TIFF22 REVIEW: Free Money [2022]

We received funding to do an experiment. Everyone over the age of eighteen (those fifteen and older become eligible on their eighteenth birthday) will receive twenty-two dollars a month for twelve years. That’s the promise GiveDirectly (represented by co-founder Michael Faye) made to the poor rural Kenyan village of Kogutu and, to their credit, has met in full. The idea is that too many NGOs (non-governmental organizations) have ravaged third world countries by making assurances they never follow through on. People would give them money, they would disburse it as…

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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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TIFF22 REVIEW: Sanctuary [2022]

I am a person who wins. How well do you know your regular sex worker? How well do they know you? What Hal (Christopher Abbott) and Rebecca (Margaret Qualley) share may have begun as a source for fun, but it’s obviously evolved into something much deeper since. It’s akin to therapy now and they both know it to be true. The problem, however, lies in how they interpret what these sessions actually provide. Does Hal need Rebecca to come and validate his fetishized insecurities so he can achieve orgasmic release?…

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TIFF22 REVIEW: The Blackening [2022]

Probably runs on racism. The original short directed by Chioke Nassor asked a group of Black friends to choose who amongst them was the “blackest” as a sacrifice to save the rest. Why? Because the killer got confused when starting his spree due to his inability to find the “Black character” his trope-fueled brain demanded as its first victim. Hilarity ensues as everyone desperately tries erasing said blackness to keep breathing, revealing embarrassing (and some unforgivable) secrets along the way. It’s an ingenious conceit for a satire that’s perfectly suited…

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TIFF22 REVIEW: Chevalier [2022]

Choice comes from within. The Toronto International Film Festival wasn’t kidding when they said they were welcoming director Stephen Williams back after pivoting into prestige television. It’s been twenty-seven years since his theatrical debut Soul Survivor with a laundry list of all your favorite shows in the meantime. It just goes to prove that sometimes it’s all about the right project bringing you back into the fold. And it seems a script by rising star Stefani Robinson (coming from FX shows such as “Atlanta” and “What We Do in the…

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TIFF22 REVIEW: How to Blow Up a Pipeline [2022]

If the law will not punish you, then we will. Logan (Lukas Gage) meets Shawn (Marcus Scribner) holding a red covered book within a section of a bookstore that both men are trolling for likeminded individuals. Our assumption is that the color means he’s leafing through Andreas Malm‘s nonfiction How to Blow Up a Pipeline in which the author argues for sabotage as a legitimate form of climate activism while also criticizing the pacifism and fatalism that has otherwise dominated the conversation instead. It makes sense then why Logan smirks…

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TIFF22 REVIEW: The End of Sex [2022]

Are you getting enough banana? Emma (Emily Hampshire) and Josh’s (Jonas Chernick) first kiss was at a summer camp as teenagers and, minus a few break-ups here and there, they’ve been together ever since. They’re best friends, awesome parents, and, because of their two daughters being their focus for every waking second of every single day, mutually apathetic to the concept of sex. So, now that it’s the girls’ time to start going to that same camp, Emma and Josh have no clue what to do with their independence. And…

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TIFF22 REVIEW: Kar ve Ayi [Snow and the Bear] [2022]

This is a strange place. Asli (Merve Dizdar) didn’t have to come. It doesn’t matter that her compulsory assignment as a nurse was to be stationed in a small Turkish village in the middle of nowhere. Her father had strings to pull to get her reassigned. The reason she went anyway isn’t about not wanting to cheat the system like her parents think when they blame “stubbornness” as the cause of their fear for her safety due to blizzards and bear attacks. It’s because Asli doesn’t want to feel as…

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TIFF22 REVIEW: The Young Arsonists [2022]

I’m leaving too. Small town rural living tends to instill a sense of malaise in youth and neither Nicole (Maddy Martin) nor Veronica (Jenna Warren) are exceptions to that rule. They’ve already made a pact to eventually get out of here for no other reason than to aspire towards something that didn’t seem like a dead-end. Because that’s what life is like now—a purgatory of hardship, tragedy, and sorrow. Nicole’s family mourns the loss of her older brother Seamus (Kyle Meagher) in a farming accident that ultimately left them without…

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