Canada

Night Raiders (Danis Goulet, Canada/New Zealand)

By Katherine Connell / September 20, 2021

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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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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Long Live the New Flesh: The Decade in Canadian Cinema

By Adam Nayman / March 20, 2020

Let’s get it right out of the way: by any non-subjective metric—which is to say in spite of my own personal opinion—the Canadian filmmaker of the decade is Xavier Dolan, who placed six features (including two major Competition prizewinners) at Cannes between 2009 (let’s give him a one-year head start) and 2019, all before turning 30. Prodigies are as prodigies do, and debating Dolan’s gifts as a transnational melodramatist and zeitgeist-tapperis a mug’s game, one that I’ve already played in these pages.

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Cinema Scope 82: Editor’s Note — Best of the Decade

By Mark Peranson / March 20, 2020

And so goes the decade, and perhaps all of humanity as we know it—it was fun while it lasted. As a supplement to the Top Ten lists published here, which semi-scientifically summarize the privately expressed preferences of our regular contributors, I decided to do something a little different to glance back at the past ten years. By the time of publication you can find numerous examples of excellent writing on all of the films in our decade-end list, both in previous issues of Cinema Scope and also in other publications, in print and online, on the occasion of revisiting the past ten bountiful years in cinema.

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Global Discoveries on DVD: Second Thoughts & Double Takes

By Jonathan Rosenbaum / March 20, 2020

I find it astonishing, really jaw-dropping, that Midge Costin’s mainly enjoyable Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound (2019),available on aUK DVD on the Dogwoof label, can seemingly base much of its film history around a ridiculous falsehood: the notion that stereophonic, multi-track cinema wasinvented in the ’70s by the Movie Brats—basically Walter Murch, in concert with his chums George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola—finally allowing the film industry to raise itself technically and aesthetically to the level already attained by The Beatles in music recording.

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Cinema Scope 81 Table of Contents

By Cinema Scope / December 29, 2019

Interviews Anything Is Possible: Josh and Benny Safdie on Uncut Gems by Adam Nayman A Concept of Reality: Sergei Loznitsa’s State Funeral by Daniel Kasman Fairytales and Freudian Females: A Conversation with Jessica Hausner by Jordan Cronk Features They Are All Equal Now: The Irishman’s Epic of Sadness by Robert Koehler I Shall Be Released: Amazing…

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The Twentieth Century (Matthew Rankin, Canada)

By Josh Cabrita / December 29, 2019

By Josh Cabrita William Lyon Mackenzie King, Canada’s tenth and longest-serving prime minister, is an emblem of our nation’s repressed, ineffectual masculinity. A staunch centrist and bureaucrat, Mackenzie King accomplished little during his 22 years in office: his main contributions were his ability to win elections despite his apparent lack of charisma, and his power…

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The Song of Names (François Girard, Canada) — Gala Presentations

By Josh Cabrita / September 12, 2019

By Josh Cabrita  Though the designation of a “late work” is usually reserved for revered masters who in their twilight years distil their style down to its supposedly purified essence, I see no reason why that term couldn’t also apply to a decidedly mediocre (and rarely brilliant) filmmaker like François Girard. Adapted from a book…

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The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open (Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers & Kathleen Hepburn, Canada/Norway) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Josh Cabrita / September 12, 2019

By Josh Cabrita The sad, slow, melancholy words of Joni Mithcell’s “Little Green” feature prominently in a mournful scene from the latest by Vancouver filmmakers Kathleen Hepburn and Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers. While East Vancouver hipster Áila (Tailfeathers) speaks over the phone with a female crisis centre, the “extremely pregnant” Rosie (Violet Nelson)—whom the former happened upon…

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The Twentieth Century (Matthew Rankin, Canada) — Midnight Madness

By Michael Sicinski / September 12, 2019

By Michael Sicinski  Hats off to Midnight Madness programmer Peter Kuplowsky for selecting this singular, albeit somewhat counterintuitive, homegrown oddity. Certainly a cult item in the making, The Twentieth Century represents the sort of Freudian-perverse take on national mythmaking that one finds in the work of Jim Finn, combined with the stark Futurist abstraction of…

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Easy Land (Sanja Zivkovic, Canada) — Discovery

By Anna Swanson / September 11, 2019

By Anna Swanson For the mother-daughter pair of Sanja Zivkovic’s directorial debut Easy Land, the old sentiment that the grass is always greener on the other side resolutely rings true. Jasna (Mirjana Jokovic) is a Serbian immigrant committed to her dream of giving the teenage Nina (Nina Kiri) a better life in Canada. She’s an…

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Collective (Alexander Nanau, Romania) — TIFF Docs

By Michael Scoular / September 10, 2019

By Michael Scoular There’s nothing that can do justice to the terror of the footage that plays near the start of Alexander Nanau’s Colectiv: a fire, breaking out in the middle of a packed album-release show for metal-core band Goodbye to Gravity, destroys a venue with no sprinklers or fire exits, and what we see…

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Paris Stalingrad (Hind Meddeb, France) — TIFF Docs

By Madeleine Wall / September 10, 2019

By Madeleine Wall The only static aspect  of Hind Meddeb’s documentary Paris Stalingrad is the area from which the film takes its name. Beginning with this eponymous space, Meddeb expands to the treatment of the refugees who must stay there, focusing as much on the newcomers  as the Parisians and their varying levels of aid.…

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Clifton Hill (Albert Shin, Canada) — Special Presentations

By Adam Nayman / September 10, 2019

By Adam Nayman Good thrillers live or die by their specifics, and Clifton Hill is nothing if not precise about its tourist-trap environment (the Canadian side of Niagara Falls) and its inhabitants, including trashy gambling addicts, possibly psychopathic land developers, French-Canadian husband-and-wife tiger-trainers, and—if you hadn’t already heard—David Cronenberg emerging like Ursula Andress (except fully…

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Coppers (Alan Zweig, Canada) — TIFF Docs

By Angelo Muredda / September 9, 2019

By Angelo Muredda “Cops are by far the biggest liars,” a subject admits early in Alan Zweig’s Coppers, which brings the filmmaker’s signature conversational style to bear on a profile of retired Toronto police officers, about a dozen of whom are interviewed at rest and in ride-alongs to the scenes of past arrests and disaster…

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This is Not a Movie (Yung Chang, Canada/Germany) — TIFF Docs

By Steve Macfarlane / September 9, 2019

By Steve Macfarlane “The person who denies the genocide in Armenia will deny the Jewish holocaust in Europe, and will deny any other kind of massacre that comes to hand.” That’s Robert Fisk, among the most celebrated war correspondents of the last quarter-century, getting the bio-doc treatment in Yung Chang’s documentary This is Not a…

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Tammy’s Always Dying (Amy Jo Johnson, Canada) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Adam Nayman / September 9, 2019

By Adam Nayman Tammy’s also always yelling—and cursing, and drinking, and threatening suicide, and making a messy spectacle of herself in public and private. That’s just who Tammy is, and it’s also just the sort of movie that Tammy’s Always Dying is trying to be: a smile-through-tears comedy-drama about the need to hold our loved…

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The Australian Dream (Daniel Gordon, Australia/UK) — TIFF Docs

By Beatrice Loayza / September 9, 2019

By Beatrice Loayza It’s no coincidence that the title of Daniel Gordon’s documentary portrait of Australian footballer Adam Goodes echoes the concept of the “American Dream”: after all, the history of Australia, like that of the United States, is a story of colonization and of the violence and racism that both fuelled it and still…

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My English Cousin (Karim Sayad, Switzerland/Qatar) — TIFF Docs

By Meg Shields / September 8, 2019

By Meg Shields My English Cousin is probably what it would actually feel like to be a fly on the wall: people scratch their asses, bicker harmlessly with loved ones, and pack and repack their bags. It’s a hard truth: most people just aren’t that interesting. The documentary follows director Karim Sayad’s cousin Fahed, who…

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Guest of Honour (Atom Egoyan, Canada) — Special Presentations

By Adam Nayman / September 8, 2019

By Adam Nayman The subtext of Atom Egoyan’s latest mid-late-career work is that you shouldn’t be mean to people online—a plaint that looks retrospectively prophetic in light of the film’s Venice reception, which included an attempted murder in the pages of Variety. Suffice it to say that Guest of Honour is not nearly so bad…

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I Am Not Alone (Garin Hovannisian, Armenia/US) — TIFF Docs

By Michael Sicinski / September 8, 2019

By Michael Sicinski  An up-close, day-by-day chronicle of the 2018 Armenian revolution that deposed autocrat Serzh Sargsyan and brought reform-minded activist Niko Pashinyan to power, I Am Not Alone is a fascinating look at the contemporary structure of power and protest. While unabashedly pro-Pashinyan, the film reveals a bit more than it probably intends to…

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American Woman (Semi Chellas, Canada) — Gala Presentations

By Angelo Muredda / September 7, 2019

By Angelo Muredda  TV-to-feature transitions are always a fraught jump for writers of sparkling, monologue-heavy prose, and Mad Men writer Semi Chellas’ American Woman is no exception. Faring a bit better than Chellas’ former boss Matthew Weiner’s dispiriting Are You Here but falling well short of the intimacy and idiosyncrasy of David Chase’s Not Fade…

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Castle in the Ground (Joey Klein, Canada) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Adam Nayman / September 6, 2019

By Adam Nayman The swift, ruinous descent from normalcy into substance abuse is hardly a subject lacking for cinematic treatment, and Joey Klein’s Castle in the Ground offers one more. In terms of casting, this Sudbury-set feature is above reproach, juxtaposing sad-eyed Henry (Alex Wolff, already an old hand at being put through the physical…

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Anne at 13,000 ft (Kazik Radwanski, Canada/US) — Platform

By Josh Cabrita / September 6, 2019

By Josh Cabrita Published in Cinema Scope #80 (Fall 2019) With his first two features, Tower (2012) and How Heavy This Hammer (2015), Toronto-based director and MDFF co-founder Kazik Radwanski established something of a recurring archetype: sad, lonely, and horny men whose unpleasant or uninteresting qualities are accentuated by the director’s unrelenting approach of shooting…

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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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Antigone (Sophie Deraspe, Canada) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Jaclyn Bruneau / September 6, 2019

By Jaclyn Bruneau  Sophie Deraspe has picked up Sophocles’ eponymous tragedy and hurled it headlong into the present. Our orphaned heroine (Nahéma Ricci) immigrated to Montréal (from a home country never stated, in what is, I suppose, an attempt to level all Canadian immigrant experiences) as a child, along with her grandmother Ménécée, sister Ismène,…

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White Lie (Calvin Thomas & Yonah Lewis, Canada) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Madeleine Wall / September 5, 2019

By Madeleine Wall Taking place during a barren Hamilton winter, Calvin Thomas and Yonah Lewis’ White Lie is as intimate as it is claustrophobic. Katie (Kacey Rohl) is a cancer poster child, a star of local fundraisers and surrounded by supporters. But Katie begins her day shaving her head, her chemo appointments involve getting empty…

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It Must Be Heaven (Elia Suleiman, France/Qatar/Germany/Canada/Palestine/Turkey) — Masters

By Richard Porton / September 5, 2019

By Richard Porton Published in Cinema Scope #79 (Summer 2019) In conversations addressing the plight of what was once known as the “Third World,” one of the central debates still involves the inevitable tension between nationalism—as well as the quest for national identity—and the rather amorphous concept known as “cosmopolitanism.” In the Palestinian intellectual milieu,…

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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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Cinema Scope 79 Table of Contents

By Cinema Scope / June 27, 2019

Cinema Scope Issue 79 with Features including .. Truth and Method: The Films of Thomas Heise by Michael Sicinski, Thinking in Images: Scott Walker and Cinema by Christoph Huber, 58th Venice Biennale, Cannes and DVD Reviews.

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The Hottest August (Brett Story, Canada/US)

By Adam Nayman / June 27, 2019

It is, it seems, the End of the World as We Know It. Forty-two years after R.E.M. wrote the West’s definitive apocalypse-now anthem, the song’s essentially optimistic subtext has become even more sharply double-edged; its parenthetical proviso can be interpreted as much as a sign of denial as resignation, a means of keeping any anticipatory psychic torment at bay.

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Cinema Scope 78 Table of Contents

By Cinema Scope / March 26, 2019

*The Land of the Unknown: Roberto Minervini on What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire? By Jordan Cronk.

“Poetry floats up in my memory like sailboats in the fog”:Alexei German’s Khrustalyov, My Car! By Daniel Witkin.

With Forever Presence: Jonathan Schwartz (1973-2018). By Max Goldberg.

*Soft and Hard: Claire Denis on High Life. By Adam Nayman.

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Répertoire des villes disparues (Denis Côté, Canada)

By Josh Cabrita / March 26, 2019

To appreciate the historical scope and layered references of Denis Côté’s Répertoire des villes disparues, we would do well to begin before the film does, at a time when some of the apparitions that haunt Irénée-les-Neiges, the film’s fictional northern Québec setting, would have existed as flesh and bone.

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Mothers of Invention: Ana Urushadze’s Scary Mother and Rolla Tahir’s Sira

By Ela Bittencourt / February 13, 2019

By Ela Bittencourt Ana Urushadze’s Scary Mother and Rolla Tahir’s Sira screen at TIFF Bell Lightbox on Thursday, February 14 as part of MDFF Selects: Presented by Cinema Scope and TIFF. A tense, seemingly “realistic” family drama that, in its absurdist, uncanny accents, betrays an affinity to more fantastical storytelling and existentialist literature (particularly Franz…

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On the Outskirts: Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky’s Interchange

By Madeleine Wall / October 9, 2018

By Madeleine Wall Signs of progress involve mobility, whether in the form of a shorter commute, or simply the ability to go farther, faster. As a city grows, its populations move from one point to another, and some spaces only exist as transitory places. Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky’s Interchange focuses on the spaces…

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Issue 76 Editor’s Note

By Mark Peranson / September 28, 2018

By Mark Peranson.  The night that Mariano Llinás arrived in Locarno, I ran into him drinking with his producer Laura Citarella and a few friends, occupying a few tables in a streetside café. Soon after I joined them, I asked Llinás the most pressing question in my mind about his 14-hour La Flor: “What’s the…

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Roads in February (Katherine Jerkovic, Canada/Uruguay) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Josh Cabrita / September 16, 2018

  By Josh Cabrita When Sarah (Arlen Aguayo Stewart) arrives in South America during the month of February there is a natural contrast between her original location and eventual destination—for just as her home in Montreal is being lambasted by the flurries of Quebec winter, her grandmother’s village in Uruguay is enjoying the blistering heat…

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The Stone Speakers (Igor Drljaca, Canada/Bosnia & Herzegovina) — Wavelengths

By Pedro Segura / September 16, 2018

By Pedro Segura As in Krivina and The Waiting Room, Igor Drljaca explores identity concerns and still-dormant wounds inherited from the Yugoslavian Civil War in The Stone Speakers, his first documentary feature, in which the observational analysis of tourism allows him to explore nationalism by its manipulative fictional bases. With a clinical and distant approach…

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Reason (Anand Patwardhan, India) — TIFF Docs

By Steve Macfarlane / September 15, 2018

By Steve Macfarlane Every TIFF features at least one epic-length historical documentary whose subject matter is way too depressing to penetrate the fog of cinephile and awards-season discussions encircling the neighbouring Town Crier, but kicks around in the back of the mind as probably advisable viewing anyway. Once I realized it was on the lineup,…

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Mouthpiece (Patricia Rozema, Canada) — Special Presentations

By Girish Shambu / September 14, 2018

By Girish Shambu One idea has persisted in film culture for nearly 75 years: that of the “auteur” as a lone genius who not only directs his [sic] films, but also conceives of and writes them himself. The results on the ground of this notion have been, shall we say, mixed. Take, for example, Olivier…

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Angels Are Made of Light (James Longley, US/Afghanistan) — TIFF Docs

By Steve Macfarlane / September 14, 2018

By Steve Macfarlane James Longley’s unfortunately titled Afghanistan documentary Angels Are Made of Light spans three years in the lives of a handful of schoolchildren (all boys) in Kabul. It’s a significant achievement in the gathering of footage, shot by the filmmaker himself, who manages to give ordinary day-to-day moments a sheen that’s elegant to the point…

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The Truth About Killer Robots (Maxim Pozdorovkin, US) — TIFF Docs

By Robert Koehler / September 13, 2018

By Robert Koehler In the span of eight months, nonfiction filmmaker Maxim Pozdorovkin has produced two features on what are, on paper, vital topics: Our New President, which premiered at Sundance, addresses his native Russia’s gullible openness to the Putin propaganda machine’s relentless promotion of Donald Trump before and after his US election; now, with…

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The Death and Life of John F. Donovan (Xavier Dolan, Canada/UK) — Special Presentations

By Adam Nayman / September 13, 2018

By Adam Nayman It’s a bittersweet symphony, this life: that’s the thesis (and arguably the most expensive-to-license hook, assuming friend-of-the-director Adele offered hers for free) in Xavier Dolan’s The Death and Life of John F. Donovan. A famously troubled production that fired one of its two biggest stars via Instagram and betrays scars of that…

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What is Democracy? (Astra Taylor, Canada) — TIFF Docs

By Michael Sicinski / September 12, 2018

By Michael Sicinski The latest philosophical documentary by Astra Taylor (Examined Life, Zizek!) takes on a very timely question, one she can’t be faulted for failing to answer in just under two hours. However, What is Democracy? does suffer from a rather scattershot approach, as though the sheer monumentality of the problem undermined the clear…

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Meeting Gorbachev (Werner Herzog & André Singer, Germany/UK/US) — TIFF Docs

By Michael Sicinski / September 12, 2018

By Michael Sicinski While Errol Morris is busy sitting down with unrepentant fascists, Werner Herzog is making time with one of the key figures of the 20th century, a leader so visionary that he essentially reformed himself right out of a job. This is not to say that Meeting Gorbachev is a free meeting of…

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Clara (Akash Sherman, Canada) — Discovery

By Chelsea Phillips-Carr / September 11, 2018

By Chelsea Phillips-Carr Crumbling under the grief of a lost child and subsequent divorce, astronomer Isaac (Patrick J. Adams) throws himself into searching for extraterrestrial life, with research assistant Clara (the actor’s real-life wife Troian Bellisario) slowly opening him up to new possibilities. Characters question what could be more important than finding alien life, while…

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Anthropocene: The Human Epoch (Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier & Edward Burtynsky, Canada) — Special Presentations

By Steve Macfarlane / September 10, 2018

By Steve Macfarlane Coined by scientist Paul Crutzen in the early 2000s but popularized by the Iraq War veteran cum essayist Roy Scranton’s 2015 book Learning to Live and Die in the Anthropocene, the phrase “anthropocene” (wildly popular among totebag-wielding anarchists, autonomists and accelerationists in New York City) refers to the era of Earth’s history…

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Through Black Spruce (Don McKellar, Canada) — Special Presentations

By Angelo Muredda / September 10, 2018

By Angelo Muredda You almost have to admire the chutzpah of Through Black Spruce, which hits TIFF with an inscrutable mix of sheepishness and self-confidence. Don McKellar’s adaptation of Joseph Boyden’s Giller Prize-winning novel couldn’t be arriving at a worse time, a cultural moment where writers like Jen Sookfong Lee and Alicia Elliott have proclaimed…

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Freaks (Zach Lipovsky & Adam Stein, Canada) — Discovery

By Adam Nayman / September 10, 2018

By Adam Nayman Too grim for a straight-up YA audience and too goofy to be taken too seriously, Zach Lipovsky and Adam Stein’s Freaks at leads owns its curious at-oddsness: it’s a weird, scrappy, palpably Canadian mutant that’s actually more likeable for not quite passing as mainstream fare. That earnest-misfit ethos begins with its seven-year-old…

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Heartbound (Janus Metz & Sine Plambech, Denmark/Netherlands/ Sweden) — TIFF Docs

By Kelley Dong / September 9, 2018

By Kelley Dong Hidden in the grassy seaside of northwestern Jutland, the matronly Sommai has arranged for hundreds of marriages between Thai women and Danish men for more than 30 years. Between 2007 and 2018, documentarian Janus Metz (Borg vs McEnroe) and anthropologist Sine Plambech (Trafficking) closely followed Sommai and her construction of a migration…

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Monrovia, Indiana (Frederick Wiseman, US) — TIFF Docs

By Lorenzo Esposito / September 8, 2018

By Lorenzo Esposito At the end of the screening of Monrovia, Indiana in Venice, a young man approached Fred Wiseman and told him, “Maestro, your films will be understood in 20 years.” Wiseman, laughing, replied: “I wanna be there!” It is not a joke, but maybe the closest thing to Wiseman’s idea of ​​cinema that…

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Edge of the Knife (Gwaii Edenshaw & Helen Haig-Brown, Canada) — Discovery

By Michael Sicinski / September 8, 2018

By Michael Sicinski The first feature film produced in the Haida language, currently spoken by upwards of 20 individuals, Edge of the Knife is notable simply as a cultural survivance project. If there should come a time when Haida is no longer a living language, the film may serve as a kind of Rosetta Stone…

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Graves Without a Name (Rithy Panh, France/Cambodia) — TIFF Docs

By Angelo Muredda / September 8, 2018

By Angelo Muredda Late in Rithy Panh’s elegant successor to The Missing Picture, which more squarely faces his own family losses in the Cambodian genocide of the late ’70s, the filmmaker’s longtime surrogate narrator Randal Douc wonders if he has shot so many images of death in order to forget that he himself is dead.…

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American Dharma (Errol Morris, US) — TIFF Docs

By Clara Miranda / September 7, 2018

By Clara Miranda Scherffig Many viewers “only” know Steve Bannon as the bad-skinned evil plotter behind Donald Trump: a racist, a fascist, an occasional movie producer, a failed media mogul—in other words, not exactly a cinephile. Errol Morris’ documentary about Bannon, American Dharma, includes excerpts of classic American films picked by Bannon to illustrate his…

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Splinters (Thom Fitzgerald, Canada) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Michael Sicinski / September 7, 2018

By Michael Sicinski From its lingering focus on silent theatrical gestures that are ill-suited to the screen, to its narrative that’s structured entirely around an elevator pitch, to its irksome reliance on sub-coffee house white-boy folk music that’s woven right into the diegesis, Splinters could very well serve as Exhibit A for why English Canadian…

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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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The Great Darkened Days (Maxime Giroux, Canada) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Elena Lazic / September 6, 2018

By Elena Lazic It’s a testament to French-Canadian director Maxime Giroux’s control over his material that, as seemingly random or absurd as the events and imagery in The Great Darkened Days may appear, they all feel ruled by a genuine and moving emotion at their core. Giroux’s film centres on Philippe (Martin Dubreuil), a Québécois…

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Giant Little Ones (Keith Behrman, Canada) — Special Presentations

By Angelo Muredda / September 5, 2018

By Angelo Muredda From its YA market-friendly nonsense title to its insistent poptimist score and tired elevator pitch—it’s about that One Moment Everything Changes for a sensitive, good-looking teen who has the whole world on his plate—Giant Little Ones has a lot of strikes against it. It’s a bit of a surprise, then, that Keith…

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Ghost Fleet (Shannon Service & Jeffrey Waldron, US) — TIFF Docs

By Jay Kuehner / September 5, 2018

By Jay Kuehner Apparently they aren’t watching much Errol Morris over at Paul Allen’s Vulcan (the woke producers here), or else The Thin Blue Line has become neglected in documentary programs, lest a telejournalistic “exposé” such as Ghost Fleet, unwittingly indulging its own spurious methodology while attempting to uncover another, be mistaken as meta. Fulminating…

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Firecrackers (Jasmin Mozzafari, Canada) — Discovery

By Adam Nayman / September 4, 2018

By Adam Nayman It’s a town full of losers and they’re pulling out of there to win: that’s the premise of Jasmin Mozzafari’s Firecrackers, which expands the director’s 2013 short of the same name into a conspicuously stylish, intermittently impressive debut that feels very much of the moment in young Canadian cinema, like a faster,…

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Carmine Street Guitars (Ron Mann, Canada) — TIFF Docs

By Shelly Kraicer / September 4, 2018

By Shelly Kraicer Electric craft becomes a stand-in for analogue’s humanity in Ron Mann’s elegiac Carmine Street Guitars. Rick Kelly is the master guitar maker of the beloved, eponymous Greenwich Village guitar shop. He’s been scavenging wood from historic, mostly demolished 19th-century NYC buildings and turning them into lovingly handcrafted electric musical instruments for decades.…

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Putin’s Witnesses (Vitaly Mansky, Latvia/Switerland/ Czech Republic) — TIFF Docs

By Celluloid Liberation Front / September 2, 2018

By Celluloid Liberation Front Almost 20 years after having filmed a promotional campaign movie on Putin and his inner circle during Putin’s first run for president, Vitaly Mansky has returned to this material to look back at the early stages of Putin’s rise to power. The intimacy of the footage paradoxically reveals little of the…

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Walking on Water (Andrey Paounov, Italy/US) — TIFF Docs

By Mark Peranson / September 2, 2018

By Mark Peranson In June 2016 on Lake Iseo in Italy, the Bulgarian-born artist Christo at last realized The Floating Piers, an orange-coloured, three-kilometre walkway on top of the lake that allowed people the experience of metaphorically becoming Jesus. The rollicking documentary Walking on Water takes us through the process of the execution of The…

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Fausto (Andrea Bussmann, Mexico/Canada) — Wavelengths

By Josh Cabrita / September 2, 2018

By Josh Cabrita and Adam Cook Published in Cinema Scope 76 (Fall 2018)   “Most people want to be kings and queens, but not enough want to be Faust.” —Jean-Luc Godard, Le livre d’image When Goethe wrote his Faust, adapting the German legend about a scholar who makes a pact with the Devil to attain…

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Maria by Callas (Tom Volf, France) — TIFF Docs

By Madeleine Wall / September 1, 2018

By Madeleine Wall Compiled from archival footage of Maria Callas’ stage performances, interviews with the press, Super 8 home movies and the occasional letter, Maria by Callas attempts to create a portrait of a woman using as many angles as possible. Tom Volf’s film is more interested in Callas’ personal life than the professional career…

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Les Salopes, or The Naturally Wanton Pleasure of Skin (Renée Beaulieu, Canada) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Angelo Muredda / September 1, 2018

By Angelo Muredda What can be said about Renée Beaulieu’s Les Salopes, or The Naturally Wanton Pleasure of Skin that isn’t already conveyed in the title? The Québécois filmmaker and University of Montréal film professor’s second feature—which concers a biologist whose research on the potentially scandalous connection between desire and dermatology—sits at an awkward juncture…

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Exchange Rate: The Silent Partner at 40

By Adam Nayman / July 2, 2018

By Adam Nayman “I think Toronto is a wonderful town, smart and up to date, just like a good American city…makes me feel like I’m back home in Cleveland.” These words, spoken by a “Mr. Chester Vanderwick” (an apparently authentic Midwesterner, although I’ve always thought he looks and sounds like a bad actor) sum up…

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Issue 75 Editor’s Note

By Mark Peranson / July 2, 2018

By Mark Peranson Believe me or don’t, but it wasn’t until we started to lay out this issue maybe a week or so prior to my typing this that I realized, hey, we’ve reached Issue 75, three-quarters of the way to a century. I guess some people might consider 75 to be a kind of…

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Inbetweeners: The 2018 Images Festival

By Michael Sicinski / April 23, 2018

By Michael Sicinski If you happen to frequent experimental film festivals (and, if you’re reading this, there’s a better-than-average chance that you do), you know that each of them has its own unique ambiance. Part of it, of course, has to do with the types of films shown, which in turn affects the community of…

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Canadiana | Hometown Horror: Robin Aubert’s Les affamés

By Lydia Ogwang / March 16, 2018

By Lydia Ogwang It’s an epidemic: the populist appeal of genre cinema is undeniable, even here at home. In a bit of a surprise, Robin Aubert’s Les affamés won Best Canadian Feature at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, and then the Temps Ø People’s Choice Award at the Festival du nouveau cinéma in Montréal.…

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The Green Fog (Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson, Galen Johnson, US/Canada)

By Lawrence Garcia / December 19, 2017

By Lawrence Garcia That Guy Maddin’s feature-length follow-up to his most monumental work to date—the staggering mise en abyme of The Forbidden Room (2013)—would be The Green Fog, a 63-minute, found-footage video reimagining of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958), is entirely apropos (and a rather Maddin-esque sleight-of-hand) when one considers the fanfare with which The Green…

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Issue 73 Table of Contents

By Cinema Scope / December 19, 2017

Interviews Sightsurf and Brainwave: Blake Williams’ PROTOTYPE by Michael Sicinski In the Shadow of the Magic Kingdom: Sean Baker on The Florida Project by Adam Cook Giving Credibility to the Universe: Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani on Laissez bronzer les cadavres by Christoph Huber Features The Uses of Disenchantment: Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of…

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Ephraim Asili’s Immeasurable Equations

By Jesse Cumming / September 28, 2017

By Jesse Cumming If it is not here It must be there For somewhere and nowhere Parallels In versions of each other …. where Or even before something came to be —Sun Ra, “Parallels” (1970) Described as “A Video Film on Space and the Music of the Omniverse,” Ephraim Asili’s Points on a Space Age (2009)…

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The New Workout Plan: Denis Côté’s Ta peau si lisse

By Adam Nayman / September 28, 2017

By Adam Nayman William K.L. Dickson’s Sandow (1894) is a three-part documentary study of the Prussian muscleman Friedrich Wilhelm Muller, who adopted the more flamboyant nom de plume after he dodged the draft and joined the circus. Sandow’s placement on undergraduate film studies curriculums the world over owes to its unique historical value: it was…

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Mañana a esta hora (Lina Rodriguez, Canada)

By Angelo Muredda / September 28, 2017

  By Angelo Muredda The first image we see in Lina Rodriguez’s deceptively modest second feature Mañana a esta hora (This Time Tomorrow) is something of a puzzle: a gradually lightening shot of a tree in a leafy park in Bogotá, standing sturdy and still. While this depopulated, evergreen overture might seem to promise an…

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Never Steady, Never Still (Kathleen Hepburn, Canada)—Discovery

By Lydia Ogwang / September 16, 2017

By Lydia Ogwang Determining the sum total of Kathleen Hepburn’s formally accomplished feature debut is daunting arithmetic. Protagonist Judy, a longtime sufferer of Parkinson’s disease, lives with her husband and 18-year-old son in warm domesticity. The film’s opening moments deliver a soft, rose-coloured naturalism, but a prologue delivered in voiceover establishes loss and vulnerability as…

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BOOM FOR REAL The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat (Sara Driver, USA) — TIFF Docs

By Phil Coldiron / September 14, 2017

By Phil Coldiron GELDZAHLER: So they’re kinds [sic] of indexes to encyclopedias that don’t exist? BASQUIAT: I just like the names. Given that this exchange between curator and artist is typical of the latter’s saintly tendency towards terseness, Sara Driver’s decision to render her portrait of the five years before Basquiat exploded onto the art…

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Living Proof (Matt Embry, Canada) — TIFF Docs

By Aurelie Godet / September 13, 2017

By Aurélie Godet Canadian filmmaker Matt Embry is living proof that one can do well despite being stuck with multiple sclerosis, provided that one circumvents the medical establishment’s augur of incurability by diversifying sources of information on the causes and treatment of the disease. This is the main takeaway of Living Proof, a documentary that…

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Cocaine Prison (Violeta Ayala, Australia/Bolivia/France/US) — TIFF Docs

By Michael Sicinski / September 13, 2017

By Michael Sicinski There’s a scene early on in Cocaine Prison where we see several of the little brothers of Deisy Torrez, one of the film’s main subjects, rolling around in dried coca leaves, playing in the foliage like so many New Englanders have at the height of autumn. This is beautiful and sad, since…

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Alias Grace (Mary Harron, Canada/USA) — Primetime

By Angelo Muredda / September 13, 2017

By Angelo Muredda Margaret Atwood’s most genre-bending, postmodern novel gets a mostly straightforward Victorian adaptation in Mary Harron’s CBC-bound miniseries Alias Grace, at least on the basis of its first two episodes. Atwood has a lot of fun with the lurid rubbernecking appeal of the story of Grace Marks (Sarah Gadon), the maid turned prisoner…

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Black Cop (Cory Bowles, Canada) — Discovery

By Josh Cabrita / September 13, 2017

By Josh Cabrita The inciting central incident in Cory Bowles’ debut feature is an all-too-recognizable altercation between two belligerent, white Toronto PD officers and a hoodie-wearing black man (Ronnie Rowe Jr.) leaving a convenience store mid-run. Starting with the officers’ quasi-congenial attempts to get the jogger’s attention while his earbuds blare, a tumult of racially…

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Azmaish: A Journey Through the Subcontinent (Sabiha Sumar, Pakistan) — TIFF Docs

By Michael Sicinski / September 13, 2017

By Michael Sicinski While certainly informative and laudably humanist in intent, Azmaish poses a certain problem for this reviewer, simply from the standpoint of context. This new documentary/road movie from Sabiha Sumar (Dinner with the President) is a kind of primer on the conflicts between India and Pakistan, offering a crash course that starts with…

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Cardinals (Grayson Moore & Aidan Shipley, Canada) — Discovery

By Lydia Ogwang / September 12, 2017

By Lydia Ogwang Canadian newcomers Grayson Moore and Aidan Shipley strike gold with veteran Sheila McCarthy in the lead role of Cardinals. McCarthy is masterful as the damningly self-convicted Valerie, a mother of two recalibrating to free civilian life after serving time for apparent alcohol-induced vehicular manslaughter. While her daughters (played by Grace Glowicki and…

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The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches (Simon Lavoie, Canada) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Josh Cabrita / September 12, 2017

By Josh Cabrita A tale of a reclusive, degenerate family in rural Quebec in the 1930s, Simon Lavoie’s follow-up to Those Who Make Revolution Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves (winner of last year’s Best Canadian Feature prize at TIFF) wastes no time shoving our noses into some truly vile shit: an abusive patriarchy, incest,…

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Les Affamés (Robin Aubert, Canada) — Contemporary World Cinema)

By Michael Sicinski / September 11, 2017

By Michael Sicinski While it could be said that the last thing the world needs is another zombie movie, Québécois director Robin Aubert has managed to offer a solid and at times even original survey of this well-trod terrain. Where so many other genre filmmakers make the mistake of trying to add their unique spin…

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The Crescent (Seth A. Smith, Canada) — Midnight Madness

By Josh Cabrita / September 11, 2017

By Josh Cabrita Seth A. Smith’s perplexing and propulsive The Crescent strips away nearly all exuberance from its mise en scène and presents Nova Scotia’s naturally picturesque vistas in bleak hues. Using the anxieties of a survivalist psyche to radically realign our perception of specific tropes, Smith capitalizes on fears of economic isolation within the…

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A Worthy Companion (Carlos Sanchez & Jason Sanchez, Canada) — Discovery

By Angelo Muredda / September 11, 2017

By Angelo Muredda Evan Rachel Wood works hard to put on a tough face in Carlos and Jason Sanchez’s unconvincing debut feature, the kind of miserablist festival fare that has given English Canadian cinema a bad name for too long. Wood stars as Laura, a thirtysomething house cleaner with unsavoury sexual appetites (so a moralizing…

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The Breadwinner (Nora Twomey, Canada/Ireland/Luxembourg) — Special Presentations

By Chelsea Phillips-Carr / September 11, 2017

By Chelsea Phillips-Carr In its reductive exploration of misogyny in Afghanistan, The Breadwinner is reflective of how a children’s film, with its simplified, toned-down, and easily conveyed ideas, is not conducive to discussions of serious political problems. But equally faulty is the very obvious issue of who is discussing what, and for whom. A film…

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Makala (Emmanuel Gras, France) — TIFF Docs

By James Lattimer / September 10, 2017

By James Lattimer For all the recent criticism of Cannes’ reliance on the same big names, perhaps the bigger problem is the festival’s continuing failure to find new ones to replace them, as the chances of making a real discovery on the Croisette seem to dwindle further with each passing year. French director Emmanuel Gras’…

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The Carter Effect (Sean Menard, Canada/USA) — TIFF Docs

By Adam Nayman / September 10, 2017

By Adam Nayman Filming Drake (billed as a “rapper/actor,” in a nod to his Degrassi stint) in front of some dinosaur skeletons at the Royal Ontario Museum is the wittiest touch in Sean Menard’s barely feature-length, sure-to-be-bought-for-television account of Vince Carter’s tumultuous tenure with the Toronto Raptors, not that said tumultuousness is really given its…

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Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond (Chris Smith, USA/Canada) — TIFF Docs

By Pamela Jahn / September 10, 2017

By Pamela Jahn When Jim Carrey auditioned to play Andy Kaufman in Miloš Forman’s 1999 biopic Man on the Moon, he was a man on a roll: Ace Ventura, The Mask, and Dumb and Dumber (all released in 1994) had made him a star and the best-paid comic actor of his generation, and he exceeded…

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Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart (Tracy Heather Strain, USA) — TIFF Docs

By Michael Sicinski / September 9, 2017

By Michael Sicinski Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart is a TV documentary about the life and work of the late African-American playwright/activist Lorraine Hansberry. Produced for PBS’ American Masters series, Sighted Eyes is meticulously researched, well assembled, and has most of the appropriate expert commentary. It is instructive to remember just how much Hansberry accomplished in her…

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Don’t Talk to Irene (Pat Mills, Canada) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Robert Koehler / September 9, 2017

By Robert Koehler After the dark pleasures of his debut feature Guidance, writer-director Pat Mills wanders into the deep Toronto suburban bush with his considerably less funny follow-up Don’t Talk to Irene. High school seems to be Mills’ bailiwick: Guidance took school counselling to extreme, twisted places, mining good sources of satire; Don’t Talk to…

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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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Meditation Park (Mina Shum, Canada) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Josh Cabrita / September 8, 2017

By Josh Cabrita Mina Shum’s first narrative feature since 2002 (following a decade-long stint directing Vancouver-based television) is contained within the few blocks surrounding the intersection of Renfrew and Hastings in East Vancouver, a community largely made up of longtime Asian immigrants. One of these residents is the silently resilient Maria (Pei-Pei Cheng), who has…

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The Tesla World Light (Matthew Rankin, Canada) — Short Cuts

By Jason Anderson / September 7, 2017

By Jason Anderson Published in Cinema Scope 71 (Summer 2017) International devotees of Canuck pop-cultural arcana may pride themselves on knowing every single line that Drake ever uttered on Degrassi: The Next Generation, but there’s another treasure that Canadians thus far have been able to keep for themselves. These are the Heritage Minutes, a series…

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Fluid Frontiers (Ephraim Asili, USA/Canada) — Wavelengths

By Jesse Cumming / September 7, 2017

By Jesse Cumming Published in Cinema Scope 72 (Fall 2017) If it is not here It must be there For somewhere and nowhere Parallels In versions of each other …. where Or even before something came to be —Sun Ra, “Parallels” (1970) Described as “A Video Film on Space and the Music of the Omniverse,”…

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PROTOTYPE (Blake Williams, Canada) — Wavelengths

By Phil Coldiron / September 6, 2017

By Phil Coldiron Early in the autumn of 1900, four months before Edison closed the Black Maria and five years before the Lumière brothers left the cinematograph business altogether for what they supposed to be less trivial concerns, a storm landed at the booming port town of Galveston, Texas and killed perhaps as many as…

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Of Sheep and Men (Karim Sayad, Switzerland/France/Qatar) — TIFF Docs

By Michael Sicinski / September 6, 2017

By Michael Sicinski First of all, let me compliment Mr. Sayad’s directorial prowess: I watched Of Sheep and Men with no foreknowledge, and I honestly thought it was a fictional feature. That’s because this documentary is so tightly structured in terms of its focus on two protagonists and their gradually shifting milieu, and even though…

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Luk’Luk’I (Wayne Wapeemukwa, Canada) — Discovery

By Chelsea Phillips-Carr / September 5, 2017

By Chelsea Phillips-Carr Set and shot during the last days of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, in Luk’Luk’I Wayne Wapeemukwa attempts to puncture the veneer of Canadian nationalism by turning away from the event’s image of national prosperity and togetherness in order to focus on marginalized communities. Working with a cast of mostly nonprofessional actors,…

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Our People Will Be Healed (Alanis Obomsawin, Canada) — Masters

By Josh Cabrita / September 5, 2017

By Josh Cabrita Now in her 85th year and making her 50th film, indispensable Indigenous documentarian Alanis Obomsawin appears to have fallen into an atypical mood of optimistic self-reflection. In her previous film, the nearly three-hour, Wisemanesque We Can’t Make The Same Mistake Twice, she chronicled, with deliberate drudgery and opacity, a years-long judicial suit…

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Ex Libris – The New York Public Library (Frederick Wiseman, USA) — TIFF Docs

By Tom Charity / September 5, 2017

By Tom Charity Published in Cinema Scope 72 (Fall 2017) Let’s start with this: the transitions in Fred Wiseman’s new film (and there are many) have a simple and specific beauty. They double as establishing shots, each comprising a brief cluster of New York street views, usually including an intersection sign to pin us to…

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Pyewacket (Adam MacDonald, Canada) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Adam Nayman / September 3, 2017

By Adam Nayman The hands-down winner of the TIFF 2017 “Google the title to understand it” award, Pyewacket finds Adam MacDonald—who came to the festival in 2014 with a tough, impressive little thriller called Backcountry—swapping generic models, trading survivalist realism for occult-tinged horror. It’s a lateral move, and also not an improvement (albeit one that’s…

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Ta peau si lisse (Denis Côté, Canada/Switzerland) — Wavelengths

By Adam Nayman / September 3, 2017

By Adam Nayman Published in Cinema Scope 72 (Fall 2017) William K.L. Dickson’s Sandow (1894) is a three-part documentary study of the Prussian muscleman Friedrich Wilhelm Muller, who adopted the more flamboyant nom de plume after he dodged the draft and joined the circus. Sandow’s placement on undergraduate film studies curriculums the world over owes…

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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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Porcupine Lake (Ingrid Veninger, Canada) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Angelo Muredda / September 2, 2017

By Angelo Muredda Micro-budget Toronto filmmaker turned production maven Ingrid Veninger hits her sweet spot with Porcupine Lake, which trades some of her scrappier aesthetic instincts for a more polished veneer but keeps the heart and prickly specificity of her best work. Like Andrew Cividino’s recent Canadian indie darling Sleeping Giant, which staged its small-scale…

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Mary Goes Round (Molly McGlynn, Canada) — Discovery

By Adam Nayman / September 1, 2017

By Adam Nayman “Are you a piece of shit?” This is the question being pondered by 29-year-old Mary (Aya Cash), who suspects that she might be and knows for a fact that she’s a hypocrite, peddling substance abuse-program platitudes at her day job while getting fucked up by night (and in the afternoon, and on…

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Global Discoveries on DVD: A (Mainly) Alphabetical Listing of 24 Items

By Jonathan Rosenbaum / June 22, 2017

By Jonathan Rosenbaum Blow-Up (Criterion Blu-ray). I’ve always had somewhat mixed feelings about Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1967 Swinging London hit: awe and admiration for his uncanny handling of space, colour, mood, and non-narrative stasis in juxtaposition with his metaphysical detective story, and irritation about the show-offy, fashion-plate ambience that seemed far more responsible for the movie’s…

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Electroshock Therapy: Matthew Rankin on The Tesla World Light

By Jason Anderson / June 22, 2017

By Jason Anderson International devotees of Canuck pop-cultural arcana may pride themselves on knowing every single line that Drake ever uttered on Degrassi: The Next Generation, but there’s another treasure that Canadians thus far have been able to keep for themselves. These are the Heritage Minutes, a series of government-made, bilingual 60-second shorts for television…

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First Do No Harm: Hugh Gibson on The Stairs

By Angelo Muredda / March 24, 2017

By Angelo Muredda  Early in Hugh Gibson’s The Stairs, we meet Marty, a recovering addict working as a social worker for drug users in Toronto’s Regent Park. A loquacious eccentric who clearly relishes the Aaron Sorkin-inflected walk-and-talk of his onscreen introduction, Marty seems equally comfortable leading a tutorial on packing safe injection kits at work…

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Orchestrating the Apocalypse: The Survival Horror of Paul W.S. Anderson’s Resident Evils

By Christoph Huber / March 20, 2017

“This is a product of the Umbrella Corporation. Our business is life itself. Some side effects may occur.” —commercial announcement lead-in to the end credits of Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)

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Ceux qui font les révolutions à moitié n’ont fait que se creuser un tombeau (Mathieu Denis and Simon Lavoie, Canada)

By Adam Nayman / December 19, 2016

By Adam Nayman How in the world did Ceux qui font les révolutions à moitié n’ont fait que se creuser un tombeau (Those Who Make Revolution Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves) win the Best Canadian Feature prize this year at TIFF? I’m wondering this not because I think the film is unworthy, or necessarily…

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Issue 69: Table of Contents

By Cinema Scope / December 19, 2016

This the full table of contents from Cinema Scope Magazine #69. We post selected articles from each issue on the site which you can read for free using the links below. This is only possible with support from our subscribers, so please consider a subscription to the magazine, or  the instant digital download version. 

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Global Discoveries on DVD: Awards and Extras

By Jonathan Rosenbaum / September 25, 2016

By Jonathan Rosenbaum. DVD Awards 2016, Il Cinema Ritrovato Jurors: Lorenzo Codelli, Alexander Horwath, Lucien Logette, Mark McElhatten, Paolo Mereghetti, and Jonathan Rosenbaum. (Although Mark McElhatten wasn’t able to attend the festival this year, he has continued to function as a very active member of the jury.) BEST SPECIAL FEATURES Coffret Nico Papatakis (France, 1963-92)…

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Bleed for This (Ben Younger, US) — Special Presentations

By Robert Koehler / September 17, 2016

By Robert Koehler Fun fact about the tenacious American boxer Vinny Paz, or as he was known during his heyday, Vinny Pazienza: In his final bid for the WBC world super middleweight title, he lost to Canada, represented by Quebec’s Eric “Lucky” Lucas. No Canadian has made a movie about Lucas, not yet anyway, but…

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Miss Impossible (Emilie Deleuze, France) — TIFF Kids

By Michael Sicinski / September 17, 2016

By Michael Sicinski It may be a painfully obvious point, but the simplest gauge of Miss Impossible’s unassuming success is to consider all the cheap, ingratiating tics you’d see in an American version of the same material. This is a very small film buoyed by a lead character, 13-year-old Aurore (newcomer Léna Magnien), whose snark…

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Into the Inferno (Werner Herzog, UK/Austria) — TIFF Docs

By Robert Koehler / September 17, 2016

By Robert Koehler Like certain kinds of sports fans, those who are into volcanoes can’t understand those who aren’t. (I’ve met a few, and I’ve found little else in life to discuss with them.) So Into the Inferno, Werner Herzog’s third film addressing volcanoes, and the first taking a global perspective, is not for those…

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India in a Day (Richie Mehta, India/UK) — TIFF Docs

By Jay Kuehner / September 17, 2016

By Jay Kuehner Never mind the city symphony—here is the cacophony of an entire country. The “user-generated doc” is enlisted to reveal (or effectively colonize, depending on your view) its own vast territory, in this case the world’s largest democracy, India. By virtue of sheer plurality and simultaneity—and under the dubious tutelage of Ridley Scott…

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Colossal (Nacho Vigalondo, Canada/Spain) — Vanguard

By Josh Cabrita / September 17, 2016

By Josh Cabrita Nacho Vigalondo’s discombobulating rom-com monster movie occupies an awkward middle ground. Neither committing to its darker undertones nor giving itself over to unhinged absurdity, the film shifts between an ironic and forthright treatment of its preposterous concept: that thirtysomething alcoholic Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is responsible for unpredictable monster sightings and attacks in…

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Maliglutit (Searchers) (Zacharias Kunuk, Canada) — Platform

By Jay Kuehner / September 16, 2016

By Jay Kuehner There’s something poetic in the notion of an indigenous reworking of John Ford’s The Searchers (1956), although it does not appear to be the motivating principle behind Zacharias Kunuk’s Maliglutit, which fashions itself as a western told in an Inuit way. There are of course a host of political/theoretical implications to such…

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We Can’t Make the Same Mistake Twice (Alanis Obomsawin, Canada) — Masters

By Adam Nayman / September 15, 2016

By Adam Nayman There is a moment near the end of Alanis Obomsawin’s purposefully epic-length courtroom-procedural documentary We Can’t Make the Same Mistake Twice where the camera catches a lawyer’s convictions wilting—he can’t even really make eye contact with the tribunal he’s trying to convince, much less sell them on the idea that the Canadian…

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Water and Sugar: Carlo Di Palma, The Colours of Life (Fariboz Kamkari, Italy) — TIFF Docs

By Robert Koehler / September 15, 2016

By Robert Koehler There’s no excuse making a poor film on the life and work of one of cinema’s greatest cinematographers. A film about Carlo Di Palma should practically direct itself: stitch together clips from his major (and some of his minor) work—from Pietro Germi’s Divorce Italian Style (1961) and Antonioni’s Red Desert (1964), Blow-up…

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Prank (Vincent Biron, Canada) — Discovery

By Josh Cabrita / September 15, 2016

By Josh Cabrita There’s a self-reflexive moment in Vincent Biron’s feature debut where a group of delinquents watch Béla Tarr’s The Turin Horse (2011) stoned in a backyard. It’s an odd cinephilic reference point for a film that is ostensibly the bastard child of Harmony Korine’s Trash Humpers (2009) and Todd Solondz’s Welcome to the…

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Politics, Instruction Manual (Fernando León de Aranoa, Spain) — TIFF DOCS

By Steve Macfarlane / September 15, 2016

By Steve Macfarlane If one major lesson can be drawn (as opposed to countless small and terrifying ones) from the last few years of populist upsurges, maybe it’s this: a consistent, well-sold policy—whether Bernie Sanders’ or Nigel Farage’s—can still resonate with dissatisfied voter blocs in a major way, wild-carding the amnesiac Central Casting burlesque that…

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Birth of the Dragon (George Nolfi, US/China/Canada) — Special Presentations

By Steve Macfarlane / September 15, 2016

By Steve Macfarlane When it comes to biopic treatment, everybody deserves better. But this is especially true for Bruce Lee, who left behind a rich and varied filmography, lest we forget—by my lights, the drinking sequence in The Big Boss (1971) is as termitic a portrayal of shit-facedness as the movies have offered, facing competition…

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Old Stone (Johnny Ma, Canada/China) — Discovery

By Ethan Vestby / September 14, 2016

By Ethan Vestby Cab driver Lao Shi (Chen Gang) has his worst fare ever when an inebriated passenger unexpectedly grabs his arm, causing his car to strike a motorcyclist. Quick to act when an ambulance won’t show up, Lao Shi rushes the injured man to the hospital. Yet his good deed only brings him misfortune,…

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I Am Not Your Negro (Raoul Peck, US/France/Belgium/Switzerland) — TIFF Docs

By Steve Macfarlane / September 13, 2016

By Steve Macfarlane This past summer, I attended a screening and panel discussion hosted by the New Negress Film Society in Brooklyn; standing outside the venue afterwards, a flustered British gentleman took the evening’s general political timbre to task as follows: “I’m just a bit tired of hearing about the whole ‘white supremacy’ conversation. It’s…

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(Re)Assignment (Walter Hill, Canada/France/US) — Special Presentations

By Adam Nayman / September 13, 2016

By Adam Nayman A potential powder keg of (trans)gender politics provided anybody ever actually sees it after its TIFF premiere, Walter Hill’s (Re)Assignment is sort of two movies in one: a low-rent, bullet-in-the-head revenge thriller that embraces clichés like long-lost friends, and an inconngrously high-minded disquisition on style that cribs from Shakespeare and Poe en…

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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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Off Frame AKA Revolution to Until Victory (Mohanad Yaqubi, Palestine/France/Qatar/Lebanon) — TIFF Docs

By Robert Koehler / September 12, 2016

By Robert Koehler Beyond the rare screening of Far From Vietnam (1967), viewers today have few chances to encounter the Third Cinema movement, that brief but intense burst of nonfiction work generally informed by Marxist-Leninist internationalism whose superstar was a radicalized Jean-Luc Godard. If you attended North American universities in the mid-’70s you would have…

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Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (Steve James, US) — TIFF Docs

By Michael Sicinski / September 12, 2016

By Michael Sicinski Most of the films related to the 2008 financial meltdown (documentaries and features) have assumed an audience thoroughly cowed by the very topic. In fact, the films themselves have often seemed flummoxed by their very subject, doing their best to present the complexities of 21st-century international finance in broad strokes and simple…

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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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The Ivory Game (Kief Davidson & Richard Ladkani, Austria/USA) — TIFF Docs

By Jay Kuehner / September 11, 2016

By Jay Kuehner A “call to action,” a “wake-up call”—call it what call you will, The Ivory Game is stylized broadcast journalism for the Netflix set, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, considering how smart elephants are; if only they can outlast cinema when it comes to extinction. To be fair, the ivory trade is…

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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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The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography (Errol Morris, US) — TIFF Docs

By Jay Kuehner / September 11, 2016

By Jay Kuehner As a portrait of a portrait artist, Errol Morris’ framing of Elsa Dorfman is scaled with commensurately intimate and life-sized means, perhaps surprisingly given the director’s predilection for the everyday uncanny (you’d suspect Diane Arbus to be the more fitting subject). Morris drops in on Dorfman’s studio for a guided tour of…

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Below Her Mouth (April Mullen, Canada) — Special Presentations

By Adam Nayman / September 11, 2016

By Adam Nayman Nomi Malone’s swimming-pool gyrations in Showgirls (1995) have nothing on the scene in Below Her Mouth where fashion editor Jasmine (Natalie Krill) brings herself to orgasm via a full-blast bathtub faucet while perched perilously over the porcelain basin; if nothing else, it’s quite a display of upper-body strength. So, credit director April…

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ARQ (Tony Elliott, US/Canada) — Discovery

By Michael Sicinski / September 10, 2016

By Michael Sicinski Bearing a surface resemblance to Primer (2004) and Edge of Tomorrow (2014), ARQ thrusts its viewers into a vaguely futuristic world that [REBOOT] Bearing an unnervingly derivative resemblance to Shane Carruth’s Primer (2004), which did much more with considerably less, the debut feature by TV writer Tony Elliott (most recently of Orphan…

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Weirdos (Bruce McDonald, Canada) — Special Presentations

By Adam Nayman / September 10, 2016

By Adam Nayman Having given Bruce McDonald a pretty rough ride in this space last year for the so-bad-it-had-to-be-contractually-obligated horror movie Hellions, I’m inclined to go easier on Weirdos, which has the same rambling, open-road sensibility of the director’s very best movies. Not that this gentle period comedy (dateline: Antigonish, 1976) ever really challenges the…

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Gaza Surf Club (Mickey Yamine & Phillip Gnadt, Germany/Palestine/US) — TIFF Docs

By Josh Cabrita / September 10, 2016

By Josh Cabrita Whether it’s admirable wish-fulfillment or just plain dishonest, Mickey Yamine and Phillip Gnadt’s Gaza Surf Club is a “feel-good” documentary that wants to be—and is about being—distracted from injustice. Focusing on the bourgeoning surfing culture in the Gaza Strip, the film follows three interconnected individuals: a female adolescent who can’t swim because…

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Karl Marx City (Petra Epperlein & Michael Tucker, US/Germany) — TIFF Docs

By Michael Sicinski / September 9, 2016

By Michael Sicinski An impressive outing from the pair who made the rather shambolic Gunner Palace back in 2004, Karl Marx City is that rarest of objects: an exploration of family history that avoids solipsism and manages to connect the personal to much broader things. Petra Epperlein and her family grew up in the GDR;…

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Window Horses (The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming) (Ann Marie Fleming, Canada) — Special Presentations

By Angelo Muredda / September 9, 2016

By Angelo Muredda Though it’s a bit scrappy on first glance, Window Horses director Ann Marie Fleming’s drawing style has a good story behind it. After surviving a car accident while she was an animation student, Fleming resorted to the barest of shorthands in her minimalist sketches of a character she called Stick Girl, made…

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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 Cinema Travellers (Shirley Abraham & Amit Madheshiya, India) — TIFF Docs

By Shelly Kraicer / September 8, 2016

By Shelly Kraicer Mohammed, Bapu, and Prakash are three cinema magi: half wizards, not-quite-ghosts, intelligent and hard-working men who have been keeping the art of film (and we mean celluloid) projection alive in the Indian state of Maharashtra. The first two run travelling cinemas, where ancient 35mm projectors show old films inside tents to rural…

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Bezness as Usual (Alex Pitstra, Netherlands) – TIFF Docs

By Robert Koehler / September 7, 2016

By Robert Koehler Dutch filmmaker Alex Pitstra’s mother Anneke, trying to bounce back from a bitter divorce, vacationed in a Tunisia beach resort in the late ’70s, where she met and fell for local playboy Mohsen Ben Hassen. Together, back in the Netherlands, they had little Alex, soon after she had learned that Mohsen was…

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Unless (Alan Gilsenan, Canada/Ireland) — Special Presentations

By Angelo Muredda / September 7, 2016

By Angelo Muredda The last novel and late-career manifesto of Pulitzer Prize winner Carol Shields gets a visceral but disjointed adaptation in Alan Gilsenan’s Unless, which, like its source, follows the mysterious transformation of Norah (Hannah Gross), a college student who suddenly goes silent and abandons her life of middle-class comfort to camp out on…

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Nelly (Anne Émond, Canada) — Vanguard

By Ethan Vestby / September 6, 2016

By Ethan Vestby Curiously placed in Vanguard despite a biopic pedigree seemingly guaranteed a spot in the bottomless pit of the section known as Special Presentations (unless the programmers of Midnight Madness’ “cooler older sister” thought sexploitation was the “genre” supposedly being turned on its head), Nelly is, regardless, a case of a film that…

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All Governments Lie: Truth, Deception, and the Spirit of I.F. Stone (Fred Peabody, Canada) — TIFF Docs

By Alysia Urrutia / September 6, 2016

  By Alysia Urrutia Taking its title from legendary independent journalist I.F. Stone’s guiding maxim, Fred Peabody’s All Governments Lie expands its critical scope by tracking down other deceptive public institutions whose credibility also deserves debunking, mainly corporate organizations and the mass media. Despite money and power being common denominators among the suspected liars, the…

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Hello Destroyer (Kevan Funk, Canada) — Discovery

By Adam Nayman / September 6, 2016

By Adam Nayman It’s either genuinely ballsy or calculatedly smart for a young Canadian director to attack the culture and codes of junior hockey. The fact is that Kevan Funk’s Hello Destroyer is set to get a lot of attention at TIFF and beyond, and it’s constructed sturdily enough to stand up to any forthcoming…

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The Stairs (Hugh Gibson, Canada) — TIFF Docs

By Shelly Kraicer / September 6, 2016

By Shelly Kraicer Hugh Gibson’s fascinating documentary The Stairs takes us into the lives of three harm reduction workers in Toronto’s Regent Park, a housing project now under hopeful renewal that has long represented Toronto’s most disadvantaged communities. Martin, Greg, and Roxanne are all current or past drug users who also work at the Regent…

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Mali Blues (Lutz Gregor, Germany) — TIFF Docs

By Alysia Urrutia / September 5, 2016

By Alysia Urrutia You might remember her minor but memorable performance in the Oscar-nominated Timbuktu (2014), but in Lutz Gregor’s Mali Blues singer Fatoumata Diawara’s electrifying pizzazz rightfully earns her the spotlight. Gregor documents Fatou’s journey of self-discovery on a concert tour of her native land, a country whose occupation by radical Islamists separated its…

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Mean Dreams (Nathan Morlando, Canada) — Special Presentations

By Angelo Muredda / September 5, 2016

By Angelo Muredda Early in Nathan Morlando’s Mean Dreams—a Canadian production with American aspirations—kewpie-doll runaway Casey (Sophie Nélisse) gets moony-eyed as she remembers her dead mother’s wish to get away from the dour country that entrapped her and light out for the ocean. It might be a testament to the film’s restrained Northern ethos (in…

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My Life as a Courgette (Claude Barras, Switzerland/France) — TIFF Kids

By Jordan Cronk / September 4, 2016

By Jordan Cronk Don’t let the TIFF Kids designation fool you: Swiss animator Claude Barras’ My Life as a Courgette, one of the bright spots of this year’s Quinzaine, is one of the most emotionally acute and sharply observed films in recent memory. Scripted by Céline Sciamma (director of Girlhood and Tomboy) from a novel…

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Jean of the Joneses (Stella Meghie, Canada) — Discovery

By Ethan Vestby / September 4, 2016

By Ethan Vestby Perhaps it’s not fair to Jean of the Joneses to interpret it as a direct answer to the lily-white “millennial artistic type makes their way through Brooklyn” narratives of recent times, be it Girls, Frances Ha (2012) or Listen Up Philip (2014). Yet as it opens on its eponymous Jamaican-American heroine (Taylour…

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Werewolf (Ashley McKenzie, Canada) — Discovery

By Adam Nayman / September 4, 2016

By Adam Nayman The title’s a metaphor, of course. New Waterford-based Ashley McKenzie’s feature debut, after a string of sterling shorts, tracks two methadone-swigging wastrels whose chemical dependencies have them eking out a feral existence in small-town Nova Scotia. The narrative materials are generic—plenty of down-in-the-mouth Canadiana out there—but the filmmaking is vivid and specific.…

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Loving (Jeff Nichols, US) — Gala Presentations

By Richard Porton / September 4, 2016

By Richard Porton There’s little question that Jeff Nichols’ Loving deals with one of the most fascinating, and little known, incidents in the history of American racial strife. Inspired by Nancy Buirski’s documentary The Loving Story (2011), Nichols retells the remarkable saga of Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred Loving (Ruth Negga), an interracial couple whose…

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Two Lovers and a Bear (Kim Nguyen, Canada) — Special Presentations

By Richard Porton / September 3, 2016

By Richard Porton A decidedly whimsical take on amour fou, Kim Nguyen’s Two Lovers and a Bear stretches a thin premise to its limits. Lovers with daddy issues Roman (Dane DeHaan) and Lucy (Tatiana Maslany) reside in the Canadian Arctic. Supremely photogenic, as well as inseparable, the couple weathers a crisis when Lucy decides to…

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Close Relations (Vitaly Mansky, Latvia/Germany/ Estonia/ Ukraine) — TIFF Docs

By Alysia Urrutia / September 3, 2016

By Alysia Urrutia Adding to the robust shelf of documentaries that have scavenged Ukrainian soil in the wake of the Euro-Maidan Revolution, Vitaly Mansky’s Close Relations takes a sharp turn away from a propagandist approach and steers into the up-close-and-personal framework of a home movie. Its intimate and conversational nature, along with Mansky’s bold decision…

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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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X Quinientos (Juan Andrés Arango, Canada/Colombia/ Mexico) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Adam Nayman / September 2, 2016

By Adam Nayman The sinister shadow of Iñárritu hangs over Juan Andrés Arango’s tripartite character study, which doesn’t explicitly interconnect its stories Babel-style but nevertheless seems similarly intended as a commentary on universal issues of displacement and alienation (sans international movie stars, of course; this is a Canadian co-production after all). As such, it’s pretty…

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It’s Only the End of the World (Xavier Dolan, Canada/France) — Special Presentations

By Adam Nayman / September 2, 2016

  By Adam Nayman As in Tom at the Farm (2013), It’s Only the End of the World finds Xavier Dolan more or less on his best behaviour, humbly (as much as that’s possible for him) adapting a pre-existing play (by the late Québécois writer Jean-Marc Lagarce) rather than weaving his melodrama out of whole…

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The Gag of Realism: Nathan for You

By Benny Safdie / June 27, 2016

By Benny Safdie When you become obsessed with creating realism you create something fake. When you become obsessed with recreating reality you can create something hilarious. This idea hit me hard while watching the “Smokers Allowed” episode of Nathan Fielder’s Comedy Central series Nathan for You. For the uninitiated, Nathan for You plays like a…

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Cinema Scope presents the Toronto premiere of Lewis Klahr’s SIXTY SIX

By cscope2 / May 12, 2016

Experimental film opus Sixty Six to screen in Toronto on May 24 Cinema Scope magazine is proud to present the Toronto premiere of Lewis Klahr’s Sixty Six (2015), in partnership with the Cinema Studies Institute at the University of Toronto, and sponsored by The Beguiling. Date: Tuesday, May 24 Time: doors 6:30 p.m.; screening 7:00…

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Editor’s Note: The Cinema Scope Top Ten of 2015

By Mark Peranson / March 21, 2016

The Cinema Scope Top Ten of 2015 1. Cemetery of Splendour (Apichatpong Weerasethakul) 2. Arabian Nights (Miguel Gomes) 3. The Assassin (Hou Hsiao-hsien) 4. The Forbidden Room (Guy Maddin & Evan Johnson) 5. Right Now, Wrong Then (Hong Sangsoo) 6. Visit, or Memories and Confessions (Manoel de Oliveira) 7. Lost and Beautiful (Pietro Marcello) 8.…

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Room (Lenny Abrahamson, Ireland/Canada)

By Angelo Muredda / December 21, 2015

  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…

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TIFF 2015 | My Skinny Sister (Saana Lenken, Sweden/Germany)—TIFF Kids

By Michael Sicinski / September 19, 2015

By Michael Sicinski Although some critics will undoubtedly refer to Saana Lenken’s film about teenage bulimia as Afterschool Special material, let’s be clear: no American or Canadian film would approach the seriousness or cruelty with which Lenken addresses her Swedish audience. More than once, the relationship between Stella (Rebecka Josephson) and her sister Katja (Amy…

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TIFF 2015 | Northern Soul (Elaine Constantine, UK)—City to City

By Michael Sicinski / September 19, 2015

By Michael Sicinski Given that these online reviews offer a comments section, I’d like to invite readers to chime in here, as if we were doing a radio call-in show: did anyone who attended TIFF this year, critic or regular filmgoer, actually see any of the City to City films? Honestly, I haven’t heard a…

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TIFF 2015 | It All Started at the End (Luis Ospina, Colombia)—TIFF Docs

By Steve Macfarlane / September 19, 2015

By Steve Macfarlane Long before “poverty porn” was popular parlance, a tight-knit network of filmmakers and artists in Colombia made Agarrando Pueblo (The Vampires of Poverty), a satiric mockumentary about Latin American documentarians “selling images of poverty to Europe” to boost their own careers. The 28-minute short gets a few minutes’ special attention in Luis…

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TIFF 2015 | No Men Beyond This Point (Mark Sawers, Canada)—Vanguard

By Tom Charity / September 18, 2015

By Tom Charity Providing a welcome counterpoint to the pregnant pre-teen boys in Evolution, Mark Sawers’ documentary traces the rise of the Virgin Birth in the latter half of the 20th century, the redundancy of the male sex, and anticipates man’s imminent extinction as womankind inherits the planet. This is all in jest, of course—a mockumentary,…

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TIFF 2015 | Sunset Song (Terence Davies, UK/Luxembourg)—Special Presentations

By Steve Macfarlane / September 18, 2015

By Steve Macfarlane There is no such thing as a “minor” Terence Davies. If anything, the divisive response at Toronto to the Liverpool-born master’s new Sunset Song (based on a 1932 novel by Lewis Grassic Gibbon) verifies the preciousness with which critics have been holding Davies’ auteurism, and perhaps their own experiences of his work,…

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TIFF 2015 | SPL 2: A Time for Consequences (Soi Cheang, China)—Midnight Madness

By Michael Sicinski / September 18, 2015

By Michael Sicinski It’s been ten years since Wilson Yip’s SPL (unceremoniously retitled Kill Zone for its North American home video release), and apart from the reappearance of Simon Yam in a completely different role, there’s not much connection between the first film and this supposed sequel. Helmed by Milky Way protégé Soi Cheang (Accident,…

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TIFF 2015 | Parisienne (Danielle Arbid, France)—Contemporary World Cinema

By Diana Dabrowska / September 17, 2015

By Diana Dabrowska An abusive uncle tries to rape his beautiful Lebanese niece, Lina (Manal Issa). The Lebanese girl manages to defend her dignity and runs away from home. She gets lost in the darkness of the night, while Paris in the background begins glow. Meeting different men and lovers, young Lina discovers the faces…

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TIFF 2015 | Demolition (Jean-Marc Vallée, US)—Gala Presentations

By Toronto Film Review / September 17, 2015

Special TORONTO FILM REVIEW Guest Edition (N.B. This is presented absent any editorial intervention.) By David Davidson It’s a gift for his public how that in recent years Jean-Marc Vallée has been bringing each year a new film to TIFF. Demolition in particular is unique in that instead of using the premiere platform to build…

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TIFF 2015 | Desierto (Jonás Cuarón, Mexico/France)—Special Presentations

By Adam Nayman / September 17, 2015

By Adam Nayman “Welcome to the land of the free,” growls self-styled border patrolman Sam (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), mere moments after shooting up a group of Mexicans trying to sneak into the United States. With his pickup truck, sleeve tattoo, antenna-mounted Confederate flag and “Don’t Tread on Me” sticker—not to mention his high-powered rifle—he’s the…

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TIFF 2015 | Demon (Marcin Wrona, Poland)—Vanguard

By Diana Dabrowska / September 17, 2015

By Diana Dabrowska Five years after The Christening, young director Marcin Wrona returns with Demon, a meditation on Polish memory that hints at the need to exorcise the past. He’s attempting to make a serious movie within a genre framework, and he succeeds in balancing the right amounts of fear, humour, and grotesquerie. Peter (Itay…

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TIFF 2015 | My Name is Emily (Simon Fitzmaurice, Ireland)—Discovery

By Michael Sicinski / September 17, 2015

By Michael Sicinski This story of a troubled teenaged girl (Harry Potter actress Evanna Lynch) taking a road trip to retrieve her father (Michael Smiley) from a mental institution seems to have the potential to break with the clichés of the coming-of-age template. Emily’s mother died when she was young, and Dad eventually became so…

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TIFF 2015 | Lace Crater (Harrison Atkins, US)—Vanguard

By Steve Macfarlane / September 17, 2015

By Steve Macfarlane A queasy demise is the best-case scenario on the other side of a one-night stand in Harrison Atkins’ Lace Crater, a s-s-s-s-s-s-spooky and inventive indie debut that’s best seen, if possible, in a packed theatre. The ever-reliable Lindsay Burdge stars as Ruth, a twentysomething in the aftermath of a heinous breakup with…

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TIFF 2015 | Magallanes (Salvador del Solar, Peru/ Argentina/ Colombia/Spain)—Contemporary World Cinema

By Roger Koza / September 16, 2015

By Roger Koza Extortion, kidnapping, violence, corruption, brutality—all those nouns are applicable to a whole vein of Latin American films celebrated in almost all the international film festivals that follow the successful and much trodden path of squalour and sordidness. In this adaptation of Alonso Cueto’s novel La pasajera, cab driver and ex-soldier Magallanes (Damián…

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TIFF 2015 | Maggie’s Plan (Rebecca Miller, US)—Special Presentations

By Adam Nayman / September 16, 2015

By Adam Nayman No, it’s not an alternate title for the Thatcherite satire of High-Rise: Rebecca Miller’s abrupt slide into conventionality after a string of spiky efforts follows the Machiavellian machinations of a thirtyish single gal (Greta Gerwig) who steals the writer husband (Ethan Hawke) of an eccentric academic (Julianne Moore) and then tries to…

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TIFF 2015 | Mississippi Grind (Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck, US)—Gala Presentations

By Aurelie Godet / September 16, 2015

By Aurélie Godet Having long self-diagnosed myself with an addictive personality, combined with a rather unhealthy relationship with money, I dread movies about gamblers. So while watching Mississippi Grind, I spent half an hour standing at the back of the theatre, ready for my exit. But I never left, eyes drawn to the screen as…

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TIFF 2015 | Hurt (Alan Zweig, Canada)—Platform

By Adam Nayman / September 16, 2015

By Adam Nayman Real-life stories don’t come much more metaphorically resonant than that of Steve Fonyo, the B.C.-born amputee who followed in Terry Fox’s footsteps in a cross-Canada run for cancer research in 1985—an inspirational route that has led him 30 years later into total ruin. The mystery of how a national hero was so…

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TIFF 2015 | Sector IX B (Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc, France/ Senegal)—Wavelengths

By Michael Sicinski / September 16, 2015

By Michael Sicinski Based on the work of Surrealist anthropologist Michel Leiris (in particular his controversial volume L’Afrique fantôme), this featurette by post-colonial artist Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc begins in the theoretical realm and soon veers into the dense thicket of fantasy. Sector IX B centres on an academic researcher (Betty Tchomanga) who travels to the…

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TIFF 2015 | Yakuza Apocalypse (Miike Takashi, Japan)—Midnight Madness

By Boris Nelepo / September 16, 2015

By Boris Nelepo Yakuza, martial arts, vampires, romance, and a devious villain dressed up as a frog. This cursory summary might just be the most accurate one, seeing that in Yakuza Apocalypse, Miike Takashi reaches new heights of disregard for narrative coherence, even for him. Changing its course throughout, this ebullient mess of a movie…

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TIFF 2015 | Hellions (Bruce McDonald, Canada)—Vanguard

By Adam Nayman / September 16, 2015

By Adam Nayman One hopes that Bruce McDonald’s heart wasn’t in Hellions. At times, it’s feeble enough to be mistaken for backyard filmmaking, except that it lacks the joy—the getting-away-with-somehing giddiness—of kids remaking Halloween with a consumer-grade camcorder. John Carpenter’s classic is evoked a half-dozen different times over the course of the truly incomprehensible storyline,…

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TIFF 2015 | Men & Chicken (Anders Thomas Jensen, Denmark / Germany, Vanguard)

By Michael Sicinski / September 16, 2015

By Michael Sicinski Not only Anders Thomas Jensen’s best directorial effort by a country mile (faint praise, that), but far more satisfying than many of his scenarios for other, better directors, Men & Chicken is a black comedy about extreme family dysfunction. What begins as a kind of odd-couple brothers’ tale soon goes way off…

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TIFF 2015 | Rabin, the Last Day (Amos Gitaï, Israel/France)—Masters

By Manu Yanez / September 16, 2015

By Manu Yáñez In a meditative and torrential fashion, Rabin, the Last Day thoroughly analyzes the socio-political environment that, according to Amos Gitaï, triggered the 1995 assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the last reliable hope for peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Avoiding the languor and affectation of many Gitaï films while remaining faithful…

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TIFF 2015 | Ixcanul (Jayro Bustamante, Guatemala/ France)—Discovery

By Jay Kuehner / September 16, 2015

By Jay Kuehner Like its eponymous volcano, Ixcanul smoulders. A lavishly raw ethnographic fiction with documentary elements set among a Kaqchikel Mayan community on the Guatemalan plateau, Jayro Bustamante’s debut follows the rituals of a coffee-farming village in his native country that sits in elemental proximity to an active volcano, the surrounding landscape both blackened…

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TIFF 2015 | Story of Judas (Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche, France)—Contemporary World Cinema

By Aurelie Godet / September 16, 2015

By Aurélie Godet Three years ago, French-Algerian filmmaker Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche, a consistently ambitious auteur, played the title role in his film Les chants de Mandrin (Smugglers’ Song), a beloved outlaw of pre-Revolutionary France who was barbarically executed in a public square. In a sort of amplification of that project’s scope, the writer-director proposes with Story…

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TIFF 2015 | Full Contact (David Verbeek, Netherlands/Croatia)—Platform

By Tom Charity / September 16, 2015

By Tom Charity Dutch filmmaker David Verbeek adopts an (initially) opaque, almost Apichatpongian tri-partite structure in this boldly visualized response to the alienated nature of the War on Terror. French-born lieutenant Ivan Delphine (Claire Denis fixture Grégoire Colin) “pilots” drones, calling down missile strikes on unsuspecting al-Qaeda targets in the Middle East from the security…

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TIFF 2015 | The Devil’s Candy (Sean Byrne, US)—Midnight Madness

By Ian Barr / September 16, 2015

By Ian Barr Sean Byrne’s 2009 prom-night chamber-horror comedy The Loved Ones was a promising debut feature. This belated follow-up—a satanic haunted-house chiller, with Shining references galore and a droning Sunn O))) score—is equally promising, further suggesting that Byrne will eventually deliver a film worthy of his already distinctive wit and stylistic virtuosity. One’s enjoyment…

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TIFF 2015 | Journey to the Shore (Kurosawa Kiyoshi, Japan/France)—Contemporary World Cinema

By Muge Turan / September 16, 2015

By Müge Turan Mizuki (Eri Fukatsu) is a young piano teacher. One night Yusuke (Tadanobu Asano), her husband who went missing three years ago, materializes out of the blue in their apartment. He confirms that he’s dead and invites her to go on a journey to meet the nice places and people who showed him…

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TIFF 2015 | Afternoon (Tsai Ming-liang, Taiwan)—Wavelengths

By Michael Sicinski / September 14, 2015

By Michael Sicinski Following the release of his 2013 film Stray Dogs (a work that some consider his masterpiece), Tsai Ming-liang announced his retirement from feature filmmaking. He’s been busier than ever since this alleged bowing out, producing a stage play and the Walker series of medium-length films (Tsai released the latest one, No No…

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TIFF 2015 | The Event (Sergei Loznitsa, Netherlands/Belgium)—Wavelengths

By Michael Sicinski / September 14, 2015

By Michael Sicinski Following Maidan, last year’s impeccable the-revolution-is-live bulletin from Ukraine, Sergei Loznitsa returns to the found-footage format with which he first came to international prominence. The Event is in many respects a logical follow-up to Maidan, and attentive viewers will detect certain formal and ideological echoes. Centred on the military coup that represented…

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TIFF 2015 | Heart of a Dog (Laurie Anderson, US)—TIFF Docs

By Boris Nelepo / September 14, 2015

By Boris Nelepo After being approached by Arte three years ago, renowned musician Laurie Anderson started developing a personal film essay in memory of her beloved rat terrier Lolabelle, who died in 2011. Though the pet had gone blind not long before death, Anderson still managed to teach her painting, sculpture, and music. Initially conceived…

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TIFF 2015 | Louder Than Bombs (Joachim Trier, Norway/ France/ Denmark)—Special Presentations

By Muge Turan / September 14, 2015

By Müge Turan Norwegian director Joachim Trier’s leaden English-language debut is a study of a dysfunctional family in turmoil, surveying grief, lack of communication and painful secrets (as well as the generational gap) between a schoolteacher father (Gabriel Byrne) and his sons (Jesse Eisenberg and Devin Druid) as they cope with the loss of the…

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TIFF 2015 | Jack (Elisabeth Scharang, Austria)—Contemporary World Cinema

By Tom Charity / September 14, 2015

By Tom Charity About three-quarters through Elisabeth Scharang’s film about the Austrian murderer turned literary sensation Jack Unterweger, the reformed and released killer is excited to meet with a leading European filmmaker (identified as “Neumann”). Neumann receives him politely, but not with the enthusiasm Jack has become accustomed to. “Don’t try to be an artist,”…

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TIFF 2015 | Disorder (Alice Winocour, France/Belgium)—Gala Presentations

By Blake Williams / September 14, 2015

By Blake Williams Alice Winocour’s Disorder—that’s of the post-traumatic stress variety, no pigs unleashed on congested Guangzhou highways here—occupies a point on the line one could conceivably trace between Claire Denis’ cryptic, visceral genre pictures and Kathryn Bigelow’s post-“Shock and Awe” work. Which is to say, stylistically speaking, this has nowhere near the same DNA…

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TIFF 2015 | A Young Patriot (Du Haibin, China/US)—TIFF Docs

By Michael Sicinski / September 14, 2015

By Michael Sicinski Hey, look! A film from the New Chinese Documentary Movement! Usually when this happens, it’s because a Wavelengths slot has been given to the latest from Wang Bing. But this somewhat rare appearance in TIFF Docs by a Chinese doc makes a bit more sense once you discover that it’s co-produced by…

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TIFF 2015 | Bring Me the Head of Tim Horton (Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson & Galen Johnson, Canada)—Wavelengths

By Mark Peranson / September 14, 2015

By Mark Peranson Wherein Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson, and Galen Johnson give Paul Gross’ wannabe populist war epic Hyena Road a right and proper cuadecuc-ing. Who would have thought Pere Portabella’s legendary experiment shot on the set of Jess Franco’s Count Dracula (1970) would inspire not one, but two films at this year’s TIFF—well, three,…

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TIFF 2015 | Hyena Road (Paul Gross, Canada)—Gala Presentations

By Adam Nayman / September 14, 2015

By Adam Nayman Canada, Fuck Yeah. Written, directed, starring, and narrated by Paul Gross—close-shorn and bearded like a badass—Hyena Road tries to show that war and war movies aren’t just for Americans. Our boots are on the ground and filled by strapping specimens like Rossif Sutherland, cast here as a northern cousin to American Sniper’s…

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TIFF 2015 | Santa Teresa and Other Stories (Nelson De Los Santos Arias, Mexico/ Dominican Republic/ US)—Wavelengths

By Leo Goldsmith / September 14, 2015

By Leo Goldsmith Nelson De Los Santos Arias’ Santa Teresa and Other Stories is a (very) loose adaptation of parts of Roberto Bolaño’s epic novel 2666 which the filmmaker interweaves with the stories of friends and collaborators. The title is a hint: Santa Teresa and Other Stories is something of a grab-bag, shot on a…

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TIFF 2015 | Man Down (Dito Montiel, US)—Gala Presentations

By Adam Nayman / September 13, 2015

By Adam Nayman Dito Montiel’s Man Down is a visionary work of abstract cinema—a haptic masterpiece that overwhelms the viewer through the sheer scale of its imagery. Then again, I was sitting in the front row of a press screening held in an IMAX cinema, so your mileage may vary. Chances are that those audience…

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TIFF 2015 | Our Last Tango (German Kral, Germany/Argentina)—TIFF Docs

By Tom Charity / September 13, 2015

By Tom Charity We all know it takes two to tango, and that’s a problem for this mildly engaging but lop-sided strut down memory lane with Maria Nieves Rego and Juan Carlos Copes, the Ginger and Fred of Argentine tango. Maria, at 80, is eager to revisit the past, reminiscing about dancing with the broom…

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TIFF 2015 | Our Brand is Crisis (David Gordon Green, US)—Special Presentations

By Steve Macfarlane / September 13, 2015

By Steve Macfarlane A fictionalized, present-day reimagining of Rachel Boynton’s terrific 2005 documentary of same name, Our Brand is Crisis would have an uphill battle on its hands even if it were a masterpiece, which it most certainly is not. David Gordon Green’s latest is instead a pleasant enough if decidedly un-hip studio diversion starring…

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TIFF 2015 | Homesick (Anne Sewitsky, Norway)—Contemporary World Cinema

By Ian Barr / September 13, 2015

By Ian Barr The catch-all programme title “Contemporary World Cinema” carries with it a threat of homogeneity, and films like Anne Sewitsky’s incest drama Homesick do little to dispel that impression. The film’s first warning bell is an overly convenient therapy-session opening scene, in which Charlotte (newcomer Ine Marie Wilmann) attempts to evade her shrink’s…

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TIFF 2015 | 11 Minutes (Jerzy Skolimowski, Poland/Ireland)—Masters

By Manu Yanez / September 13, 2015

By Manu Yáñez In his unorthodox answer to Hollywood action movies, Jerzy Skolimowski has made a film that is more than (or maybe exactly) what it seems. In narrative terms, there’s the (unconscious) battle for survival of a human pack that faces its destiny between 5:00 and 5:11pm on a given day. The extraordinary here…

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TIFF 2015 | The Steps (Andrew Currie, Canada)—Contemporary World Cinema

By Adam Nayman / September 13, 2015

By Adam Nayman For generating the mental image of Chad Kroeger getting head from Sloane from Entourage, The Steps warrants scorn; it’s a weak Canadian movie indeed that has to namecheck Nickelback in order to get a laugh. Actually, the funniest moment in Andrew Currie’s film is when Big Apple broker Jeff (Jason Ritter) phones…

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TIFF 2015 | Anomalisa (Charlie Kaufman & Duke Johnson, US)—Special Presentations

By Boris Nelepo / September 13, 2015

By Boris Nelepo Charlie Kaufman has been sorely missed. It’s hard to believe that following his series of screenwriting smashes in the early 2000s, and his underrated directorial debut Synecdoche, New York (2008), he slipped under the radar for a good seven years. His comeback feature Anomalisa has grown out of the eponymous play he…

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TIFF 2015 | Price of Love (Hermon Hailay, Ethiopia)—Contemporary World Cinema

By Michael Sicinski / September 13, 2015

By Michael Sicinski Hermon Hailay’s third feature is a somewhat puzzling melodrama centered on Teddy (Eskindir Tameru), a young Addis Ababa cab driver with a chequered past. His attempt to keep on the straight and narrow is disrupted by a chance encounter with Fere (Fereweni Gebregergs), a beautiful sex worker who is “owned” by Marcos…

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TIFF 2015 | I Smile Back (Adam Salky, US)—Special Presentations

By Adam Nayman / September 13, 2015

By Adam Nayman “Do you want to hear about the daddy issues or the drugs?” queries Laney (Sarah Silverman) to her doctor on the first day of rehab; 28 days later, she’s had ample time to talk (and think) about both, but it’s unclear as to whether or not she’s been healed. Because Laney is…

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TIFF 2015 | Honor Thy Father (Erik Matti, Philippines)—Contemporary World Cinema

By Michael Sicinski / September 13, 2015

By Michael Sicinski Erik Matti’s recent actioner On the Job (2013) was a big hit at home and even got a moderate release in North America, not that the film managed to bring in those coveted Crouching Tiger, Heroic Grandmaster crossover dollars. But there is a sheen of transnational professionalism that coats Matti’s work—quite distinct…

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TIFF 2015 | Invention (Mark Lewis, UK/Canada)—Wavelengths

By Michael Sicinski / September 13, 2015

By Michael Sicinski Considering the degree to which Mark Lewis’s work has evolved over the years, its origins in the Vancouver art scene of the ’80s and ’90s can go only so far in explaining it. But however inadequate such periodization may be, perhaps one way to consider Invention is as a kind of conceptual…

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TIFF 2015 | Desdé Alla (Lorenzo Vigas, Venezuela/Mexico)—Discovery

By Diana Dabrowska / September 13, 2015

By Diana Dabrowska Alfredo, a wealthy, middle-aged man, travels by bus, tempting underage teenagers with large sums of money. They don’t even have to sleep with him or touch him. Alfredo only watches as a harmless voyeur. The rules are very simple: turn around, lean against the wall, pull off your t-shirt and slightly slide…

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TIFF 2015 | Frenzy (Emin Alper)—Contemporary World Cinema

By Diana Dabrowska / September 13, 2015

By Diana Dabrowska Turkish cinema currently lives under the sign of Nuri Bilge Ceylan; Frenzy throws a new name into the ring. Emin Alper’s 2012 debut Beyond the Hill was a family drama that transformed repressed violence into a sociological parable; his follow-up is a metaphorical study of madness and paranoia as an expression of…

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TIFF 2015 | Into the Forest (Patricia Rozema, Canada)—Special Presentations

By Adam Nayman / September 11, 2015

By Adam Nayman It’s the Time of the Wolf, Canadian-style. But where big bad Michael Haneke quickly gets his apocalypse on the Road, Patricia Rozema keeps her characters in the Cabin in the Woods—all the better to see them emote, my dear. Adapted from Jean Hegland’s allegorical novel about an unspecified near-future catastrophe that leaves…

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TIFF 2015 | Trumbo (Jay Roach, US)—Special Presentations

By Adam Nayman / September 11, 2015

By Adam Nayman All Dalton Trumbo ever wanted was his name on an Academy Award, and the same goes for the people who’ve been entrusted with telling his life story. This is not to impugn Bryan Cranston or the other crackerjack actors cast as (in)famous faces from Hollywood’s past—chances are that Otto Preminger would have…

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TIFF 2015 | Beasts of No Nation (Cary Fukunaga, US)—Special Presentations

By Jay Kuehner / September 11, 2015

By Jay Kuehner Lodged somewhere in spirit between two defining moments of its protagonist’s horrific trajectory into a child-soldier abyss—a swift machete blade etched, thunk, into a suspected enemy’s skull, and a corruptive, charismatic leader’s luring of a young disciple to his abusive lair—Beasts of No Nation holds sway with cogent, putrid effect, at once terrifying and…

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TIFF 2015 | The Wait (Piero Messina, Italy)—Discovery

By Diana Dabrowska / September 11, 2015

By Diana Dabrowska A despairing mother, Anna (Juliette Binoche), mourns the death of her beloved son, Giuseppe; a Sicilian community is drowning in a black haze of grief and sorrow. But suddenly the beautiful Jeanne (Lou de Laâge), Giuseppe’s French ex-girlfriend, arrives in the countryside. She doesn’t know about the tragedy and wants to meet…

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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 | Song of Songs (Eva Neymann, Ukraine)—Contemporary World Cinema

By Michael Sicinski / September 11, 2015

By Michael Sicinski This is an unusual case, an exceedingly brief (only 76-minute) film that still manages to feel overstuffed and meandering. This could be the result of director Eva Neymann’s decision to freely adapt Sholem Aleichem’s short fiction, yoking together characters and scenarios from no less than ten stories from the eponymous collection. As…

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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 | Eye in the Sky (Gavin Hood, UK)—Gala Presentations

By Adam Nayman / September 11, 2015

By Adam Nayman “In war, truth is the first casualty,” Aeschylus assures us on the opening crawl of Eye in the Sky, which only partially accounts for why Gavin Hood’s dramatic thriller feels mostly phony. Actually, there’s something authentically Greek—Socratic, even—about the film’s structure, which toggles between various American and British political and military authorities…

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TIFF 2015 | Sparrows (Rúnar Rúnarsson, Iceland/ Denmark/ Croatia)—Contemporary World Cinema

By Max Goldberg / September 11, 2015

By Max Goldberg A shoegazer’s kitchen-sink drama, Sparrows trails a sensitive Reykjavik teenager to his father’s home in the hardscrabble north. The land of the midnight sun lends this coming-of-age story a nice bleary texture, and second-time director Rúnarsson is every bit as attentive to the interiors of the fishing village—crappy wood-panelled homes strewn with…

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TIFF 2015 | Return of the Atom (Mika Taanila & Jussi Eerola, Finland/Germany)—TIFF Docs)

By Michael Sicinski / September 10, 2015

By Michael Sicinski There are plenty of small-town industrial malfeasance stories that could serve as a valid point of comparison for the blinkered corporate idiocy profiled in Return of the Atom, but since it’s the most recent (and most sorely mishandled) let’s choose True Detective Season Two. Instead of the imaginary town of Vinci, California,…

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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 | Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom (Evgeniy Afineevsky, Ukraine/US/UK)—TIFF Docs

By Boris Nelepo / September 10, 2015

By Boris Nelepo The Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity by now has been the subject matter of a slew of movies, each dramatically different from the other. There was Sergei Loznitsa’s auteur project Maidan; the reportage Kiev/Moscow by Alexander Rastorguev and Pavel Kostomarov; and the chronicle Stronger Than Arms by the #BABYLON’13 collective. Winter on Fire:…

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TIFF 2015 | The Endless River (Oliver Hermanus, South Africa/France)—Contemporary World Cinema

By Diana Dabrowska / September 10, 2015

By Diana Dabrowska After the radical, frigid and well-received Beauty (2011), young director Oliver Hermanus creates another study of obsession, this time about the fine line between victimhood and blame in the midst of a vendetta. Once again set in present-day South Africa, where racial tensions have hardly receded since the time of apartheid, The…

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TIFF 2015 | In Jackson Heights (Frederick Wiseman, US)—TIFF Docs

By Boris Nelepo / September 10, 2015

By Boris Nelepo Frederick Wiseman’s modus operandi was perhaps best described by German film critic Olaf Möller: “[His] work is about civilization and its creation, the work it takes.” In Jackson Heights adds another chapter to Wiseman’s monumental ongoing treatise while also offering another installment in a separate cycle devoted to various isolated communities (a…

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TIFF 2015 | Endorphine (André Turpin, Canada)—Vanguard

By Adam Nayman / September 10, 2015

By Adam Nayman Freed from the constraints of shooting Instagram-style for Xavier Dolan, André Turpin amply fills the wide screen in this, just his third feature in 20 years. Hopefully, he didn’t spend too much of the time since Un crabe dans la tête (2001) fretting about the substance of this ostensible subconscious odyssey, which…

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TIFF 2015 | Legend (Brian Helgeland, UK)—Gala Presentations

By Adam Nayman / September 9, 2015

By Adam Nayman Last year, Tom Hardy came to TIFF with The Drop, a drab Brooklyn crime film that afforded its star the opportunity to talk like Adam Sandler; this year, with the Kray brothers biopic Legend, we get two strenuous Hardy vocal performances for the price of one. Perish the thought that our man…

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TIFF 2015 | This Changes Everything (Avi Lewis, Canada/USA)—TIFF Docs

By Tom Charity / September 9, 2015

By Tom Charity Apocalyptic fantasies are in heavy rotation these days at both the multiplex and the art-house. In this climate-change documentary, anti-capitalist crusader Naomi Klein pronounces herself a late convert to saving the world, and gets things rolling with the disconcerting admission that she doesn’t much care for climate-change documentaries. Heck, next thing you…

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TIFF 2015 | Girls Lost (Alexandra-Therese Keining, Sweden/Denmark/Norway)—Contemporary World Cinema

By Michael Sicinski / September 9, 2015

By Michael Sicinski Here we have a film that begins as mere hackwork, and finishes as something actually quite offensive. A teen movie from Sweden that for all its sincerity displays all the subtlety of pulpy Hollywood entries like The Craft or even the recent low-budget B-picture The Sisterhood of Night, Girls Lost has no…

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TIFF 2015 | Cinema Scope 64 Preview | The Mask (Eyes of Hell) (Julian Roffman, Canada)—TIFF Cinematheque

By Samuel La France / September 9, 2015

Put the Mask on Now! By Samuel La France Originally published in Cinema Scope 64 (Fall 2015). When it premiered in North American cinemas in 1961, Julian Roffman’s The Mask—released in the USA as Eyes of Hell, and returning to theatres this fall in a new digital restoration produced by TIFF and the 3-D Film…

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TIFF 2015 | The Pearl Button (Patricio Guzmán, Chile/France/Spain)—Masters

By Max Nelson / September 9, 2015

In Dreams Begin Responsibilities: The Films of Patricio Guzmán By Max Nelson Originally published in Cinema Scope 63 (Summer 2015). At one point in his new film The Pearl Button, Patricio Guzmán visits a friend’s painting studio and asks the artist to unroll one of her current projects: an immense, to-scale cutout model of Chile.…

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TIFF 2015 | The Exquisite Corpus (Peter Tscherkassky, Austria)—Wavelengths

By Daniel Kasman / September 9, 2015

Strip Tease: Peter Tscherkassky and The Exquisite Corpus By Daniel Kasman Originally published in Cinema Scope 63 (Summer 2015). Sex seems the inevitable returning controversy du jour at the Festival de Cannes, every couple years another auteur revealing some supposedly new transgression set to scandalize an international press corps wholly ignorant that, outside their bubble,…

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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 | The White Knights (Joachim Lafosse, France/Belgium)—Platform

By Adam Nayman / September 9, 2015

By Adam Nayman Everything about this fact-based account of French aid workers plotting to transport African orphans back across the Atlantic to pre-paid adoptive parents—under the guise of a fictitious NGO whose mandate is geared towards in-country education—is scrupulously realistic. And the questions it asks about Western altruism in the Third World are pertinent and…

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TIFF 2015 | The Danish Girl (Tom Hooper, UK)—Special Presentations

By Diana Dabrowska / September 9, 2015

By Diana Dabrowska Copenhagen, 1926. Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne) and his wife Gerda (Alicia Vikander) are happily married. He is a painter of muddy, sad-looking landscapes inspired by his childhood memories, while her interests are portraits, although her husband believes she’s still searching for inspiration. In truth, though, it’s Einar who’s waiting to be thunderstruck:…

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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 | 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 | One Floor Below (Radu Muntean, Romania/ France/ Germany/ Sweden)—Contemporary World Cinema

By Muge Turan / September 9, 2015

By Müge Turan The “New Wave” tag can feel like a little arbitrary, even crude, when applied to the diverse array of recent Romanian films, but it’s interesting to note how frequently the Dostoyevskian themes of morality, guilt, and criminality feature as the central preoccupations of these works. At the core of these narratives lies…

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TIFF 2015 | Minotaur (Nicolás Pereda, Mexico/Canada)—Wavelengths

By Michael Sicinski / September 9, 2015

By Michael Sicinski Nicolás Pereda’s recent work, particularly his last two features Greatest Hits (2012) and Los ausentes (2014), already represented a substantial reduction of means when compared to the relatively action-packed Perpetuum Mobile (2009) and Summer of Goliath (2010). But with his latest, Pereda has achieved a genuine comedy of stasis. How much further…

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