Jose Teodoro

Kékszakállú (Gastón Solnicki, Argentina)

By Jose Teodoro / December 19, 2016

By José Teodoro From the start of Gastón Solnicki’s Kékszakállú it seems like a boy’s boy’s boy’s world. In the opening moments three boys bound off a high diving board, followed by a girl whose hesitation is so prolonged the scene ends before we learn whether she follows suit or opts for retreat. We see…

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Barry (Vikram Gandhi, US) — Special Presentations

By Jose Teodoro / September 16, 2016

By José Teodoro Among Barry’s most likable attributes is the fact that it barely even needs to be about Barack Obama, whose actual given name is never uttered over the course of the film. Set in August 1981, the loose narrative introduces us to its 20-year-old protagonist just as he arrives in NYC to study…

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Deepwater Horizon (Peter Berg, US) — Gala Presentations

By Jose Teodoro / September 14, 2016

By José Teodoro We know from the start that this baby’s gonna blow; it’s only a question of when and how abysmally. Deepwater Horizon is everything you might expect from a Gala: it’s big, it’s bad, it has famous people. There’s bald foreshadowing involving bald men and reams of mumbled exposition from Mark Wahlberg and…

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I Called Him Morgan (Kasper Collin, Sweden/US) — TIFF Docs

By Jose Teodoro / September 12, 2016

By José Teodoro Trumpeter Lee Morgan belonged to that wave of early-’60s Blue Note recording artists that included Sonny Clark and Ike Quebec, guys who did not embrace the radically dilating apertures of free jazz but, rather, confined their explorations to the vernacular of bebop. Over time, these musicians have understandably become overshadowed by the…

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Amanda Knox (Brian McGinn & Rod Blackhurst, USA/Denmark) — TIFF Docs

By Jose Teodoro / September 11, 2016

By José Teodoro What’s finally most objectionable about Amanda Knox is encapsulated right in this glossy and obnoxious film’s title. Its fundamental sensationalism bubbling under a patina of seriousness, exemplified by cocoon-like, squarely composed, quasi-Errol Morris interview sessions, Amanda Knox revisits the botched investigation—and re-investigation—into the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher, a British exchange student,…

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Catfight (Onur Tukel, US) — Special Presentations

By Jose Teodoro / September 10, 2016

By José Teodoro Is it all right that I derive pleasure from watching Sandra Oh and Anne Heche beat the living shit out of each other? I promise I have nothing against either actress. It is simply not often that you get to see normal-looking women both exact and absorb Lone Survivor-levels of corporeal punishment.…

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Chasing Trane (John Scheinfeld, US) — TIFF Docs

By Jose Teodoro / September 9, 2016

 By José Teodoro If you own one jazz record, it’s probably Kind of Blue; if you own two, the other one’s probably A Love Supreme. John Coltrane plays on the former and is composer and bandleader on the latter, and it is not unremarkable that the legacy of this once popular musical form is now…

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The Bad Batch (Ana Lily Amirpour, US) — Vanguard

By Jose Teodoro / September 9, 2016

By José Teodoro In the future and/or some parallel universe, the US will reject numerous citizens for unspecified reasons and banish them to some arid stretch of Texas-Mexico borderland. On one side of this desert of the forsaken is an airplane graveyard where elaborately tattooed bodybuilders glisten in the sun while the limbs of less…

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Kékszakállú (Gastón Solnicki, Argentina) — Wavelengths

By Jose Teodoro / September 8, 2016

By José Teodoro Gastón Solnicki’s third feature and first fiction film is, like its predecessors, named after a piece of music: Kékszakállú is Hungarian for “Bluebeard,” and Solnicki has cited Béla Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle as a key source of inspiration. The film is, however, only related to the oft-adapted folktale in the most tenuous manner…

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Gimme Danger (Jim Jarmusch, US) — TIFF Docs

By Jose Teodoro / September 3, 2016

  By José Teodoro As with Year of the Horse (1997), Gimme Danger is an outlier in Jim Jarmusch’s filmography in that it’s both a documentary and a temporary vacation from the strictures of a signature style for this most style-conscious of filmmakers. Combining interviews executed in laundry nooks and public washrooms with archival materials…

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Julieta (Pedro Almodóvar, Spain) — Masters

By Jose Teodoro / September 2, 2016

By José Teodoro A melodrama draped in reds and blues, Almodóvar’s 20th feature spans decades and geography to spin a mother-daughter love story populated by sickly women, meddlesome housekeepers, and virile but inconstant men. Bobbing in the heart of this tempest is the eponymous madrileña whose only child, Antía, went to some spiritual retreat in…

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Body Politic: Gabriel Mascaro on Neon Bull

By Jose Teodoro / December 21, 2015

By José Teodoro Neon Bull begins with a languid lateral pan across widescreen-friendly corral fencing, bulls lazing one atop another spied between the slats. This image is soon followed by that of a plane of parched mud littered with coloured rags and dismembered mannequins. Later we see a woman waxing her pubic hair in the…

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Eternal Damnation: Arturo Ripstein’s Bleak Street

By Jose Teodoro / September 22, 2015

By José Teodoro There is no such thing as ambient sunlight in Bleak Street. The sun’s rays descend from high above, diffused by a latticework of electrical cables, metal stairs, frayed tarpaulin, and urban flotsam, or slam down in hard sheets through a grid of tall buildings and concrete canopies. A swaying, phantom-like camera, deepening…

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TIFF 2015 | The Martian (Ridley Scott, US)—Gala Presentations

By Jose Teodoro / September 11, 2015

By José Teodoro Don’t say Twentieth Century Fox has no taste for the meta: concerned as it is with the thorny ethics of expending unimaginable resources and risking multiple lives for the slim possibility of saving a single lost foot soldier in the colonization of the angry red planet, The Martian not only revisits the…

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TIFF 2015 | Remember (Atom Egoyan, Canada/Germany)—Gala Presentations

By Jose Teodoro / September 11, 2015

By José Teodoro How much of our sense of duty, resolve or morality is merely the aggregate of decisions we made long ago—or decisions that were made for us? From the start of Remember we’ve no reason to feel certain that Zev (a sublimely baffled Christopher Plummer) is acting of his own free will. He…

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TIFF 2015 | The Apostate (Federico Veiroj, Spain/ France/ Uruguay)—Contemporary World Cinema

By Jose Teodoro / September 9, 2015

By José Teodoro Federico Veiroj’s A Useful Life (2010)—in which a middle-aged programmer finds himself out of a career after his Montevideo cinematheque fades to black—considered a post-cinema existence and decided it was just fine. Yet the film’s irreverence with regards to its own medium was undercut by a formal elegance and sense of play…

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TIFF 2015 | Cinema Scope 64 Preview | Bleak Street (Arturo Ripstein, Mexico/Spain)—Masters

By Jose Teodoro / September 8, 2015

Eternal Damnation: Arturo Ripstein’s Bleak Street By José Teodoro Originally published in Cinema Scope 64 (Fall 2015). There is no such thing as ambient sunlight in Bleak Street. The sun’s rays descend from high above, diffused by a latticework of electrical cables, metal stairs, frayed tarpaulin, and urban flotsam, or slam down in hard sheets…

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TIFF 2015 | Beeba Boys (Deepa Mehta, Canada)—Gala Presentations

By Jose Teodoro / September 2, 2015

By José Teodoro The new Deepa Mehta movie chronicles a territorial war between competing Sikh gangs in modern-day Vancouver. While based, to whatever extent, on a true story, it is rigorous in its adherence to genre clichés. We’ve got a bunch of guys who curse a lot and kill a lot and boast a lot—the…

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TIFF 2015 | ma ma (Julio Medem, Spain/France)—Special Presentations

By Jose Teodoro / September 1, 2015

By José Teodoro This batshit-crazy mega-weepie from Sex and Lucia (2001) director Julio Medem begins with Madrid schoolteacher Magda (Penélope Cruz) newly unemployed, her philandering philosophy professor husband vacationing on the Costa del Sol with his younger blonde lover, and the discovery that the lump in Magda’s breast is malignant and a mastectomy is required.…

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TIFF 2015 | The Daughter (Simon Stone, Australia)—Special Presentations

By Jose Teodoro / September 1, 2015

By José Teodoro The Daughter begins with Henry (Geoffrey Rush), patriarch of his Australian village’s wealthiest family and proprietor of its century-old sawmill, unable to shoot a wild duck. Is there a metaphor here? Of course there is—this is Ibsen!—though the metaphor I’m thinking of applies to writer-director Simon Stone’s inability to shoot The Wild…

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Of Human Bondage: Peter Strickland on The Duke of Burgundy

By Jose Teodoro / December 18, 2014

By José Teodoro Given the painstakingly retro stylings of its opening title sequence (with ostentatious credits for lingerie and perfumes, the latter attributed to one Je Suis Gizelle) and the imprimatur of producers Ben Wheatley, Andy Starke, and Amy Jump, there are at first reasons to suspect that The Duke of Burgundy will keep its…

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TIFF 2014 | Elephant Song (Charles Binamé, Canada) — Special Presentations

By Jose Teodoro / September 15, 2014

By José Teodoro There are in fact multiple elephants in the room in this adaptation of Nicolas Billon’s play: the awkward struggle to cinematize a story designed to generate tension through sustained enclosure in a single location; the repeated deployment of an overarching metaphor to the point of exhaustion; and the showboating of Xavier Dolan…

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TIFF 2014 | The Guest (Adam Wingard, US) — Midnight Madness

By Jose Teodoro / September 6, 2014

By José Teodoro Still grieving the loss of their son Caleb to some unspecified military misadventure, the Peterson family finds their lives rejuvenated by the unexpected arrival of David Collins (Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens), a handsome, polite young veteran claiming to have been “very close” to Caleb while serving abroad. David says he’s come all…

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TIFF 2014| Manglehorn (David Gordon Green, USA) / The Humbling (Barry Levinson, USA) — Special Presentations

By Jose Teodoro / September 4, 2014

By José Teodoro David Gordon Green’s recovery from misadventures in the mainstream began in earnest last year with Prince Avalanche and Joe, films that echo the ebullient eccentricities and immersive sense of place of Green’s earliest features while retaining the stars he began using for financial leverage (Paul Rudd, Nicolas Cage) when he was riding…

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TIFF 2014 | The Vanished Elephant (Javier Fuentes-León, Peru/Colombia/Spain)—Discovery

By Jose Teodoro / September 2, 2014

By José Teodoro Cop turned crime novelist Edo Celeste (Salvador del Solar) is having trouble cracking the ending of what’s to be the final installment in a series of successful detective novels. That’s quite the opposite situation of the film he finds himself in: the ending of The Vanished Elephant seems to have always been…

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TIFF 2014 | Infinitely Polar Bear (Maya Forbes, USA) — Gala

By Jose Teodoro / August 31, 2014

By José Teodoro Maya Forbes’ late ’70s-set semi-autobiographical first feature reflects on a childhood spent under the parentage of Maggie (Zoe Saldana) and Cam Stuart (Mark Ruffalo), the former an African-American woman of modest origins struggling to forge a career in law, the latter a scion of old American aristocracy whose bipolar disorder has rendered…

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No Sanctuary: Claire Denis on Bastards

By Jose Teodoro / October 10, 2013

By José Teodoro The first image of Bastards, a gauzy curtain of nocturnal drizzle, falls on us like a heavy dream—or rather, it drags us under. The rain raineth on a whole lot of eerily beautiful gloom during the wordless, disorienting opening sequence: a solitary older man gazes out a window, seemingly resigned to some…

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TIFF 2013 | Canopy (Aaron Wilson, Australia)—Discovery

By Jose Teodoro / September 4, 2013

By José Teodoro Set in early 1942, Australian writer-director Aaron Wilson’s feature debut unfolds entirely in the fecund jungles of Singapore in the midst of the Japanese invasion. Canopy follows a downed Australian airman and a lost Singapore-Chinese resistance fighter as they join forces to tend to their wounds and find their way to safety.…

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TIFF 2013 | You Are Here (Matthew Weiner, US)—Special Presentation

By Jose Teodoro / September 3, 2013

By José Teodoro Owen Wilson coasts on his familiar faux-innocence and blank cheerfulness as Steve, a weatherman and serial womanizer. He deploys the same seduction speech on every female he seeks to bed, sex-workers included. Zach Galifianakis plays Ben, Steve’s squirrely, unemployable best friend, who seems about two bong hits away from becoming the Hippie…

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TIFF 2013 | Thérèse (Charlie Stratton, US)—Special Presentation

By Jose Teodoro / September 3, 2013

By José Teodoro The first images are captured from below the murky surface of the Seine, seemingly from the point-of-view of the poor sap who gets drowned by the dunderheaded lover of the film’s unlucky anti-heroine. It makes you wonder whether this workmanlike, mostly faithful revisit of Émile Zola’s brilliantly dreary early novel—the prototype for…

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TIFF 2013 | The Amazing Catfish (Claudia Sainte-Luce, Mexico)—Discovery

By Jose Teodoro / September 3, 2013

By José Teodoro Amazing is certainly pushing it, but Claudia Sainte-Luce’s debut feature (photographed by Claire Denis’ regular shooter Agnès Godard) has enough craft and intelligence to render its sentimental story about coming out of one’s shell more charming and inventive than one would expect. Set in Guadalajara, the film follows an unlikely product demonstrator…

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TIFF 2013 | The Face of Love (Arie Posin, US)—Special Presentation

By Jose Teodoro / August 31, 2013

By José Teodoro The face in question, arresting baby blues set within those weathered, wizened features, belongs to Ed Harris. A curious choice of visage to represent such a concept, to say the least, especially considering the crazed look Harris sports while making his entrance, which is also an exit, as the first of the…

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The Unkindest Cut of All: Hitchcock

By Jose Teodoro / November 29, 2012

By José Teodoro The murder of Marion Crane in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) remains one of the cinema’s most traumatic turning points in part because it so completely refutes causality. Only the most obtuse (or misogynist) of moral misers could regard the shower murder as any kind of karmic consequence of Marion’s theft from her…

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Triangular Space: John Schlesinger’s Sunday Bloody Sunday

By Jose Teodoro / October 20, 2012

By José Teodoro It begins with hands, a doctor’s hands, pressing gently into the flabby belly of a nervous, middle-aged patient. And again and again, hands reappear—most often those of Alex Greville (Glenda Jackson) or of Daniel Hirsch (Peter Finch), each caressing the smooth, naked back of Bob Elkin (Murray Head), an ambitious sculptor and…

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Get Out of the Car: David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis

By Adam Nayman / June 24, 2012

By José Teodoro and Adam Nayman Cosmopolis opens with a hubcap-level pan across a fleet of white stretch limousines, objects of ostentatious wealth, absurdly oversized and ugly, yet invisible in their anonymity and ubiquity, luxurious yet barely able to move through a teeming city’s daily traffic. A great deal of David Cronenberg’s film, which spans…

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Reboot Polish: Fright Night / Conan the Barbarian

By Jose Teodoro / August 19, 2011

By José Teodoro Tom Holland’s Fright Night, a witty and engaging little sleeper about a high school student who discovers his new neighbour is a vampire and seeks to exterminate him in the face of the usual disbelieving authority figures, surprisingly became the highest-grossing horror movie of 1985. It was overlong, featured no major stars…

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DVD: Nicolas Roeg’s Insignificance

By Jose Teodoro / June 26, 2011

By José Teodoro Nicolas Roeg began his directing career only after working for more than two decades as a focus puller, camera operator, and eventually cinematographer for the likes of David Lean, Richard Lester and François Truffaut. Yet what was already clear by the time of Walkabout (1971), his solo directorial debut and penultimate credit…

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