Reviews - Page 64

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

TIFF Review: ‘Capernaum’

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Capernaum (Lebanon, 120 min.) Dir. Nadine Labaki Starring: Zain Al Rafeea, Yordanos Shiferaw, Boluwatife Treasure Bankole, Kawthar Al Haddad, Fadi Youssef, Cedra Izam, Alaa Chouchnieh, Nadine Labaki Programme: Special Presentations (North American Premiere) I generally abhor films that focus on children, but I tip my hat to Nadine Labaki. Her new film Capernaum is a triumph that walks a razor’s edge between heart-wrenching emotion and sentimentality without tripping. It is a devastating parable about the children who are abandoned by their parents’ outdated value systems. Nearly every frame of Capernaum rests on the shoulders of 12-year-old actor Zain Al Rafee, who gives an astonishingly

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TIFF Review: ‘Meeting Gorbachev’

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Meeting Gorbachev (UK/USA/Germany, 90 min.) Dir. Werner Herzog, André Singer Programme: TIFF Docs (Canadian Premiere) Werner Herzog plays softball with world leaders in Meeting Gorbachev. This utterly toothless documentary sits down with the former leader of the Soviet Union for a greatest hits account of his time in office. Sure, Mikhail Gorbachev seems like a really nice guy based on the affable interviews he enjoys with Herzog, and the director’s admiration for the subject is evident in the great rapport that develops between them. With such great access comes great responsibility though, and Herzog doesn’t do the world justice by moderating Gorbachev’s trip

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TIFF Review: ‘Searching for Ingmar Bergman’

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Searching for Ingmar Bergman (Germany/France, 99 min.) Dir. Margarethe von Trotta Programme: TIFF Docs (North American Premiere) Few filmmakers have an aesthetic that is now synonymous with their names. A film is “Bergmanesque” if characters undergo struggles of belonging or faith told in dark, impressionistic atmospheres that are dreamlike and surreal, yet grounded in a hauntingly recognisable reality. The Swedish filmmaker’s influence extends to virtually any students who have immersed themselves in the canon of world cinema, discovered great old movies at revival theatres, or explored the pages of publications like Cahiers du Cinema and their discussions of auteur theory. The best tribute to

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TIFF Review: ‘Fahrenheit 11/9’

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Fahrenheit 11/9 (USA, 120 min.) Dir. Michael Moore Programme: TIFF Docs (World Premiere – Opening Night) On November 8, 2016 I made a poorly received joke to a colleague that watching the TV news anchors declare victory for Donald Trump would be an event comparable only to the phrase, “Where were you when 9/11 happened?” Michael Moore echoes this sentiment with his new documentary Fahrenheit 11/9, a spiritual sequel to his 2004 anti-Bush mega hit Fahrenheit 9/11. The symmetry of the titles implies that the election of Donald Trump was the worst thing to happen to America since the terrorist attacks of September 11,

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TIFF Review: ‘Birds of Passage’

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Birds of Passage (Colombia/Denmark/Mexico/France, 125 min.) Dir. Cristina Gallego, Ciro Guerra Programme: Contemporary World Cinema (Canadian Premiere) It feels as if we’re in the middle of a new revolution in Latin American cinema. Gone are the days of Cinema Novo and Third Cinema. Argentina has developed a robust commercial filmmaking scene with hits like Wild Tales and 2009’s Best Foreign Language Film Oscar winner The Secret in Their Eyes. Chile won last year’s Academy Award for Sebastián Lelio’s transgender drama A Fantastic Woman. It could be Colombia’s year at the podium with the explosive drug cartel drama Birds of Passage. The film, which is Colombia’s

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TIFF Review: ‘Heartbound’

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Heartbound (Hjertelandet) (Denmark/Netherlands/Sweden, 90 min.) Dir. Janus Metz, Sine Plambech Programme: TIFF Docs (World Premiere) What are the borders of love? Heartbound offers a different kind of love story as it observes the marriages in the sparsely populated fishing village of Thy, Denmark, where the population of Thai residents has increased exponentially over the past quarter century. Point zero for the Thai invasion is a woman named Sommai, who came to Denmark 25 years ago after striking up a relationship with a dashing Dane named Niels who was her client whilst on a “sex vacation” in the tourist town of Pattaya, Thailand. Make no mistake,

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Review: ‘Walking on Water’

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Walking on Water (Italy/USA, 105 min.) Dir. Andrey Paounov Programme: TIFF Docs (North American Premiere) Get a new peak behind the curtain of a genius’s artistic process in Walking on Water. This film by Bulgarian director Andrey Paounov offers an engrossing glimpse into the craft of Christo, the renowned installation artist who transforms environments into experiential artwork. Christo’s art is no stranger to documentary having been captured in a quintet of documentaries by the Maysles Brothers, most notably in Christo’s Valley Curtain (1974) and Umbrellas (1994). That’s a high bar for any filmmaker to meet, especially when documenting the same subject undergoing a similar endeavour, yet Paounov more

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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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