From Reviews

TIFF Review: A Hidden Life (Malick, 2019)

When there is evil before our eyes, it is astonishing to witness firsthand how some people either ignore it or twist it into something beneficial to themselves. A character in Terrence Malick’s latest epic asks lamentably why it is no one sees this evil before them (i.e. the Nazis), but perhaps it’s not a question…

TIFF Review: The Lighthouse (Eggers, 2019)

Robert Eggers delivered a memorable frightfest when he debuted The Witch in 2015, introducing Black Phillip into our collective consciousness. His follow-up is another period horror film, sans demonic goats this time around, but one still brewing with other mysterious entities: blind seagulls, screaming mermaids, tentacled krakens, and a lighthouse beacon that dazzles (and unravels)…

TIFF Capsule Review: White Lie (Lewis & Thomas, 2019)

There are far more questions than answers when you walk away from White Lie, the latest from writer-directors Yonah Lewis and Calvin Thomas. That’s because the titular white lie told by Katie Arneson (a fabulous Kacey Rohl) is not white at all—in fact, she’s faking cancer and running sham fundraisers for profit, and will go…

TIFF Review: Jallikattu (Pellissery, 2019)

Malayalam director Lijo Jose Pellissery takes us on a frenzied spiral into the heart of darkness in his latest blood-pumping thrill ride Jallikattu. As the opening title cards explain, the Indian tradition of the Jallikattu is a spectacle in which brave participants cling to a bull’s back and try to ride it as long as…

Luce (Onah, 2019)

Luce is a film that abounds in absences, the foremost being the absence of our certainties. There are moments where dread circulates simply because intentions cannot be read, thereby thwarting expectations from forming completely. Motivations are left blank slates; line readings are cryptic, suggesting nothing definitive. It really is a film that comes down to your…

Vita & Virginia (Button, 2018)

Virginia Woolf is one of the greatest writers of all time, and certainly one of my favourite authors. It was, then, with much anticipation that I waited for news about Vita & Virginia to arrive out of last year’s Toronto International Film Festival—and I was disappointed when word of mouth wasn’t strong. But I had already made…

The Lion King (Favreau, 2019)

I have criticized Disney remakes in the past for their pointlessness; I have also given some a pass for their ability to entertain. The Lion King is not only a black hole of entertainment, it even goes beyond the realm of pointlessness. It makes no logical sense. It wants these animals to be majestic and lifelike beings.…

The Souvenir (Hogg, 2019)

I have read criticisms of Joanna Hogg’s formal austerity, particularly as it pertains to audience connection. What good is it, they say, if the film purposely frustrates our ability to unlock these characters and their milieus? Why watch these lives if we are prevented from fully accessing them? And it’s true, Hogg is not keen…

The Beach Bum (Korine, 2019)

When you hear the call of Harmony Korine, you are likely to either turn away or heed it. I can understand why some impulsively have no interest in him, especially considering the uncompromising oddness of his earlier works, which repulse as much as they fascinate with their brazen crudity and abject shocks to the system.…

Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood (Tarantino, 2019)

Please note that this review includes spoilers about the film’s conclusion. Fairy tales are the spaces in which our childhoods dream. Their worlds are enormous in their specificity, for the greater the specificity, the greater our imaginations roam free. They contain both the mystical and the practical. They use the lives of people far above…

Apollo 11 (Miller, 2019)

It’s so gratifying to go into a documentary and not have to be talked at for two hours. For those that feel differently, there are many other films you can watch about the Apollo 11 mission that have the traditional talking heads in place. They can give you better explanations and direct testimony about the…

Yesterday (Boyle, 2019)

The premise of Yesterday works in some respects. Imagining a world without a particular cultural commodity, with all its associated prestige and iconography, can yield intriguing implications—especially if a few select people still know such a commodity once existed. The route Yesterday takes is the easiest: what if one of those people assumed creatorship of the commodity and reaped…

Weekly Spotlight #13: On Dangerous Ground (Ray & Lupino, 1951)

In this weekly series, The Lonely Film Critic highlights an older release of interest, whether it be an oft-overlooked gem or a classic worth revisiting. On tap for this week is another lesser-known noir from the 1950s, lushly directed by the great Nicholas Ray and with uncredited assistance from star Ida Lupino.

Knife+Heart (Gonzalez, 2018)

Yann Gonzalez wants the giallo to make a modern comeback, and honestly? I’m here for it. Knife+Heart revels in all the genre’s sleazy elements, including the impressionistic uses of vivid colour, ambient soundscapes (courtesy of synthpop band M83), and that irresistible slasher/stalker element that puts all the characters in vulnerable spots as a bloodthirsty killer lurks in…

Hotel by the River (Hong, 2018)

Hong Sang-soo continues to go from strength to strength as a filmmaker, with his latest offering, Hotel by the River, landing as one of his strongest achievements to date. It sees him testing the limits of his style and thematic proclivities in ways that still continually surprise. His camerawork, for instance, is more urgent and involved…