TIFF 2021 Review: “The Rescue”

TIFF 2021 Review: “The Rescue”

The Rescue is the first documentary I’ve seen at TIFF, as part of their TIFF Docs programme. It’s a documentary about the rescue efforts in Thailand in 2018, when a soccer team of 12 kids and their coach found themselves trapped in the complex Tham Luang cave system. I have a terrible memory, but I’m sure I tracked this story when it made global headlines in 2018. I must have missed some important factors about it, as I was picturing them being lost deep in a cave, or being caved in somehow, where I was picturing a 127 Hours or Kirk Douglas film Ace in the Hole kind-of scenario. I didn’t realize it was flooding that trapped them. These are some of the perfect details tracked.

Review: Powder Keg (Krudttønden) (2020)

Review: Powder Keg (Krudttønden) (2020)

Featured image: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in Powder Keg. (Courtesy of Route 504 PR.) Directed by Ole Christian Madsen. Written by Lars Kristian Andersen, Ole Christian Madsen. Starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Jakob Oftebro, Lars Brygmann. Runtime 1h 46 min. Released Sept. 7, 2021 (in Canada); March 5, 2020 (in Denmark). In Powder Keg (Krudttønden in Danish), we learn about the terrorist [...]

Fantasia Film Festival Review: The Righteous (2021)

Fantasia Film Festival Review: The Righteous (2021)

Mark O’Brien’s The Righteous explores the interesting “hook” of a mysterious stranger coming upon a home. The mysterious stranger is O’Brien’s Aaron Smith (“Original, I know,” says Aaron), who comes upon the property of an elderly couple one night, leg injured. The home is owned by former priest Frederic Mason (Henry Czerny) and his wife Ethel Mason (Mimi Kuzyck), the reason Frederic left the priesthood. Playing with fascinating themes of sin, retribution and penance, Mark O’Brien creates quite the compelling storyline in his feature directorial debut, where he also writes the screenplay.

Fantasia Film Festival Review: The Sadness (2021)

Fantasia Film Festival Review: The Sadness (2021)

In the film, we first meet young couple Kat (Regina Lei) and Jim (Berant Zhu), getting ready for an ordinary day. However, today, after a year of living with the Alvin virus, it’s permanently mutated into something rabid. It turns everyday, fine citizens into feral sadists who give into their primal urges. In the film, Jabbaz throws every caution to the wind, creating a totally bonkers action-horror film. It’s filled with anxiety as we watch as we never know what will happen. It’s injected with the pure insanity of each film in The Purge series (the good ones), but dialed to 11. It’s also just The Crazies on crack. The first kill we see is haunting, and a big kudos to Jabbaz for choosing this greasy first death. If you’re watching the film and you’re immediately turned off by this first kill, there’s a decent chance this won’t be for you. It’s definitely not for the faint-hearted.

Fantasia Film Festival Review: Prisoners of the Ghostland (2021)

Fantasia Film Festival Review: Prisoners of the Ghostland (2021)

Featured image: Nick Cassavetes and Nicolas Cage in Prisoners of the Ghostland. (Courtesy of Mongrel Media.) Directed by Sion Sano. Written by Aaron Hendry and screenplay by Reza Sixo Safai. Starring Nicolas Cage, Sofia Boutella, Nick Cassavetes. Runtime 1h 40 min. Prisoners of the Ghostland premiered at Sundance earlier this year, and had its Canadian Premiere [...]

Fantasia Film Festival Review: When I Consume You (2021)

Fantasia Film Festival Review: When I Consume You (2021)

The first 20 minutes of Perry Blackshear’s When I Consume You immediately catches our attention. It throws us into something unsettling as one of the film’s main characters, Daphne (Libby Ewing) is pulling a tooth from her mouth, emotionally distraught in a bathroom. It has our attention, and even if we couldn’t exactly tell what this would be about 20 minutes in, I didn’t mind. That’s part of the fun, not being able to tell the direction where a film will be going. And in these first 20 minutes especially, Blackshear’s script subverts expectations in a memorable way, which I won’t spoil. And I don’t want to spoil too much about this film as it does feel so unpredictable, so the basic logline and premise is that a pair of siblings, younger sister Daphne and older brother Wilson (Evan Dumouchel), aim to get revenge on a mysterious stalker. The film does maintain that unpredictable edge throughout the film, where only around the 45-minute mark is where we really know what type of film this is.

Fantasia Film Festival Review: Yakuza Princess (2021)

Fantasia Film Festival Review: Yakuza Princess (2021)

She very much holds her own in the action scenes. The fight choreography is strong and (CGI) gore is always steady, with some strong sequences sprinkled throughout, especially a fun scene set in a graveyard. It’s also very well-shot, balancing hand-to-hand combat and gun action. It doesn’t have the variety of chorography to sustain long, drawn-out fight scenes, so if you’re searching for great ones like seen in The Raid or even The Night Comes for Us (both Indonesia actioners), this one doesn’t have it. It underwhelms in certain areas because of that, especially as it doesn’t have a scene that I think will be remembered in a couple of years. However, it’s still a good showcase for MASUMI as a badass hero coming into her own, with some fun scenes to make it worth the two hours.

Fantasia Film Festival Review: Stanleyville (2021)

Fantasia Film Festival Review: Stanleyville (2021)

Maxwell McCabe-Lokos’ Stanleyville is a unique film set up as a sweepstakes for five competitors to be put through a series of tasks. They’re invited by a blue backpacked mysterious recruiter (Julian Richings), who tells them their prize is, as it’s said repeatedly, “a Habanero Orange Compact Sports Utility Vehicle, at a wicked price.” Our way into this competition is lonely office worker Maria (Susanne Wuest), who is enamored not by the vehicle, but to learn more about herself. “This is an opportunity to discover the true you that cowers inside the YOU you,” explains Richings’ Homunculus. Maria intrigues because of that, who seems content to be there, observing, as she’s not nearly as competitive as the others.

Fantasia Film Festival Review: The Slug (2021)

Fantasia Film Festival Review: The Slug (2021)

When Chun-hee is struck by lightning, she wakes up, stunned; and soon discovers that she is being visited by herself from when she was a kid, the same age as when she first lost her parents. In one of the film's tenderest aspects, this version of the character is called Chun-hee's Childhood (played by Park Hye Jin). Moments of flashbacks are shown throughout the script, as we get further insight to the character of Chun-hee.l