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.

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Review: ‘Titane’ is one of the most unforgettable cinema-going experiences of the year

Titane

Let me say that at least some of what you have heard about Titane is true. I can’t tell you which parts because I don’t know which parts you have heard, but yes, they’re true. They’re all true. This film is a singular work and one of the most original and absurd, and touching films of the year. While I can’t promise that it will work for all of you, what I can promise is that seeing it will be one of the most memorable cinema-going experiences you have.

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VIFF ’21 Review: ‘Night Raiders’ draws on Canada’s dark past to imagine a dark future

Night Raiders

Canada has a certain reputation that we like to uphold. We’re viewed as America’s nice neighbour, as the reasonable ones. The thoughtful and the multicultural ones. If you’re from here, though, you know that Canada’s reputation is not as deserved as we would like you to think it is, and we have a dark history of racism and colonialism that persists to this day.

This is the history that writer and director Danis Goulet draws on to imagine the post-apocalyptic world of Night Raiders, one in which the legacy of Canada’s treatment of indigenous people –and the Residential School system in particular– is drawn out to its logical darkest endpoint.

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Review: ‘Pig’ is not the movie you are expecting, but is one of the best movies of the year

Pig

Nicolas Cage is something of an enigma. I don’t think that it is either surprising or a revelation to say that, but the man is one of the only true movie stars we currently have. He is known for his near-constant output as an actor, and for being willing to appear in just about anything. This volume of work is not always great (though it’s never exactly boring), but the one thing it accomplishes is that as a result we sometimes forget that he’s a really great actor.

In Pig, his latest film, he reminds us. Before I launch into this review, I should say this: Pig is one of my favourite movies of the year so far, and I firmly believe that you should see it as cold as possible.

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Review: ‘In The Earth’ ventures into the woods and the darkness

In The Earth

Film from this time period is going to be interesting. Much like the years after wars or the September 11th attacks, the ongoing worldwide COVID-19 pandemic can’t not have an impact on the art we produce. Some of that is going to be in the form of movies about viruses. Others, like this one, are going to be about how scary is can be to go outside and see people again.

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Review: ‘The Mauritanian’ features a strong central performance stuck in a bog-standard legal drama

The Mauritanian

It’s no secret that the United States has done some terrible things in the wake of the September 11th, 2001 attacks. Nearly 800 people were detained at Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp –which, for the record, remains open still– without due process. They have been subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques”, a bland euphemism for torture. In violation of both international agreements and the united states constitution, these prisoners rights were ignored and their persons abused. The entire affair was –and continues to be– a blight on American history.

The Mauritanian tells the story of one of these people. Mohamedou Ould Salahi (played by Tahar Rahim) was held at Guantanamo for 14 years. His memoir, written while in detention, became the basis for this movie, in which his harrowing story is hiding inside a legal drama we’ve all seen before.

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