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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Film Review: TRENCH 11 (Canada 2017) ***

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Trench 11 Poster
Trailer

In the final days of WWI a shell-shocked soldier must lead a mission deep beneath the trenches to stop a German plot that could turn the tide of the war.

Director:

Leo Scherman

Writers:

Matt BooiMatt Booi | 2 more credits »

TRENCH 11 is set in the year 1918, a year well known for being the year World War 1 ended.  There are a lot of interesting events occurring during the last year of a World War that makes good cinema.  The recent Hungarian film entitled 1945 is an example of another film set in the last year of a War.

But TRENCH 11 is a fictional horror film.  The premise is that those no-good Germans have been practicing scientific warfare again under our noses, in fact 78 feet underground in those trenches.  Some virus has gone loose and it must be contained or the outcome of the end of WWI might turn out quite differently.

At its worst, TRENCH 11 disintegrates into a zombie flesh-eating movie set in the trenches with cheap prosthetics effects, like a face with the nose eaten away.  The dialogue can turn clichéd too as in the example of the line spoken:  “This place was not built to keep people out.  It was built to keep people in.”

At best director Schermna uses the effects of the film’s setting to create real horror, as in the darkness and claustrophobia of the trenches.  The lighting is carefully done so that more often then not, only the essentials are seen – the faces as they peer through the corridors of the trenches.  There is always suspense created when a character turns the corner, as it is dark and no one can see what lurks there.  A few worthy scenes here such as throne with the German and Canadian sitting down to have a drink together,

Humour is provided by the German Officer Reiner, who wants to cleanse Europe by the disease.  Austria actor Robert Stadlober camps it up too, playing Rainer as a complete lunatic.  One can almost imagine the froth coming out of his mouth.  The main lead belongs to Rossif Sutherland (brother of Keifer and son of Donald Sutherland) playing a tunneller who is given the dauntless task of leading the group out of the trenches.  The script also calls for an asshole major.  Oblivious to good safety and common sense, he risks everyone’s lives.  ” We are here to complete a vitally important mission and by God I intend to see that it is done.”  He is disposed with early in the picture, which is a shame as he livens up the film.   The tunneller’s romance with a girl called Veronique (Karine Vanasse) is what spurs the tunneller on.  Director Scherman makes good use of  the dynamics of the different forces (Americans, British, Canadian).

The zombies or Germans infected with the deadly disease are scary enough, if one can strain through the darkness to catch a glimpse of them.  What is even more disgusting are the parasitic worms that wiggle in and out of the corpses’ wounds.  The worms are thin and squirmy (as opposed to fat and juicy), still guaranteed to make ones skin crawl.

TRENCH 11 ends up a scary enough horror movie with interesting characters making effective use of its World War setting.  The film has won rave  reviews when it was premiered at the After Dark Film Festival in Toronto.

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

 

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Interview with Filmmaker Diana Losen (PRIEST TO PRIEST)

Matthew Toffolo's Summary

 PRIEST TO PRIEST was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the July 2018 FAMILY Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Diana Losen: I received a grant as part of my graduate program at Northwestern and I wanted to use it to make this short film with the hopes of eventually making the feature length version.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

I first had the idea as an undergrad in college so counting that initial spark it took four years.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Holy humor

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Time and money. I had the grant but it was small and I was living in Los Angeles at the time and the actors and…

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Interview with Filmmaker Aaron Seever (TEMPORARY)

Matthew Toffolo's Summary

TEMPORARY played to rave reviews at the August 2018 Los Angeles FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Aaron Seever: I wanted to write something for me and my friend Shelly (actress) to work on together as well as share this gorgeous setting with the world.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

18 months for the first edit, 4 years til the current one screened here.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Kindred spirits.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Shooting on location with a very small budget and crew.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I felt pride with how the audience related to the story and the…

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Interview with Filmmaker Aaron Seever (TEMPORARY)

Matthew Toffolo's Summary

TEMPORARY played to rave reviews at the August 2018 Los Angeles FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Aaron Seever: I wanted to write something for me and my friend Shelly (actress) to work on together as well as share this gorgeous setting with the world.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

18 months for the first edit, 4 years til the current one screened here.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Kindred spirits.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Shooting on location with a very small budget and crew.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I felt pride with how the audience related to the story and the…

View original post 218 more words

Interview with Filmmaker Andrew Hawkins (MASQUERADE)

Matthew Toffolo's Summary

MASQUERADE was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the August 2018 LGBT FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Andrew Hawkins: I was inspired by the true story of the slave couple William and Ellen Craft who escaped in the same fashion. Ellen was light-skinned and posed as a sickly white male, while her husband posed as her slave servant. They miraculously made it to Boston and eventually had to flee to London while slave catchers came after them and threatened their safety in the North. So I wove their story in with a fictional story of a homosexual man living in a time when the word “homosexual” didn’t even exist. As a gay man from Virginia who struggled on a personal level to come out in the 2010s, I was fascinated with the history of gay people in early America. There are only a…

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Interview with Filmmaker Jonathan Harris (WEEKEND WARRIOR)

Matthew Toffolo's Summary

 WEEKEND WARRIOR played to rave reviews at the August 2018 DOCUMENTARY FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Jonathan Harris: I like to make films about activities that people don’t normally get the chance to be involved in. Adventure and action sports have always enthralled me so I want to get a viewpoint from someone who puts in the time and effort to build the skills necessary to do these amazing stunts.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

It took about a year to complete although it could have been done much faster. I was just working on weekends and in my free time. It took about 3 trips to the course to film the stunts, plus 1 interview session.

3. How would you describe your short film in two…

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