• cleofrom5to701

    REVIEW: Cléo de 5 à 7 [Cleo from 5 to 7] [1962]

    “You shouldn’t use the word ‘despair’” It’s crazy to think that Cléo de 5 à 7 [Cleo from 5 to 7] was just the second feature length fictional narrative French auteur Agnès Varda ever made. The maturity in minimal storytelling, singular visual style, and existential metaphor surrounding death’s value that spans classes are stunning to […]

  • highrise01

    TIFF15 REVIEW: High-Rise [??]

    “I think he’s lost his focus” As soon as the voice of Tom Hiddleston‘s Dr. Robert Laing was heard speaking narration above his weathered and crazed visage manically moving from cluttered, dirty room to darkened feverish corner, my mind started racing. Terry Gilliam‘s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas popped into my consciousness and then […]

  • phantomboy01

    REVIEW: Phantom Boy [2015]

    “My reign will start in darkness” French directors Alain Gagnol (who also wrote) and Jean-Loup Felicioli have another winner on their hands with Phantom Boy. The much-anticipated follow-up to their Oscar-nominated animation A Cat in Paris was five years in the making and well worth the wait. With its vibrant colors muted for a NYC […]

  • phoenix01

    REVIEW: Phoenix [2014]

    “I no longer exist” The Holocaust left thousands of survivors stripped of identity—branded by a number as though they weren’t worthy of the name given at birth. To exit such horror was to enter a new world forever changed for them as well as those lucky enough to have missed the nightmare first-hand. Pity, guilt, […]

  • mommy01

    REVIEW: Mommy [2014]

    “A mother doesn’t wake up one morning not loving her son” If I can be justified in agreeing with all the praise after seeing just one of his films—his latest, Cannes Jury Prize-winning Mommy—twenty-five year old writer/director Xavier Dolan is every bit the wunderkind label that has been thrust upon him. Five films in six […]

film reviews


REVIEW: Driven [2015]

“You need to start being there for him” Writer/director Ali Y. Akarcesme‘s latest short Driven is full of questions that may or may not need answers. It deals with Nicole (Sandy Pasquale) and her son Josh (Joseph Minogue) trying to accept a new dynamic at home without the man who had been playing husband and […]


REVIEW: Pawn Sacrifice [2015]

“I’m searching for the truth” I’ve always been fascinated by Bobby Fischer due to his vanishing rather than anything he accomplished at a chessboard. I’ve never been good at the game, yet I respect its complexity. The greats literally memorize past matches and maneuvers, so in-tune with the playing field that they can play out […]


TIFF15 REVIEW: Der Nachtmahr [??]

“What do you want from me?” In great Lost Highway-era David Lynch fashion, visual artist turned filmmaker Akiz‘s Der Nachtmahr switches from linear reality to seamlessly disorienting crosscuts between life and dream. It occurs when soon-to-be eighteen year old Tina (Carolyn Genzkow) passes out drunk while peeing in the woods outside a secret rave full […]


REVIEW: Sleeping with Other People [2015]

“Mousetrap” It has to overcome a pretty shaky start—mostly due to leads Jason Sudeikis (Jake) and Alison Brie (Lainey) playing Columbia undergrads—but Leslye Headlands‘ comedy Sleeping with Other People does prevail as quite the breath of fresh rom/com air. The plot isn’t groundbreaking, reconnecting two people twelve or so years after losing their virginity together […]


REVIEW: Total Performance [2015]

“You’re never going to see me again” The premise behind Sean Meehan‘s latest short is fascinating with its titular business Total Performance providing a service that supplies actors who spar with customers seeking a dress rehearsal for whatever difficult conversation they’ve yet to work themselves up to starting. We meet a distraught husband in need […]


TIFF15 REVIEW: Peur de rien [Parisienne] [2016]

“For now everything is ugly” Many deflect from it, but a writer/director’s intent can change the viewer’s outlook on his/her film. Danielle Arbid‘s fictional coming-of-age drama about a college-aged immigrant from Lebanon to France (Manal Issa‘s Lina) is one containing many new acquaintances able to help her find the freedom she covets but never found […]


TIFF15 REVIEW: Waves ’98 [2015]

“It feels like everything is stuck in a loop” Downtown Beirut is Waves ’98‘s lead character Omar’s (Elie Bassila)—a virtual, teenage stand-in for writer/director Ely Dagher—”white whale”. It’s a world he has yet to experience close-up, relegated to peering over and through concrete buildings from his safe suburban rooftop at a city split in two […]


REVIEW: অপরাজিত [Aparajito] [The Unvanquished] [1956]

“He will come if he wants to” After the huge success of Pather Panchali, it would have been strange for Satyajit Ray not to continue Apu’s saga into Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay‘s second novel অপরাজিত [Aparajito] [The Unvanquished]. The only reason I could see him stopping was the fact that the boy’s coming-of-age contains as much tragedy […]


REVIEW: Cléo de 5 à 7 [Cleo from 5 to 7] [1962]

“You shouldn’t use the word ‘despair’” It’s crazy to think that Cléo de 5 à 7 [Cleo from 5 to 7] was just the second feature length fictional narrative French auteur Agnès Varda ever made. The maturity in minimal storytelling, singular visual style, and existential metaphor surrounding death’s value that spans classes are stunning to […]


TIFF15 REVIEW: Maman(s) [2015]

“I’m drowning in it now” Young Aida (Sokhna Diallo) is forced to process a lot on the day her father (Eriq Ebouaney‘s Alioune) returns to Paris from Senegal after two months away. First is the joyous laughter of mom (Maïmouna Gueye‘s Mariam) and her friends burning an herbal aphrodisiac up her dress. Next is the […]


REVIEW: The Visit [2015]

“Swerve” It’s no secret that M. Night Shyamalan needed a winner after a string of box office and commercial failures. Firmly in the minority saying The Village and Lady in the Water are his two best—the former is one of my all-time favorites—my idea of his failings doesn’t necessarily coincide with the movie-going public, but […]


TIFF15 REVIEW: Viaduc [Overpass] [2015]

“Your brother’s plane arrives at 5 PM” Writer/director Patrice Laliberté‘s short film Viaduc [Overpass] relies heavily on our suppositions as the viewer. And it does so to perfection. To us Mathieu (Téo Vachon Sincennes) has done nothing to earn the benefit of the doubt. Not only do we meet him sneaking out to illegally spray […]


TIFF15 REVIEW: Desierto [??]

“Welcome to the land of the free” A tense thriller of survival set against a desolate landscape of quiet austerity until the deafening sound of our heroes’ pursuer returns after a brief respite allowing these strangers the time to emotively talk about their lives—no, it’s not Gravity. Filmmaker Jonás Cuarón certainly has a type, though, […]


TIFF15 REVIEW: The Program [2015]

“I’m flying” When you think about what Lance Armstrong did to the sport of cycling—winning seven straight Tour de France titles before finally being revealed as a cheater—you have to laugh. It’s funny how much stock people around the world put in professional sports and athletes only to see their fallibilities as a betrayal. Celebrities […]


TIFF15 REVIEW: Colonia [2016]

“You may never get back out” It’s amazing how many horrific acts mankind has initiated over the past century. With all the coups, wars, dictators, etc. it’s impossible to find a country devoid of at least one historically heinous blight. Chile under Augusto Pinochet certainly had its fair share, but I never heard of the […]