Abraham Lincoln

RVIFF Reviews: Lyrical Folk Horror in Macedonia, and Udo Kier Showcase, and the Romantic Advantages of Rohmer Fandom

September 13th, 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.

Girlfriends and Girlfriends [Spain, Zaida Carmona, 2022, 4] Aspiring filmmaker on the rebound (Zaida Carmona) triggers drama and partner-shifting in Barcelona’s lesbian culturati community. References to Rohmer go beyond stylistic reference to form a key story point in this kicky indie character comedy.

You Won’t Be Alone [Australia/UK/Serbia, Goran Stolevski, 2022, 4] in 19th century Macedonia, a girl doomed to a fate as a blood-drinking hag called a Wolf-Eateress assumes the forms of her victims in an attempt to live among mortals. Lyrical shakycam folk horror tone poem.

Noomi Rapace briefly appears as one of the protagonist’s victims/guises.

Swan Song [US, Todd Stephens, 2021, 3.5] Retired hairdresser (Udo Kier) departs his care home for a journey to downtown Sandusky OH to tend to his former best client (Linda Evans) at her funeral. Generous indie dramedy celebrates gay elders and the iconic stature of its lead actor.

Based on the life of a real person and full of affectionate local flavor.

Tori and Lokita [France, Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne, 2022, 4] A teen girl and a younger boy, African migrants who have adopted each other as siblings, survive in Belgium by taking part in the drug trade. Nail-biting social realist gut punch.

Once Upon a Time In Ukraine [Ukraine, Roman Perfilyev, 2020, 2] Trained in the art of the sword by a Ukrainian samurai, the nationalist poet Taras Shevchenko fights to rescue his love from a brutal landowner and his ninja allies. Tongue-in-cheek action film fitfully fulfills its premise. A gratuitous element of sexual sadism compounds its tonal issues.

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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