Katherine Connell

Hygiène sexuelle: Dénis Côté’s “Un été comme ça”

By Katherine Connell Cinema about sex is often enriched by summer settings: escalating heat can place bodies into increasingly erotic orbits as the seeming eternity of canicular days are pit against seasonal ephemerality. While fleeting yet formative attachments are the nucleus of countless films that centre sexual self-discovery, considerably underexplored are the unenticing experiences of…
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Too Good at Goodbyes: The Souvenir Part II and Joanna Hogg’s Cinema of Memory

By Katherine Connell Joanna Hogg chases authenticity. Her reluctance to call “Cut,” instead letting a scene’s action carry on via languid takes, static camerawork, and unscripted dialogue, reflects her intuitive sense of how small but telling slips within the typically dull cadences of British upper-middle-class social chatter can reveal roiling undercurrents of feeling. Yet while…
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Night Raiders (Danis Goulet, Canada/New Zealand)

apocalyptic cityscape backdrops an anti-authoritarian alliance between two characters from traditional Cree stories (Wesakechak and Weetigo). Goulet’s first feature, Night Raiders, not only returns to the realm of dystopia, but also shows the degree to which its creator’s interest in the genre goes beyond the use of futuristic settings as a mere aesthetic surface.
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TIFF 2021 | The Devil’s Drivers (Mohammed Abugeth & Daniel Carsenty, Qatar/France/Lebanon/Germany)

By Katherine Connell Car chases, the customary crescendo of the action genre, are a tense everyday reality for the subjects of The Devil’s Drivers, Mohammed Abugeth and Daniel Carsenty’s documentary that follows Palestinian drivers who smuggle workers living in the West Bank into Israel. Plumes of orange dirt trail behind vehicles navigating desert roads at…
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TIFF 2021 | To Kill the Beast (Agustina San Martín, Argentina/Brazil/Chile)

By Katherine Connell The moon floats against a sky so overcast that it’s impossible to determine whether the hour is night or day—a suitably disorienting opener for Agustina San Martín’s surreal To Kill the Beast. In an area surrounded by rainforest bordering Brazil and Argentina, 17-year-old Emilia (Tamara Rocca) shows up at a hostel owned…
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TIFF 2021 | Quickening (Haya Waseem, Canada)

By Katherine Connell Writer-director Haya Waseem’s formally striking first feature is a melodrama executed with considerable restraint. After an opening title defines the term “pseudocyesis”—a form of psychosomatic but hormonally convincing pregnancy—we are taken to a dance studio, where bodies writhe on the floor and smash into walls. In front of the class, Pakistani Canadian…
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TIFF 2021 | The Mad Women’s Ball (Mélanie Laurent, France)

By Katherine Connell Despite its interest in shedding light on the patriarchal, abusive history of medicine, Mélanie Laurent’s The Mad Women’s Ball can’t help but indulge tropes that both romanticize and exploit its subject matter. An adaptation of the novel by Victoria Mas, the film follows Eugénie Cléry (Lou de Laâge), whose privileged class status…
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TIFF 2021 | Night Raiders (Danis Goulet, Canada/New Zealand)

By Katherine Connell Published in Cinema Scope #88 (Fall 2021) The appeal of dystopian narratives hangs on their capacity to hold up a funhouse mirror to the corruption and exploitation of our already extant social realities. Indigenous artists and filmmakers have long underscored the dystopic reality of colonial nation states in their work, and the…
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Festivals | Fantasia 2020: Unexpected Pleasures

By Katherine Connell A maze is designed to puzzle and possibly frustrate; conversely, the pleasure of a labyrinth is in submitting oneself to a route that, when traversed, might reveal the mind of its designer. This is certainly true of the late Obayashi Nobuhiko’s Labyrinth of Cinema (2019), one of the headlining films of Montréal’s…
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And Then We Danced (Levan Akin, Sweden/Georgia/France)

From drag performances to ballroom extravaganzas, booming club sequences to solitary swaying, queer cinema has often depicted moments of yearning or self-actualization through dance: think, for instance, of the erotic and essayistic function it serves in Isaac Julien’s Looking for Langston (1989),Edward and Gaveston’s spotlit slow dancing in Derek Jarman’s Edward II (1991), the adolescent hero’s furious romp through back allies and rooftops in Stephen Daldry’s Billy Elliot (2000),or the sublime hotel dance party to Rihanna’s “Diamonds” in Céline Sciamma’s Bande des filles (2014).
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Invisible Life (Karim Aïnouz, Brazil)

By Katherine Connell Chronicling the life of the legendary Rio de Janeiro drag performer, hustler, and street fighter, Madame Satã (2002) announced Karim Aïnouz as a filmmaker attuned to the conceptual richness and subversive potential found within liminal spaces: individuals who fluctuate between seemingly fixed identity categories, and whose fullness of life outside the social…
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