitate her addiction,…

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REVIEW: Vesper [2022]

You don’t know the cost of dreams. It’s the New Dark Ages and the world has devolved to mimic a YA novel’s class system with the poor left to fend for themselves in desolate wastelands while the rich remain protected in Citadels sprinkled throughout their expanse. Animals are dead. Plants are dead. Most humans are dead. To survive means scraping by with what few seeds you purchase from the cities, each lasting only one season. The cost is the blood of children and why those with power in the swamps…

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REVIEW: The Justice of Bunny King [2021]

Nothing can touch us. There’s a crucial point of clarity in the director’s notes for The Justice of Bunny King wherein director Gaysorn Thavat admits one of her goals for the film was to never let its main character become a victim. Bunny (Essie Davis) is obviously struggling with an unnuanced system of legality that’s left her on the streets without custody of her kids, but she harbors zero regrets where it comes to the actions that brought her to this point. Yes, she served time for manslaughter, but killing…

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REVIEW: The Enforcer [2022]

You fight for me. I fight for you. Miami kingpin Estelle (Kate Bosworth) is looking for insurance. Not because she doesn’t trust her usual muscle Cuda (Antonio Banderas) anymore, but because she’s not sure how much time he has left in the tank let alone how well he’s going to adapt to a world running on online currency. Stuck in jail for a decade, his return is therefore just in time to train his replacement: a street fighter named Stray (Mojean Aria) who makes a living always battling above his…

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REVIEW: To the Moon [2022]

You want to breathe from your gut. The word Dennis (writer/director Scott Friend) uses to describe his estranged brother Roger (Will Brill) is malevolent. That’s quite the adjective without context, but one that quickly seems to fit as more details begin to surface. There’s a medical book in their parents’ old home—which now belongs to them both equally—that Dennis’ wife Mia (Madeleine Morgenweck) finds defaced with a child’s drawings that make it seem Roger wasn’t happy to be getting a brother. Talk about where the elder sibling has been gleans…

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TIFF22 REVIEW: Concrete Valley [2022]

What does a doctor look like? Welcome to Antoine Bourges‘ love letter to the Thorncliffe Park apartment complex, better known as “Arrival City” considering it’s the usual landing spot for new immigrants coming into Toronto. Titled Concrete Valley and starring a mix of professional and amateur actors blurring the line between fiction and non-fiction, Bourges and co-writer Teyama Alkamli spent a lot of time with residents to help flesh out their motives and narrative in the form of Rashid (Hussam Douhna) and Farah (Amani Ibrahim), a Syrian couple who have…

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REVIEW: 岬のマヨイガ [Misaki no Mayoiga] [The House of the Lost on the Cape] [2021]

In times of yore … The Tōhoku earthquake has left Yui’s (Mana Ashida) small town all but destroyed. Since every house seems to have a lone survivor to lament their loss and wonder what to do next, it’s no wonder that an ancient evil spirit escaped from its prison beneath the water to try and feed on their grief, force them to leave, and take control so it can grow and expand exponentially until all humanity is destroyed. Yui and young Hiyori (Sari Awano) are two such souls wandering the…

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TIFF22 REVIEW: Autobiography [2022]

It can turn rage into blessing. General Purna (Arswendy Bening Swara) never had a son, so returning to his mansion to ready for a reelection campaign (the days of military dictatorship in Indonesia might be over, but the power structure surely isn’t) makes him grow sentimental at the sight of young Rakib (Kevin Ardilova). The boy is the youngest son of Amir (Rukman Rosadi)—a man Purna calls a “friend” despite their relationship truly being one of employer and employee. It’s been that way for three generations with Amir’s father serving…

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TIFF22 REVIEW: Obet [Victim] [2022]

Maybe someone saw something. There’s a reason director Michal Blasko and screenwriter Jakub Medvecký wrote Irina (Vita Smachelyuk) and her son Igor (Gleb Kuchuk) as Ukrainian nationals. Obet [Victim] doesn’t quite work if they are native Czechs because its impact demands that they also be outsiders attempting to build a home just like the Roma they and their host country are quick to villainize. Because they should know better. They should be able to understand what it’s like to come to a foreign place and start over again. We see…

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TIFF22 REVIEW: Until Branches Bend [2022]

You did the right thing. Something is amiss both with Robin (Grace Glowicki) and the quiet Canadian peach grove town of Montague. An invader has taken hold. It’s wormed its way beneath the surface to incubate and grow, causing incalculable stress upon its vessel. And nobody wants to admit it’s there. Because doing that—making it real—means turning everything upside down to deal with it. So, they bury their heads in the sand and ignore that a problem could even be feasible let alone already in progress. Unlike everyone else, however,…

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TIFF22 REVIEW: Alice, Darling [2022]

What are the chances? Everything you need to know about Alice’s (Anna Kendrick) state of mind concerning the abuse inflicted by her boyfriend Simon (Charlie Carrick) are the words, “It’s not like he hurts me.” We feel Sophie’s (Wunmi Mosaku) wince in our bones because “hurt” doesn’t only become noteworthy when wrought by a physical altercation. Alice is glued to her phone to ensure she doesn’t miss a call or text. She wakes up super early to apply make-up and style her hair to Simon’s preference. Parrots all the soundbites…

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