FNC ’21 Review: ‘Wildhood’ is a tender coming of age tale

No good comes from denying the self. If it seems like a thing easier said than done, that’s because it is. Living in a trailer park with his abusive father and staring down a road or petty crime and everything that follows, Wildhood is the story of a young man who is in so much self-denial that he is dying his hair blond in an effort to distance himself from his indigenous heritage, and that’s before he even begins to examine his sexuality.

Continue reading “FNC ’21 Review: ‘Wildhood’ is a tender coming of age tale”

FNC ’21 Review: ‘The White Fortress’ sets young love among a divided city

The White Fortress

Young love set against a backdrop of crime is a tale as old as time. In The White Fortress, the story is set in modern-day Sarajevo and follows a young man called Faruk (Pavle Čemerikić) as he navigates the current realities of growing up poor in the politically divided city.

Continue reading “FNC ’21 Review: ‘The White Fortress’ sets young love among a divided city”

VIFF ’21 Review: ‘Bootlegger’ is a gorgeously shot story of findings one’s place

Bootlegger

A young woman returns to her small, rural community and begins to effect change. It’s a setup as old as the movies themselves and one we love to return to because so much can be mined from this kind of setup. In Bootlegger, a young woman returns to the reserve she called home as a child and begins a campaign to open up the sale of alcohol, free the community from some amount of the oppression they face.

It’s a gorgeously shot and very Canadian story.

Continue reading “VIFF ’21 Review: ‘Bootlegger’ is a gorgeously shot story of findings one’s place”

Review: ‘I’m Your Man’ brings a new twist to a familiar trope, to excellent effect

I'm Your Man

The exploration of love between a human and artificial intelligence is by no means a new concept. Whether we’re talking a voice in an earphone like Her, or a captive innocent as in Ex Machina, or any number of Star Trek plotlines, it has been done before. This time around, though, it’s not a matter of whether a machine can love, but whether having a partner made to order to fulfil all your needs will actually fulfil all of your needs.

Continue reading “Review: ‘I’m Your Man’ brings a new twist to a familiar trope, to excellent effect”

VIFF ’21 Review: ‘Petite Maman’ is a warm hug on a rainy day and one of the best films of the year

Petite Maman

While there is a myriad of ways to describe Petite Maman, the effect that it has on the viewer is one of a warm hug. It’s a ray of sunshine through the leaves of a forest on a rainy day. This is my way of saying that it is wonderful and you should watch it, regardless of what I am going to say in the following few paragraphs. Director Céline Sciamma has created another emotionally resonant film and a worthy follow up to Portrait of a Lady on Fire.

Continue reading “VIFF ’21 Review: ‘Petite Maman’ is a warm hug on a rainy day and one of the best films of the year”

Review: ‘Mass’ tackles the pain and grief of the aftermath of a school shooting with four powerhouse performances

Mass

There are few topics so sensitive in American than that of mass shootings. All too common, they plunge entire communities into a disarray of astonishment, grief, and a desperate need for answers that will likely never come. Fran Kranz, best known to me as a series of stoner characters in various genre films and series, aims to tackle at least some of these feelings in his debut feature as a director, Mass, which sees the parents of a high school shooter face to face with the parents of one of the victims. Let me tell you, folks: it’s a hell of a debut.

Continue reading “Review: ‘Mass’ tackles the pain and grief of the aftermath of a school shooting with four powerhouse performances”

VIFF ’21 Review: ‘Belfast’ is a crowd pleasing but personal film from Kenneth Branagh

BELFAST (2021)

The Troubles, as they are so politely referred to, have had an indelible impact on Northern Ireland and the people who live there. Yes, that is the understatement of the decade, but while we think about the 30-year conflict in very broad terms, generally, outside of that country, we often don’t think about the real human impact. Kenneth Branagh is one of those people, and with Belfast, he seeks to tell the story of his families well as part of the story of Northern Ireland at large.

Continue reading “VIFF ’21 Review: ‘Belfast’ is a crowd pleasing but personal film from Kenneth Branagh”

Review: ‘No Time To Die’ gives Daniel Craig an emotional ending to his time as James Bond

No Time To Die

It is the end of an era. No Time To Die, the 25th entry in the James Bond franchise and the last to feature Daniel Craig as the titular superspy, is finally here after several pandemic related delays. It has been a long time coming; in fact, this has been one of the most prolonged periods without a Jame Bond film since the franchise began back in 1962. The question then becomes, “Is this film worth the wait?” and the answer to that is a resounding “yes.”

Continue reading “Review: ‘No Time To Die’ gives Daniel Craig an emotional ending to his time as James Bond”

VIFF ’21 Review: ‘Tin Can’ is a great example of doing a lot with limited resources

Tin Can

In the not too distant future, a global outbreak of a parasitic fungus is devastating humankind. Not content to merely kill you, it latches onto your body, sprouts growths and spores, and changes you into something else entirely. This is the world of Tin Can, one that is in many ways not unlike our own: a world with a raging pandemic, with some people who want to solve the problem and some content merely to avoid it.

As ever, the cinema of the age of COVID-19 speculates what a world might look like under similar circumstances to ours, and Tin Can takes a look at one of those dark futures.

Continue reading “VIFF ’21 Review: ‘Tin Can’ is a great example of doing a lot with limited resources”

VIFF ’21 Review: ‘Memoria’ is an experience

Memoria

Apichatpong Weerasethakul is a unique filmmaker with only a few films under his belt, but each of them garnering widespread acclaim, probably most notably with 2010s Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, for which he won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Memoria is the first film he has made outside of his native Thailand, and the first time he has worked with an international cast. While the film is beautifully shot and singular in its vision, it’s also overlong, incredibly indulgent, and will reach into your soul and pull out… something.

Continue reading “VIFF ’21 Review: ‘Memoria’ is an experience”

VIFF ’21 Review: ‘Flee’ harnesses the power of animation to give its true story a greater impact

Flee

Documentary filmmaking is some of our most crucial filmmaking. They tell stories of our world and the people that live in it. How, though, do you tell a story that has no images, no film, or any talking heads to back it up. One standard route is to turn the story into fiction. Another, taken this year by director Jonas Poher Rasmussen, is to animate the story his friend is telling him, which turns out to be just as powerful a choice.

Continue reading “VIFF ’21 Review: ‘Flee’ harnesses the power of animation to give its true story a greater impact”

VIFF ’21 Review: ‘Paris, 13th District’ is a gorgeous, if slightly thin, look at how we deal with trauma

Paris, 13th District

The first thing you will notice is the cinematography. Shot in elegant black and white, the camera in Paris, 13th District (Les Olympiades, en Francais) is a character unto itself, peering into the windows and lives of the residential towers of the district before settling on three to follow. The camera then follows them, like a close friend, and while the resulting film is lightly paced and slight with the details, it never doesn’t feel intimate and empathetic.

Continue reading “VIFF ’21 Review: ‘Paris, 13th District’ is a gorgeous, if slightly thin, look at how we deal with trauma”

VIFF ’21 Review: ‘Official Competition’ is a savvy, hilarious satire

Official Competition

The best comedies are the ones with depth. The ones that layer together stories and satire and lay bare what the filmmakers feel about whatever subject they are tackling. Official Competition is one of these films.

The film opens in the wake of a billionaires birthday party, a man looking back on his 80 years and wondering about his legacy. What can he do to ensure he’s remembered? An idea comes to him: a film; A great film. A film directed by and starring the greatest talent available and drawing on a beloved novel as its source. Or maybe a bridge. A bridge would be good. But no, a film is the way to go, and he impulsively buys the rights to a noble prize-winning book, hires an award-winning art-house director, and the two greatest actors of this generation. Of course, when I say he does it impulsively, I mean he has his assistant do it.

Continue reading “VIFF ’21 Review: ‘Official Competition’ is a savvy, hilarious satire”