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Entries in Reviews (759)

Sunday
Sep152019

TIFF: A Good Time with "Bad Education"

by Chris Feil

Long Island public school administration corruption comes to light in Cory Finley’s Bad Education, a sharp examination of early 2000s secrets hidden in plain sight. A young school paper reporter Rachel (Blockers’ Geraldine Viswanathan) first goes looking for a quote on her high school’s flashy new building project. What she ultimately stumbles upon are records that reveal an embezzlement scheme funneling millions of taxpayer dollars into the interests of those at the top, including Hugh Jackman’s chief administrator Frank Tessone.

Based on an actual case of massive fraud, Bad Education is less salacious than you might expect and much more humanely interested. Mike Makowsky’s script starts with the big picture and focuses towards the personal, detailing not only the slippery slope of petty to major financial theft, but also the landmine of Tessone’s closeted sexuality in a culture that forces him into interiority. The film has a strong, smoothly told grasp on the finer points of the story, such as economic inequity, gender imbalance, and personal relationships allowing people to look the other way.

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Saturday
Sep142019

TIFF: "Lucy in the Sky" Flung Out of Taste

by Chris Feil

Fargo and Legion’s Noah Hawley makes his big screen directorial leap with Lucy in the Sky, a loosely transcribed true story stripped of its sensationalism. But despite this diaperless retelling of the infamous story of an earthbound astronaut’s struggles with mental illness and her eventual attempt on her lover’s life, Hawley still flattens the drama for this would-be intense character study. Even with Natalie Portman at its forefront, doing another of her signature bold, safety-net-free characterizations, Hawley’s more pseudo-humane vision is defined by its inertia. It’s too boring to be embarrassing...

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Friday
Sep132019

TIFF Midnight Madness: "The Vigil", "Saint Maud", and "The Vast of Night"

Chris Feil takes a look at a few of the genre offering of TIFF's Midnight Madness section...

Safely the most terrifying Midnight Madness I’ve seen in my years at TIFF, Keith Thomas’ The Vigil is a visceral dive into Jewish tradition and the effects of antisemitic trauma. Dave Davis stars as Yakov, a man struggling with his mental and financial health after leaving his Hasidic community. For a little quick cash, he accepts an overnight position as a shomer (an Orthodox traditional role for watching over the recently deceased) to a former Holocaust survivor. With the widow (Lynn Cohen) asleep upstairs, Yakov is visited by a demonic force that antagonizes Yakov’s already broken spirit...

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Friday
Sep132019

TIFF Derring-Do Double: "The Aeronauts" and "Ford v Ferrari"

by Nathaniel R

Those magnificent men (and women) and their flying machines. What prompts people to build aerodymanic death traps in which to race at incredible never before accomplished speeds or go up up up to never before seen heights?  Today's double feature centers on just this type of man and their creations.  

FORD V FERRARI (James Mangold)
This very handsomely made film centers around a famous late 60s battle between the massive Ford Motor Company and the Italian boutique manufacturer Ferrari. How did Detroit's Henry Ford II come to battle Enzo Ferrarri in the European playground of Le Mans anyway? And how does the film get you to root for the Goliath rather than the David in this battle? That's the magic of this old fashioned well-paced movie. Older audiences might be familiar with this story but we weren't so it all played out like a fleet-footed and hot wheeled corporate drama mixed with inspirational sports movie...

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Thursday
Sep122019

TIFF: "Waves" Crashes

by Chris Feil

Writer/Director Trey Edward Shults’ approaches his subjects with raw emotionality, with his first two features Krisha and It Comes At Night using visual acrobatics to reveal the tenser truths festering inside extreme family dynamics. His third feature Waves attempts this dynamic again while pushing the sensory experience extreme territories. Shults somersaults and twirls with florid visual vibrancy here, as aggressive a display of a director demanding we consider them with greater reverence as we have seen since Xavier Dolan. But despite its fevered sensory world and punishing human stakes, Waves struggles to align the two for the truly immersive experience of its ambitions.

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Wednesday
Sep112019

TIFF: "The Two Popes" is a Gentle Giant

by Chris Feil

Late in Fernando Meirelles’ The Two Popes, Jonathan Pryce’s Cardinal Bergoglio (who would eventually become the current Pope Francis) throws up his arms in befuddlement and spouts “Two popes?!” That kind of winning self-aware wit flows throughout the film, an unexpectedly comedic chamber piece that thrusts Pryce opposite Anthony Hopkins as Pope Benedict XVI. Theirs is a gentle battle of minds as the film plays out mostly through several meetings between the two, with Bergoglio the somewhat progressive mind pushing for change in the Catholic church and Benedict adhering to stasis and tradition.

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