TIFF 2018 Review: STYX (Germany/Austria 2018) ***

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2018. Go to TIFF 2018 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

Styx Poster
“Styx” depicts the transformation of a strong woman torn from her contented world during a sailing trip. When she becomes the only person to come to the aid of a group of refugees …See full summary »

Director:

Wolfgang Fischer

In Greek mythology STYX is the river that separates the human world from the underworld.  Wolfgang Fischer’s second feature, STYX, begins with a well filmed night accident in Gibraltar where an emergency doctor comes to the rescue.  This doctor is the film’s subject. Rike (Susanne Wolff) leaves for on a solo voyage across the Atlantic (reason not given).   

She decides to take on the high seas with her 12-metre yacht but gets more then she bargained for.  She encounters a monster storm followed by a mammoth human decision on a moral scale as to what to do when she encounters a sinking refugee ship.  

Not much story and with minimal dialogue so that the film lags a little, but still occasionally full of emotional impact, STYX is magnificently shot with stunning cinematography by Benedict Neuenfelsthat that will leave one spellbound.  The night storm scene demands mention.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nms5HUNbQ4

 

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TIFF 2018 Review: SEARCHING FOR INGMAR BERGMAN (Germany/France 2018) ****

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2018. Go to TIFF 2018 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

Searching for Ingmar Bergman Poster
Internationally renowned director Margarethe von Trotta takes a closer look at Bergman’s life and work and explores his film legacy with Bergman’s closest collaborators, both in front and …See full summary »

Writers:

Margarethe von Trotta (concept), Felix Moeller (concept)

 

German director Magareth von Trotta pays tribute to Swedish director Ingmar Bergman in honour of the centennial of his birth. Margarethe von Trotta presents a detailed account of his life and his impact on filmmaking through excerpts of his work and interviews with family and contemporaries (Olivier Assyas, Mia Hansen-Love, Ruben Ostlund). 

 Her film begins with a segment of THE SEVENTH SEAL with actor Max Von Sydow and explanation of each shot in detail.  Many of his other films are also displayed  and put into perspective by actresses like Liv Ulmann who speak fondly of the man.  His thoughts and inability to love his own children are also revealed.  The film whets the appetite for watching Bergman films, a retrospective of the Master’s work that will be presented by TIFF Cinematheque this fall.  

Extremely insightful and a  treasure for cineastes!  Von Trotta’s own film THE GERMAN SISTERS was selected by Bergman as one of his favourite films.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGeHGcKh1KM

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TIFF 2018 Review: MARIA BY CALLAS (France 2018) ***

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2018. Go to TIFF 2018 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

Maria by Callas Poster
An intimate look at the life and work of Greek-American opera singer, Maria Callas, as told in her own words.

Director:

Tom Volf

 

Tom Volf ‘s MARIA BY CALLAS offers fresh insights into one of the great talents of the 20th century via recently rediscovered writings and interviews with the Greek-American soprano.  Maria Callas has been praised by many as the greatest singer of the century.  Callas was born and bred in New York City though many think she is of Italian or European origin.  

The film is comprised of beautifully restored archival footage with her own words from her letters and writings as narrated by American opera singer Joyce DiDonato.   The Greek-American soprano rose to fame after World War II and became a star attraction in all the major opera houses. This film offers fresh insights into her public and private lives, especially her long-time romance with Aristotle Onassis, the affair that made headlines as both were still married at the time.  Callas’s music is obviously paramount in the film.

  The film’s real treat is Callas’ complete performances of the arias from the operas Norma, La Traviata, Carmen, and Tosca.  Also insightful and funny is the footage of the David Frost interview with Callas telling Frost, “If someone really tries to listen to me, he will find all myself there.” 

 The doc feels longer than its running time and could have been edited to a tighter 90 minutes.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdxBhU46TGM

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Film Review: SEARCHING (USA 2018) ***

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2018. Go to TIFF 2018 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

Searching Poster
Trailer

After his 16-year-old daughter goes missing, a desperate father breaks into her laptop to look for clues to find her.

Director:

Aneesh Chaganty

SEARCHING is a psychological thriller starring John Cho (STAR TREK and HARRY AND KUMAR who plays David Kim, a father trying to find his missing 16-year-old daughter, Margo (Michelle La).  As David interviews people who were supposedly close with her, he begins to learn that his daughter was not as perfect as she seemed.  SEARCHING is a psychological thriller that unfolds almost totally from the computer screen.  This is not a new tactic thought still quite a novel one, having being used only recently in UNFRIENDED: DARK WEB and its original UNFRIENDED films.

The question that immediately comes to mind is whether the story warrants this style of movie making and if it does, how effective it is.

The story involves David searching through her daughter’s web history, so quite a chunk of the film would involve watching the computer screen.  Watching events unfold through a computer screen is more taxing for the following reasons:

it requires the audience to often absorb simultaneous events occurring on the screen.  When a user is typing a reply, the question above the txt involving the question needs to be read too

the texts on screen is often too small to ready (this occurs a few times in the film), though it an be made larger when the box is maximized.

  what appears on the screen is sometimes blurry

But being a novel idea, it is still a fresh look at a psychological film and the tactic does work, though one mayans  argue that the entire film need not have to be told this way, without compromising the story.  But credit to the filmmakers to try something new, and one can tell the amount of effort and coordination going into the making of the film this way.

While director Changanty does his best to put as much of the film on the computer screen, it is not always possible.  The part of David beating up a possible suspect at a theatre is shown as if seen on youtube.  But the searching for Margot’s body in the ravine area is not.  The film revokes back to normal non-computer mode necessary keep the story intact.

The decision to make an American film about a missing daughter to include an Asian family is a good one.  Most films have centred on whites or African American families, and this is a rare one where the fully English film is on a Korean American family.  Apart of a few references to Korean culture (the kimchi cooking), the film could be substituted for any minority couple.  But typical to most Asian families is to have a daughter take piano lessons.  John Cho is one of the most famous young Asian actors today after making his name in STAR TREK and the HARRY AND KUMAR films.  He show his serious acting chops in this movie.

Credit should be given to the studios for a thriller with a break in trend, made with a Korean family and taking place on a computer platform.  

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Ro9ebQxEOY

 

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TIFF 2018 Movie Review: COLETTE (UK 2018)

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2018. Go to TIFF 2018 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

Colette Poster
Trailer

Colette is pushed by her husband to write novels under his name. Upon their success, she fights to make her talents known, challenging gender norms.

Writers:

Richard Glatzer (screenplay by), Wash Westmoreland (screenplay by) |2 more credits »

COLETTE tells the story of Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (Keira Knightley), celebrated French writer and gay icon, not the average early-20th-century woman.
  The film follows her rise to fame while her writing credit is stolen by her husband.  One cannot help but side with Colette against her obnoxious and cowardly husband, Willy (Dominic West) but the script makes him a too easy target to hate.  Knightley prances about as if she is the best actress o the planet playing Colette, even more so giving the impression that it is just such a huge thing when she bears her breast in a scene onstage.
  Giving the impression of being totally staged and manipulative, the film gets more monotonous during the second half when it could have become more exciting. 

 

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TIFF 2018 Movie Review: COLD WAR (ZIMNA WOJNA) (Poland 2018) ****

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2018. Go to TIFF 2018 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

Cold War Poster
A passionate love story between two people of different backgrounds and temperaments, who are fatefully mismatched, set against the background of the Cold War in the 1950s in Poland, Berlin, Yugoslavia and Paris.

Writers:

Pawel Pawlikowski (story), Pawel Pawlikowski(screenplay)  »

The director of the Best Foreign Film Oscar winner IDA three years ago, Pawel Pawlikowski returns with a new film, dedicated to his parents (as state at the end of the film) and based loosely on their lives.  

The film traces is the remarkable journey of a troubled love relationship that survived the cold war.   But the lovers endure a cold war of their own where nothing is black and white.  What is black and whit, however, is the film’s stunning cinematography, capturing the years after the war where Poland indulged in popular propaganda.  Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) the musical director of a dance tripe falls in love with a recruited rural dancer, Zula (Joanna Kulig).  

They travel together to different cities.  She fails to show up when he decides to defect, while in Paris.  They meet again at different times in different cities proving that their love is true – though plagued with jealousy.  The intensity of the love is vividly portrayed by the two actors and the setting of the dance troupe (with some excellent dances) add a super backdrop to the story. 

 Lots of metaphors in the film including the hilarious ‘pendulum that kills’ metaphor that got those watching the preview screening laughing.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvPkDdFeTk8

 

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TIFF 2018 Movie Review: FLOAT LIKE A BUTTERFLY (Ireland 2018) ***1/2

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2018. Go to TIFF 2018 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

Float Like a Butterfly Poster
From the producers of Once and Sing Street, Float Like a Butterfly is a powerful and timely story of a girl’s fight for freedom and belonging. In a gender-reversal of classic film Billy …See full summary »

Director:

Carmel Winters

Writer:

Carmel Winters

FLOAT LIKE A BUTTERFLY is a well-made female version of the underdog making good, a role reversal of BILLY ELLIOT, this film set in rural Ireland with boxing replacing dance.  

The film tells the fictitious tale of an Irish girl, Frances (Hazel Doupe) who hero worships the great boxer and herself becomes one.  The film open with her as a kid punching away, on top of her father, Michael’s (Dara Devaney) shoulders.  FLOAT LIKE A BUTTERFLY is a feel good comedy/drama on an underdog making good.  It could be classified was a family film but there is a lot of swearing in the dialogue.  Few films have been made around Irish tinkers.  

What distinguishes FLOAT LIKE A BUTTERFLY from the average feel-good film is the screen time and effort put into the story’s background.  Frances’ family especially the influences of her father, late mother and nana, the rich Irish background of tinkers, the rural Irish beauty and solid drama of Frances always being classified as a social reject all contribute to making Frances’ story a strong one and one that the audience will root for.  

The result obviously is a solid and satisfying feel-good and entertaining drama.

Trailer: (unavailable)

 

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