Abraham Lincoln

RVIFF Reviews: Outlandish Indian Action, French Infidelity, and Two Tilda Swintons

September 15th, 2023 | Robin

A Ken and Robin Consume Media Special Feature

For the second year running, my wife Valerie and I are attending our own at-home film festival. It takes the place in our hearts and vacation plans formerly reserved by the Toronto International Film Festival. The Robin and Valerie International Film Festival is the cinema event you can play along with at home, with a roster of streaming service and SVOD titles. Its roster includes the foreign, independent and cult titles we used to love to see at TIFF, but cheaper, hassle-free, and on the comfort of our own couch. Daily capsule reviews roll out throughout the festival, with a complete list in order of preference dropping a day or two afterwards. Review ratings are out of 5.

I’m Your Man [Germany, Maria Schrader, 2021, 4] Cuneiformist from the Pergamon museum (Maren Eggert) agrees to test a lifelike robot (Dan Stevens) calibrated to be her perfect life partner. Engagingly acted dramedy eschews the catastrophes typical of AI movies for a grounded, ambiguous look at emotional consequences.

Weirdly attentive readers will note that the above is a substitution for another title. At the last minute I noticed that despite its high Rotten Tomatoes number the previously scheduled film had a low IMDB rating—not a great sign. So I found another German film to drop in instead. This is the RVIFF equivalent of hearing in a line-up that a film you have a ticket for isn’t great and heading to the box office to make a last minute swap. Except you generally can’t pick another film from the exact same country.

Both Sides of the Blade [France, Claire Denis, 2022, 4] Trouble returns to the apparently blissful lives of a radio journalist (Juliette Binoche) and an ex-con (Vincent Lindon) when his old associate (Grégoire Colin), also her ex-lover, resurfaces. Lacerating love triangle drama about people wedded to their lies and evasions.

The Eternal Daughter [UK, Joanna Hogg, 2022, 4] Filmmaker (Tilda Swinton) takes her mother (Tilda Swinton) to an imposing Victorian inn hoping her recollections of the place will trigger material for a screenplay. Playful gothic imagery frames an intimate chamber drama of memory and loss, with a pair of touching, observant performances from Swinton.

This is one of those minimalist gems that is maybe best seen in a festival context, even if it’s one you make for yourself on your couch.

The VOD description tags it as horror, a dirty trick I hope has not caused unsuspecting genre fans too much perplexity and anger.

Thunivu [India, H. Vinoth, 2023, 4] A sardonic ultra-badass mastermind (Ahith Kumar) takes over a bank robbery already in progress. Outlandish action paced at the speed of Adderall-laced Mountain Dew shifts into an anti-corruption message, with dance numbers to keep the exposition lively.

As the lyrics say, our hero crushes the bones of those who break his heart.

The seasoned Toronto fest goer knows not to risk a commercial Indian film, as the producers often cancel repeat screenings due to piracy concerns. Not a concern at RVIFF!

Due to moderate demand, the RVIFF shirts I made for the two of us are available in the Ken and Robin merch store.

If you enjoy this special text feature of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff podcast and don’t already support our Patreon, consider tossing a few bucks in the tip jar. Or check out my book on action films and their roleplaying applications, Blowing Up the Movies. Or the roleplaying game inspired by the Hong Kong films I first encountered at TIFF, Feng Shui 2.

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