TIFF 2017 Movie Review: SWEET COUNTRY (Australia 2017) ****

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.

Sweet Country Poster
A period western set on the Northern Territory frontier where justice itself is put on trial.


Warwick Thornton


Bryan BrownMatt DayTremayne Doolan

An Australian outback western and a very good one at that. Based on true events that occurred in 1929, SWEET COUNTRY tracks the killing, search and trial of Aboriginal Sam Kelly (Hamilton Morris).

Aboriginal stockman Sam works the land of a kind preacher, Fred Smith (Sam Neill), living and labouring in a respectful, if diffident, harmony.

But when a bitter and often-drunk war veteran named Harry March (Ewen Leslie) returns to town, trouble escalates and Sam is forced to kill in self-defence. Shocked, afraid, and with a deep distrust in the impartiality of settler authority, Sam and his wife, Lizzie (Natassia Gorey-Furber), go on the run.

They are immediately pursued by a posse led by Sergeant Fletcher (Bryan Brown) and Aboriginal tracker Archie (Gibson John), expert bushman Sam must ultimately decide which of several looming unknowns to face.

The whites are shown as racist pigs while the abused Aborigines are not that angelic either. If there is any redemption for the white man, there is the good Fred Smith and more important and the change of heart of Fletcher (subtly shown).

A very absorbing film with almost perfect storyboarded set-ups from atmosphere to performances.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYKBG1znk4A


TIFF 2017 Movie Review: WINTER BROTHERS (VINTERBRODEN) (Denmark/Iceland 2017) ***

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.

Winter Brothers Poster

A brother odyssey set in a worker environment during a cold winter. We follow two brothers, their routines, habits, rituals and a violent feud that erupts between them and another family.


Hlynur Palmason


Michael BrostrupAnders HoveElliott Crosset Hove

The WINTER BROTHERS of the title are Johan and his younger brother Emil, two miners whose routines, habits, and rituals are ruptured by a violent feud with a neighbouring family.

Emil (Elliott Crosset Hove) is an odd character who when not whipping out his dick for no reason, would charm the local girl in the area. But more important than the action of the film are the lives of the miners on display.

Amidst the bleak, white and barren landscape of the mines and worse the black of the inside of the mines, the miners try to etch up a decent living. Director Pálmason contrasts both the bright light of the snow and deep darkness of the mines.

The film is really slow but what is on display here is the reality of the setting. Even the fight over a girl between two men was shot in all its ferocity (with one of the men in the total nude).

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkHG7cXVJoU


TIFF 2017 Movie Review: GUTLAND (Luxembourg/Germany/Belgium) ***

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.

Gutland Poster


Razvan Radulescu (script doctor), Govinda Van Maele


Frederick LauVicky KriepsPit Bukowski

A very surreal thriller noir set in a farming Luxembourg community, a rarity that makes GUTLAND a very intriguing film. It begins with the arrival of an outsider in the agricultural community of Schandelsmillen. Harvest season is already well underway, but Jens (Frederick Lau), a German drifter, is looking for work.

He is taken on as a farmhand — and also to bed by Lucy (Vicky Krieps), a single mother who picks him up at the village beer hall. He is visited by the town mayor who warns him never to sleep with the folk’s married women.

It turns out that Jens is not an innocent outsider but a robber with a past to hide. But the townsfolk are not that innocent either. The mayor’s band with Jens as a new recruit makes good irony.

The film is quite confusing and I had to sit back and ponder the plot and put the pieces after the closing credits. But that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sif439KtxWM


TIFF 2017 Movie Review: BODIED (USA 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.

Bodied Poster
A progressive graduate student finds success and sparks outrage when his interest in battle rap as a thesis subject becomes a competitive obsession.


Joseph Kahn


Joseph Kahn (story), Joseph Kahn


Calum WorthyJackie LongRory Uphold

A film about battle rap, I almost walked out within the first 10 minutes not being a fan of this brutal sport. But music video director Kahn’s film increases in intensity while drawing the audience into the world of battle rapping. By the end of the film, one would not only have a more insightful view of the sport but be entertained as well.

The film begins with a battle with explanations of certain terms used by a white couple attending – Adam and his girlfriend. The film assumes the perspective of Adam (Calum Worthy), a white, purportedly progressive graduate student who infiltrates a community of diverse battle rappers for the sake of an edgy thesis.

Before long he develops his own predilection for skilfully slinging rhymed insults and epithets as a competitive poet. Adam is finally forced to choose between his love and his unforgiving girlfriend. Can Adam have the best of both worlds?

The film contains some really awesome rap battles. BODIED is produced by Eminem.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jEfbPQVV7wg


TIFF 2017 Movie Review: VICTORIA AND ABDUL (UK 2017)

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.

Victoria and Abdul Poster

2:29 | Trailer
Queen Victoria strikes up an unlikely friendship with a young Indian clerk named Abdul Karim.


Stephen Frears


Lee Hall (screenplay), Shrabani Basu (based on the book by)


Judi DenchOlivia WilliamsMichael Gambon

VICTORIA AND ABDUL chronicles with humour and insight the friendship between Queen Victoria (Oscar Winner Judi Dench) and a decades-younger Indian clerk named Abdul Karim. Karim has been summoned because of his height to present a ceremonial coin on behalf of British India to the Queen as a part of her Golden Jubilee in 1887. Abdul has done what is forbidden during the ceremony.

He makes eye contact with the Queen who finds him handsome. In no time he is cooking her curries, talking to her about his culture, and being elevated to the post of official clerk, or Munshi, becoming an indispensable part of the household — and state.

Frears’ assessment of Britain and royalty remain respectful. Queen Victoria is revealed in the film with all her grandeur (her royal attire and servants) but also with all her faults and her ageing process. She also claims herself to be and shown as well as cankerous, ill-tempered, fat but also one that has held five generations of household and mother of many children and grandchildren.

VICTORIA AND ABDUL is Frears’ mediocre film which is tolerant of everything and offends no one. These kind of films are often humorous, handsomely mounted, well acted but unfortunately forgetful.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BT2Ph_9bGPs


TIFF 2017 Movie Review: HIGH FANTASY (SOUTH AFRICA 2017)

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.

High Fantasy Poster
A group of young friends on a camping trip, deep in the South African countryside wake up to discover they have all swapped bodies.


Jenna Cato Bass


Qondiswa JamesNala KhumaloFrancesca Varrie Michel

Four friends (1 male 3 females, two black and one white) on a camping trip at an isolated farm around Capetown, South Africa wake up to discover they’ve all swapped bodies.

Four of the actors Qondiswa James, Liza Scholtz, Nala Khumalo, and Francesca Michel all wrote the script together. A mix of comedy and drama, the campers argue on issues like race, gender, inequality while spouting out foul language to no end.

Shot on an iPhone, the film obviously has the feel of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and TANGERINE. This is a personal film, as can be clearly observed, and therefore not for everyone. The filmmakers do not care for anything and just do their thing.

Though occasionally funny, the whole exercise is a wast of time and talent (or rather, effort). The film only serves to prove that one should pick ones friends while going camping.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0d_NwEmZ0s

TIFF 2017 Movie Review: IT STAINS THE SANDS RED (USA 2017)

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.

It Stains the Sands Red Poster
In the throes of a zombie apocalypse, a troubled woman from Las Vegas with a dark past finds herself stranded in the desert with a lone and ravenous zombie on her tail.


Colin Minihan


Brittany AllenJuan RiedingerMerwin Mondesir

The zombie film genre is never short of new entries. The new zombie films have to have fresh ideas or original scare set-ups to entertain audiences, many of whom have been saturated already.

IT STAINS THE SANDS RED begins with a couple, an African American and his sexy girlfriend, Molly (Britanny Allen) stranded in the desert fete the car goes into the ditch after a silly argument.

Mollyis a troubled woman from Las Vegas with a dark past. She finds herself stranded in the desert. This means one of two things – either zombies or a TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE tip family. It is the former with a lone ravenous Zombie (Juan Riedinger) on her tail. At first, she’s easily able to outpace her un-dead pursuer, but things quickly become a nightmare when she realizes the zombie doesn’t need to ever stop and rest. Running low on supplies and beat down by the harsh environment, Molly will have to summon the strength she never knew she had to ultimately face the zombie, and the demons that have chased her all her life.

Molly spends half the movie escaping from the one zombie. At least Director Minihand knows zombies are slower. So, she just needs t walk away faster than the zombie – giving more opportunity for ehr to talk to herself (and hence to the caera) for more nonsense sayings.

Expected stuff in the film includes no signal on the cell phone; the sexy girl surviving and obviously the other one done for; sexy girl victim eventually running off in skimpy outfit (Molly runs around half the time with sexy leather bikini outfit under expensive furs) and more. Would an audience watcher or the big ugly guy? Answer is obvious. Inventive stuff (or slightly inventive for that matter) includes an attack in the night with things that can only be seen with a flashlight; zombie hanging on a ledge; combining her own inner demons and the zombie demons; Molly doing coke while being pursued and stranded in the desert. The metaphor of the inner and inner demons is too obvious and not really needed in a horror flick.

The film is unshamefully politically incorrect with dialogue like, :Bitch!’ and “I am going to cut you rip real deep like a n******* in the sun.” An attempted rape scene is also present for the pleasure of the males.

Film costs are obviously a minimum with just one victim and one zombie. This limits what can be seen in the movie. Molly has to talk to herself aloud. to keep the film’s dialogue going. Minihand makes use of the setting like a sandstorm to add more dimension to the movie.

Humour is silly at most: “Can you ever keep your mouth shut.” “You smell like shit.” “Like every man in a bar, you can never know when to say no.” “And worst of all, “You got a small dick!”

IT STAINS THE SANDS RED ends up a mediocre horror zombie film with just a few but insufficient new tricks.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eyzX2xc2ns&utm_source=TARO+PR&utm_campaign=5b800f8a47-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_08_22&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_ece0125d2f-5b800f8a47-450249261