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: 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: Arthur Rambo [2021]

I can defend myself. There’s an interesting lesson to be learned at the center Laurent Cantet‘s Arthur Rambo that’s honestly shocking to think still needs to be learned. I don’t mean that in reference to the director or his fellow co-writers Fanny Burdino and Samuel Doux, though, as many people talking about the film do. I’m talking about the people like Karim D. (Rabah Nait Oufella) who still can’t quite grasp the reality that social media isn’t a safe space. It’s not a diary to collect your rage and insecurities…

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TIFF21 REVIEW: Petite maman [2021]

We might not see each other again. It’s difficult grappling with the reality that we can never know when our latest “goodbye” to a loved one might prove the last we’ll ever share with them. The act itself is so commonplace and routine that we find ourselves performing on reflex. The assumption is that it’s really a “so long”—an ellipsis awaiting its next word whenever and wherever it may arrive next. Then the day comes when you realize two dots disappeared while you were away to reveal a period of…

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TIFF21 REVIEW: Ste. Anne [2021]

She scolded God. It’s been four years since Renée (Rhéanne Vermette) left home without a word. Four years that her brother Modeste (Jack Theis) and his wife Elenore (Valerie Marion) have spent raising her daughter Athene (Isabelle d’Eschambault) as their own. Their reunion is thus not without its confusion as the little girl is suddenly caught between two mothers: one she knows and one she barely remembers. What little does stick in her mind feels different from the woman now set in front of her too just as everything else…

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CANNES21 REVIEW: Retour A Reims [Fragments] [2021]

A war is waged on the dominated. The MIT Press describes Didier Eribon‘s book Returning to Reims as “A memoir and meditation on individual and class identity, and the forces that keep us locked in political closets.” The author never went back home upon leaving until after his father was moved to a nursing home for those afflicted by Alzheimer’s and it was only upon his return that he began to recognize the underlying factors that made its community what it became despite what it originally rose from. By looking…

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REVIEW: Los nôtres [2021]

What are you hiding from me? It takes a village. That’s what close, tight-knit communities like Sainte-Adeline, Quebec say when asked about how they are able to confront and conquer tough circumstances. With that sense of togetherness, however, comes a cliquish sensibility of superiority. They survive because they have each other. They survive because they’re vigilant and always watching to see where and when their help is required to pick someone up. It’s how they got through a horrible construction site tragedy years prior that claimed too many friends and…

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REVIEW:Genius Loci [2021]

I’m going to sit here and wait a while for a sign. With its esoteric dialogue and often cacophonic score incorporating foley sound effects with the melody that also double as the driving rhythm upon which the visuals are cut together, Adrien Merigeau‘s Genius Loci (co-written by Nicolas Pleskof) eschews traditional narrative for a beat poet aesthetic that embraces disorder on a journey through time and space. Reine (Nadia Moussa) is at once present in her sister’s apartment (watching a pot boil over upon the stove while simultaneously watching a…

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REVIEW: Colette [2020]

I won’t ever be the same. It’s been over seventy years since Colette Marin-Catherine‘s brother Jean-Pierre was arrested in France and deported to the German concentration camp where he would later die. You can’t blame her for never wanting to go to see the site considering the anguish she’s dealt with in the aftermath and knowing the ways in which such places of abject horror have become tourist attractions in the decades since. As a so-called “woman who doesn’t cry,” it was thus an impossibility to deal with the emotions…

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BERLINALE21 REVIEW: La Mif [The Fam] [2021]

We’re a fam now. The big draw to Fred Baillif‘s fictional look inside a residential care facility housing teenage girls is the fact that he refuses to pretend his setting is anything more than a “safe space.” It’s a place to find separation from whatever heinous environment they’ve left and begin the healing process. Some will inevitably be sent back to the place they sought to escape. Some will remain until their eighteenth birthday and suddenly have to figure out what it means to live alone. And no matter how…

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SLAM21 REVIEW: Nulle trace [No Trace] [2021]

What would I gain? Not knowing is the point. At least that’s what writer/director Simon Lavoie says in his director’s notes for Nulle trace [No Trace]. He’s not looking to create a film with narrative propulsion or mainstream appeal within an industry he’s actively seeking to rebel against. He instead wants to go back to the art by engaging audiences with form, sensory input, and ideas. Lavoie’s goal is to therefore embrace an unspoken “pact” with viewers that allows for a benefit of the doubt where understanding and intent are…

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