Film Review: GLORIA BELL (USA/Chile 2018) ***

Gloria Bell Poster

A free-spirited woman in her 50s seeks out love at L.A. dance clubs.


Sebastián Lelio


Alice Johnson Boher (adapted screenplay), Sebastián Lelio | 1 more credit »

GLORIA BELL begins and ends with Julianne Moore dancing at a club in an 80’s setting.  The era is never mentioned but can be deduced from the 80’s song playlist and from the wardrobe and hair style of the characters.  Chilean director Leila has been known to effectively use and bring to life his films with the use of a singular song, the most notable and remembered being Richard Burton’s rendering of the song CAMELOT from the stage musical in Leilo’s film JACKIE about Jackie Kennedy.  In GLORIA BELL, Gloria Gayor’s ‘”Never Can Say Goodbye” begins the film while the popular 80’s song “Gloria” closes it.

GLORIA BELL is described in the press notes as a film on mature dating.   The film opens with Gloria on the dance floor.  Gloria Bell (Julianna Moore) introduces herself to a stranger (and to the audience) as Gloria Bell, a divorcee of 12 odd years.  She meets in the same night, Arnold (John Torturro) who she eventually begins a relationship with, after some hot sex, in which nothing much can be seen much but much can be heard, which means the audience will get the point.

Gloria has been on the dating scene for a while – probably for 12 years or so, judging from her behaviour.  She is not eager to begin a relationship right away but is not opposed to the idea either.

For a film about mature dating, the film covers all the points about its problems.  These include:

– the baggage that each member brings to the relationship with each having their own children and each with their own set of problems

  • the discomfort of still dating at such a late age; Arnold \ has qualms about telling his children about Gloria, obviously embarrassed at the situation
  • jealousies that flare up; Arnold is uncomfortable when Gloria shows affection for her ex (Sean Astin) at her son’s (Michael Cera) birthday party
  • each member is set in their own stubborn ways and behaviour; Arnold in leaving Gloria when trouble arise 
  • disapproval and constant questioning of the children; as it happens at Gloria’s son’s birthday party

The song, Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Alone Again, Naturally”  that is heard right in the middle of the film again is effectively used by Leilo to put his story in perspective.

Leilo’s film benefits from the performances of its actors, which are key for a dating drama of this sort.  Moore and Torturro are both excellent, especially Torturro who obviously has toned down his usual manic performances.  It is good too to see Michael Sera in the role of Gloria’s son, Cera being absent from the screen for some time.

The script is also smart enough not to take sides.  Both Arnold  and Gloria have their valid reasons for each fight and one could side with either, despite being male or female.  The film’s subplots, like Gloria’s expecting daughter taking off to Sweden to marry her beau also enhances rather than distracts the main story.

GLORIA BELL is not full of surprises (in fact, if the film seems strangely familiar, you could have seen Leilo’s original Spanish 2013 version called GLORIA which was set in Santiago) but it serves a realistic slice of life mature dating, with all its pitfalls and bright spots.  It is an entertaining watch to see ourselves in similar situations.


2019 Oscar Nominated Shorts- Live Action (Reviews)

2019 Oscar Nominated Shorts (Live Action)  **** Highly Recommended

Oscar nominated shorts will be screened at the Bell Lightbox from now (Feb 8th) till Oscar Presentation Day – on February the 24th.  There are 3 categories – animated; live action and live action documentary.

Watching shorts is a real treat and less tiring than watching a full length feature. Plus, not knowing what these shorts are about, one will surely be in for a nice surprise as well.

One thing about this program of shorts is that they are the most gut wrenching.  The subjects of two of these involve children, boys before the age of puberty.  DETAINMENT and FAUVE are two my favourites for the fact that they are both totally engrossing from start to finish.  Total length of this program around 109 minutes.  

All the shorts are about delinquent kids except one that is centred on a senior.


DETAINMENT (UK 2018) *****Top 10

Directed Vincent Lambe

Liverpool, England.  A baby has been murdered.  Caught on video surveillance are two boys and friends, suspect for the murder.  Each are questioned by the police act different locations in the presence of their moms, as the interrogation tears away the layers of lies to reveal what really happened.  DETAINMENT is harrowing because it is hardly imaginable that murder could be committed by two young lads and that test Live -Action short.  The actors playing John and his mother deserve Oscars for their vivd portrayals.  DETAINMENT gets my vote as the best of the program.

FAUVE (Canada 2018) ***** Top 10
Directed by Jeremy Compte

FAUVE sees two mischievous boy playing a game of points to see who wins by coming up with  6 points first.  The game consists of showing who is the toughest one.  The game leads the boys to a quarry where one is pushed into grey mud that functions like deadly quicksand.  This scene is extremely well filmed.  In a moment, the fun and games turn into tragedy while the two pubescent boys learn go through their rites-of-passage.  The  figure of the fox that appears to the boys serves as a metaphor that makes the proceedings all the more chilling.  A difficult but excellent watch!

MADRE (Spain 2018) ***

Directed by Rodrigo Sorogoyen

A single mother while with her mother received a call from hr 7-year old son vacationing with his father on some beach in France.  The child is concerned that the dad has not returned and have left him alone for a while.  Things get worse, when pedophile goes after the boy.  All the terror is conveyed through the cell to the madre who is at wit’s end as to what to do.  It is a neat concept of terror conveyed through talk but the open ended ending is a disappointment.

MARGUERITE (Canada 2017) ***
Directed by Marianne Farley

It is never too late to come out.  The film begins innocently enough with a nurse washing an elderly lady.  The friendship develops both to disclose secrets and longings.  The short shows the trails of growing old and the need to come to terms with the past and present.  Sad and happy at the same time!

SKIN (USA 2018) ****

Directed by Guy Nattiv

SKIN is the most disturbing of all the shorts about kids.  There are two difficult to watch scenes.  One is the brutal beating of a black man for no reason that takes place in front of the victim and attacker’s two sons in  parking lot.  SKIN is about a skinhead family.  The second scene has the father reaching the son how to use a weapon as it it was a toy.  The skinhead father finally gets what is coming to him in a climax that would leave the audience satisfied.

Film Review: 2019 Oscar Nominated Shorts (Documentary) **** Highly Recommended

Oscar nominated shorts will be screened at the Bell Lightbox from now (Feb 8th) till Oscar Presentation Day – on February the 24th.  There are 3 categories – animated; live action and live action documentary.

Watching shorts is a real treat and less tiring than watching a full length feature. Plus, not knowing what these shorts are about, one will surely be in for a nice surprise as well.

One thing about this program of shorts is that they are true stories about life and hardships.  The subjects of these docs are as different as night and day and range from the U.K. to India and Africa.  These are docs are both educational and entertaining and most will leave one teary-eyed as well.  Total length of program around 140 minutes.

BLACK SHEEP (USA 2018) ****
Directed by Ed Perkins

This gut-gut-wrenching emotional shocker has my vote for best doc short.  It all begins for rather innocently for a black kid Damilola Taylor returning from school.  A 10-year old school Nigerian boy has just been murdered in his neighbourhood.  Camilla finds his mother crying when he got home  The family move out of London (from Peckham to Essex) only for Damilola to find matters worse – in terms or racism in his new neighbourhood of all whites.  His first encounter is a young boy calling him nigger.  I understand and feel for Camilla as I experienced the same thing while in Ireland while walking when kids in a car made slanted eye faces at me.  The short works as what transpires is real and the enactment is terribly effective.  One can never predict how the narrative of the short will lead to making it even more intriguing.

END GAME (USA 2018) ***
Directed by Rob Epstien and Jeffrey Friedman

This doc follows medical practitioners and several patients as the patients live their last years of their lives.  The staff try their utmost best to make the patients comfortable and their last days meaningful., thus encouraging the audience to re-evaluate their own lives in the light of what is happening.  Many of the subjects in the film have now passed away.  END GAME is a very sad and needless to say, emotional film about life and death.

LIFEBOAT (USA 2018) ***

Directed by Skye Fitzgerald

This well intentioned short has the aim of informing audiences of the plight of refugees as they risk their lives for a better life.  The film has many disturbing scenes such as overcrowded raft lifeboats filled with refugees with their legs dangling over the side.  They have nowhere to do their business.  Many are sick with fever.  Many die  The short begins with  a search of dead bodies on a beach.  The film follows volunteers from a German non-profit organization as they risk the waves of the Mediterranean to pluck refugees from sinking rafts pushing off from Libya in the middle of the night.  LIFEBOAT puts a human face on one of the world’s greatest contemporary global crises and provides a spark of hope surrounding how civil society can intervene in the refugee crisis in a meaningful way.  Unfortunately, the narrative is fragmented resulting in the film seeming all over the place.  Still LIFEBOAT is quite the eye-opener.  This one will likely win the Oscar because its theme is the most current.


Directed by Marshall Curry

This is a short, black and white short doc that is no less disturbing for its theme.  Assembled from archive footage, A NIGHT AT THE GARDEN  details a ‘German-American Bund’ rally held at the Madison Square Garden on February 20, 1939.  American Nazi leader Fritz Kuhn speaks to the gathered crowd when one man, 26-year-old Isadore Greenbaum, rushes the stage to protest the gathered National socialists.  What happens to Greenbaum is gut shattering.


Directed by Rayka Zehtabchi

This feminist (in such a good way that it will leave even the males cheering the women) short starts of on the ignorance of Indians on menstruation and slides from topic to topic ending with the manufacturing of women’s pads.  The film centres o a few Indian women from a rural village outies Delhi, India who strive to do more as women.  One wants to join the police force.  Others make, sell and market women’s pads.  This is the lightest of all the documentary shorts but no less educational, informative and entertaining.

Film Review: 2019 Oscar Nominated Shorts (Animated) **** Highly Recommended

Oscar nominated shorts will be screened at the Bell Lightbox in Toronto from Feb 12th until Oscar Presentation Day – on February the 24th.  There are 3 categories – animated; live action and live action documentary.

Watching shorts is a real treat and less tiring than watching a full length feature. Plus, not knowing what these shorts are about, one will surely be in for a nice surprise as well.

One thing about this program of shorts is that most of the animated shorts will leave one teary-eyes.  And for a variety of reasons – joy, sadness, loss and pure beauty.  These are animation for adults that kids can also enjoy.  Total length of program around 70 minutes.


Capsule Reviews:


Directed by Alison Snowden and David Fine

Five different animals meet with a canine therapist to discuss their inner angst and how to overcome it.  Among them is a praying mantis (who eats her partner after mating), an angry ape, a worm and a cat and a pig.  This animated shot moves fast and furious and is undoubtedly the craziest and most hilarious of all the shorts.  A bit of all over the place piece but one can forgive this fact if one laughs hard enough.

BOA (USA) ****

Directed by Domee Shi

This American production is from Disney/Pixar and will most likely be then that will win the coveted Oscar.  Set in Toronto, the animation is immediately recognizable from the subway train interior to the neighbourhood chinatown.  The story follows an aging Chinese mother suffering from empty nest syndrome.  One of her dumplings becomes her new son till it grows big and leaves hime.  BOA is a feel-good tearjerker that will definitely leave one in tears – but in a  good way.

LATE AFTERNOON (Ireland) ****
Directed by Louise Bagnall

An elderly woman Emily switches from the past and present memories in what could be Alzheimer’s.  A perfect excuse for the animator to have colours and images flow comfortably into each other resulting in a  very beautiful piece of animation.  Emily tries to piece together her life while trying too to remember what is going on at present.  Very sad and remarkably moving, LATE AFTERNOON is my favourite of all the animated shorts.


Directed by Andrew Chesworth and Bobby Pontillas

This is a beautifully told animated tale of dreams coming true.  The protagonist is a little girl who lives with her shoemaker father.  She dreams of becoming an astronaut.  No wonder her name is Luna Chu.  The story unfolds from the point of view of the shoes that grow from kid’s spaceman boots to adult footwear.  Luna has problems in school, in sports but presses on till she eventually succeeds.  Teams can come true when one does not give up on them,

WEEKENDS (USA 2018) ***
Directed by Trevor Jimenez

Another animated short from the U.S. (besides BAO) in this program that is set in Toronto.  The CN Tower can be seen in the background.  On WEEKENDS, a young boy leaves his mother’s house to stay with his Japanese samurai loving father who then has custody,  The living conditions are very different.  The boy appears to enjoy both worlds.  The boy drifts into fantasy and dreams and ponders over his stay at both places together with their new partners his mother and father are dating.  Beautifully drawn and touching, WEEKENDS is a pleasure to watch.

Other shorts films shortlisted that will be screened:  

Wishing Box, dirs. Wenli Zhang and Nan Li, USA, 6 minutes, English  Tweet Tweet, dir. Zhanna Bekmambetova, Russia, 11 minutes, Language TK

February 2019 Filmmaker Interviews

Read interviews with top new filmmakers from around the world.

Interviews conducted by Matthew Toffolo

Interview with Filmmaker Gabriel Galand (HORLA)
Interview with Filmmaker Gabriel Galand (HORLA)

Interview with Filmmaker Danja Politis (ANIMUS PER MACHINA)
Interview with Filmmaker Danja Politis (ANIMUS PER MACHINA)

Interview with Filmmaker Andy Brewster (A PIACERE)
Interview with Filmmaker Andy Brewster (A PIACERE)

Interview with Filmmaker Kayden Phoenix (PENANCE)
Interview with Filmmaker Kayden Phoenix (PENANCE)

Interview with Filmmaker Raghuvir Joshi (YAMAN)
Interview with Filmmaker Raghuvir Joshi (YAMAN)

Interview with Filmmaker Aimiende Negbenebor Sela (UTOPIA)
Interview with Filmmaker Aimiende Negbenebor Sela (UTOPIA)

Interview with Filmmaker Deborah Craig (A GREAT RIDE)
Interview with Filmmaker Deborah Craig (A GREAT RIDE)

Interview with Filmmaker Damien Starr (I’LL BE FINE)
Interview with Filmmaker Damien Starr (I’LL BE FINE)

Interview with Filmmaker Premila Puri (ITSY)
Interview with Filmmaker Premila Puri (ITSY)

Interview with Filmmaker Alessandro Schuster (THE BOY WITH THE TEDDY)
Interview with Filmmaker Alessandro Schuster (THE BOY WITH THE TEDDY)

Movie Review: A PLACE IN THE CITY, USA, LGBT/Documentary

Full to bursting with bright color and dazzling city scapes, A PLACE IN THE CITY follows three stories of three people living with HIV in New York. Taking a dive into the personal and intimate lives of three brave individuals, we see many of the compelling issues the surround HIV- from how healthcare can innocently act to isolate the person living with HIV from their community, to how housing itself is a type of healthcare, to how the world of art and culture accepts artist living with HIV.


What sets A PLACE IN THE CITY apart from films of a similar nature is the tone- this is a not a heavy, stark or ominous work. It is bright, it is light, it is brimming with hope and it is nevertheless meaningful and informative. A PLACE IN THE CITY, has been excellently composed by directors Nate Lavey and Stephen Vider, and thoughtfully put together to consider the wide variety of people that can be touched by HIV. Now considered a chronic condition, HIV still holds massive stigma is society. Films like A PLACE IN THE CITY shed much needed light on the condition- and most importantly, the humanity, support and social movement behind it. A wonderful film to see.


Review by Kierston Drier

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

A PLACE IN THE CITY, 18min., USA, LGBT/Documentary
Directed by Nate Lavey, Stephen Vider

A personal and intimate look at how caretaking, housing, and family intersect with experiences of HIV/AIDS today. CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Movie Review: THE LOVE INDUSTRY, USA, LGBT/Documentary

This twenty minute documentary is a fascinating look into the world of professional online-dating profile writers. Following two different professionals who two drastically different methods, we see the ins and outs of a growing profession that targets people who want to find love online. Lisa Hoehn, takes a “gut” approach to profile ghost writing, reviewing people and tweaking what naturally feels best. She’s seen everything under the sun when it comes to online dating, from cheating lovers to terrible break ups. When she meets another online profile writer, who uses a more mathematical, data-based approach to his work, they completely clash- showing the love isn’t always easy to find- even when finding it is part of your job.


Our heroes are fascinating, engaging and loveable. The film paints an often humorous, honest and occasionally painfully familiar portrait for a vast numbers of people who have gone online to find their next partner. THE LOVE INDUSTRY is about a lot of things- our modern world, social media, niche business opportunities- but ultimately it’s about one incredible part of existence- the hurdles and rewards of meaningful human connection.


Review by Kierston Drier

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

THE LOVE INDUSTRY, 20min., USA, LGBT/Documentary
Directed by Matt Cusimano 

Lisa Hoehn has an unusual job: she makes a living ghostwriting online dating profiles for a large and diverse set of clients, eager to put their best foot forward in the labyrinthine world of social media. CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Movie Review: WHO I AM, UK, LGBT/Drama

A seventeen minute UK film from director Monika Wilczynska, WHO I AM follows Eli, a young transgender teenager coming to terms with their identity despite their devoutly religious and unaccepting family. Facing isolation and ostracization from her family and community, Eli makes the final choice that is right for her.


It may be said that this short him has an unrealistically happy ending- that not all stories end so concretely, so completely, or so triumphantly- but WHO I AM is story about visibility in a community. Eli’s journey is about her relationship with God, and the strength is takes to acknowledge that the flaws of unacceptance are not within God or spirituality- that is a flaw that lies within humanity.


People who see themselves in Eli’s struggle may argue that not all stories end as easily as Eli’s does in WHO I AM- but our hero’s story ends, essentially, right at the beginning of the rest of her life- a life free from the judgement of those who treat her poorly for who she is. WHO I AM is an important film to see- it gives a voice to many stories that go unheard, and for that alone- go see WHO I AM.


Review by Kierston Drier

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

WHO I AM, 17min, UK, LGBT/Drama
Directed by Monika Wilczynska

A coming of age tale about Elijah, a young transgender teenager from a very religious background, who has to try to reconcile their identity with their faith and their family’s expectations of them. With the help of anti-conformist Lisbeth and their friends, Elijah learns not to compromise their own integrity in face of prejudice and adversity. CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Movie Review: MASQUERADE, USA, LGBT/Drama

A ten minute historical film about the Old South and the trails of race and freedom, MASQUERADE tells the story of a young black couple, enslaved by their master. When the master makes an advance on his male worker, the young couple decide to flee for their own safety. While the master of the house throws a masquerade ball, the couple attempt to pass as an elderly rheumatic man and his black attendant. When the wife, Ninny asks if they should run away, her husband answers “Master wants to run away to the city, so I reckon it’s normal for folks to want to run away.”


MASQUERADE is a film about “running away” and “passing”- whether passing as white or passing as heretosexual, running to the city, or running to the north, all the characters are looking for something similar- freedom. This is a film about the trapping of society and how they push us all to extremes, it is a film the ripples with tension from the first frame to the final credits. Wonderfully cast and performed, and stunning in its design and cinematography- creating a full period piece is not an easy task in a short film. MASQUERADE is dedicated to all the people who “Passed” as a way to reach freedom- and to all those who could not. It is a powerful piece worth seeing.


Review by Kierston Drier

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

Directed by Andrew Hawkins

1848 Virginia. Slave couple Sam and Ninny execute an escape after their slave master George makes an unconscionable advance. ‘Masquerade, A Story of the Old South’ is an uncommon slave narrative, capturing the experience of both African Americans and gay people during this complicated time. CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Movie Review: THE LAST GIRL, 13min., Denmark, LGBT/Romance

This thirteen minute film from Denmark is a heartbreaking and moving story about a man in the last moments of living a lie. After a weekend spent with his friend Jesper, our hero realizes he is in love, not with his live-in girlfriend, but with his best friend. His partner is loving and doting, which makes it harder for him to reveal to her that he is gay. When he is able to do so, the situation turns messy and he leaves the apartment- to make a phone call to Jesper.


Wonderfully edited, with a style that creates the rushed sense of panic that courses through our hero, THE LAST GIRL has a searing, red-hot intensity to it. It is a strong film, with wonderful performances and keen and emotionally intelligent score. There is smoldering suffocating feeling in certain scene that accurately portrays the hero’s feelings of being trapped in his world.


A film about what happens when take the plunge and answer the call of the question “what if..?” THE LAST GIRL is an excellent, gripping film.


Review by Kierston Drier

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

THE LAST GIRL, 13min., Denmark, LGBT/Romance 
Directed by Bjarke de Koning

Life is not the same after a holiday with Jesper and there is no avoiding the truth now.CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!