Abraham Lincoln

RVIFF Reviews: A Girl with Uncanny Powers, Sonic-Culinary Experimenters & Javier Bardem Schemes and Squirms

September 10th, 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.

The Kings of the World [Colombia, Laura Mora Ortega, 2022, 4] Receiving notice that he has won legal title to a small restituted property, a Medellin street kid sets out with his buddies on a dangerous journey into the rural highlands. An immersive quest as unnerving as it is visually poetic, in a style that traces its descent from Terence Malick.

The Five Devils [France, Léa Mysius, 2022, 4] Uncanny powers awaken in an observant 8 year old (Sally Dramé) when the release of her father’s sister (Swala Emati) from psychiatric confinement upsets her beloved mom (Adèle Exarchopoulos.) Creates an absorbing union of opposites by presenting Stephen King-esque subject matter in an assured French art cinema style.

This might have scored a higher profile among fans of horror-adjacent or fantastic cinema if the North American marketing campaign had remotely hinted at its actual content.

By the Grace of God [France, François Ozon, 2019, 4] When they discover years after their childhood abuse that the priest responsible is still in contact with children, a group of men in Lyon launch what becomes a multi-pronged process to seek justice and reform of the Catholic church. Ozon adopts a matter-of-fact docudrama style that embraces the literal and emotional complexities of an infuriating and all too familiar real story, here with the victims at its center.

The Good Boss [Spain, Fernando León de Aranoa, 2021, 4] Paternalistic factory owner (Javier Bardem) over-involves himself in the lives of his employees. Bardem alternately schemes and squirms in this droll, progressively acidic workplace satire.

Flux Gourmet [UK, Peter Strickland, 2022] Internal tensions come to a head for a sonic-culinary performance art group when they accept a residency at a strange institute run by a demanding benefactor (Gwendoline Christie.) Surreal, horror-inflected black comedy of digestive anxiety might be Strickland’s most fully developed look at the destructive power of art.

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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