Mallory Andrews

Possessor (Brandon Cronenberg, UK/Canada)

By Mallory Andrews / September 22, 2020

If it’s true that Brandon Cronenberg sought to cheekily poke fun at his father David’s needle-phobia in his first film (Antiviral, 2011), it feels like parts of Possessor might have been engineered specifically to make my skin crawl.

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Blood Quantum (Jeff Barnaby, Canada)

By Mallory Andrews / June 23, 2020

The hook is intriguingly straightforward: in Blood Quantum, an infectious zombie disease spreads through the world, save for the residents of a Mi’kmaq community along the Québec-New Brunswick border who appear to be immune to the undeadly virus. In the post-apocalyptic remnants of their town, Sheriff Traylor (Michael Greyeyes) and his deputies guard the boundaries of their land against the violent hordes of “Zeds.”

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Murmur (Heather Young, Canada) — Discovery

By Mallory Andrews / September 6, 2019

By Mallory Andrews Almost any movie featuring an animal doubles as a documentary about an animal that doesn’t know it’s in a movie—that is perhaps not the intended animating conflict of Murmur, but it’s the thought that most entered my mind most when watching the canine star of Heather Young’s docufiction first feature. Donna (Shan…

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Knuckle City (Jahmil X.T. Qubeka, South Africa) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Mallory Andrews / September 6, 2019

By Mallory Andrews South African director Jahmil X.T. Qubeka’s muscular sports/crime drama centres on aging, womanizing boxer Dudu Nyakama (Bongile Mantsai) and his criminal brother Duke (Thembekile Komani). Dudu, desperate for one last shot at fame and glory in the ring before retirement, enlists Duke’s help in finally becoming a contender—even if it means being…

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Black Conflux (Nicole Dorsey, Canada) — Discovery

By Mallory Andrews / September 4, 2019

By Mallory Andrews A “conflux” or confluence is the juncture where two rivers meet, seamlessly connecting into a single body. This convergence becomes a recurring visual motif in Nicole Dorsey’s small-town coming-of-age story set in 1980s Newfoundland, a portent of the coming collision between its two main characters, teenage Jackie (Ella Ballentine) and intense loner…

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Halloween (David Gordon Green, US) — Midnight Madness

By Mallory Andrews / September 11, 2018

By Mallory Andrews The story goes that director David Gordon Green approached Jamie Lee Curtis with an idea for a Halloween sequel she apparently deemed too good to pass up: toss out the 40 years’ worth of sequels, and make Laurie Strode’s return to the screen a direct continuation of John Carpenter’s 1978 original. Green’s…

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The Third Wife (Ash Mayfair, Vietnam) — Discovery

By Mallory Andrews / September 8, 2018

By Mallory Andrews Writer-director Ash Mayfair’s debut feature—about a 14-year-old girl, May (Nguyen Phuong Tra My), who is married off to much older rich man in 19th-century Vietnam—is a work of quiet empathy that skillfully depicts the harsh limits of the title character’s existence without ever reveling in her despair. The Third Wife is a…

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Kingsway (Bruce Sweeney, Canada) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Mallory Andrews / September 6, 2018

By Mallory Andrews Are there citizens of any other nation who have as strained a relationship with their national cinema than Canadians? This may well be one of the only countries in the world to call its own cinematic output by name: they’re not just movies, they’re Canadian movies, an unofficial shorthand to denote a…

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One Last Deal (Klaus Härö, Finland) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Mallory Andrews / September 6, 2018

By Mallory Andrews The most dreaded of festival films are not the unwatchable dregs (and it’s certainly not the cream of the crop), but the perfunctory middle-of-the-road selections. What to do when a movie doesn’t inspire much more than a “meh”? How does one expand that out to a couple hundred words? One solid strategy…

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Retrospekt (Esther Rots, Netherlands, Belgium) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Mallory Andrews / September 5, 2018

By Mallory Andrews A fractured story structure mirroring the fractured memories of its main character is the gimmick in Dutch director Esther Rots’ second feature, arriving almost ten years after her feature debut Can Go Through Skin (2009). The film follows Mette (Circé Lethem), a social worker who specializes in supporting battered women, who gets…

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Blind Spot (Tuva Novotny, Norway) — Discovery

By Mallory Andrews / September 3, 2018

By Mallory Andrews Swedish actor Tuva Novotny (known to English-speaking audiences from recent turns in Borg/McEnroe and Annihilation) makes her debut behind the camera with Blind Spot, about a young couple who are thrown into crisis mode over the course of a single night when their eldest daughter seems to have attempted suicide by jumping…

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Shoplifters (Kore-eda Hirokazu, Japan) — Special Presentations

By Mallory Andrews / August 31, 2018

By Mallory Andrews There was a distinct feeling in the air at this year’s Cannes that the Competition jury was under far more scrutiny than usual. The Cate Blanchett-led, female-majority group illustrated a gesture by the festival towards gender equity and a commitment to making structural changes in one of the industry’s most prestigious institutions.…

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Shoplifters (Kore-eda Hirokazu, Japan)

By Mallory Andrews / July 2, 2018

By Mallory Andrews There was a distinct feeling in the air at this year’s Cannes that the Competition jury was under far more scrutiny than usual. The Cate Blanchett-led, female-majority group illustrated a gesture by the festival towards gender equity and a commitment to making structural changes in one of the industry’s most prestigious institutions.…

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The Poet and the Boy (Kim Yang-hee, South Korea) — Discovery

By Mallory Andrews / September 11, 2017

By Mallory Andrews I felt vaguely embarrassed for immediately being reminded of Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson at the outset of Kim Yang-hee’s debut feature The Poet and the Boy. The similarities are apparent: in addition to Yang Ik-june’s Poet (the only name he is identified by in the film) working through his art and inspiration via…

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Ava (Sadaf Foroughi, Iran/Canada/Qatar) — Discovery

By Mallory Andrews / September 9, 2017

By Mallory Andrews “The bird that would soar above the level of plain tradition and prejudice must have strong wings,” the protagonist of Kate Chopin’s 1899 novel The Awakening is advised; “it is a sad spectacle to see the weaklings bruised, exhausted, fluttering back to earth.” Ava (Mahour Jabbari), the teenage title heroine of Sadaf…

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Tulipani, Love, Honour and a Bicycle (Mike van Diem, Netherlands/Italy/Canada) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Mallory Andrews / September 3, 2017

By Mallory Andrews What is the aesthetic advantage of whimsy, especially in a work presumably meant for an adult audience? These questions preoccupied me throughout Mike van Diem’s Tulipani, Love, Honour and a Bicycle, a primary-coloured fable recounted to Anna (Ksenia Solo), a young woman who travels from Montréal to Italy after her mother’s death…

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City of Tiny Lights (Pete Travis, UK) — Special Presentations

By Mallory Andrews / September 13, 2016

By Mallory Andrews There’s hardboiled and then there’s just a waste of perfectly good eggs; City of Tiny Lights is regrettably the latter. “Death weighs heavier than heartbreak” intones London-based private investigator Tommy Akhtar (Riz Ahmed, fresh from HBO’s The Night Of and soon to be ubiquitous for his role in the upcoming Rogue One:…

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Forever Pure (Maya Zinshtein, Israel/UK/Denmark/Norway) — TIFF Docs

By Mallory Andrews / September 11, 2016

By Mallory Andrews They call themselves La Familia, and the mob connotations don’t end there for the yellow-and-black-clad uber-fans who reliably fill the stands during each game of Beitar Jerusalem F.C. But in exchange for their loyalty, they exact a high price. In Forever Pure, Maya Zinshtein follows the controversial 2012 season, when Beitar recruited…

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A Decent Woman (Lukas Valenta Rinner, Austria/South Korea/Argentina) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Mallory Andrews / September 9, 2016

By Mallory Andrews Decency, decorum, politesse, virtuous social mores—all are rigidly upheld in the gated community in Buenos Aires where Belén (Iride Mockert) finds herself gainfully employed as the live-in housekeeper for an affluent woman and her college-aged son on their huge estate. One day while cleaning, she catches a glimpse of the adjoining property…

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In the Blood (Rastus Heisterberg, Denmark) — Discovery

By Mallory Andrews / September 6, 2016

By Mallory Andrews “The highbrow part of me likes to call the film a requiem for youth,” writes Rasmus Heisterberg in his director’s note for In the Blood, a film which comes off as more of a kiss-off to the arrested development of young men. The Danish screenwriter’s directorial debut focuses on the friendship between…

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Jesús (Fernando Guzzoni, France/Chile/Germany/Greece/ Colombia) — Discovery

By Mallory Andrews / September 5, 2016

By Mallory Andrews Dear Jesús, are we not yet tired of uninspired coming-of-age movies?  This one is of the Chilean variety (supported by a massive co-production effort), telling the tale of the eponymous troubled high school senior (Nicolás Durán) who falls in with the wrong crowd and clashes with his widowed father Héctor (Alejandro Goic).…

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Clair Obscur (Yesim Ustaoglu, Turkey/Germany/Poland/France) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Mallory Andrews / September 3, 2016

By Mallory Andrews Long before they ever meet onscreen, Chenaz (Funda Eryigit) and Elmas (Ecem Uzun) are in conversation with each other. Chenaz, a resident psychiatrist at a hospital, is a thoroughly modern woman contentedly living with her boyfriend Cem (Mehmet Kurtulus) in their thoroughly modern, minimalist home. By contrast, Elmas is a young bride…

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TIFF 2015 | Women He’s Undressed (Gillian Armstrong, Australia)—TIFF Docs

By Mallory Andrews / September 10, 2015

By Mallory Andrews The biographical documentary presents a number of problems for a filmmaker, primarily the fact that the genre’s standard format—the forward plodding of the subject’s life events punctuated by their notorious claim-to-fame moments—is staid and tired. But Gillian Armstrong’s attempt to shake things up on a formal level in her Orry-Kelly doc Women…

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TIFF 2015 | We Monsters (Sebastian Ko, Germany)—Discovery

By Mallory Andrews / September 9, 2015

By Mallory Andrews Don’t have kids—that may be the only valuable takeaway from Sebastian Ko’s first feature, in which two awful people reckon with the awful acts committed by their awful daughter. Paul (Mehdi Nebbou) and Christine (Ulrike C. Tscharre) have separated and moved on to new partners, which has been understandably hard on their…

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TIFF 2015 | Spear (Stephen Page, Australia)—Discovery

By Mallory Andrews / September 9, 2015

By Mallory Andrews Australian choreographer Stephen Page has made his name as the director of the Bangarra Dance Theatre, reinvigorating Aboriginal dance for a modern audience. His feature-film debut Spear plays out like a minimalist musical, loosely following Djali (Hunter Page-Lochard) as he navigates the fluid and complex space between his indigenous heritage and a…

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TIFF 2015 | Ninth Floor (Mina Shum, Canada)—TIFF Docs

By Mallory Andrews / September 7, 2015

By Mallory Andrews It’s an all-too-common predicament when viewing a documentary to have to overlook a work’s technical flaws in order to appreciate the potency of its subject matter. To wit, Double Happiness (1994) director Mina Shum’s first nonfiction outing is yet another example of an inherently interesting topic existing within the body of an…

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TIFF 2015 | La Belle saison (Catherine Corsini, France)—Special Presentations

By Mallory Andrews / September 2, 2015

By Mallory Andrews There is no discernible reason for Catherine Corsini’s La Belle saison to take place in the early 1970s other than the fact that the timeframe adds a historically authentic sense of conflict to this lesbian love story set in rural France. Delphine (Izïa Higelin) is a farmer’s daughter who takes off to…

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TIFF 2015 | Keeper (Guillaume Senez, Belgium/ Switzerland/ France)—Discovery

By Mallory Andrews / September 1, 2015

By Mallory Andrews Maxime and Mélanie are in love. Maxime and Mélanie get pregnant. Maxime convinces Mélanie to keep the baby. Maxime and Mélanie are all of 15 years old. This is the primary dramatic thrust of Belgian director Guillaume Senez’s debut feature, an unsentimental look at teen pregnancy about a couple (ably played by…

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TIFF 2014 | Clouds of Sils Maria (Olivier Assayas, France) — Special Presentations

By Mallory Andrews / August 31, 2014

By Mallory Andrews “It’s fucking brave,” says Valentine (Kristine Stewart) in defense of actress Jo-Ann Ellis’ (Chloë Grace Moretz) performance in the latest Hollywood big-budget goofy sci-fi superhero flick. Her comment is directed at her employer, Maria Enders (Juliette Binoche, typecast as a legendary French actress), but it could very well be a salvo against…

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