TIFF 2016 Movie Review: FOREVER PURE (Israel/UK/Norway/Ireland 2016) ***

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2016. Go to TIFF 2016 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

forever_pure_poster.jpgFOREVER PURE (Israel/UK/Norway/Ireland 2016) ***
Directed by Maya Zinshtein

DOCUMENTARY

Review by Gilbert Seah

Sometimes you have to show that racism wins in order to put it down. Zinshtein’s controversial documentary does just that. The audience will be disgusted at how the Israeli Beiter football club got its way.

The title FOREVER PURE refers to the Beitar Jerusalem Football club that the fans said lost their purity when they brought in two Arab footballers.

This is the true story of the club, which became a flashpoint for controversy in 2012 when the signing of two Muslim players brought down the racist wrath of the team’s long-time fans. Team owner Arcadi Gaydamak, a Russian-born billionaire and failed mayoral candidate in Jerusalem, signs two Muslim players from Chechnya.

Their presence turns La Familia into opponents of their own team and initiates an ideological contest with wide ripples. The doc also reveals the owner’s real motive in hiring the two Muslim players and also contains some precious shost of the Israeli Prime Minister having his say.

FOREVER PURE is the most racist themed film of TIFF and likely one that will affect audiences the most. Not a dull moment from start to finish.

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/146790418

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TIFF 2016 Movie Review: UNLESS (Canada/Ireland 2016) ***

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2016. Go to TIFF 2016 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

unless_poster.jpgUNLESS (Canada/Ireland 2016) ***
Directed by Alan Gilsenan

Starring: Catherine Keener, Matt Craven, Hannah Gross

Review by Matthew Toffolo

Academy Award nominee Catherine Keener and Hannah Gross star in this adaptation of the final novel by the late, great Canadian novelist Carol Shields, about a writer who discovers her runaway daughter panhandling on the street and seemingly deprived of speech.

An accomplished writer and translator, Reta Winters (Keener) is blindsided and flummoxed by the recent actions of her eldest daughter, Norah (Hannah Gross). For no discernible reason, Norah has dropped out of university and now spends her days panhandling on the sidewalk outside of Toronto landmark Honest Ed’s.

The cardboard sign she affixes to her chest features only one word: GOODNESS. Reta fears losing her connection to her daughter, but is it possible Norah is seeking some way of reconnecting to the world?

The question remains throughout the film of “WHY?”. Why is this happening to this girl? Is this a spiritual journey that Norah is experiencing, or is it more of an emotional breakdown? The payoff does come in the end and it’s perhaps a bit perplexing on what took so long for this family to figure this all out! The only real flaw of this film.

This is a very original film in terms of its story and how it treats a person like Norah. I’m sure many in the medical profession would roll their eyes at this film as science demands an answer. It’s simple cause and effect equaling a conclusion to why. UNLESS attempts to answer the “WHY” from a more metaphysical point of view. Things are not that simple and many humans need to explore what this world and existence is all about – especially after experiencing a tragedy like Norah has.

UNLESS is simply the perfect film for a festival like TIFF. It’s never going to garner a large amount of attention and many critics will dismiss this film because its plot points and directorial design aren’t something they are used to. If you’re a fan of festivals and are looking to see films that you won’t see at the cinema or on NetFlix, UNLESS is that perfect film.

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TIFF 2016 Movie Review: TRESPASS AGAINST US (UK 2016) ***1/2

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2016. Go to TIFF 2016 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

trespass_against_us_poster.jpgTRESPASS AGAINST US (UK 2016) ***1/2
Directed by Adam Smith

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Brendan Gleeson, Rory Kinnear

Review by Gilbert Seah

Like the 2010 Australian film ANIMAL KINGDOM, also the name of the film’s production company, TRESPASS AGAINST US is a film about a dysfunctional crime family – British style. The family live in a trailer park in England a kind of white British trailer trash.

The patriarch is a foul-mouthed small time crook, Colby (Brendan Gleeson) who tries his best to make a quick buck while holding his fighting family together. Nothing is mentioned of his wife or past life. But the protagonist is his son, Chad (Michael Fassbender) who wishes the best for his son so that he will not grow up like him and illiterate.

The cops are shown as rude characters following trying to catch the family at their crimes. It is a well acted and well directed film, but we have seen all this before.

Trailer: https://www.google.ca/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=trespass+against+us+trailer

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TIFF 2016 Movie Review: TRAMPS (USA 2016)

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2016. Go to TIFF 2016 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

tramps_poster.jpgTRAMPS (USA 2016) **
Directed by Adam Leon

Starring: Callum Turner, Grace Van Patten, Michal Vondel

Review by Gilbert Seah

Adam Leon’s low budget lonely hearts club romance has two newcomers Callum Turner and Grace Van Pattern play two unlikely pawns in a shady delivery deal.

They are supposed to do a briefcase exchange with a lady with a green bag, the only problem being that there are two ladies a green bag who show up. Besides hunting down the briefcase, the two have nothing better to do but to fall in love.

The easy going narrative almost works, but it is too simple for too long and gets too predictable towards the end. But decent performance are delivered in a film with a soundtrack that appears to be turned on and off by the volume knob.

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TIFF 2016 Movie Review: THE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM (UK 2016)

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2016. Go to TIFF 2016 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

the_limehouse_golem_posterTHE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM (UK 2016) **

Directed by Juan Carlos Medina

Starring: Eddie Marsan, Olivia Cooke, Bill Nighy

Review by Gilbert Seah

This crime whodunit period piece which combines theatre and grisly murders plays like a super violent Sherlock Holmes mystery. The Limehouse is the working class theatre where Little Lizzie (Olivia Cooke) performs.

The story is told in flashback when Lizzie is accused of poisoning her husband (Sam Reid). Enter into the picture Inspector Kildaire (Bill Nighy) and his trusty helper, Constable Flood (Daniel Mays).

At the same time, a serial murderer, whose horrendous acts soon have the city in a panic, is on the loose. Inscriptions in Latin are streaked across walls in the blood of victims. The crimes are so disturbing that many attribute them to the shadowy golem of Jewish legend.

For a modest production budget, the 19th century London period rich atmosphere is well captivated with great attention to detail. Performances are all around excellent ranging from the restraint Eddie Marsan to the indulgent Douglas Booth as the cross-dressing performer Dan Reno.

The trouble is the plot that gets a bit too complicated before too simply explained at the end. The accidental hanging death during a performance at the Limehouse does not make much sense either.

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/10176123limehouse_golem_poster” align=”left” width=”182″ height=”268″ />

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TIFF 2016 Movie Review: I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO (USA/Fr/Belg/Switz 2016) ***

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2016. Go to TIFF 2016 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

i_am_not_your_negro_poste.jpgI AM NOT YOUR NEGRO (USA/Fr/Belg/Switz 2016) ***
Directed by Raoul Peck

Review by Gilbert Seah

Appropriately titled I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO, this solemn documentary by Raoul Peck attempts to reveal that the ‘negro’ thought understood by most Americans is in fact a stereotyped misunderstood one The doc is based on the unfinished book by James Baldwin and looks at the impressions made by 3 murdered negroes – Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

The film offers many arguments illustrated with many archive stills. The most interesting revelation of the film is the argument between King and Malcolm X – showing the two different approaches of dealing with black racism. The doc also includes rare clips of ‘negro’ old movies which were acceptable then but considered unacceptable now.

Also shown are unforgettable scenes like one on on a bus with the segregation of black and white seating at the back and front of the bus respectively.

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TIFF 2016 Movie Review: DEATH IN SARAJEVO (Bosnia and Herzegovina /France 2016) ****

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2016. Go to TIFF 2016 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

death_in_sarajevo_poster.jpgDEATH IN SARAJEVO (Bosnia and Herzegovina /France 2016) ****
Directed by Danis Tanovic

Starring: Snezana Vidovic, Izudin Bajrovic, Vedrana Seksan

Review by Gilbert Seah

Another winner from director Danis Tanovic of NO MAN’S LAND. The setting is the financially troubled Hotel Europa where the camera skillfully moves in and out of the rooms and corridors.

The hotel staff are about to strike but if they do, the hotel will foreclose to the bank. The hotel needs be open two more days to get paid by a staying E.U. delegation.

Tanovic ties in lots of politics into the hotel drama. Above all this, on the rooftop, a TV show broadcasts discussions occasioned by the anniversary, covering topics ranging from Gavrilo Princip to Bosnian independence.

It is very intricate film, thankfully extremely well executed, with the hotel proceedings serving as a metaphor for the country’s past and present troubles.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=in4feDE3GII

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TIFF 2016 Movie Review: DAGUERROTYPE (LE SECRET DE LA CHAMBE NOIRE) (France/Belgium/Japan 2016)

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2016. Go to TIFF 2016 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

daguerrotype_poster.jpgDAGUERROTYPE (LE SECRET DE LA CHAMBE NOIRE) (France/Belgium/Japan 2016) **
Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Starring: Tahar Rahim, Constance Rousseau, Olivier Gourmet

Review by Gilbert Seah

Non French directors often do not translate well when making a French film. The latest casualty is Japanese director Kiyoshi Kurosaw (TOKYO SONATA, CURE). His latest film is a ghost story, a genre that Kurosawa is already familiar with. He is blessed with some great French speaking talent including Tahir Rahim (UN PROPHET, UNE SEPARATION), Matthieu Amalric and Olivier Gourmet.

Gourmet plays a photographer who after the suicide of his wife becomes obsessed with her portrait being able to live forever. His obsession turns towards his daughter and soon, his new assistant (Rahim) also falls for the apparition.

The story is not well told with bouts of reality and fantasy flowing into each other uncomfortably. Kurosawa loves filming trains, and again the TGV trains are shown in the opening segment. If only his film would run as fast.

The film is a slow burning process with an unsatisfying and open ending.

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TIFF 2016 Movie Review: THE COMMUNE (Denmark/Sweden/Netherlands 2016) ***

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2016. Go to TIFF 2016 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

the_commune_poster.jpgTHE COMMUNE (Denmark/Sweden/Netherlands 2016) ***
Directed by Thomas Vinterberg

Starring: Ulrich Thomsen, Fares Fares, Trine Dyrholm

Review by Gilbert Seah

The latest from Thomas Vinterberg (CELEBRATION, THE HUNT) details what happens in a commune Communes were popular in the 70’s in Denmark, also the time when the film is set. Vintergberg does not judge the workability of a commune environment but shows both sides of its workings – both good and bad.

All this is demonstrated through the downward spiral of a couple Anna (Trine Dyrholm, who won Best Actress at this year’s Berlinale for her performance and is the best thing about the movie) and her husband, Erik (Ulrich Thomsen).

It all happens when Erik’s father passes away. The couple must decide what to do with the huge house that Erik grew up in, as it’s too expensive for them to occupy on their own. So, they decide to form a commune. The events that occur are well conceived and well executed.

The main message of commune living would be that it works if one works at making it work.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsEXwrgKjQ0

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TIFF 2016 Movie Review: THE UNTAMED (Mexico/Switz/France/Germany/Denmark 2016) ***

tiMovie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2016. Go to TIFF 2016 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

the_untamed_poser.jpgTHE UNTAMED (Mexico/Switz/France/Germany/Denmark 2016) ***
Directed by Amat Escalante

Starring: Kenny Johnston

Review by Gilbert Seah

Director Amat Escalante stars and directs this supernatural mystery in a family drama setting.

There is a sex monster loose in the country. Though its keepers have described it as one that will give extreme sexual pleasure and will not harm anyone, the monster has done some harm, both physically and emotionally.

This monster gives a new meaning to the saying of having a snake in ones pants. The main protagonist is Ale (Ruth Ramos) who has a husband and two kids and a gay brother. It turns out that her husband is also having sexual relations with her brother.

Ale is not that sexually monogamous either, having a fling with the sexual snake herself. If all this sounds silly, Escalante’s film actually works because he is always several steps ahead of the story.

THE UNTAMED ends up quite an intriguing film despite the abrupt ending.

Trailer: http://remezcla.com/film/trailer-amat-escalante-the-untamed-clip/

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