International: US & Canada Reviews

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Vancouver 2017 Review: BLACK COP Does Its Concept Justice

Between its success at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it premiered earlier this year, and here at VIFF, where it won the Canadian Feature award, Black Cop has become something of a sensation. Its concept is an undeniably timely,...

Busan 2017 Review: THE WORK, an Essential Exploration into Masculine Fragility

There are few places in the world more terrifying than prison. For most of us, it is an environment we will never have to experience first hand, but for those who are incarcerated, it is a community of division, hostility...

Vancouver 2017 Review: MAISON DU BONHEUR, a Lovely Portrait

Filmmaker Sofia Bohdanowicz's 2016 film, Never Eat Alone, won her VIFF's Emerging Canadian Director prize for that year. Now, she returns to the festival with her newest feature, Maison du bonheur. How the film came to be is a charming...

Sitges 2017 Review: CANIBA Challenges You To Take A Long Look At A Murderer

And now for something truly different. Unconventional in almost every way, Caniba is the latest anthropological and psychological inquest from Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor. Their previous film, Leviathan, made for the Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab wordlessly looked at the...

San Sebastian 2017 Review: SOLLERS POINT, Baltimore's Cinematic Response to Ulysses

The Baltimore indie helmer Matt Porterfield forges fatalistic drama of an one-in-a-million existence molded by the circumstances of its purlieu in his fourth feature Sollers Point.

Sitges 2017 Review: THE SHAPE OF WATER, The Workers and the Dreamers

Guillermo del Toro is back with a vengeance, returning to his fairy-tale roots after too long an absence, with what is arguably his best film to date. Beautiful, sensuous, fully wearing its heart on its sleeve, with top-notch performances and...

Fantastic Fest 2017 Review: MOM AND DAD, Infanticide Has Never Been So Much Fun!

Becoming a father was the greatest thing that's ever happened to me. I'd wager that this sentiment rings true to millions of other parents around the world, as well. However, as glorious a feeling and as rewarding as parenthood is,...

Fantastic Fest 2017 Review: PROFESSOR MARSTON AND THE WONDER WOMEN, The Queerness of Creation

The United States has always been prudish and conservative when it comes to sex, to say the very least. Television shows and films can show enormous amounts of violence, but heaven forbid even an glimpse of nipple is seen. So...

Fantastic Fest 2017 Review: THOROUGHBREDS, A Pitch Black Tale of Female Friendship

Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy cement their positions as two of the most captivating young actresses working today in Thoroughbreds, a wickedly humorous psychodrama straddling the class divide in small-town Connecticut and exposing the complex malevolence of the adolescent psyche....

Toronto 2017 Review: Kitamura Ryuhei's DOWNRANGE, A Lean and Mean Horror Thriller

Six college students on the way home in a carpool are stranded on an isolated road (in the middle of BFE as one puts it so eloquently) when a tire blows. Just when one of them realizes that this is...

Toronto 2017 Review: THE CRESCENT, A Visionary Fusion of Horror Tradition and Originality

Late in Seth A. Smith's The Crescent, there is a hushed shot of the lead character, who happens to be a 2-year-old toddler, sitting on a beach, framed inside an hollow wreck of an old seaside house. The camera slowly...

Toronto 2017 Review: BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99, Prestige Grindhouse Moviemaking

Sometimes, you have to smash things to bits before life can get better. But then life only gets better for a while before it gets much, much worse. More smashing is required, some resolution gained. Then, well, hmmm, that seems...

Toronto 2017 Review: UNICORN STORE, A Clever, Oddball Delight

Is there such a thing as the 'woman-girl' film? The female equivalent to the man-boy film (which describes far, far too many films) about someone who allegedly refuses to 'grow up', or be the kind of adult that their families...

Toronto 2017 Review: LES AFFAMÉS, The Things They Carried

While many zombie films are set in rural areas, the characters of such films are usually urban dwellers who have escaped cities in the hopes that the countryside is safer, that any possible survivors might be more welcoming, and remoteness...

Toronto 2017 Review: BODIED Battle Raps Our Current Cultural Moment

Eager-beaver, and ready to rumble, Bodied, huffs and puffs its way into our current cultural moment with impeccable timing. Produced by Eminem and directed by cult (or as the cool kids say, 'vulgar') auteur, Joseph Kahn whose straight-faced ludicrousness on...

Venice 2017 Review: SUBURBICON Floats Between Brilliant and Underbaked

The opening sequences of George Clooney's Suburbicon unfold in front of us like an animated book straight from a Cold War infomercial. Set in late 1940s America, these scenes are accompanied by a narrator who cooingly tells us the benefits...

Short Film, Short Review: AMY

At a residence Mary is caring for many sick and ailing guests, including the young Amy. Delivering refreshments to relieve her guests during the Summer heat Mary warns Amy not to venture from her room at night lest she disturb...

Review: MARJORIE PRIME, The Haunting Power of Memory and Love

How much of our personality, our reactions to situations, our relationships with our loved ones, determined by our memories, of them and ourselves? (A somewhat rherotical question, as I think the answer is quite a lot). As we age, and...

Review: WITHOUT, A Haunting, Harrowing Portrayal of Grief

One of the most deeply rewarding indies of the last ten years finally gets a release in America.

Fantasia 2017 Review: FASHIONISTA, A Dark Addiction Drama With No Drugs, But Lots Of Clothes

Simon Rumley makes challenging films. Not for all tastes, certainly, but for those who want their genre cinema with a finely-honed sophistication in character and drama. His latest, Fashionista, is part relationship drama and part addiction character study, and it...