EUFF Review: 'I Am Not a Witch'

I Am Not a Witch
(UK/France, 92 min.)
Written and directed by Rungano Nyoni
Starring: Margaret Mulubwa, Henry Phir, Nancy Murilo 
Margaret Mulubwa
The inciting event of I am not a Witch could easily be a scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. A woman fetches a bucket of water and drops it when she encounters a young girl on the path home. Her explanation for being startled? The little kid’s a witch.


Boy Erased: Every Parent Needs to See this Movie

Boy Erased
(USA, 114 min.)
Written and directed by Joel Edgerton
Starring: Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Joel Edgerton, Xavier Dolan, Joe Alwyn, Troye Sivan
Theo Pellerin and Lucas Hedges in a scene from Boy Erased
There’s a moment in Boy Erased in which Nicole Kidman brought the house down at the Princess of Wales Theatre when the film premiered at TIFF earlier this fall. Kidman’s character Nancy rescues her son, Jared (Lucas Hedges), from a gay conversion therapy camp that she’d enlisted him in with hopes to straighten him out. As they escape, the camp’s leader and self-certified “therapist” (Joel Edgerton) comes running after them, convincing them to stop and correct their sins. Nancy, a devout Baptist, realizes that she can reconcile her faith with her love for her son. Nancy turns protectively and fiercely admonishes her foe with the sassiest “Shame on you!” decreed in cinema. The line comes straight from the heart as love gives Nancy a reality check and Boy Erased provides a pure, heart-breaking portrait of the bond between parents and their children.


EUFF Review: 'Omnipresent'

(Bulgaria, 120 min.)
Written and directed by Ilian Djevelekov
Starring: Velislav Pavlov, Teodora Duhovnikova, Vesela Babinova, Anastassia Liutova, Mihail Mutafov 
How many cameras does a person walk by every day? The fear of Big Brother watching over us is a reality that people take for granted. Government spying might be one thing, since they can only monitor so many people, but the threat of surveillance is everywhere, as are the inherent elements of power and control that come with the information gleaned by the voyeur. Omnipresent, the opening night film of Toronto’s European Union Film Festival and Bulgaria’s official entry in this year’s Oscar race for Best Foreign Language Film, explores the destructive role of the panopticon as one man takes the all-seeing eye of the camera too far. It’s a chilling morality play on the power of media.


Burning: A Grin without a Cat

(South Korea, 148 min.)
Dir. Lee Chang-dong, Writ. Lee Chang-dong, Jungmi Oh
Starring: Ah-In Yoo, Steven Yeun, Jong-seo Jeon
Ah-In Yoo, Jong-Seo Jeon and Steven Yeun star in Burning
Burning is a slow and difficult film. South Korea's Oscar bid is lethargic even by the standard with which one approaches a film by auteur Lee Chang-dong (Secret Sunshine, Poetry). Lee has mastered the art of slow cinema, rarely making a movie that clocks in under two hours and twenty minutes, so what Burning lacks in immediate payoff it enjoys in long-term gain. See it in a theatre and leave your phone behind—or, if watching Burning at home, turn the phone off, remove the battery, and leave both parts in different rooms. This is the kind of movie from which one can easily be distracted, since the action happens almost imperceptibly in Lee’s carefully measured frames. Miss not a beat, lest ye be lost forever. The film is a slow burn with a sting that creeps up a day later.


"It's Time to Break the Noses of All Beautiful Things"

(Italy/USA, 152 min.)
Dir. Luca Guadagnino, Writ. David Kajganich
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Mia Goth, Chloë Moretz, Angela Winkler, Ingrid Caven, Jessica Harper
Dakota Johnson and cast
“It’s time to break the noses of all beautiful things,” declares Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton) to Susie (Dakota Johnson) during a devilish dance in Suspiria. There are many broken bones and bloodied beauties in Luca Guadagnino’s gorgeously macabre Suspiria, and many a horror fan is bound to be tickled pink by the cries of pain and pleasure that echo throughout the film. One major difference between this Suspiria and the 1977 Dario Argento original is the sheer amount of dancing as sequences punctuate the film with violent, staccato rhythms. Both films take place in a dance studio/coven in divided Berlin, but the dancing in the classic is almost incidental whereas the stylish moves of the new film are essential to the spell it casts. This wild dance party is even better than the original Suspiria.


Mid90s: Hill Flips the 'Bird

(USA, 84 min.)
Written and directed by Jonah Hill
Starring: Sunny Suljic, Na-Kel Smith, Olan Prenatt, Gio Galicia, Ryder McLaughlin, Lucas Hedges, Katherine Waterston
Sunny Suljic and Na-Kel Smith star in Jonah Hill's Mid90s
VVS Films
Bradley Cooper isn’t the only actor who can direct! Superbad and Wolf of Wall Street star Jonah Hill makes a respectable feature debut as a director with Mid90s. While Mid90s isn’t the out of the park grand slam of Cooper’s A Star is Born, complete with fireworks and somersaulting cheerleaders, Hill’s flick bats a solid triple and lands a hot dog on the side. Hill crafts a goofy, tough, and surprisingly sweet coming of age story in Mid90s.


'Can You Ever Forgive Me?' a Feat of Tragicomedy

Can You Ever Forgive Me?
(USA, 106 min.)
Dir. Marielle Heller, Writ. Nicole Holofcener, Jeff Whitty
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Lee Israel is pathetic. When we meet the writer circa 1991, she’s a 51-year-old has been, clinging to her fifteen minutes of fame while churning out entry level work during the graveyard shift. Israel achieved some measure of repute thanks to her literary biographies on Tallulah Bankhead, Estée Lauder, and reporter/game show panelist Dorothy Kilgallen, the latter of which was a New York Times bestseller. Israel thinks this modest success entitles her to more out of life, but as a bitterly depressed and resentful alcoholic, she squanders her talent far more than she uses it.

Room for Rent: Awkwardness Included

Room for Rent
(Canada, 89 min.)
Written and directed by Matthew Atkinson
Starring: Mark Little, Brett Gelman, Mark McKinney, Carla Gallo, Stephnie Weir
Living with random roommates is an experience that everyone should face at least once, if only to appreciate how normal and kind one’s friends and family are. For example, when I moved to Toronto, I answered a Craig’s List ad for a house that was led by someone who seemed perfectly chill and relatable. She turned out to be a batshit crazy hoarder who cleaned the shower for an hour every week (usually at midnight) and ran an amateur massage studio out of our messy living room—an expected everybody to vamoosh when her clients arrived. Not the most pleasant year, but it gave some perspective.


Oscar Predictions: Round 1 - Getting Back in the Game

Clockwise: Roma, The Favourite, BlacKkKlansman, A Star is Born, First Man, If Beale Street Could Talk
And we are back in the game with Oscar predictions! I apologize that this has been such a quiet year on Cinemablographer. I hope that things pick up here heading into the end of the year. It’s been a crazy year at POV and I’ve been doing some other freelancing, so I’ve simply been a bit busy elsewhere. (Thanks to everyone for sticking around!)


Chalamet a Star to Stay

Beautiful Boy
(USA, 120 min.)
Dir. Felix van Groeningen, Writ. Luke Davies, Felix van Groeningen
Starring: Steve Carell, Timothée Chalamet, Maura Tierney, Amy Ryan, Kaitlyn Dever
VVS Films
Steve Carell wants an Oscar. Timothée Chalamet deserves one.


Knuckleball: Kids Slay the Darnedest Things

(Canada, 89 min.)
Dir. Michael Peterson, Writ. Michael Peterson, Kevin Cockle
Starring: Luca Villacis, Michael Ironside, Munro Chambers, Kathleen Munroe, Chenier Mundal

The appeal of children generally eludes me, but the little hellions seem to be awfully good tools to have whilst trapped in a creepy home with a maniac. Video games and movies have taught kids to be resourceful, and as the new horror-comedy Knuckleball shows, there’s at least one practical benefit to having children.  Kids slay the darnedest things—at least they’re good for something.


First Man: From the Space Race to the Oscar Race

First Man
(USA, 142 min.)
Dir. Damien Chazelle, Writ. Josh Singer
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Corey Stoll, Jason Clarke, Patrick Fugit, Lukas Haas, Olivia Hamilton
Neil Armstrong
Neil Armstrong might have been the first man to walk on the moon, but we’ll all feel like we’ve been there after seeing First Man. La La Land director Damien Chazelle takes audiences to the moon with such heart-pounding skill that one could swear he shot the film in space. This technically accomplished achievement chronicles the landmark Space Race that culminated with the Apollo 11 landing on the moon with Armstrong (played by La La Land leading man Ryan Gosling) taking a major leap for all of humanity.


Close Rewrites 'The Wife' Role

The Wife
(Sweden/UK/USA, 100 min.)
Dir. Björn Runge, Writ. Jane Anderson
Starring: Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce, Christian Slater, Max Irons, Annie Stark, Harry Lloyd
Glenn Close stars in The Wife
Photo by Graeme Hunter / Sony Pictures Classics
It’s hard to imagine a better showcase for Glenn Close’s talents than The Big Chill, Fatal Attraction, The World According to Garp, Dangerous Liaisons, or Damages, but The Wife might be the finest example of her strength as an actress. That might be the case because The Big Chill, Fatal Attraction, The World According to Garp, Dangerous Liaisons, or Damages are all great pieces of film and television. The Wife, unfortunately, is not a good film, but Glenn Close is great in it. She’s reason alone to see the film as she elevates every scene in which she appears with subdued, repressed rage. Close’s performance in The Wife is a masterclass in subtle, nuanced acting.


Chien de garde: Canada's Stray Oscar Bid

Chien de garde (Family First)
(Canada, 87 min.)
Written and directed by Sophie Dupuis
Starring: Jean-Simon Leduc, Théodore Pellerin, Maude Guérin, Paul Ahmarani
Telefilm Canada threw us all for a loop Wednesday when they announced, without the usual warning or fanfare, the completely random selection of Sophie Dupuis’ Chien de garde as our official submission in the Oscar race for Best Foreign Language Film. It’s a random choice because Chien de garde marks the first time in a very long while that the pan-Canadian committee has put forward a film that had virtually no boost, platform, or exposure outside of Quebec. The film, which opened theatrically in La Belle Province in March and was dumped unceremoniously onto VOD for the rest of Canada sometime between then and now, actually drew some stellar reviews and garnered three of Quebec’s Iris Awards in the categories of Best Actress (Maude Guérin), Best Film Editing, and Best Breakthrough Performer. (The film has a full-throttle performance by Théodore Pellerin). 


TIFF 2018: Festival Wrap-Up and Picks for 'Best of the Fest'

Destroyer, Blind Spot, Birds of Passage, A Star is Born, Roma, and Hotel Mumbai were some of TIFF's best
That’s a wrap for another year at the Toronto International Film Festival! TIFF had its best and arguably most exhausting year yet in 2018. There were some great movies and moments of TIFF, but the highlight might have been the Saturday of the first weekend when I came home and stress ate an entire bag of Kettle Chips with a bottle of prosecco. After spending nearly the entire day on email coordinating or conducting interviews that consumed the first few days of TIFF, it was a great way to unwind after missing several movies. Check out more coverage at POV and stay tuned to BeatRoute for the work fuelled by greasy chips and bubbly.