Tag: TIFF

2020, Movies

2020 Toronto International Film Festival

For what may be the third year in a row, I only saw 5 movies at TIFF. Every year I resolve to see more the next year but it never seems to happen. Now, this year is different, obviously. This year I watched TIFF films on my couch. And this year I only watched 5 …

2020, Movies

Nuevo orden aka New Order (2020, Michel Franco)

This is a very promising film about class conflict in Mexico that gets really confused and, for me, goes off the rails to the point where I am kind of astounded it won a Grand Jury Prize at a film festival. SPOILERS later in the review.

2020, Movies

The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel (2020, Jennifer Abbott, Joel Bakan)

I saw the original Corporation sometime back in the aughts. I have no idea whether or not I would like it now. This film is infuriating, both because of the problems in the world it reminds us of, and because of how unfocused it is. In many ways, it feels like two movies, the sequel …

2020, Movies

76 Days (2020, Weixi Chen, Hao Wu, Anonymous)

This is a harrowing but ultimately kind of triumphant fly-on-the-wall style documentary about COVID-19 patients and the frontline workers looking after them in China. If you are lucky enough to have not gotten sick but feel like this has been really hard, I strongly suggest you watch this movie. (And if you think this whole …

2020, Movies

Enemies of the State (2020, Sonia Kennebeck)

This is a masterful documentary about an American potential whistle-blower accused of child pornography and related charges, who took refuge in Canada. I paid no attention to the story at the time, so the entire thing was new to me. Before I get to the review: if you like documentaries about the nature of truth, …

2019, Movies

The 2019 Toronto International Film Festival

Once again I only saw 5 movies this year. As with previous years, the reason for that will become apparent in a month or so. But, as usual, we managed to do a pretty good job picking movies and only saw movie I wouldn’t recommend seeing, which is a pretty good ratio.

2019, Movies

Incitement (2019, Yaron Zilberman)

This is a nearly flawless dramatization of the radicalization of the man who assassinated Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. It is apparently the film time a film has been made about the assassination, likely because of how raw the wound still is 25 years later. But I would say that this is absolutely the film to …

2019, Movies

Lyrebird (2019, Dan Friedkin)

Do you ever watch a film with high production values and, from the opening scenes, you’re thinking, ‘this is is not going to be good’? Well, Lyrebird is such a movie. It’s the kind of movie you spend wondering if it’s the director’s first film (it is) because nothing works like it’s supposed to. SPOILERS …

2019, Movies

Mano de obra [aka Workforce] (2019, David Zonana)

This a very well-made, fascinating drama about manual labourers in Mexico City which threatens to become a thriller but consistently subverts your expectations and ends up having more in common with classical tragedy. It’s a debut, so I was very wary of choosing to see it, but this is a remarkably self-assured film. I strongly …

2019, Movies

Heroic Losers (2019, Sebastián Borensztein)

This is an enjoyable, albeit flawed, heist comedy about a group of townspeople whose dreams of resurrecting their town’s granary are devastated by the “Corralito”, a reaction to a run on the banks during the Argentine Great Depression. It’s hits the standard heist movie beats, but it is refreshing both because of how funny it …

2017, Movies

TIFF 2017: One of Us (2017, Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady)

I have seen a few Ewing-Grady documentaries so far and I have always found they tackle fascinating subjects but I have never loved the way in which they tackle them. Though I appreciate their attempts at breaking outside of documentary norms and customs (to a degree) I also sometimes find their attempts to do so …

2017, Movies

TIFF 2017 Racer and the Jailbird (2017, Michaël R. Roskam)

This is an entertaining, albeit slight, amalgam of the bank heist genre with one of those romances where the two alpha leads, who do risky things in their professional lives, fall in love with each other, but which is pretty much entirely ruined by an absolutely bonkers left turn (well, a series of left turns) …

2017, Daily Log, Personal

TIFF 2017: Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood (2017, Matt Trynauer)

This is a very conventional documentary about a man who claims to have been a pimp and a prostitute in Hollywood for 3-4 decades.

2017, Movies

Tiff 2017: The Death of Stalin (2017, Armando Iannucci)

Iannucci’s new film is, as I understand it, a bit of a left turn for him: it’s an adaptation of a graphic novel based upon the real event of the title. Though I had no such fears, one could be understandably trepidacious about Iannucci turning his satirical eye to something historically accurate.

2016, Movies

City of Tiny Lights (2016, Pete Travis)

City of Tiny Lights takes a really traditional noir story (some might say tired) and ingeniously transplants it to contemporary London, in particular a multi-ethnic, predominantly Muslim neighbourhood. All the classic noir tropes are here but in a completely new form. SPOILERS

2016, Movies

ABACUS: Small Enough to Jail (2016, Steve James)

This film is about the only bank – the only bank! – to be indicted for mortgage fraud in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. It tells the story of a bank in New York City’s Chinatown which detected loan fraud, fired the employee responsible, reported the fraud to their regulator, fired additional employees …

2016, Movies

The Unknown Girl (2016, Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne)

This is one of those European “social realist” dramas that are extremely deliberately paced, feature no score and alienate a lot of North Americans because it feels like “nothing happens.” (Par for the course: there were plenty of walk-outs.) It’s unfortunate that so many of us over here feel like a film about a death …

2016, Movies

Just Not Married (2016, Uduak-Obong Patrick)

This film means well. It tells the age-old story of an elder (an older brother in this case) trying to prevent a younger family member following him into a life of crime. Many of the elements from these stories are present, and some of them are handled well. And it’s funny, at times.

2016, Movies

Catfight (2016, Onur Tukel)

Catfight is a confused, tonally inconsistent film built around the idea of an ongoing feud between two women without weapons. At some level, I guess the premise is interesting, given that these movies nearly almost always feature men (or families, or gangs). But the execution is so inconsistent that it feels as though this was …

2014, Movies

The 50 Year Argument (2014, Martin Scorsese, David Tedeschi)

Scorsese and Tedeschi’s film about the New York Review of Books is not a documentary about the magazine so much as it is a love letter to it. (To be fair, in the subsequent conversation, Scorsese said he wasn’t interested in “conventional” documentaries – that is documentaries as journalism. Rather he wants to make Cinema.) …

2014, Movies

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (2014, Roy Andersson)

This is the third of Andersson’s trilogy about “being human” or something like that. I haven’t seen the first. I have seen the second, You, the Living.

2014, Movies

Cut Snake (2014, Tony Ayres)

Cut Snake is an interesting but flawed attempt to update classic Hollywood film noir with better characterizations (for lack of a better word). We’ve got some classic tropes: a mysterious man “without a past” so to speak, a femme fatale – only, in a neat twist, this one’s a man! and bad decisions. Unfortunately, the …