Katia and Maurice Krafft were rockstars in the field of volcanology. Among the earliest scientists to extensively film and photograph active and erupting volcanos, and often got as close as possible to the magma flows in an age when the unpredictability of the geological activity kept everyone else hundreds of feet away.
It is this love affair –both with each other and with volcanoes– Fire of Love takes a deep dive. This was a couple deeply committed to their field, one that had indeed found something they loved and thus never worked, but filmmaker Sara Dosa is able to paint a compelling portrait through their work.
Continue reading “Hot Docs ’22: ‘Fire of Love’ paints a portrait of love in magma”
In the film Gattaca, there is a scene where a set of new parents are consulting a doctor about genetically altering the baby they wish to conceive. When they posit that maybe it’s better to leave a few things to chance, the doctor scoffs and tells them they want to give their baby the best possible start. The film is a warning about the kind of future that genetic engineering and eugenics could create. That hasn’t stopped us from researching this science, though, and in 2018 Dr He Jiankui (JK for short), a geneticist in China, created the first genetically edited human embryos.
Make People Better follows the story of JK in two parallel tracks. One in the build-up to this achievement discusses the ethical implications of literally making people better—the other counts down toward JKs eventual arrest and disappearance by the Chinese government.
Continue reading “Hot Docs ’22: ‘Make People Better’ leans too hard into being a thriller but remains compelling nonetheless”
Where do the things we make go when we’re done with them? It’s a question that we too often don’t ask ourselves, along with what the long term effects are of what we do with our old stuff. Scrap doesn’t have any easy answers, but the new film from director Stacey Tenenbaum does offer a fascinating glimpse at a part of our modern world that we prefer not to think about.
Continue reading “Hot Docs ’22: Scrap is a thoughtful meditation on the things we build”
In the 1950s and 60s, researchers at UCLA conducted a study into sex disorders. The resulting archive of data contains a cross-section of trans history in the form of interviews conducted with the study’s participants. One of the participants -a woman known only as Agnes- used the study to receive gender-affirming care and then seemingly disappeared.
With Framing Agnes, director Chase Joynt takes a handful of the stories collected in the UCLA study and presents them to the audience. The interviews themselves are re-framed as interviews on a late-night talk show and performed by trans performers. The performers themselves, along with trans researcher and advocate Jules Gill-Peterson, are also given the opportunity to reflect on the people they are portraying as well as their own life experiences.
The former is a brilliant take. Unfortunately, the latter interrupts the stories that we really want to hear. To put it more succinctly: Framing Agnes fails to get out of its own way.
Continue reading “Hot Docs ’22: Framing Agnes obscures its own powerful premise and story”
One of, if not the, best-known monsters in indigenous folklore are the Wendigo. Once men, their souls corrupted after turning to cannibalism, they stalk people who enter their territory and devour them, their hunger insatiable. This is the creature that Matthieu (Samuel ‘Samian’ Tremblay) faces in L’inhumain, but whether it’s the monster is up for debate.
Continue reading “Review: L’Inhumain explores inner turmoil using a mythic monster”
Comics are weird. There’s no denying this simple fact, and there’s no use trying. This fact is universal and can be a barrier to entry for new fans. Sometimes 50 years of lore is a lot to wrap your head around. One of the great strengths of Marvel’s ongoing cinematic universe is that initially, at least, it distilled all that lore into something easier to swallow. Twenty-plus films later, its greatest strength is that when a new character walks onto the screen and says, “I’m a man with split personalities, one of whom in the warrior avatar of the Egyptian moon god Khonshu and I’m here to punish the wicked” most people’s reaction will be “sure, that makes sense.”
Of course, this can also be a flaw –as it is with Marvel’s latest series– in which there is so little explanation that there is almost no reason to care. There is no trial by which Oscar Isaac’s Marc Spectre obtained his powers or much in explaining his back story; he walks on-screen fully formed. Well, half-formed, because if you glossed over it in the previous paragraph, this is a man with multiple identities. This show is, in a word, a lot.
Being a lot isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, but while there are many things to love in this series, there are just as many that make it a complicated watch.
Continue reading “Marvel’s Moon Knight is a bit disjointed”
The opening moments of the latest movie from Japan’s Studio 4°C are quite the thing: from the depths of space, a streaking red heart burns through the cosmos and buries itself into a very familiar planet. Landing directly in a landfill dump, it draws scraps of metal and canvas towards itself, gradually forming into something that starts to resemble a man. This striking setup beautifully sets the scene for a charming story of friendship and loss, with only a few hiccups along the way.
Continue reading “Review: ‘Poupelle Of Chimney Town’ is a sweet adventure that loses something in translation”
There are many theories about the missing 18 1/2 minutes of Richard Nixon’s White House recordings. At a time of heightened controversy –thanks to Watergate and the ensuing investigations– the gap in recordings created a convenient slot into which a persons conspiracy theory of choice might fit.
Dan Mirvish’s new film 18 1/2 explores a quaint, yet zany, moment of alternate history where the tape itself was taped and a young transcriptionist secrets it away from the White House to listen to it with a journalist. Hilarity ensues when they check into a small town motel to do just that.
Continue reading “WFF ’21 Review: ’18 1/2′ is an amusing genre mashup”
There’s a whole world of sexual proclivities out there. The world of the dominatrix and the submissive is represented in media fairly thoroughly but often without much depth. A Wicked Eden changes that, taking a deep dive into the world of Alexandra Snow, a popular dominatrix.
Continue reading “WFF ’21 Quick Review: ‘A Wicked Eden’ offers a glimpse into a fascinating world”
Devotion to a church or a cause is, for many people, a true calling in life. Those who join the priesthood describe hearing a call to that life and dedicate their lives to it. On the island of Malta, a tiny island nation in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, it is also a tradition that when a man hears that call, his younger sister goes with him. In theory, this is to devote her life to the church. In practice, it appears that it is to ensure that the new priest has a servant.
In Carmen, Natascha McElhone plays such a woman; having lived a life of servitude since she was 16 and set free 34 years later when he brother dies, suddenly she has to rediscover her own life and desires. What follows is a lovely journey of self-discovery that takes Carmen around the sun-drenched, 1980s set Maltese countryside.
Continue reading “WFF ’21 Review: ‘Carmen’ is a lovely story of self-rediscovery and empowerment”
Climate change is real. I can’t believe this is a thing that we still have to debate in the 2020s, but there is a not-insignificant portion of people –or at least people in positions of power– who seem content to let it happen in the name of high-profit margins, and have found a multitude of ways to distract the populace into either ignorance or obliviousness.
This is also the plot of Adam McKay’s new film Don’t Look Up, which presents a world not unlike our own that happens to have a planet-killing comet headed directly toward it and a and of scientists unable to convince the world to do anything about it. Subtle, this movie is not. Of course, subtly isn’t a requirement for a satire in the form of a pitch-black comedy, but you know what is? Humour. Unfortunately, this movie isn’t humorous either.
Continue reading “Review: ‘Don’t Look Up’ is angry at the right things, but lacks focus”
Every country has their extraordinary criminals, and Canada is no different. One key difference with notorious contract killer Gerald Gallant though, is just how ordinary he otherwise was. Living a mostly quiet suburban life, he carried out 27 hits (and attempted 12 more) in 25 years and went almost entirely unnoticed. Confessions of a Hitman chronicles that life and its absurd banality with Luc Picard in both the starring role and the director’s chair.
Continue reading “WFF ’21 Review: ‘Confessions of a Hitman’ paints a portrait of a man you’d never suspect”
Parenthood is both rewarding and demanding. It’s the most challenging and awesome responsibility you can take on as a person. This is not lost on any of the characters in The Lost Daughter.
Continue reading “Review: ‘The Lost Daughter’ has three stellar performances in a drama about motherhood”
Grief affects everyone differently. Some of us find resolve, some not so much—some of us the latter, then the former. Run Woman Run is a story of grief about one woman’s journey to put herself back together after a loss.
Continue reading “WFF ’21 Review: ‘Run Woman Run’ is a lovely story of rediscovering self-worth”
You know the rest of the saying. The wrath of a wronged woman is a fabled thing, and in this film, Nina Bergman’s Marie is betrayed by just about everyone she has ever met. The lover of a nazi officer, betrayed by the resistance, branded as a collaborator by the townspeople, and rescued by a group of US soldiers who are only interested in the cache of nazi gold, she happens to know the location of. So yes, she’s royally pissed.
Continue reading “Review: ‘Hell Hath No Fury’ is a Fun, Nasty, Scrappy B-Movie”