TIFF20 REVIEW: Like a House on Fire [2020]

And then I ran out of air. Anxiety is high at the start of Jesse Noah Klein‘s Like a House on Fire. We hear Dara (Sarah Sutherland) breathing heavily in the bathroom of a train car before finding her seat. From there it’s a taxi and the not so confident stroll to a house’s front door—the laughter of a child behind its barrier stopping her in her tracks and forcing her to run across the street and hide as her breathing grows heavier yet again. She lowers herself even further…

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TIFF20 REVIEW: Dasatskisi [Spring Blossom] [2020]

I’d give everyone a five. How do you know a relationship sparked with another is truly love and not merely the absence of the listlessness you felt before its creation—a mere distraction? The answer is probably a simple case of seeing with objective eyes and feeling with an unencumbered heart, but those aren’t easy things to possess while the excitement of the moment remains fresh. So sixteen-year old Suzanne (Suzanne Lindon) will continue longing for the serious stranger standing outside the theater on her way to school regardless. And thirty-five-year…

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TIFF20 REVIEW: Druk [Another Round] [2020]

Have I become boring? If you find yourself needing to latch onto an obscure scientific theory to reinvigorate your energy level and live your life as more than a sleepwalking zombie, you’re probably not ready to actually confront the real problem. We know this to be true of the quartet at the center of Thomas Vinterberg‘s Druk [Another Round] since our first impression of Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen), Peter (Lars Ranthe), Nikolaj (Magnus Millang), and, especially, Martin (Mads Mikkelsen) is that they have lost their spark. Sexually, intellectually, physically, emotionally—whatever…

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TIFF20 REVIEW: Shadow in the Cloud [2020]

Be safe. Shape up. Stay on task. Try as they might, Max Landis‘ name is still there on the big screen when the opening titles to Roseanne Liang‘s Shadow in the Cloud begin to roll. They’ve scrubbed it from the press notes save a single mention in the full credit list, IMDB hasn’t added it to their page (yet), and star Chloë Grace Moretz has gone out of her way to ensure everyone knows Liang (who shares that screenwriting credit) rewrote the original draft multiple times. That Landis hasn’t been…

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TIFF20 REVIEW: The Water Man [2020]

I’m doing this for you. It’s starting to feel as though Gunner Boone’s (Lonnie Chavis) life is fitting to become a series of upheavals with no end in sight. First it was living with his mother (Rosario Dawson‘s Mary) while his father (David Oyelowo‘s Amos) was stationed in Japan with the Navy. Then it was moving to Pine Mills upon his return home to America. And now it’s adjusting to the reality that his mother is dying of cancer and his father hasn’t been able to thus far adjust to…

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TIFF20 REVIEW: Concrete Cowboy [2020]

The past is not the present. There’s a pretty timely notion hiding in the background of director Ricky Staub and co-writer Dan Walser‘s Concrete Cowboy. Republicans love to spin a reductive talking point out of the “defund the police” initiative, but that plea isn’t actually demanding we dissolve law enforcement. It merely seeks to divert their excess of funds in order to assist them since they’re the first to admit they’re treading water in the deep end without a means to exit. Every time the government slashes a social program’s…

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TIFF20 REVIEW: Wildfire [2020]

You said you’d keep in touch. The impending Brexit has pundits on television weighing the option of whether or not it will mean the return of a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland—something that the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 had more or less dissolved in the wake of the violent period of political unrest known as The Troubles. While some might think a development like that could re-ignite tensions between the sovereign republic and UK province, such thoughts would infer that those tensions had ceased or that the…

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TIFF20 REVIEW: MLK/FBI [2021]

Those are pieces of information we shouldn’t have. It’s no secret that J. Edgar Hoover surveilled Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the 1960s. Not only was his impact during the civil rights movement too powerful for the long-standing head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to ignore, but we also know King was sent a recording and letter calling for his suicide that only the department could have created. We didn’t, however, know the specific details of how it was accomplished or the series of events that led…

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TIFF20 REVIEW: Nuevo orden [New Order] [2020]

Then don’t tell them. Seemingly taking a cue from television, writer/director Michel Franco provides us glimpses of the carnage to come at the opening of his latest incendiary drama Nuevo orden [New Order]. There’s a naked woman with blood dripping down her body in the rain. There’s paint splashed upon a window behind a bride trying on a white lace dress, a giant oil canvas adorning the wall of an affluent family’s home, and fire burning in the distance after thrown furniture shatters into a hundred pieces on the ground.…

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TIFF20 REVIEW: The Kid Detective [2020]

I used to be loved. The premise behind Evan Morgan‘s The Kid Detective definitely hit upon my nostalgia as a big fan of the HBO “Encyclopedia Brown” series when I was a kid. You do wonder what might happen to someone like that as they grow older. Do they become cynical? Depressed? Do they become actual private detectives or go into the police force? A real world Encyclopedia Brown would have to face the reality that what they thought they were doing was never actually what it was. Being the…

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TIFF20 REVIEW: Wolfwalkers [2020]

Half wolf, half witch, half people. The woodsmen are clearing out the forest to expand Kilkenny, Ireland’s farmland circa 1650 under orders of Lord Protector Cromwell (Simon McBurney)—an Englishman. He and the British crown see these Irish folk as a people in need of taming so it’s only fitting that he try his hand at ridding the countryside of wolves first. This is something these peasants can get behind because they fear what those beasts might do if left unchecked. They clamor for the soldiers to protect them. They willingly…

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