Review of Enlighten Up

Skepticism is a healthy trait in documentary filmmaking. After all, without a healthy mistrust of their subjects, documentarians would basically be PR flaks. With Enlighten Up, first-time director Kate Churchill attempts to provide a skeptic’s view of yoga. The twist is that Churchill is a firm believer in the practice as both a physical and … Continue reading

TIFF gives ’em something to talk about

(TIFF wrap piece for FFWD) Now in its 34th year, the Toronto International Film Festival always provides ample fodder for conversation. This year’s fest was no exception, drawing international attention for everything from its controversial choice to spotlight Tel Aviv as the first focus of its City to City series, to an appearance by the … Continue reading

TIFF Day 10: Mothers, mothers, mothers

It’s the last day of the fest, and I feel compelled to add a retroactive disclaimer to everything I’ve reviewed in this blog: Watching 37 movies in 10 days is not a natural way of viewing films. Seeing a comedy sandwiched between two esoteric art films, or watching a movie when your eyes are starting … Continue reading

TIFF Day 9: More Herzog, Ricky Gervais and the last press screening of the festival

My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done (dir. Werner Herzog) Like Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, Herzog’s second film at TIFF is at its core a cop movie. But where Lieutenant camped up and darkened an otherwise straightforward procedural, My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done takes a hostage situation and … Continue reading

TIFF Day 8: A lighter approach

As the festival winds itself down, I’m weaning myself off of movies gradually — four today, three tomorrow and two on Saturday to round it all off. And after a week’s worth of challenging, unconventional and occasionally frustrating picks, I figured it was time to go a little more straightforward. Hence, a Drew Barrymore-directed comedy, … Continue reading

TIFF Day 7: Micmacs, gang attacks and dull, dull vikings

Micmacs a Tire-Larigot (dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet) Few directors handle whimsy as well as Jean-Pierre Jeunet. I’ve only met two people who didn’t like 2001’s Amelie, an achingly sweet movie that somehow stays on the right side of cloying. Even the director’s darker films, like The City of Lost Children, have a core of sweetness that’s … Continue reading

TIFF Day 6: Todd Solondz, Michael Cera and the first 3-D flick of the fest

Life During Wartime (dir. Todd Solondz) While it’s not quite as fucked up as his most unsettling work (I’m looking at you, Happiness), Life During Wartime, Todd Solondz’s first film in five years, is still pretty fucked. The director has a set of themes that he loves returning to, including pedophilia and other forms of … Continue reading

TIFF Day 5: The exhaustion sets in

It is very late in Toronto, so I’m going to go a bit shorter on these today. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (dir. Werner Herzog) Come for Nicholas Cage’s glorious overacting, stay for exactly that. Herzog’s take on Abel Ferrara’s 1992 cops-gone-bad feature (which I haven’t seen) is explicitly not a remake, though … Continue reading