Blood Quantum Review

Blood Quantum, the second feature film from Rhymes for Young GhoulsJeff Barnaby, opens with an intense ancient settler’s proverb that reads, in part: “Take heed to thyself, make no treaty with the inhabitants of the land you are entering,” lest a lot of really heinous things happen, apparently.

It’s an ominous and telling start to a film that follows the Mi’gmaq community of Red Crow and their police chief Traylor (a great Michael Greyeyes) just before, during and six months after a zombie outbreak. Soon, the undead apocalypse has decimated the rest of the earth’s population, but the Red Crow are immune to the zombie virus, and they must decide amongst their population whether to allow into the reserve the non-Indigenous people arriving to take shelter from the hordes of undead.

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Freaks Clips

Superhero movies are still all the rage, and while it’s easy for some to get frustrated with all the capes out there nowadays, there’s still some creativity to be found in the sci-fi subgenre. That’s especially true when it comes to bringing superheroes into the indie arena, just as directors and writers Adam Stein & Zach Lipovsky have done with their new movie

Freaks stars Emile Hirsch as a father trying to keep his seven-year-old daughter Chloe locked up inside their house because a group of people known as Abnormals threaten the outside world. At least that’s what she’s been led to believe. But when she actually gets a glimpse outside, everything may not be as it seems. Two new Freaks clips have been released, showing us just how much mystery there is in this intriguing new indie. Read More »

best of TIFF 2019

Another Toronto International Film Festival is drawing to a close, and what a wonderful year it was. This was my fourth year attending the festival, and I have to say, there wasn’t a single movie I saw this year that I outright disliked. There were titles I loved more than others, but out of the many movies I caught at the fest, I’d honestly say all are worth seeing. Below, I’ve put together a best of TIFF 2019 round-up to highlight some specific films you’re not going to want to miss whenever they find their way to theaters.

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Sea Fever Review

The open ocean has long been the stuff of nightmares, with suspicion and superstition developed over millennia by seafarers. On old maps they would write “there be dragons”, and the oft-quoted fact is that we know more about the surface of the moon than the deepest waters of our planet. Neasa Hardiman’s Sea Fever trades on the fear, fascination and exploitation of the depths, resulting in a film that’s both harrowing and intelligent. A rare mix indeed.

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pain and glory review

Filmmakers – especially those who auteurs who shape the story of their respective films – often draw on personal experiences. It’s a time-honored tradition, with Federico Fellini’s 8 ½ being perhaps the most famous, respectable example. Pedro Almodovar‘s Pain and Glory is yet another prime instance, and there are times when watching the film that one wonders if it’s all too personal – turning the audience into true voyeurs, peering into the furthest recesses of another person’s heart and soul. In many ways, this is Almodovar’s most “normal” movie, but it’s also one of his best, a lovely, tender work of art that finds beauty in personal pain.

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The Platform Review

“Hunger unleashes the madman in us. It’s better to eat than be eaten.”

Goreng (Iván Massagué) has volunteered to enter The Pit for six months in order to earn his associate’s degree, have some quiet time to finally read Don Quixote and kick his smoking habit. But what The Administration hasn’t told him is that The Pit is a vertically stacked prison leaving its inmates to starve or cannibalize each other, in Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia’s sci-fi dystopian horror The Platform.

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Saint Maud Review

Have there been studies linking trauma and piety? How many born-again converts came to their faith through suffering, damage and pain? First time feature filmmaker Rose Glass examines just that, following newly devout nurse Maud (Morfydd Clark) and her relationship with her patient, Jennifer Ehle’s Amanda. Maud most recently worked at a public hospital, but after a mysterious tragedy concerning her last patient, she’s now a private nurse for Amanda, a celebrated dancer dying from lymphoma of the spine. Amanda’s iconoclasm and Maud’s sanctimoniousness make for a dangerous combination, one that Glass takes in fascinating and deeply unexpected places.

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Harriet Review

Awards and festival-season biopics generally follow a pretty strict pattern, and Kasi LemmonsHarriet doesn’t digress too far from that path. But the filmmaker (who debuted her feature film Eve’s Bayou at TIFF twenty-two years ago) went ahead and assured herself a success by casting Cynthia Erivo as abolitionist, Underground Railroad conductor, and Civil War hero Harriet Tubman (born Araminta Ross).

Cynthia Erivo sang her way onto our collective radar with an astonishing performance in last year’s Bad Times at El Royale (followed by a smaller but hardly less striking role in Steve McQueen’s Widows), and if she wasn’t already, she’s now guaranteed a forever place in our cultural consciousness with Harriet. This is an incredible turn, and while the film it’s in doesn’t quite match it, Erivo alone would be enough to make Harriet mandatory viewing.

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uncut gems review

The Safdie Brothers love to make movies about down-and-out folks making one terrible choice after another. These movies are endurance tests of a sort – narratives that ask: “How long can you put up with what the main character is putting up with?” Uncut Gems, the latest descent into poor choices from the filmmakers, pushes the situation to the limit, setting Adam Sandler on a journey from one terrible idea to the next. On one hand, it’s a treat to watch Sandler break out of his endless stream of bargain-basement Netflix comedies to try something like this. On the other hand, by the time the journey ends, you might want to watch one of those terrible comedies just to cleanse your palate.

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Briarpatch Review

The new noir anthology series Briarpatch, which airs on USA next year, starts off with a literal bang. A young policewoman named Felicity Dill leaves her apartment and gets into her car. The car explodes, killing her. Roll credits.

The mystery of Felicity’s death, and the deeper corruption that lies beneath the surface of the small Texas town of San Bonifacio is the catalyst for season one of the series created by TV critic Andy Greenwald and produced by Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail. The first two episodes of the show premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, and together present a tight, very promising sample of what’s to come for the rest of the season.

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