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: 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 […]

TIFF15 REVIEW: Sonámbulo [The Sleepwalker] [2015]


“Green, how I want you green.” Animator Theodore Ushev embraces yet another visual style to treat us with at the Toronto International Film Festival. From conté crayon images rotoscoped atop Jafar Panahi in 2012’s Joda to the Cubist/Constructivist homage of 2013’s Gloria Victoria, his latest Sonámbulo [The Sleepwalker] delves into Abstract Expressionism bearing to mind […]

TIFF15 REVIEW: Peripheria [2015]


A post-apocalyptic wasteland born from an abandoned council estate of mammoth cement structures covered in graffiti and devoid of life—human life— David Coquard-Dassault‘s Peripheria showcases an aftermath of the unusable imprint we’ve made on Earth. Without our species to use these homes for dwelling or canvases, they merely stand reflecting the sun as large shadow […]

TIFF15 REVIEW: (Otto) [2015]


Writers/directors/animators Job, Joris & Marieke may be my new favorite computer animation team. Unlike Pixar or Dreamworks, however, I’m not sure I’d ever want them to go feature length since their style is so perfectly suited to the short form. Their Oscar-nominated A Single Life was my first introduction to them as well as my […]

TIFF15 REVIEW: The Ballad of Immortal Joe [2015]


“If you want my story I will proceed” Written in memory of a family member, Pazit Cahlon‘s Western poem The Ballad of Immortal Joe sounds like a nursery rhyme but plays like a bittersweet romance of cursed love. Directed and animated by Hector Herrera, the short has an eye-catching aesthetic with dark palette and deep […]



While Howie Shia‘s aesthetic is accurately labeled gritty, that grit is less about being aggressive or “dirty” than it is about lending it an experimental film beauty gorgeous to behold against polished Hollywood studio fare. Just like its main character, BAM becomes a powder keg of duality with its two halves clashing to create something […]

FANTASIA15 REVIEW: Pos eso [Possessed] [2014]


“What he did left his teacher speechless” I didn’t know I wanted a horror parody in the style of “Celebrity Deathmatch” until about halfway through Samuel Ortí Martí‘s [Sam] pitch black skewering of the genre Pos eso [Possessed]. His and Rubén Ontiveros‘ script is littered with homage to The Day the Earth Stood Still in […]

FANTASIA15 REVIEW: 奇人密碼: 古羅布之謎 [The Arti: The Adventure Begins] [2015]


“Where the heart is lies eternity” You can’t watch 奇人密碼: 古羅布之謎 [The Arti: The Adventure Begins] without finding yourself in awe of the amazing puppet work on display. While told it was only “enhanced” by CGI, it looks as though a lot more was computer-generated than such a verb would infer. For one the smoothness […]

FANTASIA15 REVIEW: Hwasangorae [Crimson Whale] [2014]


“It is an offense to feed the apes” A product of the Korean Academy of Film Arts’ Advanced Program, writer/director Park Hye-mi‘s Hwasangorae [Crimson Whale] is a fascinating little sci-fi adventure. The hand-drawn character design is cutesy with young faces and oversized clothing dwarfing stature, but the 2070 Busan in which they reside is brutally […]

REVIEW: Inside Out [2015]


“I call it the Happy Core Memory Development Program” The simplest ideas really are the greatest and Pixar’s made a legacy built on just such an ideal. They brought toys to life as living companions caring for our children. They humanized the monsters in our closets, conjured a spark of love in the circuitry of […]