Reviews - Page 76

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

TIFF Review: ‘Ghost Fleet’

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Ghost Fleet (USA, 90 min.) Dir. Shannon Service, Jeffrey Waldron Programme: TIFF Docs (International Premiere) A revealing documentary about modern slavery, Ghost Fleet manages to put viewers inside a real-life rescue mission while shining a light on broad issues about human rights and consumer responsibility. The rescue mission at the centre of this documentary is led by a woman, the Thai human rights activist, Patima Tunqpuchayakul, who travels with two male colleagues from Bangkok to Indonesia, sailing into dark coves at night and searching villages door to door to locate men who were kidnapped years before and held as slaves working in deep sea

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TIFF Review: ‘What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire?’

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What You Gonna Do When The World’s On Fire? (France/Italy/US, 123 min.) Dir. Roberto Minervini Programme: Wavelengths (North American Premiere) Roberto Minervini, the expat Italian who’s made his life and art for the past decade in the neglected regions of the American south, is one of the most interesting documentary artists working today. His last film, 2015’s Louisiana: The Other Side, is particularly provocative. Divided into two unequal parts, about an impoverished white community overrun by drugs and a nativist militia, it has a decent claim to being the only documentary to predict and fairly represent the forces that gave rise

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TIFF Review: ‘The Elephant Queen’

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The Elephant Queen (UK/Kenya, 96 min.) Dir. Victoria Stone, Mark Deeble Programme: TIFF Docs (World Premiere) In The Elephant Queen, we find a family of elephants lead by powerful matriarch Athena. The titular queen, responsible for the well-being of her herd (especially the newborns), we watch as Athena shelters her family from a drought. An educational documentary, Elephant Queen nevertheless creates plot, drama, and warmth in its depiction of its subjects. Athena is a kind and caring ruler who will do anything to protect and guide her family. With Mimi, the youngest addition to the herd, they begin their life at a watering hole. The

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TIFF Review: ‘The Truth About Killer Robots’

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The Truth About Killer Robots (USA, 83 min.) Dir. Maxin Pozdorovkin Programme: TIFF Docs (World Premiere) The Truth About Killer Robots focuses on the insidious nature of robots. Creeping into our lives with humans too dazzled by convenience and the spectacle of technology to notice the downfalls of anything from faster manual labour to self-driving cars, robots can, and have, resulted in the deaths of humans. Maxim Pozdorovkin’s latest film opens with just that: the death of a worker in a Volkswagen factory. But while the question of physical violence is present, Killer Robots is more intent on the question of the capitalist casualties. When

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TIFF Review: ‘Carmine Street Guitars’

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Carmine Street Guitars (Canada, 80 min.) Dir. Ron Mann Programme: TIFF Docs (North American Premiere) There’s a great scene in Michael McGowan’s 2012 drama Still Mine in which James Cromwell sits at the family dinner table and runs his hands along every nick and scratch in the soft pine surface while fondly recalling memories of his wife and children. There are stories housed in the objects we cherish. If something is built to last, it contains history as it passes from hand to hand and generation to generation. Ron Mann’s wonderful new documentary Carmine Street Guitars shares this philosophy evoked in the scene of Cromwell caressing

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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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