Author: Adam Sidsworth

Hot Docs 2017 Review: Strad Style

Antonio Stradivari was an eighteenth-century Italian violinmaker so famed for his high-quality craftsmanship that his violins are still considered the best ever.  Roughly 500 of his violins–called Strads–still exist, and violinists everywhere dream of playing them. Razvan Stoica, a young violin soloist who tours Europe, is one of them. Through social media he meets American Daniel Houck. Houck claims he can build him a replica of Guarneri del Gesu’s ‘Il Cannone’, one of the most famous and valuable violins in the world; an excited Stoica accepts his offer. Houck is a young man seemingly unlikely to be considered a...

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Review: Born in China

Born in China, released on Earth Day, is a nature documentary following the lives of three animal families: a panda and her cub, a snow leopard and her two cubs, and a juvenile golden monkey outcast by his family. Although the documentary is a Disney co-production, nature’s nastier details aren’t entirely glossed over. Framed by a Chinese legend that states that storks carry life and death as they travel the skies, Born in China offers a barebones plot. The true star is the beauty of China’s majestic nature sights, including the snowy mountainous home of the snow leopards, the bamboo forest...

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Review: The Fate of the Furious

The Fate of the Furious, clocking in at two-and-a-quarter hours, is an ambitious action movie that is at least forty-five minutes longer than it should be. The action scenes — the true stars of the movie — will no doubt excite die-hard Fast and Furious fans looking for car chases, muscle cars and chiselled men. The movie opens with Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) celebrating their honeymoon in Cuba. While there, Dom has an obligatory road race along the city’s streets with a local hustler. Complete with over-the-top car speeds, dangerous car stunts and fires, it’s the least busy action segment in...

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Review: Chokeslam

What can be said about Chokeslam? Written and directed by Robert Cuffley, this Canadian film contributes more to the cultural landscape than a WWE match. And that’s not setting the bar high. Chokeslam follows Corey (Chris Marquette), a deli clerk living at home with his mother, Janet (an underused Gwynyth Walsh, who provides good comic support). Corey lives in a small prairie town where everybody knows everybody else’s name and story, as evidenced when Corey is robbed at work by Luke (Michael Eklund), whom Corey recognizes behind the ski mask (they went to the same high school). Together they attend Corey’s ten-year high school reunion,...

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TIFF Kids 2017 Review: On Wheels

On Wheels (Sobre Rodas), a Brazilian film playing at this year’s TIFF Kids International Film Festival, is a rare example of an intelligently executed kids’ film that neither insults its audience nor overstays its welcome. Written and directed by Mauro D’Addio, who’s making his feature-film debut, On Wheels follows the story of Lais, a 12-year-old girl who, when she isn’t in school, helps her mother and grandmother sell coffee and meals at a roadside café. Sadly, Lais has never met her father, nor does she know his identity (it seems he’s a thief). When Lais gets a clue about him, she confides...

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TIFF Kids 2017 Review: Heartstrings

Heartstrings (Le Coeur en braille) is a French film screening at this year’s TIFF Kids International Film Festival. Directed and co-written by Michel Boujenah, perhaps best known for his acting work in French films and on TV, Heartstrings tells the story of two preteens who develop a deep friendship. Marie (Alix Vaillot) is a high-achieving 12-year-old student with little need of friends. She dreams of being a professional cellist and has an upcoming audition to a prestigious music school, except her parents, particularly her father, don’t want her to audition. Marie, it turns out, has a genetic disease that is slowly robbing her...

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Review: The Second Time Around

The Second Time Around is  a very slow-moving, meandering film. But considering its subject–geriatric love in a nursing home–it’s probably purposely so. To a younger audience used to seeing love and sex happen at an immediate pace in film and on TV, this movie will seem very slow. However, if you’re willing to invest the time, this small-budget Canadian flick may be a rewarding pay off. Written, directed and produced by Leon Marr, perhaps best known for his 1986 Genie Award-winning Dancing in the Dark, The Second Time Around visits the aging Canadian demographic as a source of inspiration. In the film,...

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