Tagged TIFF

TIFF Review: Joker (Phillips, 2019)

I was not originally planning to see Joker during the festival, but when it won the Golden Lion in Venice, I was curious. No doubt many other critics were, too. And so it was that we all dragged ourselves to one of the two concurrent press screenings of the film on a Tuesday morning, wondering…

TIFF Review: Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Sciamma, 2019)

It’s 2019 and a new lesbian romance has set hearts alight—and cooled many others. Quite reminiscent of the critical discourse that surrounded Todd Haynes’ Carol in 2015, Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire has evoked passionate reactions from the majority of film critics who have seen it, while its naysayers have largely sung the same…

TIFF Review: Bacurau (Mendonça Filho & Dornelles, 2019)

Kleber Mendonça Filho is one of the most exciting filmmakers working today—and Bacurau is only his third feature. Despite his minimal output thus far, I do believe I’m right in saying so. His debut, Neighboring Sounds, is a remarkably lived-in tapestry of a working-class neighbourhood in the grips of a heatwave, while Aquarius is a decade-spanning rumination on…

TIFF Review: Waves (Shults, 2019)

I can understand Waves at a conceptual level, but try as I might, I can’t take to its concrete, finished form. Beyond the audaciousness of slamming us right into the high-maintenance world of high school wrestler Tyler (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), the various methods Shults employs to depict his demanding routine, secretive love life, and eventual breakdown—whether…

TIFF Review: The Whistlers (Porumboiu, 2019)

I would not call The Whistlers one of the best entries in the emerging Romanian New Wave canon, though that doesn’t take away from what Corneliu Porumboiu does well. His darkly acerbic humour migrates from his previous works, this film being particularly reminiscent of Police, Adjective in the way he revisits the crime genre and continues to…

TIFF Review: Zombi Child (Bonello, 2019)

I would not expect Bertrand Bonello to do anything less than what he does with Zombi Child, his first feature since the polarizing Nocturama—and, on the face of it, a much less ambitious project in terms of physical scope. Unlike the expensive shopping mall that serves as Nocturama’s apex, the production design here is minimal,…

TIFF Review: Synonyms (Lapid, 2019)

Bleak and oblique, Nadiv Lapid’s Synonyms trains us on the most curious of subjects: an attractive man in a mustard overcoat who wanders the streets of Paris muttering an incantation of random words. Some he obsessively conjugates; others trip out of his mouth like a nonsensical nursery rhyme. His voice curls around them precisely, though there…

TIFF Review: Workforce (Zonana, 2019)

There have been a few tweets comparing Workforce to Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, and they’re not wrong. No, it’s not the high-octane barnburner that Bong’s film is, nor does it juggle as many tonal contours. David Zonana’s film is more sedate and realist in nature, though it does tackle similar themes like the bitterness of class warfare,…

TIFF Review: The Personal History of David Copperfield (Iannucci, 2019)

Dickens enthusiasts can breathe a sigh of relief: Armando Iannucci has not turned their beloved novel into an R-rated barrage of f-bombs, a trait which has so defined his filmmaking career that one of the audience members at my screening referred to it as making “symphony from swears.” This is his family-friendly gift to the…

TIFF Review: Synchronic (Moorhead & Benson, 2019)

The premise here is certainly promising: a dangerous synthetic drug that takes lives in an unusual way, altering users’ biological makeup so much that they literally fall back in time and die at the hands of whatever they find there. This also felt like a good opportunity to comment on the ongoing opioid epidemic in…

TIFF Review: To the Ends of the Earth (Kurosawa, 2019)

I do not know exactly why the main character in Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s To the Ends of the Earth sings the Japanese version of Édith Piaf’s “L’hymne à l’amour” not once, but twice, though I can venture a good guess. Yoko (Atsuko Maeda) professes late into the film that her dream career is to be a singer…

TIFF Review: Proxima (Winocour, 2019)

In a sea of space-related stories being released this year, Proxima stands solemnly alone, more content to dramatize the internal turmoil of the preparation process than carve an insurmountable hole in its budget for a lot of realistic special effects. In a way, this is refreshing. The intense training it takes for would-be astronauts to…

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…