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Festivals | Fantasia 2020: Unexpected Pleasures

By Katherine Connell / September 22, 2020

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

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There Can Be a Better World: The 2020 Images Festival

By Cayley James / June 23, 2020

In Toronto, where film festivals have become something of a cottage industry (with over 150 operating on an annual basis), it’s particularly hard not to feel the cruel irony of the present moment. Festivals remain one of the last holdouts for appreciating films in a public setting in the face of the steady march of streaming and VOD; now, they are faced with the stark choice of either postponing their events entirely, or, as with Images, pivoting to an online model that strikes at their very raison d’être.

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Discrete Charms: Rotterdam’s Tiger Short Competition

By Phil Coldiron / March 20, 2020

By Phil Coldiron We still have not found a satisfactory way to show new short films. The approach taken for the shorts competition at the International Film Festival Rotterdam—to treat ticketed programs as minimally thematic clusters of individual screenings, separated by a brief question and answer session with the filmmaker if present (and most were)—argues,…

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Invisible Life (Karim Aïnouz, Brazil)

By Katherine Connell / December 28, 2019

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

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Pleasurable Surfaces: The Films of Zachary Epcar

By Phil Coldiron / September 23, 2019

If one were to enumerate the major trends in sophisticated American filmmaking in the last decade, it seems to me that Zachary Epcar’s films would provide an adequate summary of such a list. In their wit, their formal restlessness, and their sharp conception of certain stickier corners of the American psyche, they continue the Nelson-Land tradition. Given the intense pleasures of their surfaces and textures, both visual and aural, I will simply attempt to describe them in as much detail as possible, while focusing on the four major works Epcar has made to date.

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Only Connect: D.A. Pennebaker, 1925-2019

By Jerry White / September 23, 2019

Cinéma vérité is all too easy to misunderstand, all too easy to take literally. Worst of all, it’s all too easy to piously debunk—even by some of its most famous practitioners. Frederick Wiseman, when interviewed for Peter Wintonick’s Cinéma vérité: Defining the Moment (1999), said that “my definition of cinéma vérité is that it’s a pompous French term that has no meaning.”

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Festivals | Doclisboa 2018: A Scream into the Void

By Christopher Small / January 2, 2019

By Christopher Small  Almost anyone who has spent a prolonged period at a film festival understands the soothing familiarity of a good pre-movie festival spot, those throwaway bits of business that bleary-eyed delegates sit through upwards of 40 times over the course of a week. Everybody reading this doubtless has their favourites; my sense is…

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Festivals | RIDM 2019: Adapt or Die

By Justine Smith / December 21, 2018

By Justine Smith  The world is in turmoil, and at this year’s Recontres Internationales du Documentaire de Montréal, documentaries from around the world grappled with our new reality. Drawing from a wide range of experiences and approaching the idea of non-fiction from an array of perspectives, the films showed a diverse programming mandate; meanwhile the…

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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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An Element of Danger: Josh and Benny Safdie on Good Time

By Dan Sullivan / June 23, 2017

By Dan Sullivan Cinema Scope: Good Time has a propulsive feeling of forward momentum, a kind of punchiness, which was also present in flashes in Heaven Knows What (2014). Your work has always been marked by a chaotic energy—but here it’s so consistent and sustained. Was that always the idea for the film, and how…

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Sandy Wexler (Steven Brill, US)

By Adam Nayman / June 22, 2017

By Adam Nayman At the end of Sandy Wexler, the film’s eponymous Hollywood talent manager (Adam Sandler), who has come out the other end of a heart attack, grabs the microphone at a party filled with his showbiz family and belts out a nasal, atonal rendition of Irving Berlin’s “There’s No Business Like Show Business.”…

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Northern Exposure: Future//Present at VIFF

By Jordan Cronk / December 21, 2016

By Jordan Cronk “This film tells the story of a boy who turned into a bird.” Portending something fantastic, these are the first words spoken in Tales of Two Who Dreamt, a cagey new feature co-directed by Andrea Bussmann and Nicolás Pereda. Set in an anonymous, rundown apartment complex on the margins of Toronto, this…

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Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, US)

By Phil Coldiron / December 19, 2016

By Phil Coldiron Liberty City, the Miami neighbourhood Barry Jenkins hails from and the setting for much of Moonlight, his exceptional second feature, has a median annual household income of under $22,000; 47% of its population lives below the United States federal poverty line, while nearly a third of working-age adults are unemployed. Grown up…

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The Man Who Would Be Cinema: Muhammad Ali, 1942-2016

By Celluloid Liberation Front / June 27, 2016

By Celluloid Liberation Front.  “Black is not a colour, it’s an attitude.” —James Baldwin Heavyweight champion in the fight for racial equality and social justice, poet, rhapsodic loudmouth, adorable smart-ass, magician, wisecracker extraordinaire, Muhammad Ali, né Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., had survived his own death long before dying. No screen, big or small, will ever…

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From Afar (Lorenzo Vegas, Venezuela/Mexico)

By Quintin / December 20, 2015

By Quintín There are three films to be found in From Afar, an altogether astute, pompous, and false work that won the Golden Lion this year in Venice thanks to jury president Alfonso Cuarón and his band of collaborators. The first one is a story of seduction between mechanics: Armando (Alfredo Castro), a lonely and…

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Roundabouts & Entanglements: FIDMarseille 2015

By Leo Goldsmith / September 22, 2015

By Leo Goldsmith. The term “documentary,” with all of its multifarious associations and attenuated definitions, has become an increasingly ineffective designation in recent years. While generic classifications of and distinctions within the category have long proven problematic (if not arbitrary), the recent documentary turn in the art world, combined with contemporary cinema’s increased cross-pollination of…

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Timbuktu (Abderrahmane Sissako, France/Mauritania/Mali)

By Angelo Muredda / March 26, 2015

By Angelo Muredda. Early in Abderrahmane Sissako’s Timbuktu, an army of young Islamic rebels marches into a mosque, automatic rifles slung at their sides. It might look like the start of a proper siege if we hadn’t just seen the same men ineptly chasing a gazelle through the desert in a jeep (calling to mind…

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This Is Martin Bonner (Chad Hartigan, US)

By Cinema Scope / September 15, 2013

By Calum Marsh Chad Hartigan’s This Is Martin Bonner tells a simple story: two fiftysomething men develop what can only be described, in clichéd trailer-speak, as an unlikely friendship. Thankfully this proves less precious than it sounds. Its men are serious, world-weary, and inhabited so naturally by their performers that they seem to carry the…

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Web Only | You’re Next (Adam Wingard, US)

By Kiva Reardon / December 20, 2011

By Kiva Reardon The question of whether the horror genre is dead has become as predictable as the very cinematic ouroboroi—such as Saws and Paranormal Activities, constantly finding new ways to die within the same immovable structure—that tend to inspire such sweeping generalizations. It’s also necrophiliac in nature: if horror is dead, why do people…

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Web Only | DVD: A Glance at North Korean Cinema

By Jerry White / March 12, 2011

By Jerry White “Depicting the typical man of the new era means creating images of people who live, work and struggle with the conviction that they are masters of the revolution and the work of socialist construction…Stressing this principle of Chajusong and creating human images based on the concept of Juche allows literature to make…

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Web Only | Books Around: Picking Up

By Olaf Moller / March 12, 2011

By Olaf Möller Festivals, the bigger ones at least, are among the last bastions of subsidized non-academic film publication. Traditionally, important or marginal retrospectives were accompanied by nice books or at least representative pamphlets authored usually by journalists—folks who knew how to build up an interest for something, keep the masses flowing into the venues…

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Web Only | This Movie Is Broken (Bruce McDonald, Canada)

By John Semley / June 18, 2010

Like a father who dusts off his Led Zeppelin IV LP in a pathetic attempt to relate to the Black Flag pounding behind his son’s bedroom door, CanCon mainstay Bruce McDonald’s latest pitch n’ toss at the zeitgeist, This Movie Is Broken, profoundly misapprehends the youth culture it so attempts to valourize—a particularly damning indictment…

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Web Only | TIFF 2009: Autumn Leavings

By Andrew Tracy / December 23, 2009

By Andrew Tracy You may consult the issue proper (or issues past) for much of what actually matters in this season’s festival crop; see here some scraps from the Toronto table, richly appointed though they are. White Material. Though the reaction to Claire Denis’ latest has been decidedly mixed—with a quite understandable initial disappointment almost…

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Web Only | All Fall Down (Philip Hoffman, Canada)

By Michael Sicinski / September 12, 2009

Most films address the viewer rather unambiguously from a rhetorical standpoint of either great ambition or relative modesty, a formal speech-act of sorts that inevitably molds our responses and expectations. Such signals are like the filmmaker setting up an implicit contract with our receptiveness. Philip Hoffman’s new film All Fall Down is highly unusual, even…

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Interviews | Nicholas Ray’s Bigger Than Life: A Conversation with Jonathan Lethem

By Jim Healy / September 12, 2009

By Jim Healy At the beginning of Nicholas Ray’s Bigger Than Life (1956), Ed Avery (James Mason), a middle-class grammar school teacher moonlighting as a taxi dispatcher to make ends meet, finds himself suffering from a mystery ailment that cripples him with pain. After multiple hospital tests, doctors diagnose the illness and prescribe the miracle…

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Web Only | TIFF 2007: Places of Rest

By Andrew Tracy / September 1, 2009

By Andrew Tracy While I don’t have the globetrotting experience to draw such a conclusion legitimately, I’ve no doubt that Toronto is little better than any other festival for creating a genuine dialogue about films viewed during, or even keeping a record straight in one’s own overstuffed head. Passing encounters in lobbies yield just enough…

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Web Only | Books Around: Here’s to Friends

By Olaf Moller / September 1, 2009

By Olaf Möller Just when I’d concluded that having a fat wad of cash on me at festivals to hit the book stores in style was useless, I came to Udine’s Far East Film Festival where I suddenly found myself lacking the money necessary to buy all the interesting-looking works on offer there. Due to…

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Web Only | Humpday (Lynne Shelton, US)

By Jay Kuehner / August 21, 2009

By Jay Kuehner The teasingly if rather improbably premised Humpday arrives on the now-engorged scene of romantic comedies—bro, hetero, or otherwise—that revels in tolerable embarrassment as some primary revelation about human nature. Well enough, as comedy often succeeds by mining a shortcut to our basest instincts, bypassing good intentions and cultivated behaviour. If comedy’s cruelty…

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Web Only | Books Around: Ghosts

By Olaf Moller / August 21, 2009

By Olaf Möller Thirty, maybe even 40 years ago it was already high time for somebody to publish a tome on Victor Fleming, yet nobody did until Michael Sragow set down to work on Victor Fleming: An American Movie Maker (New York: Pantheon Books). Before that, the only extensive appreciation of Fleming’s oeuvre appeared in…

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Web Only | Jeonju 2009: On Cinema Street

By Shelly Kraicer / August 20, 2009

By Shelly Kraicer The small South Korean city of Jeonju celebrated a milestone this year: the 10th anniversary of the Jeonju International Film Festival, which over its first decade of existence has been exemplary in discovering uncompromising and innovative new films as well as laudable rediscoveries of the old. While actively fostering new cinema through…

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