Author: Ada Wong

Toronto After Dark 2016 Review: As The Gods Will

Shun Takahata’s greatest complaint in life is his overall boredom with it. He quickly retracts his statement when his high school, and others in Japan and around the world, are plunged into horrific chaos as teachers heads explode into daruma dolls forcing students into deadly games of survival. Shun and his classmates must find a way to outwit the game, for which the rules change every round, and nothing is as it seems in this dynamic manga adaptation by the master of extremism Takashi Miike. For those not familiar with the manga series by Muneyuki Kaneshiro, from which Miike...

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TIFF 2016 Review: Jean of the Joneses

Jean of the Jones is a multi-generation comedy centred around the women of a Brooklyn family. At the heart of it is Jean, a young writer fresh from a break-up who, together with her mother, aunts, and grandmother, must contend with a buried chapter of their past when a long estranged family member shows up at the door one day and then promptly dies. What we have here is some fresh and hilarious family dysfunction. More adult coming-of-age than feminist-themed despite its predominant female cast, it features a natural lead performance from Taylour Paige in the role of Jean....

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TIFF 2016 Review: Short Cuts Programme 10

The Short Cuts programs at TIFF typically have a unifying theme, outlined in the programmer’s notes in the past.  Even without those notes on this year, the commonality is usually evident. Then there’s Short Cuts Programme 10, which still has this writer guessing. That said, when assessed individually, there is a selection of diverse compelling content to be found. From a moving story of a young lady coping with illness, to an insightful look at classic methods of line fishing for cod off the coast. Oh What A Wonderful Feeling – 15 minutes Perhaps Oh What A Wonderful Feeling...

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TIFF 2016 Review: Le Ciel Flamand

Long fascinated by the house her mother works in, the one all prettily lit up in red at night, precocious 6-year-old Eline finds her way inside one day with devastating consequences. Eline’s mother Sylvie, the manager of the brothel, who has long fought to shield the true nature of the family’s business from her daughter, together with Eline’s “Uncle Dirk”, fight to protect young Eline, testing the limits of how far they will go to keep the child safe. Despite the usual sensationalism and spectacle that is often associated with the sex trade, Le Ciel Flamand presents a very understated setting,...

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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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