TIFF 2021

TIFF, the Toronto International Film Festival, is back this September. Last year, the festival offered a hybrid platform of both limited in-person screenings and digital offerings. A hybrid approach will still be in place this year, but from the looks of things, this year’s TIFF is trying to go back to a format similar to the pre-pandemic era. Of course, this raises a big question: who gets to go to TIFF in person this year? At this very moment, the Canadian border remains closed to the U.S., and that closure remains for all but essential travelers through at least July 21.

While a full line-up of films is forthcoming, TIFF announced 12 movies that will play at the fest, and they include heavy-hitters like Denis Villeneuve‘s Dune and Edgar Wright‘s Last Night in Soho.

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Concrete Cowboy Trailer

After premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2020, Netflix is bringing the father-son drama Concrete Cowboy to the streaming service in April.

The first Concrete Cowboy trailer has arrived, setting up the story of troublemaking teenager Cole (Caleb McLaughlin of Stranger Things) who gets sent from Detroit to North Philadelphia, where he’s dumped on the doorstep of his estranged father, Harp (Idris Elba). But that’s not the only drastic change that Cole is in for when he arrives in town. Read More »

MLK/FBI Trailer

Every child learns about the historic efforts of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. to stop systemic racism in a society that continually treated Black people as inferior. But what they don’t often learn is how the Federal Bureau of Investigation, led by J. Edgar Hoover, was ordered to provide surveillance of King in order to get enough evidence to destroy him and the movement that he was leading. The new documentary MLK/FBI uncovers rarely seen facets of the FBI’s investigation into Martin Luther King Jr., and the first trailer has arrived online. Read More »

Spring Blossom Review

The most striking thing about Spring Blossom, in which a 16-year-old girl falls in love with a man in his mid-thirties, is that it stars 20-year-old director Suzanne Lindon in the leading role.

The 2020 Cannes and TIFF selection is a tender and amusing portrait of teen-hood, in which the character of Suzanne experiences a generational disconnect. Bored with her school-aged peers, she seeks out a magnetic stranger — Raphaël (Arnaud Valois), an actor rehearsing at a theatre en route to Suzanne’s school — as a means to escape her mind-numbing routine. Raphaël is similarly dissatisfied, as a performer stuck with older castmates and directors he struggles to understand. And so, their rendezvous feels like the passing of ships in the night, an affair that’s barely physical but always emotional, often expressed through surrealist moments of interpretive dance. 

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Fireball Visitors From Darker Worlds Review

There are few things more soothing and sardonic than hearing Werner Herzog opine about an impending apocalypse. Along with collaborator and co-director Clive Oppenheimer, the filmmakers provide a science-rich documentary freed from the didacticism of the genre, reveling instead in the true wonder and weirdness of our existence. Their previous film, Into the Inferno, gazed into the maw of active volcanoes, while their latest, Fireball: Visitors From Darker Worlds, looks at the impact that extra-terrestrial visitors have had on the history of our planet.

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Inconvenient Indian Review

In 2012 Thomas King published The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America, a compendium of his writings about what it means to be Native, and the types of stories both ascribed to, and told by, the various individuals broadly contained within the aboriginal rubric. Michelle Latimer’s documentary, simply titled Inconvenient Indian, takes the themes of King’s work, narrated in part by his own words, and showcases a kaleidoscopic vision beyond the stereotype, showcasing the actuality rather than the empty costumes secured in museum cabinets that so often speak silently to what it means to be part of these communities.

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Enemies of the State Review

We live in a time that fetishizes a post-truth. In our post-fact world, suspicion of institutions is at an all time high, and citizens on both left and right find ways to pretzel themselves into believing in grand conspiracies as the mundane facts of incompetence and hubris feel too constrained for the magnitude of our society’s problems. Sonia Kennebeck’s documentary Enemies of the State, about a hacker kid, his crusading parents, and a tenacious legal system, brilliantly undermines these impulses.

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Get the Hell Out Review

During these times of social-distancing, it’s impossible to know how Get The Hell Out, part of the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival’s Midnight Madness slate, would have played to a boisterous and welcoming crowd. It’s fair to say it would have been a lot more fun with the rote dialogue being overpowered by hoots and screams, and the wrestling maneuvers cheered like at some mad luchador match. Instead, at home, the experience of sitting through the film is middling at best.

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The Truffle Hunters Review

Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw have crafted a near fairy tale look at the life of some irate Italians as they clamber through the forest seeking a delicacy that by weight is more valuable than gold. The Truffle Hunters is a beautiful, experiential documentary, taking you into a world that feels completely from another time.

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I Care A Lot Review

I did not care for I Care A Lot.

J Blakeson’s tonally deaf and awkward thriller begins by introducing us to Marla (Rosamund Pike), a taut, chilly figure tasked by the court to provide care to those who have fallen through the cracks. Ostensibly a legal guardian, Marla’s true motivation is to exploit the vulnerable, shack them up in assisted living homes while living off the proceeds. When one unstable son (Macon Blair) is unable to visit his mother, their violent and awkward confrontation is dismissed as the cost of doing business.

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