Angelo Muredda

TIFF 2023 | Achilles (Farhad Delaram, Iran/Germany/France) — Discovery

By Angelo Muredda  “I want to do something but I can’t,” ex-filmmaker Farid (Mirsaeed Molavian) tells his estranged wife early in Achilles, Farhad Delaram’s road-movie fable about breaking through political repression and administrative corruption in present-day Iran. Delaram’s directorial debut takes its title from Farid’s self-styled nickname. Like his mythological namesake, the aloof orthotist who…
Read More

TIFF 2023 | Backspot (D.W. Waterson, Canada) — Discovery

By Angelo Muredda “You need to be a brick shithouse,” steely cheerleading coach Eileen (Evan Rachel Wood) scolds her neurotic new charge Riley (Devery Jacobs) in D.W. Waterson’s Backspot, an overstuffed but energetic youth sports drama that has just enough texture to stand out. Whether Riley takes that advice or finds another way to live…
Read More

TIFF 2023 | God Is a Woman (Andrés Peyrot, France / Switzerland / Panama) — TIFF Docs

French filmmaker and ethnographer Pierre-Dominique Gaisseau’s unfinished portrait of the Kuna people becomes the scene of a postcolonial autopsy in Andrés Peyrot’s absorbing documentary God Is a Woman. Peyrot’s film follows the contemporary interventions of Kuna elders and intellectuals such as poet and professor Arysteides Turpana and filmmaker Orgun Wagua, who seek to restore, contextualize, and screen Gaisseau’s footage to the community whose images were distorted and plundered for Western consumption in the original, unreleased documentary.  
Read More

TIFF 2023 | I Don’t Know Who You Are (M.H. Murray, Canada) — Discovery

By Angelo Muredda  A sexual assault sends a young Toronto musician into a frantic two-day scramble to pay for HIV-prevention meds in M.H. Murray’s compelling feature debut, I Don’t Know Who You Are. What starts as a gentle account of Benjamin (Mark Clennon, also the story editor) ambling through a budding romance with new love…
Read More

TIFF 2023 | In the Rearview (Maciek Hamela, Poland/France/Ukraine) — TIFF Docs

Polish documentarian Maciek Hamela captures the devastation as well as the complicated hope of life in transit in In the Rearview, a record of his efforts to transport hundreds of Ukrainian refugees into Poland following the Russian invasion in early 2022.
Read More

TIFF 2023 | Memory (Michel Franco, US/Mexico) — Special Presentations

By Angelo Muredda Volpi Cup winner Peter Sarsgaard comes down with a serious case of movie dementia, the romantic kind that makes you look more rakish in a blazer and scarf the sicker you get, in Michel Franco’s Memory. Though ostensibly a kinder Franco than the one who made After Lucia and New Order, the…
Read More

TIFF 2023 | Mimang (Kim Taeyang, South Korea) — Discovery

By Angelo Muredda The more Seoul changes, the more it stays the same in Kim Taeyang’s understated and striking debut Mimang, which tracks the shifting fortunes and life milestones of a young illustrator and a film lecturer over a series of walks and drives through the city. Bantering and flirting, they muse about romantic and…
Read More

The Adults (Dustin Guy Defa, US)

Though The Adults is at times diminished more than it’s enriched by its echoes of other texts about wayward children skulking back to their childhood home, as well as family narratives about faded talents with arrested development (including the same-named series wherein a teenaged Cera reads as precocious as he is dissipated here), the film has enough of Defa’s own peculiar, spiky tenderness to set it apart.
Read More

Enys Men (Mark Jenkin, UK)

By Angelo Muredda A woman’s observation that lichen has started to grow on a flower she’s been studying for weeks counts as bold narrative progress in Mark Jenkin’s decidedly low-stakes folk-horror curio, Enys Men. Shot in the same striking, hand-processed 16mm stock and set in the same seaside milieu as the director’s lauded feature debut…
Read More

TIFF 2022 | Charcoal (Carolina Markowicz, Brazil/Argentina) — Platform

By Angelo Muredda A corrupt deal with a mysterious nurse who brings death rather than life unravels a tightly wound family in Carolina Markowicz’s ambitious and sometimes inscrutable first feature, Charcoal, which is pitched somewhere between a fable, a comedy of errors, and a satire of Brazilian family values and faith as a refuge from…
Read More

TIFF 2022 | El Suplente (Diego Lerman, Argentina/Italy/Mexico/Spain/France) — Special Presentations

By Angelo Muredda Argentine filmmaker Diego Lerman makes a satisfying if derivative riff on To Sir, With Love (1967) with El Suplente, a slow-burning social-realist drama about an educator in Buenos Aires caught between teaching, administrative inertia, and activism. Juan Minujín brings a rumpled, low-key charisma to his role as Lucio, the eponymous substitute, an…
Read More

TIFF 2022 | 752 Is Not a Number (Babak Payami, Canada) — TIFF Docs

By Angelo Muredda  “It is like bringing the dead to life,” a man says over the shattered Apple Watch he is trying to reanimate to yield a lost person’s heart-rate readings in Babak Payami’s absorbing 752 Is Not a Number, the Iranian-Canadian documentarian’s chronicle of one man’s efforts to do right by his deceased wife…
Read More

TIFF 2022 | So Much Tenderness (Lina Rodríguez, Canada) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Angelo Muredda  The past imprints itself on the present daily in So Much Tenderness, Lina Rodríguez’s third narrative feature and a companion piece to her recent documentary My Two Voices (2022), which was about the hybrid identities of Colombian-Canadian women. That diasporic experience is shared by Aurora (Noëlle Schönwald), an environmental lawyer who migrates…
Read More

TIFF 2022 | Ever Deadly (Tanya Tagaq & Chelsea McMullan, Canada) — TIFF Docs

By Angelo Muredda Early in Ever Deadly, an elliptical mix of concert documentary and artist’s manifesto, celebrated Inuk throat singer and novelist Tanya Tagaq jokes to an unseen audience that if they really hate the non-traditional, contemporary riff on throat singing she’s about to perform, they can always make their way for the door, since…
Read More

Everything Everywhere All at Once (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, US)

Eager to celebrate a theatrical box-office win, Variety recently praised the success of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s equally moving and galling Everything Everywhere All at Once, chirping that its broad appeal beyond arthouse crowds attests not only to adult audiences’ willingness to return to theatres for the right sort of movie, but also to the fact that “ticket buyers really love the concept of a multiverse.”
Read More

Don’t Look Now: The Righteous Evolution of Adam McKay

he room,” Adam McKay played the more comfortable role of American comedy’s slouchy, politically savvy older brother. Improbable as his progressive-daddy glow up of the past few years might seem, the Upright Citizens Brigade co-founder, former Saturday Night Live head writer, and Academy Award-winning writer-director planted the seed of his transformation early in his predominantly unserious comedy fare.
Read More

TIFF 2021 | The Other Tom (Rodrigo Plá, Laura Santullo, Mexico/USA)

By Angelo Muredda Single mom Elena (Julia Chavez) tries to do right by her scampish ten-year-old son Tom (Israel Rodríguez Bertorelli) despite the interventions of the byzantine Texas school system in Rodrigo Plá and Laura Santullo’s minor-key drama The Other Tom, based on Santullo’s novel. The filmmakers do well to balance their kitchen-sink realism and…
Read More

Sound of Metal (Darius Marder, US)

Entering Riz Ahmed in the disability cosplay sweepstakes as a young drummer coping with hearing loss, Darius Marder’s Sound of Metal originated as a lightly meta vehicle for husband-and-wife sludge-metal duo Jucifer to be directed by Derek Cianfrance, with whom Marder co-wrote The Place Beyond the Pines (2012). That the final result is more surprising than the rote uplift narrative suggested by its edifying logline is a testament to both Ahmed’s cagey intensity...
Read More

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh, UK/US)

By Angelo Muredda There’s a moment early in Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri that neatly encapsulates the playwright-turned-filmmaker’s competing instincts toward moral sophistication and childish self-indulgence. As the bereaved protagonist Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) struts through the local sign shop—the first step in her campaign to use the title’s eponymous placards to shame…
Read More

Room (Lenny Abrahamson, Ireland/Canada)

  By Angelo Muredda Another awards-season thoroughbred is foaled in Room, Lenny Abrahamson’s take on Ireland-born, Canada-based Booker Prize nominee Emma Donoghue’s best-seller. For all its touchy subject matter, Room is the sort of film for which People’s Choice awards were made: a lightly conceptual, sturdily acted piece of redemptive cinema that peers into the…
Read More

Force Majeure (Ruben Östlund, Sweden/France/Denmark/Norway)

By Angelo Muredda With all respect to David Fincher’s Gone Girl, Ruben Östlund’s Force Majeure is the best formalist black comedy about marriage since Eyes Wide Shut (1999). Inasmuch as its outline suggests an essay on the crisis of masculinity—one distilled to a defining image (emblazoned on the vaguely apocalyptic poster) of a patriarch shirking…
Read More

20,000 Days on Earth (Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, UK)

By Angelo Muredda “Songwriting is about counterpoint,” Nick Cave insists early in 20,000 Days on Earth, Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard’s curious documentary slash postmodern biography of the Australian singer-songwriter and Bad Seeds frontman; you put two disparate images beside each other, he explains, and see which way the sparks fly. That Cave’s definition of…
Read More

TIFF 2014 | The Theory of Everything (James Marsh, US) — Special Presentations

By Angelo Muredda Stephen Hawking falls in love, gets disabled, and becomes the world’s best-selling cosmologist in James Marsh’s mostly undistinguished The Theory of Everything, the sort of cautious, unoffending profile that tends to arrive in swarms this time of year. For what it’s worth, Eddie Redmayne is fine as the young Cambridge scholar with…
Read More

TIFF 2013 | Kill Your Darlings (John Krokidas, US)—Gala Presentation

By Angelo Muredda Vintage knitwear porn for those lads and lasses who’ve been hankering to see Harry Potter’s first onscreen bout of gay sex, Kill Your Darlings puts a slick YA sheen on Allen Ginsberg’s Columbia days. Not content to trace the origins of the “New Vision” young Ginsy (Daniel Radcliffe) co-conceived with fellow dreamboat…
Read More

TIFF 2013 | The Invisible Woman (Ralph Fiennes, UK)—Special Presentation

By Angelo Muredda While Coriolanus seemed designed to show us that Ralph Fiennes could direct as well as star in Shakespeare, The Invisible Woman scans as a cannier power play, a consistently underrated actor-director’s audition for high-toned costume dramas about major historical figures (Charles Dickens, here). As a director’s portfolio, it’s not so bad: certainly…
Read More

TIFF 2013 | Empire of Dirt (Peter Stebbings, Canada)—Contemporary World Cinema

By Angelo Muredda Since her breakthrough in Bruce McDonald’s Dance Me Outside, Jennifer Podemski has had a grounding effect on the countless Canadian TV shows and films she’s cropped up in, singlehandedly recalibrating the sombre melodrama of Degrassi into something like realism. Podemski is an especially valuable player in Peter Stebbings’ Empire of Dirt, a…
Read More

TIFF 2013 | Don Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, US)—Special Presentation

By Angelo Muredda An overeager new entry in the cinema of reformed douchebags, Don Jon is the feature debut you would expect from Joseph Gordon-Levitt, an affable star who’s keen to show his directorial (and pectoral) chops at all costs. And show them he does, in a host of obnoxious if admittedly muscular montages that…
Read More

TIFF 2013 | Young & Beautiful (François Ozon, France)

By Angelo Muredda Not a Lana Del Rey cover, dommage, but a riff on his usual concerns of voyeurism, Gallic family strife, and the ambiguity of pretty girls, François Ozon’s Young & Beautiful is an accomplished trifle. We’re in Ozon country from the first shot, a young peeping Tom’s through-the-binoculars gaze at his sunbathing teenaged…
Read More