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.

A young woman named Savannah Knoop spends six years pretending to be the celebrated author JT LeRoy, the made-up literary persona of her sister-in-law.


Justin Kelly


Justin KellySavannah Knoop (memoir) | 1 more credit »

Laura Albert (Laura Dern) writes tough, insightful fiction under a pseudonym, JT LeRoy. Her JT is not just a pen name but a whole persona, a teenage boy from West Virginia living a dangerous life as a truck stop sex worker.  Laura was born in Brooklyn a generation earlier, and grew up in New York’s punk scene.  Writing books such as The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things as JT gives her complete freedom to explore the darker regions of human experience. Readers and the media love it so much that they begin to demand JT in person.  

As journalists press for interviews with JT, turmoil mounts with Laura’s husband Geoffrey (Jim Sturgess) and sister-in-law Savannah (Kristen Stewart).  Partly from desperation, partly for kicks, they conspire to have Savannah don a wig and sunglasses, adjust her voice, and become the teenage boy author.   Despite everything being based on a true story, Kelly’s film is extremely dull.  He makes no attempt to make the events authentic or to make Savannah believable as JT.  Whenever she appears as JT, she mumbles all along and the media and everyone takes it in from Cannes to Paris to the U.S. 

 Worst of all is the pretentious bit at the film’s end where Laura preaches to the audience that everyone has to be the person he or she is.


Film Review: IN THE FADE (Aus dem Nichts) (Germany/France 2017) ****

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In the Fade Poster

Katja’s life collapses after the death of her husband and son in a bomb attack. After a time of mourning and injustice, Katja seeks revenge.


Fatih Akin


Fatih Akin (written for screen by), Hark Bohm (author) (co-writer)


Director Fatih Akin broke into the film making scene with small films on gypsy music.  He has come a long way since with his new film IN THE FADE.  IN THE FADE stars top German actress Diane Kruger, which won her the Best Actress Prize at Cannes in 2017.  She totally deserves it and IN THE FADE is an incredible film that attests Akin’s prowess as a filmmaker.  The film also tackles the current problem in the world of racism and prejudice, looking at the face of neo-Nazism.  The film is named after a song by the American rock band Queens of the Stone Age, whose lead singer, Josh Homme, wrote the film’s score.

The film opens in a prison setting.  The inmates are cheering a prison wedding where Kurdish inmate, Nuri Sekerci is being wed to German Katja (Kruger).

The story moves to the present in Hamburg, when Nuri is out of prison and has a business in helping the needy.  They now have 5-year old son.  Katja met Nuri when she bought hasish from him.  Since the birth of their son Rocco, Nuri has quit drug trafficking, studied business administration while in jail, and now works in Hamburg at a translation and tax office.

Akin shocks the audience with the sudden death of Nuri and his son by a bombing, just when one expects Nuri to be the main protagonist, similar to the Janet Leigh character being killed off in PSYCHO.  No doubt an old trick, but one that still works.  It turns out that the killers are neo-Nazis.  After they are acquitted, despite damming evidence, Katja decides two things.  There is no purpose in her life and longer and that she wants justice and revenge.  No more should be said of the plot to prevent any spoilers.

Akin’s IN THE FADE moves along smoothly with nary a dull moment.  He succeeds by inserting various different events like the courtroom drama, the impact on Katja of both her parents and parents-in-law, her sister’s pregnancy and daughter and her own turmoil.  One does admire Katja’s strong character though she breaks down doing drugs at several points in the film.  But it shows the strength of her love for both her husband and child.  This is revisited in home footage she views of her son and husband at the beach, the segment that finally cracks her up.

A different look at the law is also observed.  The investigating officer initially is biased against her because of her husband’s racial background, but he eventually takes her side at the court hearing.  Her lawyer, Danilo Fava (Denis Moschitto) is also sympathetic, always probing her on, and never to give up on justice.  Any romantic involvement between the two is halted immediately with the line Fava utters that he has to drive his kid to kindergarten the next morning.

IN THE FADE is also this year’s German entry for the Best Foreign Film entry at the Academy Awards.  A good choice.  It just won the Golden Globes Prize for Best Foreign Film.

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


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Happy Birthday: Diane Kruger

dianekruger.jpgHappy Birthday actor Diane Kruger

Born: July 15, 1976 in Algermissen, Lower Saxony, Germany


With Wolfgang Petersen, we were always the only two ready at time and the first on the set during the filming of Troy (2004). The German rigour without a doubt.

It was something strange for me, to kiss Orlando. I was so embarassed! It is not as fun as people think to shoot love scenes. You feel vulnerable, and there are about 100 people looking at you.

dir. Jaume Collet-Serra
Liam Neeson
Diane Kruger
2012 Movie PosterInglourious Basterds
dir. Tarantino
Brad Pitt
Mike Myers
SydneyWhiteNational Treasure: Book of Secrets
Directed by Jon Turteltaub
Jon Voight
dir. Andrew Niccol
Saoirse Ronan
Diane Kruger
and Boyfriend
and Brad Pitt
and Christoph Waltz
and Guillaume Canet
and Joshua Jackson
and Liam Neeson
and Melanie Laurent
and Natalie Portman
and Nicolas Cage
and Orlando Bloom
and Quentin Tarantino
and Vincent Lindon
as Boy George
as Helen of Troy
at Airport
at Cannes
Before and After
Black and White
Blue Dress
Calvin Klein
Close Up
Curly Hair
Gold Dress
in Chanel
in Fringe
in Inglourious Basterds
in National Treasure
in Troy
in Unknown
Leather Dress
Marie Claire
Mini Dress
Mini Skirt
On the Street
Photo Shoot
Pink Dress
Red Carpet
Red Dress
Sex Dress
Short Dress
Short Hair
Short Skirt
Super Short Dress
White Dress
Without Makeup
Yellow Dress


Movie Review: DISORDER (MARYLAND) (France/Belgium 2015) ****

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disorder.jpgDISORDER (MARYLAND) (France/Belgium 2015) ****
Directed by Alice Winocour

Starring: Matthias Schoenaerts, Diane Kruger, Paul Hamy

Review by Gilber Seah

DISORDER is as the film title implies, a psychological thriller/drama. It traces an Afghanistan veteran transgression into deep paranoia and how he deals with it.

When the film opens, Vincent (Matthias Schoenaerts) is having a medical examination. He is apparently tested in his hearing and later told that the results will be made known to him as to whether he can return to active military duty. In the meantime, Vincent lands a job as security at a huge mansion estate called Maryland (the film’s original title). The camera then follows him around when he patrols the estate doing his duties as he checks certain guests, some rude, some not, as he fulfills his duties. In the process, he overhears a private conversation of the owner of an arms deal gone sour. Director Winocour shows how stressful a security job can be, and even more so with his hearing problems as he has to wear an ear piece for communication. Winocour keeps the audience on their toes. Is something going to happen? Is Vincent going to break down? At the same time, the film hovers towards being a thriller, a suspensor, a drama and an action film. This is the reason Winocour’s film works so well. Her film is always several steps ahead of her audience. The reason she does certain things is clear later. For example, Vincent undergoes a lot of repetitive annoyances – like loud sounds and blurred images, but these repetitions are necessary to explain the deterioration of Vincent’s mental health.

The psychological thriller is centred on Vincent, who has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He is later hired by the rich client, Whalid (Percy Kemp) as security and driver for the wife (Diane Kruger) and son while he is away. Vincent speeds the car up almost running into an accident when he thinks the car is being followed. The wife freaks out but finds out later that Vincent was right. A home invasion reveals the reason being due to the husband’s arms deal gone sour. The film then switches to action. Winocour handles the fight and action scenes with efficient finesse. The temptation to include some romance between the wife and Vincent is thankfully avoided.

Matthias Schoenaerts looks and acts his part convincingly. His chiselled tattooed body complements his brooding nature. He has proven himself apt in diversified roles as a troubled soul (this film and RUST AND BONE) or as a sound and dependable one as in FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD.

The film’s sound editing and effects (pounding and techno sounds) are excellent, emphasizing the imminent danger of each situation.

The imaginary ending (not revealed in this review) is subtly conceived to bring a conclusion to the movie as to the final state of Vincent’s mental state.

DISORDER reminds one immediately of classic murder films such as those directed by Claude Chabrol in the 60’s and 70’s. DISORDER is not a whodunit thriller, and is absorbing from start to finish. Winocour has proven herself a capable director and a talent to be reckoned with.

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