• moonlight01

    TIFF16 REVIEW: Moonlight [2016]

    “Chiron and trouble always found a way” What’s it like to be a young boy on the drug-filled streets of Miami: without friends, without family, without hope? As cliques begin to feign superiority by ganging up on the weak to prove themselves hard enough for what’s coming, Chiron (Alex R. Hibbert)—or “Little” as they call […]

  • hellorhighwater01

    REVIEW: Hell or High Water [2016]

    “I ain’t speeding” It wasn’t long after his run as above-board Deputy Chief David Hale on “Sons of Anarchy” that Taylor Sheridan would find himself caught in awards season platitudes with Sicario, a film earning three Oscar nominations despite his screenplay not quite making the cut. Well he has a second change this January as […]

  • touchofzen01

    REVIEW: 俠女 [Xia nü] [A Touch of Zen] [1971]

    “One should rather believe in ghosts than not” It’s enlightening to read writer/director King Hu‘s press notes that accompanied the Cannes premiere of his then newly-cut 俠女 [Xia nü] [A Touch of Zen]. 1975 was four years removed from the film’s original release—as two parts, a format his producers demanded to try recouping some of […]

  • eyesofmymother01

    FANTASIA16 REVIEW: The Eyes of My Mother [2016]

    “Why would I kill you? You’re my only friend.” This is isolation, suffering. It’s also normal. We on the outside see Nicolas Pesce‘s debut feature The Eyes of My Mother as the former, young Francisca (Olivia Bond) swimming in a pool of abject dread as death proves a natural evolution for all living things. For […]

  • huntforthewilderpeople01

    REVIEW: Hunt for the Wilderpeople [2016]

    “Find water. Go to high ground. And don’t get naked.” A Māori boy and a Pākehā man go forth into the New Zealand bush. It sounds like the start to a joke. But while Taika Waititi‘s latest Hunt for the Wilderpeople is hilarious, it’s far from being a trivial lark. There’s some weighty emotion involved […]



film reviews

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TIFF16 REVIEW: Burn Your Maps [2016]

“The kid in the strange clothes said he gave birth to two goats” Many films deal with the aftermath of a family death by becoming about how their characters live with the pain—changing them into different people. Some distinctly show them living despite it instead. Rather than depict Connor (Marton Csokas) and Alise (Vera Farmiga) […]

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TIFF16 REVIEW: Pyromanen [Pyromaniac] [2016]

“You can be whatever you want to be” Going in with no expectations besides the recent news that the film had been shortlisted for Norway’s 2017 Oscar selection, director Erik Skjoldbjærg‘s Pyromanen [Pyromaniac] could not have delivered a better start to get me ready. Using extended camera movements to capture subtle detail from a car […]

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TIFF16 REVIEW: Souvenir [2016]

“Like ABBA but not so famous” It starts with bubbles. So many bubbles rising slowly in liquid as the opening credits in script font flash onscreen. And when the camera finally pans out to see what it’s been that’s mesmerized us so? A glass of water with an Alka-Seltzer dropped in, of course. This is […]

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TIFF16 REVIEW: The Magnificent Seven [2016]

“It won’t sweeten, it’ll only sour” I’m at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to the new The Magnificent Seven despite going in thinking it’d be the other way around. Here I was anticipating that I’d be able to watch the film with a completely blank slate because I’ve never seen the 1960 version nor […]

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TIFF16 REVIEW: Past Life [2016]

“In tragedy you can’t escape fate” It’s 1977 and you’re the lead soprano in your first international concert. Rapturous applause and a flawless performance later you find yourself hobnobbing with classmates and audience members alike, the famed German composer Thomas Zielinski (Rafael Stachowiak) even enters to the crowd’s delight. But rather than let the electricity […]

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TIFF16 REVIEW: Nikdy nejsme sami [We Are Never Alone] [2016]

“Those afraid to die are afraid to live” Fans of Quentin Dupieux should rejoice because I haven’t seen a film this absurdly hilarious since Wrong. Petr Václav‘s Nikdy nejsme sami [We Are Never Alone] is definitely bleaker, darker, and strangely realist, but it has that same sense of subtle humor to give you pause about […]

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TIFF16 REVIEW: Tereddüt [Clair Obscur] [2016]

“Like a thorn” Life for a woman like Elmas (Ecem Uzun) in Turkey is a living nightmare. An eighteen-year old all but sold to a willing husband (Serkan Keskin‘s Koca) much older than she to clean his house, give her mother-in-law (Sema Poyraz‘s Kaynana) across the hall insulin shots, and—marriage or not—get raped every night, […]

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TIFF16 REVIEW: Without Name [2016]

“Best to sleep with your pajamas on inside out, yeah?” For someone afraid of loneliness, Eric (Alan McKenna) sure loves putting himself in positions that can’t help isolating him from the world. A land surveyor who specializes in remote areas and works by himself unless apprentice-of-sorts Olivia (Niamh Algar) can tear herself away from her […]

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TIFF16 REVIEW: Zacma [Blindness] [2016]

“Hatred conceals faith” The roles have been reversed for Julia Brystygier (Maria Mamona), the once powerful colonel in the USSR’s Ministry. She interrogated countless enemies of the state, namely Catholics who rejected the communist concepts ruling them. The human body was her canvas, torture her paintbrush—nothing was out of bounds as far as acquiring the […]

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TIFF16 REVIEW: Fixeur [The Fixer] [2016]

“We’re journalists not activists. It’s not the same thing.” Some people can’t help themselves from striving to be the best whether that means winning a contest, getting a promotion, earning accolades, or proving you’re the only one able to accomplish an impossible task. They want to be relied upon for results. Radu (Tudor Istodor) is […]

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TIFF16 REVIEW: Tyttö nimeltä Varpu [Little Wing] [2016]

“Varpu Vanamo raspberry nose, teeny weeny toffee toes” The director of Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?, the hilarious 2014 Oscar nominee for Best Short Film, is back with her sophomore feature narrative Tyttö nimeltä Varpu [Little Wing]. Taking on writing responsibilities this go-round, Selma Vilhunen supplies a much more dramatic work than […]

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REVIEW: For the Love of Spock [2016]

“He did” I’m not sure what the original plan for Adam Nimoy‘s documentary For the Love Spock was considering a full-length feature about the origins of a fictional character—no matter how beloved—is hardly the stuff for which theatrical releases are made. But Leonard Nimoy‘s passing during production ultimately gave the project a new motivation. It […]

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TIFF16 REVIEW: Jesús [2016]

“Don’t do anything stupid, lad” Adolescent hijinks turn tragic on multiple fronts in Fernando Guzzoni‘s Jesús despite my not being sure there was going to be a solid point to the film until mid-way through. Everything previous merely sat as a slice of life for the titular character, a normal everyday Chilean punk named Jesús […]

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TIFF16 REVIEW: I blodet [In the Blood] [2016]

“We’re gonna have a great summer” If forty’s the new thirty, twenty-three can easily become the new thirteen. I think first-time director Rasmus Hiesterberg would agree as the man behind screenplays for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Swedish) and A Royal Affair delves into a med student’s coming-of-age drama in I blodet [In the […]

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TIFF16 REVIEW: Werewolf [2016]

“It’s not your responsibility to keep him alive” Writer/director Ashley McKenzie‘s feature debut Werewolf picks up right where her 2012 short When You Sleep left off. We’re back in Canadian squalor on the poverty line with a couple barely staying afloat as society and addiction continuously seeks to drag them under into an abyss of […]