FANTASIA20 REVIEW: Fellwechselzeit [Time of Moulting] [2020]

What about final wishes? Young Stephanie (Zelda Espenschied) is utterly alone. It doesn’t matter that she lives with her parents (Freya Kreutzkam‘s Mom and Bernd Wolf‘s Reinhardt) because their physical presence pales in comparison to their emotional absence. And nothing will ever change. It can’t. Stephanie’s mother is too far lost in the past to think about the girl’s childhood when memories of her parents keep her forever longing for the childhood she herself wasn’t afforded. Stephanie’s father is conversely too busy living in the present to worry about anyone…

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TIFF19 REVIEW: Pelikanblut [Pelican Blood] [2020]

I’m the lucky one. Writer/director Katrin Gebbe is not messing around with her latest film Pelikanblut [Pelican Blood]. What starts as a psychological drama about a mother desperate to provide her new daughter the love necessary to free her from the demons of a traumatic past gradually escalates into a supernatural thriller augmenting what science attempts to prove. So while the explanation of a piece of artwork depicting a pelican that pierced its chest to reanimate its dead children with its blood first appears as metaphor, it just might be…

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TIFF19 REVIEW: Nobadi [2019]

Stop calling me bloody master! Heinrich Senft (Heinz Trixner) is alone on his little patch of land within a gated senior citizen community, his pension sustaining ready-made meals and the care for his dog Argus. When the latter passes away suddenly in the night, Heinrich has nowhere to project his grief but the veterinarian who sold him the vitamins he’s quick to blame for the pet’s demise. Unable to afford to have her pick the body up, he decides to bury it in the backyard despite being ninety years old…

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TIFF19 REVIEW: Heimat ist ein Raum aus Zeit [Heimat is a Space in Time] [2019]

Beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror. How much of our ancestry is tied to the history of the places we call home? While some of us would probably answer “None,” we’d be wrong. Just because your family tree was lucky enough to exist on the periphery of major historical moments as bystanders doesn’t mean you haven’t been impacted by wars, tragedies, inventions, and art in ways that defined your choices and subsequently the choices of your children. Why did my grandfather immigrate to America from Lebanon (then part…

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REVIEW: Hagazussa [2018]

We don’t have to be afraid here. What creates a witch? An evil that takes hold of willing vessels yearning to do his/her demonic master’s bidding or a populace’s mass fear that turns mankind’s own evil against those who are different than them and therefore a threat to the status quo? If you’re a believer in the occult, some version of the former is probably at the forefront of your philosophies on supernatural powers in the real world. And if you aren’t, the latter’s perspective provides clarity as to the…

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REVIEW: Die Unsichtbaren [The Invisibles] [2019]

After a little while you noticed that they were scared. We’re so used to stories of Holocaust survivors talking about what they endured inside the concentration camps that we forget around seven thousand Jewish men and women stayed hidden during World War II. While only about fifteen hundred ultimately walked away to live their lives in the aftermath, it’s impossible not to hail them and those who assisted them as heroes. The tales of close calls and secrets alone are worth discovering and yet these four (Cioma Schönhaus, Ruth Gumpel,…

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REVIEW: Werk ohne Autor [Never Look Away] [2018]

Everything that’s true is beautiful. The thing that people who didn’t attend art school or don’t have a foundation in art history never understand is the reasoning behind postmodern art. They find it funny to reductively joke about how their three-year old child could net them a million dollars by scribbling on a canvas because they refuse to look beneath the surface and let the image speak as emotion through abstract form rather than some ingrained sense of realism. These artists had the skill to paint portraits but chose to…

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TIFF18 REVIEW: Das schönste Paar [The Most Beautiful Couple] [2018]

Stay cool. Okay? It starts with a rape. I won’t lie: I sighed thinking Sven Taddicken‘s Das schönste Paar [The Most Beautiful Couple] was going to end up another drama about coping and retribution like most others wherein Liv (Luise Heyer) struggles as Malte (Maximilian Brückner) protects. So it was a welcome surprise when we’re moved past this harrowing prologue to meet the couple two years later working, smiling, and possibly healed in a bid to forget. Not only that, but Liv proves the one who wants to celebrate upon…

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TIFF18 REVIEW: Endzeit [Endzeit – Ever After] [2018]

Go out and bury what haunts you. What if humanity’s apocalypse wasn’t the world’s end? We’ve become so used to treating ourselves as rulers of this planet despite knowing so little about it and the surrounding universe while also doing our best to destroy everything we touch. So what are we truly besides another in a long line of species with no greater hold on Mother Nature than the last? Our demise doesn’t therefore have to be by our own hand and hubris. Perhaps those two things merely place our…

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REVIEW: Western [2017]

What are you searching for here? When a group of Germans enter rural Bulgaria on an assignment to divert water towards a new power plant, those unversed in the area and its history wouldn’t think too much about it. Those like me would assume whatever conflict at this story’s back would arise from differing languages and cultures, but be sparked by individual personalities rather than inherent nationwide prejudices. As Valeska Grisebach‘s Western proves, however, that is far from the case. As one character explains around midway through the runtime, the…

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FANTASIA18 REVIEW: Blue My Mind [2018]

I’m wasting my youth on trains. Adolescence is a metamorphosis from youth to adulthood—a time defined by its constant state of flux physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Puberty is the backbone to this period because of the changes it inflicts. It alters our hormones and appearance while also providing a moment with which to be reborn. To shed your skin, so to speak, by putting the past behind you in order to embrace a future you can define. Rebelliousness is therefore a common theme as we reconcile who we want to…

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