Reviews - Page 78

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

Review: ‘Jane’

/

Jane (USA, 90 min.) Dir. Brett Morgen Programme: TIFF Docs (World Premiere)   I went into Brett Morgen’s doc Jane with some trepidation. Did we really need a new Jane Goodall movie? This one’s different, though. The deal here is that National Geographic gave director Morgen 140 hours of footage of Jane Goodall shot from the 1960s by someone noted in TIFF’s program guide only as “photographer and filmmaker Hugo van Lawick.” Going into the screening, I’m thinking that some German filmmaker found some reason or another to go to Africa in the 1960s—maybe, like Peter Kubelka, he took a

Read More

Review: ‘Gaga: Five Foot Two’

/

Gaga: Five Foot Two (USA, 100 min.) Dir. Chris Moukarbel Programme: Special Events (World Premiere)   A special event lit up the Toronto International Film Festival on Friday, Sept. 8 when Lady Gaga turned Festival Street into a red carpet runway and then transformed the VISA Screening Room at the Princess of Wales Theatre into a rock concert before the premiere of the documentary Gaga: Five Foot Two. Gaga offered a soulful and spine-tingling rendition of “Bad Romance” played only with the accompaniment of a piano and while the overture to the feature presentation might have been stronger than the

Read More

Review: ‘Caniba’

/

Caniba (France, 90 min.) Dir. Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel Programme: Wavelengths (North American Premiere)   “Bring a barf bag,” was a warning I heard from a TIFF insider before I saw Caniba. This wasn’t exactly surprising to hear. I knew two things already about the film in question: one, that Caniba is the new film by Sensory Ethnography Lab-affiliated filmmakers Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel, whose 2012 film Leviathan is, for my money, one of the most inventive, immersive, provocative and nauseating films of recent memory; two, that it’s a film about the cannibal Issei Sagawa, who, in Paris

Read More

Review: ‘Dragonfly Eyes’

/

Dragonfly Eyes (China/USA, 81 min.) Dir. Xu Bing Programme: Wavelengths (North American Premiere)   Xu Bing is a Chinese artist of Ai Weiwei’s vintage—they were even roommates in New York—whose most famous work seems to be Book from the Sky (1987–91), a massive manuscript of beautiful calligraphy that looks like Chinese but is actually gibberish. They say it’s a commentary on Chinese identity’s foundation in the classics and the language. In interviews, Xu seems almost Maoist, calling Mao a great avant-garde artist who spoke the language of the people and moved China out of useless antiquity. The book looks neat,

Read More

Review: ‘One of Us’

/

One of Us (USA, 95 min.) Dir. Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing Programme: TIFF Docs (World Premiere)   TIFF Docs programmer Thom Powers calls One of Us a “documentary thriller” in his programme notes for the film. The description couldn’t be more appropriate. This suspenseful, gripping, and incendiary film by Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing (Detropia, Jesus Camp) pulses with urgency as it chronicles the plight of three New Yorkers. The trio of subjects are individuals trying to extricate themselves from the suffocating insularity of the city’s Hasidic community. The need to escape is immediately palpable in this riveting film

Read More

Review: TIFF Short Docs

/

There aren’t too many documentaries outside the TIFF Docs programme this year, but this observation doesn’t mean the festival comes up short. TIFF’s Short Cuts offers half a dozen short docs scattered around the line-up. These films are worth the hunt since they’re easily among the most original, and arguably best, selections TIFF has to offer. Michelle Latimer’s Nuuca (Programme 5), for example, is a haunting and meditative essay film. Executive produced by Oscar winner Laura Poitras, along with filmmaker AJ Schnack and former Hot Docs programming director Charlotte Cooke, Nuuca is an impassioned work of art that brings Latimer to the oil fields of North Dakota. Rhythmic

Read More

Review: ‘On My Way Out: The Secret Life of Nani and Popi’

/

On My Way Out: The Secret Life of Nani and Popi (Canada, 40 min.) Dir. Brandon Gross, Skyler Gross Programme: Special Event (World Premiere)   Short films tend to get somewhat shut out at red carpet-driven festivals like TIFF, which, of course, is too bad. If people want to get over their feature-length fetishes promptly, they’d do well to see On My Way Out: The Secret Life of Nani and Popi. This is quite simply one of the most alternately heartbreaking and hilarious films I’ve seen in a long time. Made by the titular characters’ grandchildren (Brandon Gross and Skyler

Read More

Review: ‘Beyond the One’

/

Beyond the One (Al di là dell’uno) (Italy/France/Germany Dir. Anna Marziano Programme: Wavelengths (World Premiere)   Wavelength regular Anna Marziano’s latest film is 53 minutes long, placing it in the somewhat neglected, ill-defined category between short and feature. There are many good reasons not to make a work of this length—it creates obstacles even for programming at festivals, let alone commercial distribution—so such a film carries a bit more distinction with it, simply by virtue of its duration, and it also comes with a mark of artistic confidence. This confidence is well placed in the case of Beyond the One,

Read More

Review: ‘Mrs. Fang’

/

Mrs. Fang (France/China/Germany, 86 min.) Dir. Wang Bing Programme: Wavelengths (North American Premiere) I don’t know if it’s Chinese master documentarian Wang Bing’s rare skills—pairing the professional’s easy way with subjects with the artist’s formal assuredness—or the unprecedented crudeness of this late capitalist epoch that makes _Mrs. Fang_ such a vital variation on the old-relative-dies/younger-generation-is-callous archetype. There have been classics in the genre: Yasujiro Ozu’s _Tokyo Story_, of course — itself inspired by Leo McCarey’s _Make Way for Tomorrow_ — and Hou Hsiao-Hsien does it three times over in _A Time to Live and a Time to Die_. In those

Read More

Review: ‘Good Luck’

/

Good Luck (France/Germany, 143 min.) Dir. Ben Russell Programme: Wavelengths (North American Premiere)   The epigraph to Ben Russell’s Good Luck — an account of a mescaline-induced hallucination of a rock repeatedly splitting in two and recombining courtesy of poet and painter Henri Michaux — promises parallelism, and the film delivers. Belying the vaunted immediacy of the cinematic experience, Good Luck is a completely, transparently structural work wherein the whole is evident from the very first shot. The film passes more like architecture or installation than narrative cinema, giving itself up to a slow and methodical (not to say sometimes

Read More

1 76 77 78 79 80 90
0 $0.00