Author: Ada Wong

TIFF 2016 Review: Short Cuts Programme 3

Short Cuts Programme 3 is a glimpse into a collection of interpersonal relationships, including those with oneself, in several memory driven pieces. We journey through nostalgic imagery of a coastal town, to a remote Nepalese village, to a women’s prison, to an artist’s room filled with models of past lovers. We pause long enough in each world to observe, then are whisked away again before we necessarily conclude. This program includes some fine technical achievements, even if the trade off is story content sometimes. Highlights include Whispering Breeze, Sandy Beach, Next, Second to None, and Late Night Drama. Whispering...

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TIFF 2016 Review: Short Cuts Programme 8

In Short Cuts Programme 8, we are presented with social and cultural portraits illustrating life and change in different parts of the world. We investigate a U.S. chicken farm suspected of animal cruelty and abuse, follow an idealistic Alergian girl in her dreams to join the army to fight for her home, and meet a migrant family whose plans are thwarted by a giant teddy bear. We begin our journeys from humble roots, but the sky’s the limit where we end up. The Hedonists –  26 minutes Three lackadaisical Shanxi coal miners find themselves out of a job in The Hedonists. What...

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Review: The Missing Ingredient

The Missing Ingredient is a tale of two restaurants. Beloved Gino’s, described by food critics and loyal regulars as a dining institution of New York City, and nearby Pescatore with its own share of clientele and celebrity chef, in search of that magical element that will transcend the slumping business into a city staple. Experts, diners, restaurant owners, and affiliates alike are interviewed – Is it in the food? The service? Or perhaps the wallpaper? The problem with centering a film around an intangible investigation, is that it’s highly unlikely intelligible answers will be found. The Missing Ingredient stems...

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Review: League of Exotique Dancers

Once a seductive art, the allure of burlesque has greatly diminished since the ’70s, leaving some of the greatest performers of the genre displaced and forgotten. League of Exotique Dancers brings these performers back into the spotlight in a candid exploration of sexuality, performance art, and life on the stage as these ladies prepare for their Legends of Burlesque Hall of Fame performances. Award winning documentarian Rama Rau’s League of Exotique Dancers serves as both a great introductory film and historical portrait about the lost art of the tease, with a plethora of vintage photographs, show bills, and dazzling archival performance...

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Toronto Jewish Film Festival 2016 Review: I, Dalio – or Rules of the Game

Marcel Dalio was a character actor whose career spanned five decades.  Though often typecast, the Frenchman found himself filling roles in very different niches  on either side of the pond.  In I, Dalio – or Rules of the Game, we recount some of Dalio’s prominent roles and explore his contributions to Hollywood and European cinema. I, Dalio is a rundown of Marcel Dalio’s filmography with narration presented as if it were first person. Said narration leaves something to be desired, but snippets of irony and humour do come across from time to time.  The film is comprised completely of clips of...

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Review: Precious Cargo

Lead by a retro ’90s cast, Precious Cargo centres around a series of heists, wavering loyalties, dangerous crime bosses, ex lovers, and a master thief in the middle of it all. Jack, played by former teen star of Saved By The Bell fame, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, and his loyal crew are coerced into a big score by Jack’s ex-lover Karen (Claire Forlani). Claiming to be carrying Jack’s child, Karen manipulates him into helping her pay back the sinister Eddie (Bruce Willis), a crime boss whom Karen crossed in a botched job and now needs to make good on in order...

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Hot Docs 2016 Review: City 40

Appearing on maps only since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ozersk, better and longer known simply as City 40 in Russia, is said to contain some of the deepest darkest secrets about the nation’s nuclear defense. Most surprising is that a number of these “secrets” have little to do with arms development, but rather environmental devastation and the tragic living conditions of the residents of this place. The filmmakers of City 40 daringly smuggle unauthorized recording equipment into this restricted zone to capture the truth about life in this post-Soviet closed city. City 40 is at once fascinating and...

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