• Saloum

    Saloum

    ★★★★

    [TIFF #20] Scrappy, disorienting, and cool as all hell. A genre-bending hit of adrenaline. This is what festivals are for.

  • The Electrical Life of Louis Wain

    The Electrical Life of Louis Wain

    ★★★½

    [TIFF #19] THE POTENTIAL ENERGY OF THE CAT? Always pleasant, and occasionally delightful — albeit teetering on cloying whenever the narration kicks in. This is a straight-across-the-plate biopic, tropes and all, elevated by a few genuinely odd splashes of color. In short, it pulls off exactly what last year’s RADIOACTIVE attempted.

    Side note: after THE POWER OF THE DOG and SILENT NIGHT, this is now the third consecutive film I’ve seen which features a prominent member of the JOJO RABBIT cast. Are the People’s Choice Awards gods trying to tell me something?

  • Silent Night

    Silent Night

    ★★★½

    [TIFF #18] I only wish I hadn’t seen a review name drop a certain 2011 film before watching this one: I imagine going in fully blind would have bumped it another half star. There are so many comparisons to make here, and in the interest of remaining spoiler free I will refrain from making any. All I’ll say is that this one really goes for it in the second half, and I’m impressed by that commitment.


    (Also, if I’m putting…

  • The Power of the Dog

    The Power of the Dog

    ★★★★½

    [TIFF #17] Came into this unfamiliar both with the source material and with Campion’s ouvre, and was absolutely blown away. I’m hesitant to say much about the storyline, as I think the precision in its construction — revealing itself to you drip by drip — is a major source of the film’s power. All I’ll say is that this feels like a spiritual successor to THERE WILL BE BLOOD, but with the plot (and feeling) buried a few levels further down. Epic and quietly menacing, so finely tuned that a half-whistled tune or the flicked teeth of a comb can make your skin crawl. Just fantastic.

  • Arthur Rambo

    Arthur Rambo

    ★★½

    [TIFF #16] I kind of loved the first half of this movie, which would make for a very interesting companion piece with YOUNG AHMED. There’s a promise of giving voice to contradictions, to expressing something profound about the anger of the oppressed, and the impossibility of dictating the terms of that anger (even when its content is inexcusable).

    Unfortunately, the film is more or less entirely setup. The stakes are established, we brace ourselves for revelation, and it just…sort of…ends?…

  • Earwig

    Earwig

    ★★★

    [TIFF #15] I have absolutely no idea what I just watched, but goddamn was it visually compelling.

  • Lakewood

    Lakewood

    [TIFF #14] 2021 has already given us at least two poignant festival releases about the emotional impact of school shootings. Sundance’s MASS explored it with seat-squirming directness, as two sets of grieving parents struggle to explain the unexplainable. SXSW’s THE FALLOUT explored it a bit more subversively, through the eyes of a teenager who uses irony and subversion as a means of processing the unprocessable. But LAKEWOOD proves that there’s always a fresh angle one can take, even when approaching…

  • Silent Land

    Silent Land

    ★★★

    [TIFF #13] Visually, this might be the most beautifully composed film I’ve seen at the festival so far. Certainly it’s the most meticulous. Even when the characters are doing nothing, the camera is consistently communicating something about their relationship and state of mind. God, I wish I could love it rather than merely respect it.

    Coming only 24 hours later, this naturally made me think of BERGMAN ISLAND: a couple on vacation in an idyllic place, a high concept that…

  • The Rescue

    The Rescue

    ★★★★

    [TIFF #12] Exactly as breathtaking as you would expect the moment you learn the team behind FREE SOLO made a documentary about the Thai cave rescue. Truly shocked at how seamlessly they weave re-enactments in with the actual Go Pro footage of the cave; it viscerally feels like you’re in there with them. A moving crowd pleaser that you should absolutely catch during its inevitable Oscar run.

  • Compartment No. 6

    Compartment No. 6

    ★★★½

    [TIFF #11] Charming, small, and defiantly nontraditional in its characterizations. For a large chunk of the runtime, I was certain comparisons to Linklater had been a bait and switch — surely not these two! But it creeps up on you, and ends with a wonderfully warm, heart-thawing laugh. 

    My only real gripe is similar to the one I have with LOST IN TRANSLATION: Wouldn’t this be more powerful if it were (textually) platonic? Can’t we leave the rest just below the surface?

  • Bergman Island

    Bergman Island

    ★★★★

    [TIFF #10] God am I a sucker for autofiction. This one had me eating out of the palm of its hand from beginning to end. Vicky Krieps and Mia Wasikowska are both so wonderful in this, as is the (unseen) Mia behind the camera. Peeling back the layers of this, and studying up on my Bergman, may well bump it an additional half star. My current fave of the fest.

  • The Wheel

    The Wheel

    ★★½

    [TIFF #9] A moderately effective feature-length drama that deserves to be a fantastic short film. The eponymous wheel should be the whole of it: single take, talky, laden with context we have no need, or right, to understand. Let it breathe a little and you’ve got yourself a gorgeous, complete work. Instead, the preceding hour only dulls the magic: character revelations that seem paint-by-numbers at best / condescending stereotypes at worst, indie music montages that never quite fit, an entire second couple that didn’t need to exist.