Review: ‘PIGGY’ tests morality with bloody brilliant performances and writing.

PIGGY


Morally ambiguous and brilliant, PIGGY has been making the festival rounds this year to much acclaim. Writer-director Carlota Pereda uses the backdrop of teenage bullying and dials it up to the nth degree with murder, mayhem, and lies.

The script is relentlessly chilling. Because the audience has more information than anyone else, it feels as though the characters are sitting ducks. We are right alongside Sara as she witnesses her tormentors thrown into the back of a serial killer’s van. She says nothing, both out of fear and perhaps relief. Those that have ever been on the receiving end of horrible words and despicable actions will undoubtedly wince throughout the film.

PIGGY also speaks to the weight of parental support. We find Sara’s mother to be a nagging, uncaring shrew, while her father pays attention to her with genuine love. Her woes are exacerbated by her parents owning the local butcher shop, leading vile peers to dub her “Piggy.” One of the girls, Claudia, has a deeper connection to Sara based on her delay tactics in teasing and a matching bracelet with Sara.

The stakes in the film get higher and higher as the police, the chatty locals, and Sara’s conscience drives her to the breaking point. But that’s not all that weighs on Sara’s mind. PIGGY keeps you on your toes, constantly challenging your morality. Lead actress Laura Galán gives a star-making performance. You can see the wheels turning in each deliberate beat. Raw and thoroughly vulnerable, it is one hell of a turn. PIGGY had my heart in my throat from start to finish. Audiences are in for some hard questions and emotional torture.


Release Dates: 
October 7, 2022 (Exclusively in Alamo Drafthouse Theaters)
October 14, 2022 (Theatrical/VOD)

Directed by Carlota Pereda
Cast: Laura Galán, Richard Holmes, Carmen Machi, Irene Ferreiro, Camille Aguilar, Claudia Salas, Pilar Castro
Runtime: 90 mins
Genre: Horror/Thriller
Distributor: Magnet Releasing


Tallgrass Film Festival 2022 short review: Fingers crossed, ‘Slasher Squad’ is just the beginning.

SLASHER SQUAD

Short film Slasher Squad features picture-perfect animation akin to hyper-realistic mocap games like Uncharted and The Last of Us. Some of the details look so real I did a double take more than once. The story revolves around our female protagonist hearing the news about a serial killer on the loose. After checking the locks and hopping in the shower, we see she’s not alone. 

The ending of the film is a double twist. The first had me yelling at the screen. The second was so shocking I audibly exclaimed, “Okay, that’s AWESOME.” Writer-director-producers Nathan Stone and Stuart Campbell manage to world build in under 4 minutes! Adelaide Kane, whom I adored in Reign, plays our lead, Amber. Sean Tinnion‘s original score is unmissable. Slasher Squad is a perfect treatment, ripe for whatever forms they want to expand it in, be it a game, series, or feature. I would watch the hell out of this team’s creative endeavors. 


  • Year:
    2022
  • Runtime:
    5 minutes
  • Language:
    English
  • Country:
    Australia
  • Premiere:
    Kansas
  • Rating:
    13+
  • Director:
    Nathan Stone & Stuart Campbell
  • Producer:
    Nathan Stone & Stuart Campbell


Fantastic Fest 2022 review: ‘EVERYONE WILL BURN’ melds religion and revenge for one hell of a reckoning.

EVERYONE WILL BURN

María José has lost her will to live following the tragic death of her son and the constant reminders of her cruel small town. When the mysterious little Lucía appears out of nowhere, calling her “Mommy,” María José initiates a reckoning fit for the gods or maybe the devil.

The townspeople are religious fanatics, believing María José triggered the apocalypse years ago with the birth of her son. Exacerbated by nosy neighbors, weak church figureheads, and zealots with a modicum of power, fear takes hold when little Lucía appears to use supernatural powers in gruesome acts of revenge. Everyone Will Burn culminates in a violent confrontation that’s intensely rewarding as a genre fan. Do not move a muscle when the credits roll. The best moment is yet to come.

Macarena Gómez brings a manic energy to the films. Warranted by the emotional torture of everyone in her life, her deliberate descent into pure red hot chaos is glorious. As Lucía, Sofía García skillfully walks the line between vulnerable and terrifying. She is nothing short of captivating. Her chemistry with Macarena Gómez is perfection.

Bravo to the costume and lighting teams. The no holds bar fight choreography is shocking and applause-worthy. EVERYONE WILL BURN harkens back to classic European horror and still manages to remain fresh and fantastic.


 

  • Year:
    2021
  • Runtime:
    120 minutes
  • Language:
    Spanish
  • Country:
    Spain
  • Premiere:
    North American
  • Director:
    David Hebrero
Release date: November 11, 2021 (Spain)


Review: IFC film ‘VESPER’ is an exquisite sci-fi tale of morality and mortality.

VESPER

Alone in a cruel near-future world, 13-year-old Vesper experiments with what’s left of her surroundings to nourish her and her paralyzed father. Abandoned by her mother, Vesper keeps Darius’ body alive with her bio-hacking skills and uploads his full consciousness into a small droid. While she and others suffer immensely, the wealthy exist in private, enclosed spaces called “Citadels.” They produce seeds that the remaining poor vie for to survive in the harsh environment. After someone sabotages their generator, she reaches out to her Uncle, the leader of a group that cultivates children’s blood for seed trade. When Vesper discovers a young woman from the nearby Citadel passed out in the woods, she imagines a way out. VESPER is a gorgeous film about control and climate change wrapped in a glorious sci-fi narrative.

Richard Brake‘s performance is predominantly a voiceover. The enveloping tone of his vocals is perfection. But, the expression in his eyes speaks volumes. Eddie Marsan as Uncle Jonas is spectacularly vile. As his “survival at all costs” attitude becomes increasingly disturbing, Marsan nails the villain role.

Rosy McEwan plays Camellia with a complex mix of yearning and practicality. She is a slick foil for Vesper. McEwan’s grace and control are all the more stunning when given the opportunity to break. Our titular role comes to life with the sensational performance of Raffiella Chapman. Her raw vulnerability jumps off the screen. There is no denying she is a star. Her ability to carry this film from beginning to end is a wonder.

Captivating production design from Ramūnas Rastaukas and Raimondas Dicius lures you into a bleak but visually curious existence. The costumes are unlike anything I’ve seen before. Dan Levy‘s score is ethereal and hypnotic. The script by Brian Clark and directors Bruno Samper and Kristina Buozyte is endlessly intriguing. There is never a dull moment in Vesper’s nearly 2-hour run. Each scene provides an opportunity to expand the canon of this story. The metaphor of Vesper’s creations and her place in the world is beautiful. I could easily see this developed into an entire franchise. Overflowing with nuance, it is a mesmerizing sci-fi film that grabs you by the conscience. A stark and endlessly creative warning about Earth’s near-future mortality, Vesper is easily one of the best films of the year.


 

US Release Date: September 30, 2022

Starring: Eddie Marsan, Raffiella Chapman, Rosy McEwen

Director: Bruno Samper

Fantastic Fest 2022 review: ‘THE ANTARES PARADOX’ pits family and faith against the universe.

THE ANTARES PARADOX

Fantastic Fest 2022 feature from Luis Tinoco, The Antares Paradox, brings together science, space, and knowledge enthusiasts. The plot revolves around Alexandra as she works the late shift at a radio telescope lab. With looming familial obligations, an absent co-worker, and the storm of the year swirling around outside, a strong signal begins transmitting to her antenna. With only two hours to confirm 20 years of research, Alex must race against the clock, the weather, other scientists who eschew her work, and her conscience.

Leading lady Andrea Trepat captures your attention from the very beginning. She has the task of carrying this film on her shoulders, as other actors appear only via video call or voice. She nails it. Anyone with a loved one who works unconventional hours understands the emotional complexity of ambition. It often comes at a great sacrifice of relationships. It is the risk we take in search of an unknown reward. In The Antares Paradox, Alex dreams of proving there is life beyond our universe. Her father understood this, even if no one else ever did.

Writer-director Luis Tinoco worked extensively with José Luis Crespo (Quantum Fracture), a YouTuber and science communicator with millions of followers. The script, while technical, is laid out concisely and understandably for all audiences. The entire film takes place in one location. The film’s sumptuous score from Arnau Bataller is perfect.

Between family, faith, and space, Tinoco’s script challenges our morality and keeps us intrigued with wonder. It is a gorgeous entry that will leave audiences spellbound.


  • Year:
    2022
  • Runtime:
    96 minutes
  • Language:
    Spanish
  • Country:
    Spain
  • Premiere:
    World
  • Director:
    Luis Tinoco Pineda
 
 
 

Fantastic Fest 2022 capsule review: Martika Ramirez Escobar brings every writer’s fantasies to life in ‘LEONOR WILL NEVER DIE’

LEONOR WILL NEVER DIE

Fiction and reality blur when retired filmmaker Leonor falls into a coma after a television lands on her head, compelling her to become the action hero of her unfinished screenplay.

As a writer, this script is essentially a dream, pun intended. Leading lady Sheila Francisco is an absolute joy to watch, and her energetic narration/script reading is a blast. In her coma, she is living inside her story. The recreations of 80s action films are astounding, from the perfectly hokey score to the fight sequences. The visual jump from these to real life and then to memories keeps you on your toes. The semi-autobiographical nature of Leonor’s writing makes for a haunting, present circumstance. The nonchalance in which her son and ex-husband converse with their lost loved one is bizarre. But that’s only half of the wackiness that ensues. Leonor Will Never Die is weird meta fun. You cannot help but adore the heart behind it.


 
 
A film by Martika Ramirez Escobar
Philippines / Filipino / 2022 / 99 minutes
 
Cast: Sheila Francisco, Bong Cabrera, Rocky Salumbides, Anthony Falcon.
LEONOR WILL NEVER DIE Screening Schedule
 
Festival Screening
Sat, Sep 24th, 1:50 PM @ Theater 1 
Sat, Sep 24th, 1:50 PM @ Theater 5 
 
 
Festival Screening
Wed, Sep 28th, 11:30 AM @ Theater 3 
Wed, Sep 28th, 11:30 AM @ Theater 4 
Wed, Sep 28th, 11:30 AM @ Theater 7

Fantastic Fest 2022 review: ‘MISSING (Sagasu /さがす)’ is one of the year’s best genre films.

MISSING

This wild multiple narrative film tells the story of Kaede, her father’s disappearance, and the serial killer she’s determined to hunt down. MISSING is one story told from three different angles.

Performances from the entire cast are spectacular. There is not a loose thread in the bunch. Here is where things get tricky. To tell you more about the plot defeats the purpose. You need to go into with as little information as possible. The complexity of MISSING is relentless. Do not get comfortable with what you think you know. Writer-director Shinzô Katayama and co-writers Kazuhisa Kodera and Ryô Takada bring twist after twist. I stopped counting at a certain point. The final scene is a mindblowing metaphor for everything we witness in two hours. Wow doesn’t even begin to cover it. Fantastic Fest 2022 audiences are in for one of the year’s best features.


Dark Star and Bloody Disgusting plan a US theatrical release for MISSING on November 4, 2022, an On Demand release on November 18, 2022, and the Blu Ray release for the film to follow on December 6, 2022.

(US Premiere, 124 min)

Directed by: Shinzô Katayama

Starring: Aoi Ito, Hiroya Shimizu, Misato Morita, Jirô Satô 

Japan, 2021 (In Japanese with English Subtitles)

 

FF 2022 OFFICIAL SCREENINGS

All screenings are at The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, South Lamar, Austin.

Location: 1120 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

 

Thu, Sep 22nd, 8:30 PM @ Theater 2

Thu, Sep 22nd, 8:30 PM @ Theater 3

Wed, Sep 28th, 11:00 AM @ Theater 5

Wed, Sep 28th, 11:00 AM @ Theater 6

FF 2022 PAGE:

https://2022.fantasticfest.com/films/62fbbf1dd0f21300854b372b


After working as an assistant director for Japanese films, including Nobuhiro Yamashita’s works, filmmaker ShinzôKatayama crossed paths with Bong Joon-Ho while shooting “TOKYO!” (2008) and served as his assistant director on “Mother” (2009). In 2019, his debut feature, “Siblings of the Cape” was selected by numerous domestic and international film festivals. He now is one of the most promising, emerging directors in Japan, and his second feature, MISSING (“Sagasu /さがす”) will be his commercial film debut.


 

Review: Writer-director Valerie Buhagiar brings the enchanting tale of ‘CARMEN’ to life with help from Natascha McElhone.

CARMEN

In a small Mediterranean village, Carmen has looked after her brother, the local priest, for her entire life. When the Church abandons Carmen, she is mistaken for the new priest. Carmen begins to see the world, and herself, in a new light.


A tongue-in-cheek story of sacrifice and reward inspired by actual events, CARMEN finds Natascha McElhone recapturing the youth she lost to familial duty and heartache. After a life spent taking care of her brother, the local priest in Malta, his death pushes Carmen, quite literally, out the door.

Carmen’s years of demure nature allow her to become a ghost, eavesdropping on the townsfolk that ignored her. With the unlikely help of a pigeon, Carmen takes control of the very church that kicked her to the curb, fooling the locals for personal entertainment. But, her mischievous advice from the confessional booth changes everything.

Natascha McElhone is elegant and effortlessly charming. CARMEN is essentially a later coming-of-age tale. McElhone’s wide-eyed exploration of life is enchanting, funny, and honest. Shot on the beautiful island of Malta, which if you’ve never been, I suggest you visit. The script’s structure utilizes flashbacks of Carmen’s elusive backstory. Writer-director Valerie Buhagiar brings unbridled joy and hidden complexity to audiences. CARMEN is a delight.


CARMEN will be released in the US Theatrically in major cities and on VOD in the US and Canada on Friday, September 23.

Director: Valerie Buhagiar

Starring: Natascha McElhone, Michaela Farrugia, Steven Love.

 

Theaters include:

NEW YORK – Cinema Village

LOS ANGELES – Laemmle Monica

With exclusive engagements in Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco (Bay Area), Columbus and more.

 

VOD Platforms include:

US: Apple TV/iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, XFinity Cable, and more.


 

Review: ‘The Justice of Bunny King’ is a tale of morality, redemption, and unconditional love.

Bunny King (Essie Davis, THE BABADOOK), a headstrong mother of two with a sketchy past, earns her keep by washing windows at traffic lights. Using her razor-sharp wit to charm money from gridlocked motorists, she saves every cent to get back the custody of her kids. After promising her daughter a birthday party, Bunny must fight the social services and break the rules to keep her word, but in doing so risks losing her children altogether. Accompanied by her niece Tonya (Thomasin McKenzie, Film Independent Spirit Award nominee, LEAVE NO TRACE, LAST NIGHT IN SOHO), a fierce teenager running away from home, Bunny is in a race against the clock and headed towards an epic showdown with the authorities.


Essie Davis helms this tale of morality, redemption, and love. Davis’ no holds bar performance of raw reactive emotion will have you on your feet. You cannot help but root for Bunny. Every opportunity comes with an unexpected challenge, but Davis’ slick attitude and ingenuity keep the audience in the palm of her hand. Bunny’s backstory is heartbreaking. The weight of her unresolved trauma is in every breath. It’s a stunning turn.

The Justice of Bunny King pits a broken system against a desperate mother. Boasting a heart-pounding climax, The Justice of Bunny King is an intriguing dive into survival and unrelenting determination.

Opens in Theaters September 23rd

Director: Gaysorn Thavat
Story By: Gregory David King, Gaysorn Thavat, Sophie Henderson
Writer: Sophie Henderson
Producer: Emma Slade
Director of Photography: Ginny Loane
Editor: Cushla Dillon

Country: New Zealand
Genre: Drama
TRT: 101 minutes


 

Documentary Review: ‘WE ARE ART – Through the Eyes of Annalaura’ finds emotional catharsis in creation.

We Are Art – Through the Eyes of Annalaura

Filmed on location in Naples, Italy, We Are Art Through the Eyes of Annalaura was written, produced and directed by acclaimed artist Annalaura di Luggo, in collaboration with production supervisor and creative consultant Stanley Isaacs, and is an inspirational story of creativity, second chances and new beginnings. The documentary feature depicts Annalaura’s journey as she undertakes her most artistic challenge, creating Colloculi, an immersive, multi-media, interactive art installation constructed in the shape of a Giant Eye made of recycled aluminum, symbolizing environmental rebirth and recycling. She incorporates her artistic visualization of the lives of four young people who, in their own way, found a spiritual path out of the darkness into the light and reclaimed their self-esteem and found new value in life.


From concept to fruition, Italian artist Annalaura di Luggo takes inspiration for a multimedia art installation from the Bruegel painting, “The Blind Leading The Blind.” She intends to not only is to inspire but include the viewer in the experience of the piece. They are the fourth layer. WE ARE ART- Through The Eyes of Annalaura is a whirlwind journey through redemption and creation.

The casting process for the four individuals Annalaura wants to include in the project gives the audience a taste of the local Naples community. Each person has a story, a work of art unto themselves. Pino grew up surrounded by drugs, violence, and neglect. His future goal is to avoid a similar path as his parents and thrive through education. Noemi approaches the world through experiences, sports, and animals. Born blind, she longs to break any preconceived notion the world might have about her and to live as fully as any sighted person. Her description of what color is to her is awe-inspiring.

Youssouf arrived on the shores of Naples in a rubber dinghy from the Ivory Coast in 2016. Alone and with nothing to his name, he endured discrimination, educated himself, and began to work. Engaged and with a child, his goal is to be present for her. Adopted at the age of five from Moscow, Larissa found herself bullied for her appearance, leading her to abuse alcohol. Resiliency and self-love push her forward in life.

Like any artist, Annalaura possesses eccentric energy. Her mind is in constant creative mode. Each media artist she approaches finds themselves immediately sucked into her vortex of ideas and enthusiasm. Beyond that first impression, her genuine care for Pino, Noemi, Youssouf, and Karissa is clear as day. Their work together becomes a therapy session melded into Annalaura’s final creation. Her profound words for her subjects will take the viewer aback.

WE ARE ART escapes pretentiousness by keeping the audience involved in each intimate and intentional step. There are a staggering amount of minds and hands touching this project. “Colloculi,” the final work of art, is dazzling, simultaneously speaking to the uniqueness of each life and the universal nature of humanity. Annalaura di Luggo should be proud. Bravo.


Opening At The Laemmle Monica In Los Angeles On September 16
And The Village East In New York September 23

 

Q&A to follow after both Opening Nights

Written & Directed By

Annalaura di Luggo


TIFF 22 short film review: Sophy Romvari’s ‘IT’S WHAT EACH PERSON NEEDS’ pulls the run out from underneath you with its intimacy.


IT’S WHAT EACH PERSON NEEDS

Filmmaker Sophy Romvari features a young woman named Becca Willow Moss as she embarks on a unique journey of self-discovery with others. IT’S WHAT EACH PERSON NEEDS has the audience eavesdropping on phone conversations. The voices on the other end of the line each desire something different. The men seem to seek romance, while others lean more sexual. Her other calls engage an entirely different demographic; the elderly. These chats revolve around memory, singing, reassurance, and pure love.

Becca has a knack for discovering what motivates each person. She describes herself to people as a multi-faceted artist. A label I covet myself. She is the most genuine and gentle communicator. She is giving and authentic. I remain completely enamored by her.

The cinematography is 90% comprised of closeup shots of mannerisms, objects in the room, Becca’s hair and clothes, and her face as she speaks and listens to those she calls. Combined with the fact that the 11-minute run has us solely inside Becca’s apartment lends to the intimacy already created by her words. It’s a brilliant choice, frankly.

Romvari had me thoroughly engrossed from the very beginning. I could have easily watched a feature-length version of Becca and her callers. Therein lies the irony of IT’S WHAT EACH PERSON NEEDS. As we get comfortable with the narrative structure, Romvari steps in, via voice only, and asks Becca what she thinks the project’s meaning might be. Her answer takes you aback. While we enjoy the film for unconsciously selfish reasons, Becca has her own motivation that I did not expect. Undoubtedly one of the best short films at TIFF22. It’s about the universal need for human connection. Everyone needs someone to listen. Everyone needs to feel seen.


Short Cuts Programme 06.
Sophy Romvari
CANADA | 2022 | English
11 minutes


Fri, Sep 16
IN-PERSON
Scotiabank Theatre Toronto
5:30pm


Sat, Sep 17
IN-PERSON
Scotiabank Theatre Toronto
9:05am


 

TIFF 22 review: ‘CHARCOAL’ is a fiery and biting feature debut from writer-director Carolina Markowicz.

CHARCOAL

In her brilliant feature-film debut, writer-director Carolina Markowicz brings TIFF22 audiences a one-of-a-kind dramedy in CHARCOAL (CARVÃO). Irene and Jairo find themselves barely scraping from the money earned from their Charcoal factory, saddled with an ailing father and precocious 9-year-old son, Jean. Suddenly offered money to hide an Argentinian drug kingpin, things get weird for everyone. 

Rômulo Braga plays Jairo with passion, but not for his wife. Jairo is a miserable soul. Braga brings a slovenly and combative manner that breaks in private. 

How do you keep a nine-year-old from spilling the beans? Jean Costa brings the perfect amount of sass to the role of young Jean. His performance is so natural you might think he’s improvising each line. 

Cesar Bordon is Juan. His confusion only matched by his oblivious, holier-than-thou nature. His scenes with Costa are incredibly amusing. But it is his feisty chemistry with Jinkings that you’ll remember most.

Maeve Jinkings plays Irene with slick confidence and a fearless attitude. She is never intimidated by Juan’s presence. On the contrary, she sees him as a nuisance and a necessary means to an end. Jinkings casual delivery under pressure makes Markowicz’s screenplay shine. It’s a real wow.

I was entirely unprepared for the dark humor in this undeniably genius script. You’ll find yourself smirking as Juan prepares for his unexpected pitstop. After his arrival, the hilarity ensues with the utmost seriousness. Almost every scene drips with sarcasm, and it is glorious. One of the best films at TIFF22, CHARCOAL boasts twist after twist. Part satire, part social commentary, do not miss it.


Brazil, Argentina, 2022
Portuguese, Spanish
WORLD PREMIERE
107 minutes
Director
Carolina Markowicz
Cast
Maeve Jinkings, Cesar Bordon, Jean Costa, Romulo Braga, Camila Mardila, Pedro Wagner, Aline Marta
Cinematography
Pepe Mendes


TIFF 22 review: Bill Nighy’s glorious performance in ‘LIVING’ sends a universal message of love and kindness.

LIVING

Director Oliver Hermanus brings TIFF22 audiences LIVING, a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 film Ikiru. This beautifully life-affirming script from Nobel- and Booker Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro captures the heart. The legendary Bill Nighy helms this film as Mr. Williams. A typical mid-level government bureaucrat in 1952, Williams never ruffles any feathers and maintains a routine to the point of soulless monotony. After he receives a terminal diagnosis, he must reassess his years of playing by the rules and learn how to begin living.

Alex Sharp is Peter Wakeling, the newest member of Mr. Williams’ team. He is the audience’s lens through which to observe Nighy’s reputation. His ability to understand the bigger picture showcases Sharp’s talents. He is simply lovely here. Aimee Lou Woods plays Nighy’s spirited office mate, Margaret Harris. Her young enthusiasm and gentle nature present an intriguing foil for Nighy. Woods displays a wide-eyed honesty that gives way to genuine companionship. She becomes a shoulder to cry on and a replacement for his estranged son. Their chemistry is a delight. 

Bill Nighy gives a quietly profound performance as Mr. Williams. Each beat overflows with complexity, regrets, and thoughtfulness. Nighy breathes life into this role with passing moments. His heartfelt rendition of the Scottish folk song Rowan Tree moved me to tears. It is an award-worthy turn.

A community playground becomes the symbol of a life worth living. An apology for the inconvenience, an offer of assistance, and a kind word; the impact of these seemingly small gestures have a ripple effect. The structure of the script is surprising and relentlessly engaging. I found myself lost in the quiet dignity of it all. 

The sumptuous score from Emelie Levienaise – Farrouch is enveloping. Beautifully framed and lit cinematography from Jamie Ramsey suits this story perfectly. I felt the final shot in my gut.

LIVING is not a boisterous film. It is a story that makes you want to be a better person. It is a lesson in human connection, mutual respect, and taking a breath to enjoy each moment. LIVING speaks volumes about leaving a legacy of kindness.


United Kingdom, 2022
English
CANADIAN PREMIERE
102 minutes
Director
Oliver Hermanus
Cast
Bill Nighy, Aimee Lou Wood, Alex Sharp, Tom Burke
Cinematography
Jamie D. Ramsay
Editing
Chris Wyatt
Producers
Stephen Woolley, Elizabeth Karlsen
Production Company
Number 9 Films
Production Designer
Helen Scott
Screenplay
Kazuo Ishiguro


TIFF22 review: Marie Clements’ ‘BONES OF CROWS’ is an exquisite cinematic experience of trauma and hope.

BONES OF CROWS

Centuries of trauma reveal themselves on the big screen in the TIFF22 feature film BONES OF CROWS by writer-director Marie ClementsIt’s a visceral but undeniably important watch. The film occurs over the span of 100 years. Watching the Catholic church, aided by the government, nonchalantly discussing the planned eradication of the poor is infuriating. Indigenous children were ripped from the arms of their parents, under threat of incarceration, and placed in residential homes run by severe priests and nuns. Children were stripped of their culture and used as lab rats. The number of children buried in unmarked graves is unfathomable. 

In the film, we bounce in time as unresolved trauma and abuse rear their ugly head through decades. Actress Grace Dove plays Aline Spears beginning at age 16. Once a promising concert pianist, her hopes and dreams were dashed by physical, psychological, and sexual abuse. Her memories, accompanied by those of one of her siblings and husband, intertwine to paint a harrowing picture of torture and fear. But, the pain inflicted upon her never extinguishes her soul. As she endures continued racism, Aline has the last word through a chance visit to the Vatican and the legacy of her children. 

While BONES OF CROWS predominantly follows the fallout of one family, their story is tragically universal. Dove carries the weight of the film on her shoulders, reminding the audience of the strength of the Canadian native population. Her unrelenting and raw bravery lets the audience reside in her psyche with a quiet discomfort needed for BONES OF CROWS to succeed as it does.

The beauty and triumph of BONES OF CROWS occur in unexpected moments. The appearance of the titular birds becomes a recurring theme of hope. You cannot ignore the striking cinematography. The film’s finale is a much-needed emotional catharsis. When you hear and feel the song “You Are My Bones,’ co-written by Marie Clements, you won’t be able to hold back any longer. Bones of Crows is a soul-changing film. It’s simply exquisite storytelling. TIFF22 audiences are privileged to experience this first. BONES OF CROWS is a jaw-dropping cinematic experience. 


An epic account of the life of Cree matriarch Aline Spears that spans generations, Marie Clements’ Bones of Crows is a powerful indictment of the abuse of Indigenous peoples as well as a stirring story of resilience and resistance.

This programme contains scenes that may distress some viewers, especially those who have experienced harm, abuse, violence, and/or intergenerational trauma due to colonial practices.

Support is available 24 hours a day for anyone affected by their experience at residential schools and for those who may be triggered by content dealing with residential schools, child abuse, emotional trauma, and racism. The national Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line is available at 1-866-925-4419.


Canada, 2022
English, Cree, ʔayʔajuθəm, Italian
WORLD PREMIERE
127 minutes
Director
Marie Clements
Cast
Grace Dove, Phillip Forest Lewitski, Alyssa Wapanatâhk, Michelle Thrush, Glen Gould, Gail Maurice, Carla Rae, Cara Gee, Rémy Girard, Karine Vanasse, Jonathon Whitesell, Patrick Garrow, Summer Testawich, Sierra McRae, Tanaya Beatty, Joshua Odjick, Alanis Obomsawin


TIFF22 review: ‘MY SAILOR, MY LOVE’ boasts beautifully complex performances.

MY SAILOR, MY LOVE

In Klaus Härö‘s TIFF22 feature, My Sailor, My Love, Grace hires a much-needed housekeeper for her curmudgeonly father, Howard. When Annie enters their lives, the family dynamic reaches a breaking point.

The friction between Howard and Grace slowly comes to light. Grace’s bitterness towards Annie stems from an inability to let her father move on in life. As his lifelong caretaker, her deep-seated resentment proves a daunting hurdle for everyone. Catherine Walker gives a nuanced performance. You can feel the weary weight of the years. Anyone who has cared for an aging family member will recognize emotional exhaustion and perhaps a touch of martyrdom. Walker bears all in the role.

This endearing later-stage love story is as lovely as can be. Annie and Howard’s earnest chemistry come to life with the extraordinary performances by James Cosmo and Bríd Brennan. Beautifully paced histories of their former selves lend to its authenticity. So much of the script occurs in things unsaid.

Brennan plays Annie with a generous disposition. Anyone would be lucky to have her as a scene partner. Her presence fills the screen with warmth. Brennan is spectacular.

Howard exists through the emotional redemption of James Cosmo. Cosmo gives us every bit of himself as a man mired in hurt, fear, and shame. As Howard, he longs for happiness and must come to terms with past regressions to heal. It is an award-worthy turn.

The score from Michelino Bisceglia has a classic elegance. The thoughtful cinematography by Robert Nordström includes breathtaking ariel views and impactful tracking shots. The care and intention are impossible to miss. My Sailor, My Love will capture the hearts of TIFF22 audiences.


Finland, Ireland, 2022
English
WORLD PREMIERE
103 minutes
Director
Klaus Härö
Cast
James Cosmo, Bríd Brennan, Catherine Walker


Review: Vicky Krieps captivates in ‘HOLD ME TIGHT’

HOLD ME TIGHT


Hold Me Tight is the newest film from French actor-director Mathieu Amalric. It centers around the emotional and physical break between a mother, her two children, and her husband. The film is a gripping narrative with your heart in your throat from beginning to end. You are constantly questioning reality. Grief is a monster known only to those who live it. Hold Me Tight journeys through regret with gusto. The editing is an absolute triumph, using fractured storytelling and poetic voiceovers. The dizzying pace is warranted by Amalric’s screenplay structure of time hopping.

The entire cast is breathtaking. Our leading lady, Vicky Krieps, gives a mesmerizing performance as a woman unraveling. Each beat is carefully curated, mired in sadness and pure love. Krieps’ unadulterated vulnerability demands your attention. It is an award-worthy turn. Hold Me Tight is an extraordinary study of grief and moving forward. You cannot walk away from this film unchanged.


Opens September 9 in NY at
Film at Lincoln Center & Angelika Film Center
 
Opens September 16 in LA at Laemmle Royal

 

France | 2021 | 97 min | Color | 1.85:1 | In French and German with English subtitles
 
Directed by Mathieu Amalric. Screenplay by Mathieu Amalric, based on the play by Claudine Galéa, Je reviens de loin. Cinematography by Christophe Beaucarne. Editing by François Gedigier. Production Design by Laurent Baude. Produced by Laetitia Gonzales and Yaël Fogiel with Félix Von Boehm (Les Films du Poisson). A Kino Lorber release.

Film lovers unite! TIFF 2022 is upon us. Here’s what we’re excited to see. #TIFF22

TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2022 has arrived! This year there is a little bit (or a lot) for everyone, from In Conversation With Taylor Swift and a screening of All Too Well: The Short Film on 35mm, Viola Davis in The Woman King, to the Midnight Madness world premiere of Weird: The Al Yankovic Story. TIFF never disappoints and this year, in its 47th edition, the stars come out to entertain the masses. With so many options, here are a few titles we’re keeping our eyes on.


CHARCOAL (PLATFORM SECTION–WORLD PREMIERE)

Brazil, 2022. In a remote area in São Paulo’s countryside, a rural family who lives beside a charcoal factory accepts a proposal to host a mysterious foreigner. The home soon becomes a hideout as the so-called guest happens to be a highly wanted drug lord. The mother, her husband and child will have to learn how to share the same roof with this stranger, while keeping up appearances of an unchanged peasant routine.

Writer-director Carolina Markowicz has had many of her short films play the festival. This will be her feature debut and I cannot wait to experience her storytelling in long form.


BONES OF CROWS (Contemporary World Cinema, World Premiere)

 

Unfolding over 100 years, BONES OF CROWS is a feature film told through the eyes of Cree Matriarch Aline Spears as she survives a childhood in Canada’s residential school system to continue her family’s generational fight in the face of systemic starvation, racism, and sexual abuse.

We’re all aware by now of the horror stories of the children forced to live in Canada’s residential schools. So much so that the Pope apologized for the abuse the children endured after innumerable graves were discovered on the former grounds. Bones of Crows is a vastly important story.

*This program contains scenes that may distress some viewers, especially those who have experienced harm, abuse, violence, and/or intergenerational trauma due to colonial practices.

Support is available 24 hours a day for anyone affected by their experience at residential schools and for those who may be triggered by content dealing with residential schools, child abuse, emotional trauma, and racism. The national Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line is available at 1-866-925-4419.


BROTHER (Special Presentations, World Premiere)
Propelled by the pulsing beats of Toronto’s early hip hop scene, BROTHER is the story of Francis (Aaron Pierre) and Michael (Lamar Johnson), sons of Caribbean immigrants maturing into young men. Director Clement Virgo expertly tackles themes of masculinity, identity and family as a mystery unfolds during the sweltering summer of 1991, and escalating tensions set off a series of events that change the course of the brothers’ lives forever.

Writer-director Clement Virgo brings TIFF audiences a tale more relevant today than ever. A study in grief, Brother is bound to impact viewers is a visceral manner.


DALÍLAND (Gala Presentation, World Premiere, **Closing Night**)
Mary Harron’s DALÍLAND is both a coming of age story and a searing, funny and sympathetic portrait of crisis in the late life of one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. Experienced through the eyes of young gallery assistant James Linton (Christopher Briney) as he is invited into a glamorous new world, audiences will uncover the true Dalí (Sir Ben Kingsley) – the complex, flawed, and deeply human man behind the brilliant paintings, wild theatrics, and iconic mustache and explore his especially tempestuous relationship with Gala (Barbara Sukowa), his wife and muse.\

Sir Ben Kingsley releases Dali from an enigmatic caricature and humanizes the genius, his life, and his work.


THE PEOPLE’S JOKER (Midnight Madness, World Premiere)
After years numbing herself with irony and an inhalant called Smylex, an unfunny aspiring clown grapples with gender identity, first love, and old foes all while founding an illegal comedy theater in Gotham City. It’s a queer coming-of-age Joker Origin story. Completely unlicensed by DC and Warner Brothers. Starring and directed by Vera Drew (“Beef House,” “Who Is America”) and featuring the work of 200 independent artists on three separate continents, all made during a global pandemic!

A queer coming-of-age satire and multi-media extravaganza, this mashup of fandoms I never knew I needed.


MY SAILOR, MY LOVE (Contemporary World Cinema, World Premiere)
MY SAILOR, MY LOVE is a heart-warming drama on timeless love and forgiveness. Howard (James Cosmo) is a retired sailor and widower, his daughter Grace (Catherine Walker) hires a caregiver Annie (Bríd Brennan). Reclusive and stubborn, Howard rejects Annie’s company, but eventually opens his heart and gives final love a chance.

A raw and compelling family drama, My Sailor, My Love is teeming with complexity and outstanding performances.


THE WOMAN KING  (World Premiere — Gala Presentations)

Synopsis: The Woman King is the remarkable story of the Agojie, the all-female unit of warriors who protected the African Kingdom of Dahomey in the 1800s with skills and a fierceness unlike anything the world has ever seen. Inspired by true events, The Woman King follows the emotionally epic journey of General Nanisca (Oscar®-winner Viola Davis) as she trains the next generation of recruits and readies them for battle against an enemy determined to destroy their way of life. Some things are worth fighting for…

Listen, if you tell me that Viola Davis is starring in a film, my butt is in a seat. Based on a true story? Well, that’s solidly in Davis’ wheelhouse, but really what isn’t? This is one highly anticipated film already.


ALLELUJAH (SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS)

This glorious reunion of Oscar winner Judi Dench and director Richard Eyre (Notes on a Scandal) is a spirited homage to the idiosyncrasies of old age and the noble fortitude of health-care workers everywhere. Adapted by Heidi Thomas from Alan Bennett’s stage play, Allelujah assembles a stunning ensemble of veteran British actors, including Jennifer Saunders, David Bradley, and Derek Jacobi.

There is every chance this will be an absolute crowd pleaser. The premise alone has me making up scenarios in my head of pure shenanigans. With a hell of a cast, Allelujah cannot go wrong.


FIXATION (Contemporary World Cinema)

Maddie Hasson (Malignant) plays a young woman committed to an unorthodox institution by a pair of enigmatic doctors (Genesis Rodriguez and Stephen McHattie).

Another feature debut from a female filmmaker, Mercedes Bryce Morgan brings to life an ambitious physiological thriller that will mesmerize with wild production design. I don’t think any of us are ready for such treatment. (pun intended)


LIVING (CONTEMPORARY WORLD CINEMA)

In this exquisitely realized remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 film Ikiru, director Oliver Hermanus teams with Nobel- and Booker Prize–winning author Kazuo Ishiguro to renew a classic. LIVING is the story of an ordinary man, reduced by years of oppressive office routine to a shadow existence, who at the eleventh hour makes a supreme effort to turn his dull life into something wonderful – into one he can say has been lived to the full

The magnificent Bill Nighy helms this film about humanity and mortality. With Mothering Sunday vets, cinematographer Jamie Ramsay and production designer Helen Scott, Living will undoubtedly be a feast for the eyes.

THE LOST KING (SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS)

Synopsis: In the archaeological find of a century, the remains of King Richard III — presumed scattered over 500 years ago — were discovered beneath a parking lot in Leicester in 2012. The search had been conceived and motivated by an amateur historian, Philippa Langley, whose passion and unrelenting research were met with skepticism. THE LOST KING is the inspiring true story of a woman who refused to be ignored and who took on Britain’s most eminent historians, forcing them to rethink the legacy of one of the most controversial kings in England’s history. A tale of discovery, obsession, and stolen glory (both then and now), THE LOST KING is a magical adventure illuminated by one woman’s growing sense of purpose.

My husband and I are history nerds. We’ve seen the documentary of this very story and it was nothing short of fascinating. For those who may not know the vile things said about King Richard III, it’s rather shocking. Sally Hawkins is the perfect choice to capture Philippa Langley‘s determined journey to uncover the truth.

MOVING ON (GALA PRESENTATIONS)

Synopsis: Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin star in this fusion of audacious comedy and bracing drama about estranged pals who are reunited when a beloved mutual friend dies, leaving her widower the target of a revenge plan.

Perhaps some of the most notable chemistry we’ve seen between two women in years bounds off the screen when Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda work together. These two powerhouse ladies bring heart and humor to a story much more complex than at first sight. TIFF audiences are bound to cheer for Moving On.


ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE (Discovery)

Based on the book by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, two teenage Mexican-American loners in 1987 El Paso explore a new, unusual friendship and the difficult road to self-discovery.

Another female director’s feature debut (in case anyone is counting and cheering along with me), Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is more than a queer coming-of-age story. You’d never guess Max Pelayo and Reese Gonzales were first-time leads. Lin-Manuel Miranda joins a powerhouse team of producers after narrating Sáenz‘s audiobook in 2013 and then reading writer-director Aitch Alberto’s screenplay. He knows a little something about quality writing, so his seal of approval is huge.


TIFF 2022 runs from September 8th to the 18th.

For more information on the fest, visit tiff.net


Review: Opening in Japanese cinemas today, writer-director Yoshiki Takahashi’s ‘RAGEAHOLIC’ mixes searing social commentary and vengeful storytelling.

RAGEAHOLIC

Visually sumptuous, from the popping color schemes to the sharp cinematography, Rageaholic is a feast for the eyes. With a screenplay that begs your attention between redemption and revenge.

Rageaholic has a distinct three-act storytelling structure. Act one finds Detective Fukama in a drug and alcohol-assisted haze of aggression. When his behavior makes for negative PR for the force and the local community of Fujimi, he is shipped off to the United States for some unique rehabilitation.

Act two reinstates Fukama as a semi-detective into a state-monitored Fujimi. Acclimating to this new environment proves to be a challenge. The visual shift is noticeable as the neon lights are replaced by signs and banners reminding everyone that Big Brother is watching. The community watch is drunk with power.

Act three; those driven from society now reside in squalid tent cities but thrive in their kinship. Confronted with how he ultimately fits into the grander scheme of control, Fukama must find the balance between good and evil to set things right. The depraved violence that ensues feels right. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to wincing and a lot of cheering.

Performances are impressive, and the score ranges from jarring to amusing. Each tonal shift reinvigorates the audience’s interest in the story. There is no time to become complacent. American audiences will immediately draw parallels to capitalism and surveillance issues. A film about abuse, power, and retribution, I have never seen anything quite like Rageaholic. The finale is straight-up bananas.


 

The drama/action film RAGEAHOLIC opens today (August 26th) in Japanese cinemas.

RAGEAHOLIC is written and directed by Yoshiki Takahashi, and based on a story by Yuki Kobayashi (DEATH ROW FAMILY). The picture stars Yohta Kawase (SHIN GODZILLA), Aya Saiki, Ryuju Kobayashi, and Eita Okuno. It is produced by Interfilm.


 

Capsule Review: Henrika Kull’s ‘BLISS’ (Glück) is a raw and realistic depiction of love.

BLISS

An unconventional LGBTQ love story set in the world of sex workers, Bliss is set in a world where femininity is considered a commodity. Two sex workers fall in love with each other while working in a Berlin brothel. Together – and yet each on her own – they experience the one moment when happiness seems possible – but their love is threatened by different ideas of life and their own abysses.


In private, there is an uncomplicated intimacy between Maria and Sascha, but judgment bubbles to the surface once in mixed company. Self-loathing and regret are deep-seated, a deadly combination for sabotage. The script slowly but slickly reveals Sascha’s inner demons, putting Maria and the audience in an uncomfortable position. The second half of Bliss deals with the ripple of her emotional instability. It’s tricky but familiar. Performances from Katharina Behrens and Eva Collé are spectacular, fearless, and raw. It’s stylistically similar to a docu-drama, and I dug the energy of the entire film. Writer-director Henrika Kull gives audiences a gem.


Available On Digital August 16th

 

Directed by Henrika Kull

Starring Katharina Behrens, Eva Collé (as Adam Hoya), Nele Kayenberg, Jean-Luc Bubert


 

Review: Latvian film ‘SQUEAL’ is one twisted tale.

SQUEAL

Told through the lens of a man searching for his father, a small village with a medieval mindset, and a pig, the Latvian film SQUEAL is a wild blend of storytelling elements. One part fairytale and one part romanticized Stockholm Syndrome, trust me, you have never seen anything quite like this. Alongside co-writer Aleksandr Rodionov, writer-director Aik Karapetian brings to life a story of belonging under the strangest circumstances.

In search of his father in rural Eastern Europe, Samual is far from home and does not speak the language. After getting lost on his journey, he gets into a car accident. Sidelined by the local farmer’s daughter, he finds himself chained in a pigsty, forced to work as a farmhand. As jealousy and misogyny cause a rift among family members and the locals, Sam must use everything at his disposal to escape or adapt.

The cast is magnificent. Knowing full well of the bizarre nature of this twisted tale, they amazed me. The script is an ever-evolving, emotional rollercoaster. Your feelings about each character change from scene to scene as the screenplay progresses. The narration from Uldis Verners Brūns is delicious. His voice is like a warm hug. The soundtrack is a sumptuous mix of classical pieces from Handel to Vivaldi. Squeal is undoubtedly a unique story that will have you questioning your morality. With an ending that leads to more questions than answers, you’ll leave thinking about this film long after the credits roll.




Official Selection: FANTASTIC FEST 2021 and many more.

SQUEAL will be released in the US theatrically in New York and Los Angeles and on VOD in the US and CANADA on August 19.

Theaters Include (August 19):
Lumiere Music Hall – Los Angeles
Alamo Manhattan- New York

VOD Platforms Include (August 19):
US: Apple TV/iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, Xfinity Cable, and more.
Canada: Apple TV/iTunes, Amazon, Google Play

Director: Aik Karapetian

Scriptwriter: Aik Karapetian,Aleksandr Rodionov

Cast: Kevin Janssens,Laura Siliņa,Aigars Vilims,Normunds Griestiņš,Juris Bartkevičs,Guntis Pilsums


Filmmaker Aik Karapetian’s dark fairy tale SQUEAL  centers on Samuel (Kevin Janssens), who is far from home, searching for his father. Lost in remotest Eastern Europe, on the edges of a mythical forest, a minor road accident leads to a chance meeting with a pig farmer’s daughter Kirke (Laura Siliņa). Sam soon learns that his priorities must change if he wants to survive. Her initial hospitality is a smoke screen to capture him and make him a forced laborer on the farm. Alone, unable to speak the language, and chained up 24/7 with the pigs, he learns to adapt. Fortunately, a seemingly magical piglet gains Sam’s confidence and shows him the way to freedom and true love. 

Filmmaker Aik Karapetian is a graduate of the Latvian Academy of Culture and has a master’s degree in film direction from the Académie Internationale des Arts – ESEC (Paris). His first feature film, PEOPLE OUT THERE gained international acclaim after its premiere at the Karlovy Vary film festival in competition in 2012. After the successful horror feature THE MAN IN THE ORANGE JACKET (Fantastic Fest 2014, BFI London Film Festival), Aik released the thriller FIRSTBORN (Sitges, Fantastic Fest, Paris International Film Festival 2017). 

Aik has also staged two successful opera productions at the Latvian National Opera house, THE BARBER OF SEVILLE, which was awarded as the Best stage production of the season in 2011 and FAUST, which premiered in September 2016. His version of Bizet’s CARMEN premiered at the Opera National de Montpellier (France) in 2018 followed by Gounod’s FAUST at the Trondheim Symfoniorkester & Opera (Norway) in 2019.


ABOUT GOOD DEED ENTERTAINMENT
Good Deed Entertainment (GDE) is an Ohio-based independent studio dedicated to producing, financing, and distributing quality entertainment for under-served audiences. Its distribution slate includes recent releases Summertime, Ma Belle, My Beauty, and Lucky Grandma, in addition to the Academy Award-nominated, Loving Vincent, and Spirit Award-nominated, To Dust.

Website: http://www.gooddeedentertainment.com/


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