Author: Adam Sidsworth

Review: Hevn

Hevn, which translates to English as revenge, is a Norwegian thriller that screened at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2015. It returns to Toronto for a limited release. Because of the movie’s themes of sexual abuse, its effect on female victims and retribution, the movie may resonate with Canadian audiences who also followed the Jian Ghomeshi saga. Unfortunately, as a suspense, the movie is at best an average thriller that requires a critical suspense of belief. Hevn stars Siren Jorgensen–whose only previous exposure to Canadian audiences was an episode of the Netflix series Lilyhammer–stars as Rebekka, a young...

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Hot Docs 2016 Review: Koneline: our land beautiful

Koneline: our land beautiful, directed by Genie Award-winning director Nettie Wild, opens with the construction of hydro lines to remote northwestern British Columbia, aided by the world’s largest helicopter. This part of the province is isolated and underdeveloped, and as we see from the amazing CinemaScope photography, home to a stunning wilderness of trees, rivers and mountains. It’s also the home to the Tahltan Nation, the local indigenous group, who in early scenes protest the increased development in the region, for the hydro lines merely precede planned copper and gold mines. Although the documentary shows some scenes of Native...

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Review: Francofonia

Russian director Alexander Sokurov apparently has a fascination with art galleries and national identity. In 2002, his Russian Ark, a 96-minute movie shot in one continuous take, spanned 300 years of the history of Saint Petersburg’s Winter Palace, a one-time home to the Russian czars currently functioning as part of the Hermitage Museum. An epic historical opus that depicted Peter the Great, Catherine the Great and the German siege of Lenningrad during the Second World War, it explored both Russian identity and the meaning of art. In his latest movie, Francofonia, Sokurov has returned to similar themes. Focusing on...

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Review: Older Than Ireland

By all accounts, Older Than Ireland should be compelling. A talking-heads documentary focusing on the experiences of Irish centenarians, the title refers to the fact that all of the movie’s interview subjects are older than the modern state of Ireland. One interviewee, 113-year-old Kathleen Snavely, was nearly 21 when Ireland achieved its independence; and 108-year-old Luke Dolan was in his late teens. Given the documentary’s title, one could be forgiven for assuming that the elderly subjects talk about their memories of Ireland’s dark and troubled twentieth-century history: Sinn Fein and the IRA, the Irish War of Independence, The Troubles....

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Review: 45 Years

The movie 45 Years is unusual among movies because it focuses on a demographic seldom explored in the movies: the older married couple. Kate (Charlotte Rampling) and Geoff (Tom Courtenay) have been married for 45 years. Kate’s a retired teacher who begins each morning by walking their German shepherd; Geoff, also retired, spends his days at their home in the English countryside. Kate’s the more social of the two, going out with friends and planning parties; Geoff, who is borderline antisocial, is perfectly happy at home reading books while avoiding a reunion with his old-time friends. The couple never...

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Review: 17th Annual Animation Show of Shows

Cineplex is currently playing an animated short before many of its screenings. It depicts a young girl and her magical friend: a snowman with whom she plays, watches movies, and makes shadow puppets. When the weather warms, she puts the snowman in a freezer and, as the girl ages, she forgets about the snowman. Years later, as an adult, she experiences a bad day at work and suddenly remembers. She goes home, takes the snowman out of the freezer and relives the childhood innocence. It’s sweet, but it also harps back to a time when animated shorts played an...

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Human Rights Film Festival 2015 Review: Trials of Spring

Trials of Spring is a fascinating documentary playing at this year’s JAYU Human Rights Festival in Toronto. Focusing on Egypt’s Arab Spring, it goes beyond the media reports to explore both the revolution’s ultimate failure and Egyptian women’s precarious relationship with power and religion. Trials of Spring is formatted in talking heads, juxtaposing Western media reports and participants’ videos with interviews of Arab Spring revolutionaries—all women. But the documentary ultimately focuses on Hend Nafea, a young small-town woman who travels to Cairo to participate in the revolution. Hend speaks of the horrors she’s experienced: Beyond the police beatings and...

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