Reviews - Page 62

Giving you our points of view on the latest docs in release and on the circuit.

The Short Docs of TIFF ’18

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This year at TIFF, short documentaries take on the personal as political, looking to how big issues impact individuals. From optimism to pessimism, calls to arms and pointed critiques, these films offer perspectives which aim to change how we think, and make a difference. Corina Schwingruber Ilič’s All Inclusive (Programme 06) shows us a massive luxury cruise, but, amidst the fun activities, huge dinners, and generally grand amenities (pools, dance floors, light shows, and even a robot), there is a labour which maintains the vacation paradise. In glimpses of the ship’s workers, behind walls and in cramped rooms, we see a

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TIFF Review: ‘Ray & Liz’

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Ray & Liz (UK, 108 min.) Dir. Richard Billingham By Daniel Glassman Richard Billingham made his name as a photographer just over twenty years ago with Ray’s A Laugh, an exhibition and photobook of pictures of his working-class British family. It’s an epoch-defining work that has been hailed as magnificent and denounced as voyeuristic. Ray, Billingham’s father, was an alcoholic who seemed to subsist entirely on a diet of terrible homebrew made by his neighbour. Liz, Billingham’s mother, overweight and covered in tattoos, spent most of her time smoking cigarettes, doing jigsaw puzzles and collecting tacky stuff that is strewn around

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Review: ‘Long Day’s Journey Into Night’

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Long Day’s Journey Into Night (China/France, 140 min.) Dir. Bi Gan It’s over fifty years since Susan Sontag in Against Interpretation admonished critics to supplant hermeneutics with erotics—to attend to surfaces instead of deeper meanings, physical sensations instead of intellectual readings. But staying on the surface without ending up superficial is still a hard trick to pull off. This is what’s on my mind as I try to make sense of Bi Gan’s_ Long Day’s Journey Into Night_. The film, Bi’s sophomore effort, repeats many of the gestures in his first film, Kaili Blues. Most obviously, both use a bifurcated structure

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Review: ‘Les Salopes or the Wanton Pleasure of Skin’

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Les Salopes or the Naturally Wanton Pleasure of Skin (Canada, 97 min.) Written and directed by Renée Beaulieu Starring: Brigitte Poupart, Nathalie Cavezzali, Vincent Leclerc, Pierre Kwenders, Romane Denis Programme: Contemporary World Cinema (World Premiere) News flash: your mom has a sex life! Renée Beaulieu gives praise to older women in the frank and sweaty drama Les Salopes or the Naturally Wanton Pleasure of Skin. “Salopes” literally means “sluts,” but the connotation seems twice as vulgar when one translates the word from French to English, so the Franglais title of the film has merit. Salopes is a rich and layered drama that unabashedly

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TIFF Review: ‘Graves Without A Name’

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Graves Without A Name (France/Cambodia, 115 min.) Dir. Rithy Panh Programme: TIFF Docs (Canadian Premiere) Rithy Panh’s cinematic excavation of the Cambodian genocide is well into its third decade, and at least its fifth aesthetic approach. 2003’s S21: The Khmer Rouge Death Machine was the first of Panh’s films to reach a wide audience: its staging of confrontations between victims and guards at a notorious prison preceded Joshua Oppenheimer’s epochal The Act of Killing (2012) by almost a decade. 2013’s animated documentary The Missing Picture took Panh’s project into new territory, adapting the advances made by Ari Folman’s Waltz With Bashir into an autobiographical narrative of his own

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TIFF Review: ‘The Image Book’

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The Image Book (Switzerland/France, 84 min.) Dir. Jean-Luc Godard Programme: Masters (North American Premiere) Godard has never been in doubt of his own genius, but at some point he left the rest of us behind. There are differences of opinion as to when that happened: Was it after Weekend (1967)? Was it in his “return to narrative” in the late 1970s after his political adventures with the Dziga-Vertov Group? Was it in the late 1980s when those narrative experiments turned out notorious duds like King Lear (1987)? Either way, there seems to be a rough consensus that at least from 1990’s Nouvelle vague onwards Godard reached

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TIFF Review: ‘Sharkwater Extinction’

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Sharkwater Extinction (Canada, 88 min.) Dir. Rob Stewart Programme: Special Events (World Premiere) There won’t be a dry eye in the house when the credits roll on Sharkwater Extinction. This final film by adventurous eco hero Rob Stewart is a fitting call to action. Stewart, who died in a diving accident in January 2017 while researching the film, continues his mission to draw attention to the plight of sharks that began with his 2006 hit Sharkwater. The director once again takes on the deadly sharkfinning industry, in which hunters catch sharks for their fins and throw them back into the water where

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TIFF Review: ‘When Arabs Danced’

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Three cheers for the power of positive images! [328] [patrick-mullen] Mullen, Patrick _When Arabs Danced_ is a welcome reminder that actions speak louder than words. {image_1} *_When Arabs Danced_* (Belgium, 84 min.) Dir. Jawad Rhalib Programme: TIFF Docs (North American Premiere) Three cheers for the power of positive images! Too often do western media characterize the Arab world through images of war, conflict, poverty, and misery. While these elements are factors of contemporary reality, they do not offer the full picture. Director Jawad Rhalib offers a bold and much-needed corrective to characterizations of the Arab world in the compelling and

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TIFF Review: ‘Maria by Callas’

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Maria by Callas (France, 113 min.) Dir. Tom Volf Programme: TIFF Docs (North American Premiere) Every good diva deserves a doc portrait. Maria Callas receives a meticulously curated and assembled appreciation in this archival tapestry by director, photographer, and actor Tom Volf. Maria by Callas is an impressively assembled first feature and an obvious labour of love from a talent who has already penned three books about the star. The doc lets the late Greek-American soprano tell her story in her own words as Volf draws upon Callas’s diaries, interviews, and letters. Much in the fashion of Lisa Immordino Vreeland’s luminous Love, Cecil about photographer and

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TIFF Review: ‘Diamantino’

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Diamantino (Portugal/France/Brazil, 97 min.) Dir. Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt Programme: Midnight Madness (North American Premiere) Abrantes and Schmidt are part of a New York avant-garde film scene comprised mostly of Cooper Union grads that includes sometime collaborators Alexander Carver, Benjamin Crotty and James N. Kienitz Wilkins. They’re all in their 30s now and their oeuvres of purposely stilted, sort of political, sort of funny (or at least in-jokey) objets d’art—“queasy comedies,” in Nick Pinkerton’s terms—have been fixtures of experimental film festivals and programs like Images and Wavelengths for around a decade now. I’ve never been a big fan. So

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