Abraham Lincoln

Posts Tagged ‘RVIFF’

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, 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.

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