Tag Archives: Foreign

January 12

Happy End

Michael Haneke’s follow-up to his Academy Award winning Amour is a sharp dark comedy that takes stinging jabs at family, societal appearances and our unhealthy obsession with social media. Happy End focuses on the Laurent clan as they deal with unexpected professional and personal issues, while simultaneously attempting to maintain the appearance of an affluent […]

January 10

Smoke and Mirrors

As has been the case for a long time, money makes the world go around. Smoke and Mirrors is a story about greed, corruption and consequences. One could label this a political thriller for lack of a better description. Francisco “Paco” Paesa (Eduard Fernández) is working for the government in Spain in the mid-80s. His […]

December 21

Expect the Unexpected: Mad Detective

It’s not always an easy thing to understand what is going on in Johnnie To’s and Wai Ka-fai’s psychological mystery Mad Detective – and that’s definitely on purpose. The film is like a hyper-stylized melding of Seven and Fight Club, a seedy and violent noir detective story with an injection of the supernatural. The film […]

December 14

Expect the Unexpected: Running on Karma

Released in 2003, Running on Karma by directors Johnnie To and Wai Ka-fai is a delightfully strange action thriller film masking as a parable on the mysteries of karma. At the center of the story is Big, a Buddhist Monk turned body builder and male stripper. One night, during a raid on his strip club […]

December 13

Expect the Unexpected: Needing You

One only needs to see the undeniable chemistry between Andy Lau and Sammi Cheng to understand why Needing You was a massive hit in Hong Kong when it was originally released. Their charisma is undeniable and often infectious, even in the silliest of moments. Make no mistake there are plenty of silly moments in this […]

November 19

EUFF 2017: The Citizen

Wilson (Dr. Cake-Baly Marcelo) has been trying to pass the citizenship test for years. He is a political refugee in Hungary having lost his wife, and two daughters who are still missing, in a conflict in his native land Guinea-Bissau. He works as a security guard in a supermarket and lives in an apartment complex […]

November 09

Expect the Unexpected: Justice, My Foot!

In Johnnie To’s 1992 action comedy Justice, My Foot!, justice is far from blind. In fact, it is downright crooked. The convoluted plot centres around Sung Sai-Kit (Stephen Chow) a lawyer in Guangdong who has a track record of winning all of his cases. Part of Sung’s success comes from the fact that he is […]

October 27

Expect the Unexpected: Election II

Johnnie To’s Election II: Harmony is Virtue is one of those sequels that not only builds on its predecessor, but surpasses it. If the original Election was about the quest to gain power, then this film is about the problems that come with trying to evolve that power in the face of historical legacy. The […]

October 26

Expect the Unexpected: Election

When one thinks of elections images of debates, grand promises and slanderous television advertisements often come to mind. In the criminal underworld where the characters in Johnnie To’s Election reside, campaigning is taken to a whole other level. Bribery and promises of expanded territories are the tactics of choice. If that does not work, you […]

October 16

imagineNATIVE 2017: Waru

The death of a young boy hits a community like a tidal wave in the riveting film Waru. While the audience is not provided with much detail about the deceased child, the picture slowly begins to form when observing how eight vastly different women react to the news. All linked to the child in some […]

October 14

TADFF 2017: The Villainess

With more action than you can take and a many-layered story, Jung Byung-gil’s The Villainess is full of love, betrayal and definitely no honour among thieves. Sook-hee (Kim Ok-bin) is a woman with a mission. After witnessing her father’s murder as a young girl, she is kidnapped with the hopes of revealing where her father […]

September 24

TIFF 2017: AVA

There is something undeniably universal about the teenage experience. While it can be argued that no two teens are exactly alike, the curiosities about the opposite sex and the questions about their own place in the world are identifiable regardless of where this coming-of-age ritual takes place. This is one of the reasons why Sadaf […]

September 23

TIFF 2017: A Season in France

Mahamat-Saleh Haroun has an uncanny ability of exploring the impacts of war in a poetic way. He displayed this in both A Screaming Man and the documentary Hissein Habré, A Chadian Tragedy, and he does so again with his latest work A Season in France. The story follows Abbas (Eriq Ebouaney), a refugee who is […]

September 18

TIFF 2017: Loveless

Staying together for the kid is never a good idea. It is equally problematic when you are in the process of a divorce and have no clue what to do with the kid. This is the situation that Boris (Aleksey Rozin) and Zhenya (Maryana Spivak) find themselves in. Their marriage has dissolved to a level […]

September 18

TIFF 2017: The Royal Hibiscus Hotel

After looking at the decline of a relationship in his previous film, Road to Yesterday, Nigerian director Ishaya Bako lightens the mood this time around with The Royal Hibiscus Hotel. The film is everything you would expect from a romantic comedy, which carries its fair share of pros and cons depending on your viewpoint. At […]

September 14

TIFF 2017: The President’s Visit

In a small village in Lebanon, a soap maker toils in his dingy shop. He earns very little respect from the townsfolk, though his service is essential. Then, one day, the President of the country calls him. As part of a new “Clean Up the Country” campaign, he will be visiting the humble shop to […]

September 13

TIFF 2017: In the Fade

Considering the rash of hate crimes occurring against non-whites in North America and Europe, Faith Akin’s latest film, In the Fade, is both timely and necessary. The film focuses on a woman, Katja Sekerci (Diane Kruger), who must deal with the sudden loss of her husband and son to a terrorist bombing. Going through the […]

September 12

TIFF 2017: Disappearance

Roos’ (Rifka Lodeizen), an accomplished photographer, return to her mother Louise’s (Elsie de Brauw) remote home in Norway is not the joyous homecoming one would expect after a lengthy absence. Having abruptly ended her last visit after yet another fight with her mother, Roos promises her younger brother Bengt (Marcus Hanssen), whose thirteenth birthday they […]

September 12

TIFF 2017: Thelma

Moving from her small town on the west coast of Norway to attend university in Oslo, Thelma (Eili Harboe) is ready to embrace the freedom of this stage of her life. The freedom of adulthood comes with limitations though as her devoutly religious parents, Trond (Henrik Rafaelsen) and Unni (Ellen Dorrit Petersen), monitor her schedule […]

September 11

TIFF 2017: Black Kite

Afghanistan is the last place I’d expect to find a kid flying a kite. After watching Black Kite and seeing kites be such a prominent part of life, bringing a tiny bit of joy to those who are trapped in this war-torn land, it seems strange that I ever had a presumption on kites one […]