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Posts Tagged ‘RVIFF’

RVIFF Reviews: War Between Actors, Grounded Martial Arts Comedy and Hired Killer Meta-Narrative

September 19th, 2022 | Robin

 

A Ken and Robin Consume Media Special Feature

 

At the end of last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, my wife Valerie and I decided to break up with it, after decades of attendance. We have replaced it with RVIFF, the Robin and Valerie International Film Festival. It’s the festival you can play along with at home, with a curated roster of streaming titles I’m excited to see. 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 last day of RVIFF went off as scheduled yesterday. I hear that the Toronto International Film Festival wrapped up too, handing its coveted and Oscar-portending Peoples Choice Award to a scrappy newcomer named Steven Spielberg.

When attending actual TIFF I would always start with the final day in hopes of loading it up with lighter and more energetic fare. Sometimes this would be possible, ending with a midnight Gamera flick, for example. Other years the scheduling gods showed less consideration to movie-addled brains and the best choice to end on would be a solid but downbeat drama or something disturbing.

As RVIFF programmer finishing with fun was suddenly an easier matter.

Peace by Chocolate (Canada, Jonathan Keijser, 2021, 4) Syrian refugee relocated to the snowy small town of Antigonish Nova Scotia is torn between his desire to attend medical school and his father’s wish to rebuild the chocolate business that was destroyed back home. Thoughtfully crafted script does a good job of maintaining conflict the context of a light and affirming docudrama.

This is the RVIFF title you can take your mom to. Based on a true and celebrated story, with prominent tips of the hat to the Sobey’s grocery chain and Justin Trudeau. The best of its Canada jokes occurs when the protagonist is immediately issued a toque on arrival at the airport.

We meant to lay in a supply of Peace by Chocolate to eat during the film but somehow failed that logistical challenge. A strong word with festival organizers is called for.

Snowflake (Germany, Adolfo J. Kolmerer, 2017, 4) In a dystopian near future Berlin, bantering killers (Reza Brojerdi, Erkan Acar) discover that their actions are dictated by a screenplay written by a dentist. Meta cult hitman movie about vengeance and narrative inevitability.

The Paper Tigers (US, Quoc Bao Tran, 2020, 4) Insurance man struggling to keep up as a divorced dad (Alain Uy) reluctantly reunites with former fellow martial arts students (Mykel Shannon Jenkins, Ron Yuan) to investigate the death of their sifu. Mix of grounded, observational comedy and martial arts flick kept aloft by the winning leads.

Official Competition (Spain, Mariano Cohn & Gastón Duprat, 2021, 4) Eccentric director (Penelope Crus) presides over a clash of egos when she rehearses her next film with a pretentious theater actor (Oscar Martinez) and a temperamental movie star (Antonio Banderas.) Monumental wide shots in an empty modernist building counterpoint a hilarious satire of actorly insecurities.

And that’s a wrap. Unlike TIFF, we did not have to end it by walking down an escalator that has broken down for the second time this week, walk to the subway, and then stumble home bleary. Instead we are already at home, bleary.

Tomorrow I’ll post the roundup of all capsule reviews in rough order of preference.

Due to moderate demand, the RVIFF shirts I made for the two of us are now 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.

RVIFF Reviews: Dream Taxation, a Magic Realist Time Slip, and Korean Zombie Comedy

September 18th, 2022 | Robin

 

A Ken and Robin Consume Media Special Feature

 

At the end of last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, my wife Valerie and I decided to break up with it, after decades of attendance. We have replaced it with RVIFF, the Robin and Valerie International Film Festival. It’s the festival you can play along with at home, with a curated roster of streaming titles I’m excited to see. 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.

 

Plaza Catedral (Panama, Abner Benaim, 2021, 4) Grief-stricken, closed-off architect (Ilse Salas) takes in a street kid (Fernando Xavier De Casta) suffering from a gunshot wound. Benaim shows an eye for composition and control of the cinematic palette in this taut character drama.

Strawberry Mansion (US, Kentucker Audley & Albert Birney, 2021, 4) Suggestible taxman (Kentucker Audley) arrives at elderly artist’s house to assess overdue taxes on her backlog of dreams, only to find that they are stored on tape, not the now-required airstick method. Quirky romantic dreamquest with adorable handcrafted creatures and effects.

Petite Maman (France, Céline Sciamma, 2021, 5) While at her late grandmother’s house for the last time, an eight year old finds a time slip allowing her to make a new playmate—her mother, at the same age. Still, poised, deeply felt drama finds the magic in elusive everyday moments, even before the magical realism kicks in.

Zombie for Sale (South Korea, Lee Min-jae, 2020, 4) Family of scammers and losers who own a decrepit gas station try to cash in when they capture a cabbage-loving zombie with a rejuvenating bite. Lovably dysfunctional underdogs unite in this fun zomcom.

Due to moderate demand, the RVIFF shirts I made for the two of us are now 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.

RVIFF Reviews: A Space Age Housing Project, Finnish Metalheads, and Secrets Revealed in a Saab 900

September 16th, 2022 | Robin

 

A Ken and Robin Consume Media Special Feature

 

At the end of last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, my wife Valerie and I decided to break up with it, after decades of attendance. We have replaced it with RVIFF, the Robin and Valerie International Film Festival. It’s the festival you can play along with at home, with a curated roster of streaming titles I’m excited to see. 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 Trouble with You (France, Pierre Salvadori, 2018, 4) Guilt-ridden police chief (Adèle Haenel) tries to help an embittered ex-con (Pio Marmaï) her husband and predecessor framed for a jewel robbery. Haenel shows how star power works by investing this irreverent cop comedy with a performance of simmering emotion.

Gagarine (France, Fanny Liatard & Jérémy Trouilh, 2020, 4) Soulful high school student stays behind in his housing project, which like him is named after Yuri Gargarin, after it is slated for demolition. Mix of lyricism and social realism laced with elegiac imagery of a vanished space age.

Heavy Trip (Finland, Juuso Laatio & Jukka Vidgren, 2018, 4) After twelve years of practice and the completion of one original song, a metal band that practices in the guitarist’s parents’ basement sets its sights on the Northern Damnation music festival in Norway. Good-natured broad comedy with SCA Vikings and a wolverine punch-up, powered by the screams of a thousand reindeer on their way to reindeer hell.

Drive My Car (Japan, Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, 2021, 5) A theater director (Hidetoshi Nishijima) marked by a tragic event finds a kindred spirit in the taciturn young woman hired to drive him around during a production in Hiroshima. Long, strange journey into the mysteries of what we chose to hide and what we must eventually reveal.

Based on a Haruki Murakami story.

Due to moderate demand, the RVIFF shirts I made for the two of us are now 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.

RVIFF Reviews: Directionless in Oslo, Hitchcockian Cronenbergism, and a Rousing Epic of the Kazakh Steppe Tribes

September 15th, 2022 | Robin

A Ken and Robin Consume Media Special Feature

At the end of last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, my wife Valerie and I decided to break up with it, after decades of attendance. We have replaced it with RVIFF, the Robin and Valerie International Film Festival. It’s the festival you can play along with at home, with a curated roster of streaming titles I’m excited to see. 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.

Alone with Her Dreams (Italy, Paolo Licata, 2019, 1) In early 60s Sicily a preteen girl chafes at the authority of her tyrannical grandmother after her parents emigrate to France, leaving her temporarily behind. Syrupy, then harshly manipulative, coming of age drama.

Had I spotted it before today, the pull quote from Oliver Stone praising the film might have served as a warning that I was entering heavy-handed waters.

Unlike TIFF, at RVIFF it has taken until Wednesday to hit a film I fully disliked. This shows a remarkable unity between my taste and that of the programmer.

The Legend of Tomiris (Kazakhstan, Akan Satayev, 2019, 5) After a treacherous rival tribe murders her father, a Massagetae chieftain, the clever and brave Tomiris trains as a warrior and rises to power in time to defend the steppes from Cyrus the Great. Massive historical epic with thrilling fight choreography, impressive production values and one of the best blood-spattered proposal scenes in cinema.

Admittedly I am as much in the target demographic for this as anyone not from Kazakhstan, but if you are reading this, chances are so are you.

The last time I checked in on Kazahk cinema I saw a kinda slow emerging world verite drama about a man who drives around and has an epiphany at a school. Now comes this, with huge battle sequences and a CGI fire manticore. (Which appears strictly in dream sequences. This is not that kind of movie. If it was a mainland Chinese film the fire manticore would show up in the main action.)

Double Lover (France, Francois Ozon, 2017, 4) After moving in with her former psychotherapist (Jérémie Renier), a young woman (Marine Vacth) discovers that he has a secret twin, also a psychotherapist. Coolly controlled erotic thriller is Hitchcock homage with a Cronenberg homage growing parasitically inside it.

Plus allusions to Sisters and Eyes Wide Shut thrown in for extra seasoning. Based on a Joyce Carol Oates novel.

The Worst Person in the World (Norway, Joachim Trier, 2021, 4) Directionless woman in her late twenties (Renate Reinsve) struggles to find fulfilling love, and herself. Observant and moving character-driven dramedy with perfectly calibrated performances from Reinsve and Anders Danielsen Lie as her overly analytical cartoonist boyfriend.

Due to moderate demand, the RVIFF shirts I made for the two of us are now 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.

RVIFF Reviews: Sublimely Gorgeous Japanese Period Drama, Twilight of the Yakuza, and a Cat and Cat and Other Cat Crime Thriller

September 14th, 2022 | Robin

A Ken and Robin Consume Media Special Feature

At the end of last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, my wife Valerie and I decided to break up with it, after decades of attendance. We have replaced it with RVIFF, the Robin and Valerie International Film Festival. It’s the festival you can play along with at home, with a curated roster of streaming titles I’m excited to see. 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.

Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn (Romania, Radu Jude, 2021, 4) Middle school teacher faces parent and administration backlash when a sex video she made with her husband appears online. Three-sectioned satire updates Makavejev’s WR: Mystery of the Organism to COVID-era Romania.

A Family (Japan, Michihito Fujii, 2020, 4) After the death of his junkie father, a stubbornly focused young man finds a substitute in the person of an old-school gang boss. Instead of briefly handwaving to it and then continuing on with the usual genre tropes, this handsomely mounted yakuza drama takes as its main subject matter the recent death spiral of the yakuza in the wake of comprehensive anti-crime statutes.

The strong production values on this one represent another example of Netflix spending more on the Japanese film industry than any of its established players do these days.

They Say Nothing Stays the Same (Japan, Joe Odagiri, 2019, 4) In Meiji Japan, an elderly boatman facing the end of his trade due to bridge construction rescues an injured girl from the river. Visually stunning fable of relationship to nature and community with a ghost story on the periphery.

If when you read “visually stunning” you inferred “cinematography by Christopher Doyle,” why yes that was exactly what I was implying.

The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil (South Korea, Lee Won-tae, 2019, 4) When a brutal gang lord (Ma Dong-seok) survives the random attack of a serial killer, a maverick cop (Mu-Yeol Kim) persuades him to join the hunt to track him down. Investigative crime drama makes the most of a juicy premise, in which cat and mouse becomes cat and cat and other cat.

The Other Side of Hope (Finland, Aki Kaurismaki, 2019, 4) Syrian refugee claimant bonds with the staff of a floundering restaurant run by a taciturn former shirt salesman. Stoic deadpan camaraderie results when an urgent contemporary crisis enters Kaurismaki’s distinctive world of down-at-the-heels retro cool.

Due to moderate demand, the RVIFF shirts I made for the two of us are now 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.

RVIFF Reviews: Gay Hong Kong Seniors, A Trainwreck of a Dude Returns Home, and a Rapid-Fire Korean Pursuit Thriller

September 13th, 2022 | Robin

 

A Ken and Robin Consume Media Special Feature

 

At the end of last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, my wife Valerie and I decided to break up with it, after decades of attendance. We have replaced it with RVIFF, the Robin and Valerie International Film Festival. It’s the festival you can play along with at home, with a curated roster of streaming titles I’m excited to see. 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.

 

Twilight’s Kiss (Hong Kong, Ray Yeung, 2019, 4) Closeted retirement-age cab driver (Tai-Bo) strikes up a relationship with a contemporary (Ben Yuen) who is likewise not out to his family but yearns for a closer connection. Restrained character drama honors and regrets the stoic resignation of its characters.

Zero Fucks Given (Belgium, Julie Lecoustre & Emmanuel Marre, 2019) Despite her desires to lose herself in distractions, a young flight attendant for a budget airline is forced to seek promotion. Realist character study at first appears to be a working person’s film for the service industry era, then goes deeper.

Every TIFF there was at least one film whose program book description led me to expect a wrong different tone and premise. The tradition continues at RVIFF, but I still very much liked what Zero Fucks Given turned out to be.

Red Rocket (US, Sean Baker, 2021, 4) Fast-talking hasbeen adult performer (Simon Rex) returns to his small Texas hometown to wheedle his way back into the life of his ex-wife / ex-co-star (Bree Elrod) and set his sights on a not-so-innocent 18-year old (Susanna Son.) Satirical character drama where the suspense lies in the exact manner of the lead character’s foreordained flame-out.

Midnight (South Korea, Oh-Seung Kwon, 2021, 4) After witnessing a serial killer (Wi Ha-joon) with his latest victim, a deaf customer service rep (Ki-joo Jin) flees for her life. Unity-of-time thriller keeps the inventive, surprising suspense beats coming fast.

Due to moderate demand, the RVIFF shirts I made for the two of us are now 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.

RVIFF Reviews: Love and Screenwriting, Miraculous Healing, and Teen Girl Assassin Roommate Troubles

September 12th, 2022 | Robin

 

A Ken and Robin Consume Media Special Feature

 

At the end of last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, my wife Valerie and I decided to break up with it, after decades of attendance. We have replaced it with RVIFF, the Robin and Valerie International Film Festival. It’s the festival you can play along with at home, with a curated roster of streaming titles I’m excited to see. 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.

 

Holy Emy (Greece, Araceli Lemos, 2021, 4) As she manifests miraculous healing abilities, a young woman (Abigael Loma) in Ahens’ Filipino community faces a choice between her devout sister and the ex-employer  who exploited her mother’s similar powers. Magic realist drama heightened by a strong sense for imagery.

Eyimofe (This is My Desire) (Nigeria, Arie Esiri & Chuko Esiri, 2020, 4) A Lagos mechanic and hairdresser a degree of separation from one another struggle to raise money needed to emigrate. Energetic slice of life drama of life in a touch city where every interaction by necessity devolves into a transaction.

Bergman Island (France, Mia Hansen-Løve, 2021, 4) Undertaking a residency on Ingmar Bergman’s retreat at Faroe, a filmmaker (Vicky Krieps) struggles with a script as her more celebrated, prolific husband (Tim Roth) breezes through his; she describes to him its rekindled affair at a wedding on Faroe, casting it with Mia Wasikowksa and Anders Danielsen Lie. Serenely beautiful puzzle film about the parallel mysteries of love and the creative process.

Baby Assassins (Japan, Yugo Sakamoto, 2021, 3.5) Two teen girl killers, one outgoing, the other withdrawn, have trouble meshing when the oddly bureaucratic enterprise they work for requires them to live together and get part-time jobs. Offbeat cult comedy bookended by fun fight sequences.

 


 

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.

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

RVIFF Reviews: Cree Resisters Battle a Dark Future, Chaos Reigns in a Verhoeven Nunnery, And a Brazilian Werewolf in Sao Paulo

September 11th, 2022 | Robin

 

A Ken and Robin Consume Media Special Feature

 

At the end of last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, my wife Valerie and I decided to break up with it, after decades of attendance. We have replaced it with RVIFF, the Robin and Valerie International Film Festival. It’s the festival you can play along with at home, with a curated roster of streaming titles I’m excited to see. 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.

 

Hey There! (Turkey, Reha Erdem, 2021, 4) With Istanbul under COVID quarantine, a scammer turns to computer videoconferencing to blackmail minor offenders in the guise of a law enforcement official. Lockdown webcam musical comedy finds hope for the future in warm, embracing cynicism.

Fagara (Hong Kong, Heiward Mak, 2019, 4) When her father suddenly dies, an unfulfilled woman (Sammi Cheng) meets the half-sisters she didn’t know about and decides to keep his hotpot restaurant open. Luminous family drama centers on restrained, effective movie star performances from Cheng and, in a supporting role, Andy Lau.

Night Raiders (Canada, Danis Goulet, 2021, 4) In a grim near future, a Cree woman reluctantly unites with a resistance cell of fellow tribe members to rescue her daughter from a totalitarian military academy. Allegory of the residential schools system framed as a dystopian thriller designs its futuristic elements to look like drably naturalistic found locations.

Benedetta (France/Belgium/Netherlands, Paul Verhoeven, 2021, 4) Young nun (Virginie Efira) in 17th century Italy supplements her passion for a rustic novice (Daphne Patakia) with gory visions of a sword-wielding Jesus, fueling a rise to power in her convent. Verhoven gives his zest for the lurid full reign as sensuality and mortification intertwine and the clash of competing fanaticisms unleashes chaos.

Good Manners (Brazil, Marco Dutra & Juliana Rojas, 2017, 3.5) Woman in precarious circumstances (Isabél Zuaa) takes a job as nanny-to-be for a pregnant, unanchored rich woman (Marjorie Estiano) who develops somnambulism and a thirst for blood when the moon is full. Compelling and chameleonic, if structurally unbalanced, werewolf film essays radical shifts of style and premise that variously references Lewton, Landis, Disney and maybe a hint of Fassbinder.

Due to moderate demand, the RVIFF shirts I made for the two of us are now 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.

Schedule Announced for First Annual Robin and Valerie International Film Festival

August 24th, 2022 | Robin

Robin presents a Ken and Robin Consume Media Special Feature

Last year my wife Valerie and I concluded the second at-home edition of the long-running Toronto International Film Festival by deciding to break up with it entirely. Briefly, the cost in money, effort and frustration of doing the festival full-out, as we have since 1986, has steadily gone up over the years. With the growth of streaming bringing home access to titles that would previously have been inaccessible outside the festival circuit, we realized that we could program a personalized fest that would be less grueling, cheaper, and, above all, would include more bangers and fewer duds than the experience we’d be emulating. For us it’s never been about seeing things before anyone else does. A film we dig from 2019 or 2021 is no less rewarding than one that won’t hit theaters until 2023.

Plus, when my programming chops fail me, we can bail on a title and pick one of the many options on my backup list. It’s like the very old days of TIFF, when it was called the Festival of Festivals, where passholders could jump out of movies that weren’t working for them, riffle through their program books in search of something more promising, and beetle off to a different screening entirely.

In addition to the option of hitting the pause button whenever one of us starts to fall asleep, the RVIFF offers another advantage. Instead of telling you about movies you’ll probably have forgotten about by the time you can actually see them, I can point you to ones you can watch right now. Provided that the gods of territorial rights distribution smile upon you.

I’ve chosen 45 films in the spirit of the TIFFs of yore, reflecting their programming mix and what we would make of it in narrowing down their 250+ titles into our personal lists. Which would then be shifted about to accommodate the vagaries of venues, screening times, and the need to squeeze in food breaks. With a bias toward titles released in the last few years, that means works by favorite directors, international cinema, elevated genre, and the cult movies you’d see in TIFF’s vaunted Midnight Madness program. The fave directors program includes recent titles art house aficionados well may have seen already, including some of Ken’s recent recommendations. Since the RVIFF allows me to cheat and pick only acclaimed titles, I’ve made more Canadian selections that I would dare include at TIFF.

Our festival runs on the same dates as TIFF, from the evening of Thursday September 8th to Sunday September 18th. Having read this far, I’m sure you’ve decided to cancel all other plans to watch all of these films along with us, exactly when we watch them. Download the RVIFF 2022 schedule, timed to the minute.

Thanks to actual demand, you can take this even further by picking up festival merch!

I have chosen titles either on subscription platforms or available for regular priced rental here in Canada. My sources are Apple rental, Crave, Criterion, Google rental, Kanopy, MUBI, Netflix, Prime, and, to throw in a wrench, TVO. Availability in your territory will surely vary. Start your search for title availability and platform at JustWatch.com, which covers plenty of regions. (But does not list Kanopy titles, so you’ll have to search there if you’re using that library-based service.)

Because I was just joking about you actually wanting the full schedule, here’s a list of titles, in the order RVIFF will be screening them. I haven’t yet seen any of these films, so let’s hope I got the descriptions right without giving myself any spoilers. I’ll revise them when I discover that I’ve gotten t something completely wrong, as I did with Scarborough.

My Name Is Gulpilil (Australia, Molly Reynolds, 2021) Biographical documentary profiles iconic Australian actor David Gulpilil.

Scarborough (Canada, Shasha Nakhai & Rich Williamson, 2021) Social realist ensemble drama centering on the role a literacy drop-in center plays for struggling families.

Coppers (Canada, Alan Zweig, 2019) Documentary interviews reveal the lives of retired police officers.

Hive (Kosovo, Blerta Basholli, 2021) Kosovo war widows set up empowering pepper sauce collective.

Sheep Without a Shepherd (China, Sam Quah, 2019) Ordinary citizen is caught in the crosshairs when his daughter kills her abuser, the son of a corrupt police chief (Joan Chen.)

Crimes of the Future (Canada, David Cronenberg, 2022) Performance artists expand the limits of the flesh.

Nomad: in the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin (UK, Werner Herzog, 2019) Herzog recalls his friendship with the Australian travel writer Bruce Chatwin via another of his distinctive documentary journeys.

Hey There! (Turkey, Reha Erdem, 2021) Pandemic forces scammers to work from home. Comedy.

Fagara (Hong Kong, Heiward Mak, 2019) Young woman (Sammi Cheng) reunites with estranged sisters to settle their father’s debts.

Night Raiders (Canada, Danis Goulet, 2021) Cree woman reluctantly unites with a resistance cell of fellow tribe members to rescue her daughter from a totalitarian military academy.

Benedetta (France/Belgium/Netherlands, Paul Verhoeven, 2021) 17th century nun’s erotic visions wreak havoc.

Good Manners (Brazil, Marco Dutra & Juliana Rojas, 2017) Lycanthropy complicates the bond between a lonely nurse and her wealthy, pregnant employer.

Holy Emy (Greece, Araceli Lemos, 2021) Filipino woman in Greece develops a strange condition that might be linked to her mother’s paranormal healing abilities.

Eyimofe (This is My Desire) (Nigeria, Arie Esiri & Chuko Esiri, 2020) Unknown to one another, two Nigerians seek new lives in Europe.

Bergman Island (France, Mia Hansen-Løve, 2021) Married filmmakers (Tim Roth, Vicky Krieps) seek inspiration at Ingmar Bergman’s isolated retreat.

Baby Assassins (Japan, Yugo Sakamoto, 2021) Teen killers who hate each other are ordered to room together.

Twilight’s Kiss (Hong Kong, Ray Yeung, 2019) Closeted gay men face the rigors of age in Hong Kong.

Zero Fucks Given (France, Julie Lecoustre & Emmanuel Marre, 2019) Despite her desires to lose herself in distractions, a young flight attendant for a budget airline is forced to seek promotion.

Red Rocket (US, Sean Baker, 2021) A shady porn actor descends on his old hometown.

Midnight (South Korea, Oh-Seung Kwon, 2021) Serial killer pursues deaf witness.

Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn (Romania, Radu Jude, 2021) A teacher defends herself when a sex tape is leaked to the Internet. Comedy.

A Family (Japan, Michihito Fujii, 2020) Young man turns to a yakuza boss as a father figure.

They Say Nothing Stays the Same (Japan, Joe Odagiri, 2019) Elderly ferryman in Meiji Japan faces the obsolescence of his trade. Photographed by Christopher Doyle.

The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil (South Korea, Lee Won-tae, 2019) Gangster and cop team up to hunt serial killer.

The Other Side of Hope (Finland, Aki Kaurismaki, 2019) Syrian refugee meets man whose midlife crisis has driven him to purchase an unpopular restaurant.

Alone with Her Dreams (Italy, Paolo Licata, 2019) A child must stay with her stern grandmother in Sicily.

The Legend of Tomiris (Kazakhstan, Akan Satayev, 2019) Scythian queen rises to power.

The Worst Person in the World (Norway, Joachim Trier, 2021) A young woman’s tumultuous love life unfolds over a four year period.

Double Lover (France, Francois Ozon, 2017) Young woman falls in love with her analyst, who is not what he seems.

The Trouble with You (France, Pierre Salvadori, 2018) Comic chaos ensues when a cop tries to redeem the corrupt acts of her late police chief husband.

Gagarine (France, Fanny Liatard & Jérémy Trouilh, 2020) Kid fights for his housing project.

Heavy Trip (Finland, Juuso Laatio & Jukka Vidgren, 2018) Metalheads take a last shot at success. Comedy.

Drive My Car (Japan, Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, 2021) Actor hires twenty-something as his driver.

El Planeta (Spain, Amalia Ulman, 2021) Mother daughter team engages in a series of grifts.

The Spy Gone North (South Korea, Yoon Jong-bin, 2021) Secret agent infiltrates North Korean spy ring in Beijing.

Neither Heaven Nor Earth (France, Clément Cogitore, 2015) Soldiers stationed in Afghanistan encounter a supernatural foe.

Parallel Mothers (Spain, Pedro Almodovar, 2021) Two very different women bond after giving birth on the same day.

Plaza Catedral (Panama, Abner Benaim, 2021) Grieving mom protects street kid suffering from a gun shot.

Zombie for Sale (South Korea, Lee Min-jae, 2020) Family seeks to turn its possession of an undead corpse into a money-making opportunity.

Strawberry Mansion (US, Kentucker Audley & Albert Birney, 2021) Dream auditor moves through a woman’s dreamscape.

Petite Maman (France, Céline Sciamma, 2021) A young girl finds a playmate, to whom she has an unexpected tie.

Peace by Chocolate (Canada, Jonathan Keijser, 2021) Syrian refugees start new life, and chocolate business, in small town Nova Scotia.

Snowflake (Germany, Adolfo J. Kolmerer, 2017) Crooks discover that a screenplay is predicting their future actions.

The Paper Tigers (US, Quoc Bao Tran, 2020) Middle aged martial artists reunite to avenge their sifu. Comedy.

Official Competition (Spain, Mariano Cohn & Gastón Duprat, 2021) Rich man hires director to make a hit movie. With Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz.

As with TIFF, I’ll be sharing daily capsule reviews, wrapping up the festival with a round-up of those reviews, and discussing the more geek-forward titles with Ken in a Cinema Hut segment on the show.

Thanks to all the programmers who set the mold for TIFF throughout its long history and whose tastes live on RVIFF, and my work in general, in particular: Colin Geddes, Steve Gravestock, Giovanna Fulvi, Diana Sanchez, Cameron Bailey, Piers Handling, Peter Kuplowsky, and the late Ramiro Puerta and David Overbey.—RDL


If you enjoy this RVIFF series and don’t yet do so, consider supporting the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff Patreon. 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.

Film Cannister
Cartoon Rocket
d8
Flying Clock
Robin
Film Cannister