TIFF 2017 Movie Review: THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER (UK/Ireland 2017) ***1/2

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2017. Go to TIFF 2017 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer Poster
Steven, a charismatic surgeon, is forced to make an unthinkable sacrifice after his life starts to fall apart, when the behavior of a teenage boy he has taken under his wing turns sinister.


Yorgos Lanthimos


Nicole KidmanAlicia SilverstoneColin Farrell

Greek director (DOGTOOTH and THE LOBSTER) Yourgos Lanthimos’s latest feature is a supernatural psychological thriller that is the most difficult to watch despite its bouts of black humour.

The film follows Dr. Steven Murphy (Farrell), a cardiac surgeon who is first seen at a diner meeting with a 16-year-old named Martin (Barry Keoghan).

The doctor buys the boy an expensive watch as a present. The relationship between the two is revealed as the film goes on. Steven introduces Martin to his wife (Nicole Kidman) and two children. Martin, determined to ingratiate himself into this unfamiliar new family, becomes something like an adopted son. Strange things begin to happen with the children developing paralysis right out of the blue.

Secrets start coming out of the closet. Director Lanthimos unveils bits at a time, thus keeping the audience in anticipation. It is safe to say that the film gets more and more serious and ends up becoming quite a disturbing watch. Lanthimos does not skimp on the violence and language.

The film has a lot of anger and the anger is slowly but surely unleashed by every one in the party concerned. THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER is a well executed psychological and emotional horror film but not for everyone!

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




Movie Review: DISNEY CARTOON CAMERA (USA, Documentary)

Played at the August 2017 DOCUMENTARY Short Film Festival

by Kierston Drier

A fascinating look at the history of cartoon cinema, from the early 20th century to present, Disney Cartoon Camera breaks down the cartoons through the technical lenses- literally and metaphorically.


Following respected and often renown Disney animators, archivists and technicians, this 30 minute short doc takes us step by step through the detailed and highly nuanced breakdown of creating lush and realistic art. From Snow White to Chicken Little we see the elaborate and innovative technology that makes it all possible. Bright, colorful, nostalgic and beyond fascinating, there is something for everyone in this cartoon-classic doc.


Disney Cartoon Camera takes on a far more educational tone that a more story-driven or character-driven doc, but it is nevertheless engaging and captivating. For the movie buff, the young-at-heart or even the cartoon geek, this is a film to watch, savor, learn and enjoy.

DISNEY CARTOON CAMERA, 23min, USA, Documentary
Directed by David BosserDisney Cartoon Camera, hosted by acclaimed historian Leonard Maltin, tracks the history of animation cinematography – from the origins of crude “down shooters” to the first multi-plane camera fashioned out of old car parts, to the latest digital camera capture systems – through the eyes of the camera operators and technicians.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Movie Review: MY NAME IS JOAN (USA, Documentary)

Played at the August 2017 DOCUMENTARY Short Film Festival

by Kierston Drier

My Name is Joan, packs an exceptional emotional punch. Poignant, compassionate and full of intrigue, it follows a story that is nothing short of scandalous, involving the mother-and-baby homes of the 1920-1980’s in Ireland. We follow Susan Drew, born Joan Fagan to an unwed mother in Dublin and adopted under mysterious circumstance, as she recounts her story of discovering her past. As Susan revels her own history- and that of her mother who lost her daughter in a mother-and-baby home to an overseas adoption, we also uncover the history of illicit adoptions performed through the Catholic church in a time when unwed mothers faced extreme persecution.


Untold numbers of women gave birth out of wedlock after the second world war. While the Irish government looked away, those women were sent to Church-run mother-and-baby homes, where they were promised totally anonymity and safety to deliver their babies. What they were not told was that they would be subjected to difficult conditions, poor treatment, neglect and that their children could be taken from them and adopted out- with very little they could do about it.


Susan would have been one more unnamed child lost in a sea of murky documentation. That is, if it hadn’t been for one nun who saved and scanned the paperwork of every child she saw under her care- Susan being one of them.


My Name Is Joan is an incredible documentary. Susan’s journey being the primary tale, the story still branches out, spider-web like, into the larger scandal. With jaw-dropping statistics and frightening conclusions to be drawn from them, it is incredible that such an event can take place, seemingly under the nose of a country. My Name Is Joan is one woman’s story of finding her past, and changing her future. It is also a story of a nation whose women and children were under siege. A gripping, emotionally ambitious and incredibly moving film.


MY NAME IS JOAN, 30min, USA, Documentary
Directed by Margaret Costa

Tells the story of Susan Drew, a woman who was born Joan Fagan to an unwed mother in the St. Patrick Mother and Baby Home in Dublin, Ireland in 1949. While the documentary chronicles Susan’s journey to find her true identity, it also highlights the illegal exporting of children by the Catholic Church to families in other countries for profit while the Irish Government looked the other way.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Movie Review: THE MARCH SWEATER – PART 1: THE CARETAKERS (Canada, LGBT, Documentary)

Played at the August 2017 DOCUMENTARY Short Film Festival

by Kierston Drier

This special part 1 of March Sweater, follows two seniors, Peter and Vincent, who shared their lives together as a married couple, and become caregivers to Peter’s 95-year-old mother. A fascinating peer into at a community from an often-overlooked angle, Peter and Vincent talk about their lives together and the various lessons they learn through loving each other.


From their meeting, to their courtship and through to their marriage of cohabitation, they address the major areas of their world- compromise and sacrifice, but also the love that makes it so very worth it. “I don’t want to think about life without Vincent,” a notable line from Peter that seems to distill the depth of their feelings. For anyone who has ever loved another person, they are, as a couple,  instantly relatable.
This film sparkles. Peter and Vincent are easy to love. Peter’s laugh is infectious and warm and Vincent’s’ kindness and compassion are clear in every word. The March Sweater, PART 1 is a testament to true love ability to transcend any obstacle, culture, society, age. They are proof for any skeptic- love always wins.

Directed by Cory AshworthLGBTQ2+ seniors speaking of life, love and the wisdom that comes with growing older.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Movie Review: WALLY (USA, LGBT, Documentary)

Played at the August 2017 DOCUMENTARY Short Film Festival

by Kierston Drier

This bright, fresh and endearing short directed by Andy Galloway, follows the life and memories of Wally Linebarger- a renowned and beloved art teacher at a religious school who was let go because of his sexuality in the early 1990s. The story follows, not only Wally (as he discusses who he is and what lead him to his decision to come out) but also his three daughters and the effect the issue had on them.


Wally will captivate you from the first frame with his emotional openness, his humor, his charm and his endearing view of the world. One of the most effective parts of this documentary, however, is the accompaniment of his children. The documentary would stand on its own without them, but with them it truly raises above and beyond. Wally’s three daughters add a complex and resonant angle to a controversial and heartbreaking matter- that their loving and devoted father was let go from his job, and isolated from a community simply because of who he was. The lasting repercussions of that, in turn, affected them. Their points of view, and their varying experiences, added a critical layer of depth. The film is richer and more poignant for their appearances, confessions, anecdotes and honesty.


It is a hard thing to dig through layers of memory, especially when little paperwork or documentation exists. But in the case of Wally, it is done, and with spectacular effectiveness. An engaging story and one worth sharing, Wally is a excellent film.


WALLY, 24min, USA, LGBT, Documentary
Directed by Andy Galloway

Wally Linebarger: a man cught in the turbulence of truth. Plagued by a past that longs to define him and a future that remains unsure, Wally presses forward. Despite a life of gain and loss, three lights continue to guide him.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Movie Review: UNTIL DEATH DO US PART, (USA, LGBT, Documentary)

Played at the August 2017 DOCUMENTARY Short Film Festival

by Kierston Drier

Directed by Kristine Kirchmeier, Until Death Do Us Part, is a remarkable short documentary hailing from the USA chronicling the harrowing story of newlyweds Megan and Danielle and their battle with cancer. Only two days before their wedding, Megan is diagnosed with stage four cancer.

What follows in story about two incredibly brave people- made brave by the power of love. Faced with a world of uncertainty, turmoil and potential tragedy, Megan and Danielle show startlingly level-headed composure. Perhaps nothing captures their spirits better than Danielle’s confession to Megan,  “I love you, you idiot. You’re my person.”

What makes Until Death Do Us Part a special piece, is that as a documentary film, it  acknowledges the struggle, concern and desperation of dealing with illness while still showcasing the remarkable resilience of both these women. We see examples of their humanism, their moments of weakness, their fear of the future- while also never once doubting their devotion to one another.

A remarkable film about the lengths we go for love, Until Death Do Us Part is worth the journey. It reminds us all of the things that are worth fighting for.

UNTIL DEATH DO US PART, 8min, USA, LGBT, Documentary
Directed by Kristine Kirchmeier

Young newlyweds Megan and Danielle Love immediately have their wedding vows put to the test after Megan is diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer a few weeks after they’re married.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!


Played at the August 2017 FEMALE FEEDBACK Film Festival to rave reviews.

by Kierston Drier

Most cinema aims to make the audience feel something- laughter or joy, terror and thrill, anticipation and satisfaction. Excellent films achieve this, while also making you think. Spectacular films do all these things while also leaving one with an empowering message. Enter Kajal, which has transcended all these requirements and more. This twenty minute short from Indian directed by Paakhi A Tryewala, is a cinematic masterpiece of beautiful, terror and empowerment. A statement on society through one woman’s solitary tale of domination and resistance. Our heroine, a submissive and cautious woman, disrespected by strangers, ignored by her boss, and berated by her husband, stumbles into a mysterious package on her way home- containing a gun. Empowered by a weapon that finally gives her an element of protection, defense and choice, our hero sets about making changes the the world around her that treats life as though she is less than those around her.


It is never the gun that creates the changes- it is our heroine, empowered by the realization that she can wield power- and she does so without ever uttering a word.


Kajal is beautifully shot, with gorgeous cinematography. It is exceptionally well cast on every level. The performance of leading actress Salony Luthra is nothing short of awe-inspiring, as she captivates the screen with strength, poise and undeniable grit and determination. This is a rare gem of a film that is composed in near-perfection as it takes the viewer slowly into the life of one woman, prepared to change her world by any means necessary. Yet, the gun that empowers her is a beautiful metaphor for her own power. A gun is only as dangerous as the person who holds it.

Kajal is a must-see film. It resonates with tension, sparkles with anticipation and burns hot with a deep message of empowerment. A breakthrough film with razer-edge execution, it is a riveting cinematic piece to watch. Bravo Paakhi A Tyrewala. Bravo!

KOHL, 20min, India, Drama
Directed by Paakhi A Tyrewala

Like all elements, humans have a saturation point. What happens when a woman — constantly bullied by a boss, harassed by strangers and abused by husband — finds an abandoned package one night?

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!