TIFF Review: Martin Eden (Marcello, 2019)

The newly-minted Platform Prize winner out of TIFF (which comes with a cool $20,000 payday) is Pietro Marcello’s stylish adaptation of Jack London’s 1909 novel Martin Eden, a work that has fallen into relative obscurity in North America but continues to be taught and read in Europe. For those unfamiliar with the book, it is…

TIFF Review: I Am Woman (Moon, 2019)

Helen Reddy is no longer a household name for the current generation, but for baby boomers in the 1970s she was a feminist icon after her hit single “I Am Woman” was co-opted by the women’s liberation movement as its unofficial anthem. It is a cheesy song by today’s standards, with lyrics referring to birthing…

TIFF Review: About Endlessness (Andersson, 2019)

The uniquely absurd and painterly vision of Roy Andersson is unlike any other in contemporary cinema, so it is always an event when the director brings out a new work to share with neophytes and admirers alike. About Endlessness (which recently netted him the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival) is, much like his…

TIFF Review: Sibyl (Triet, 2019)

The sibyls of Ancient Greece foretold prophesies and supposedly had intimate connections with the deities, with most of those deities hailing from the underworld. Justine Triet’s protagonist Sibyl could be seen in similar terms. She is, after all, a psychotherapist whose “prophesies” are rooted in psychology rather than spirituality, but she is still closely linked…

TIFF Review: Jordan River Anderson, the Messenger (Obomsawin, 2019)

A spiritual sequel of sorts to her 2016 documentary We Can’t Make the Same Mistake Twice, celebrated First Nations filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin once again delves into the contested issues of healthcare and welfare pertaining to Canada’s Indigenous children with Jordan River Anderson, the Messenger. Despite a modest runtime of 65 minutes, Obomsawin is able to…

TIFF Review: The Truth (Kore-eda, 2019)

Hirokazu Kore-eda broke his long tradition of attending TIFF premieres last year for Shoplifters because he was busy preparing The Truth—his first film made and set outside of Japan, with an international cast that includes screen titans Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche and Ethan Hawke. A recipe, by all accounts, for success after his Palme d’Or glory. And…

TIFF Review: Ordinary Love (Barros D’Sa & Leyburn, 2019)

The original title of the Owen-McCafferty penned Ordinary Love was Normal People, but because a Sally Rooney novel utilized the same title last year, it had to be changed. Nevertheless, the kernel of McCafferty’s truth can be found in these title choices. This film chronicles a couple you would encounter on a daily walk, or on…

TIFF Review: Atlantics (Diop, 2019)

After being denied pay again at his construction job, Suleiman (Ibrahima Traoré) hears the ocean calling to him as he and his coworkers make their way home. Mati Diop floods the speakers with a siren-like drone as the Atlantic laps and curls on the Senegalese shore. It is dangerous and unknowable, the horizon melting off…

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.…