Toronto Japanese Film Festival 2021: Our Review of ‘Sumodo’

Toronto Japanese Film Festival 2021: Our Review of ‘Sumodo’

Eiji Sataka’s sports documentary Sumodo show a lot of interviews. But in fairness, those talking heads put these some wrestlers in perspective within their culture. One of the interview subjects make it seem like he enters the profession during his adult life, putting him on the certain percentage of wrestlers who do so. The rest start as children or teenagers and join the schools or ‘stables’ where they learn how to wrestle and maybe gain their own style. These interviews reveal enough of the physical toll of being a wrestler. The camera catches body parts changed because of their work.

This …

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Toronto Japanese Film Festival 2021: Our Review of ‘Talking The PIctures’

Toronto Japanese Film Festival 2021: Our Review of ‘Talking The PIctures’

This film’s first act takes its viewers to early 20th century Japan. Then, the country was an environment where silent film production fostered. But unlike in the West where the films had intertitles, screenings often came with people narrating a film’s events. In 1915, Shuntaro Sometami was a boy sneaking into theatres to listen to his idol Shisei Yamaoka (Masatoshi Nagase). Years later, Shuntaro (Ryo Narita) goes from impersonating Shisei as a front to steal from people’s houses to being an errand boy in a theatre in a small city. Shuntaro’s wide eyed appreciation for even the skills of the …

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Toronto Jewish Film Festival 2021: Our Review of ‘A Starry Sky Above the Roman Ghetto’

A Starry Sky Above the Roman Ghetto tells the story of Sofia (Bianca Panconi), a young Italian woman who discovers a wartime photo of a Jewish child within an old suitcase. Hidden with the photo is an undelivered letter addressed to the mysterious ‘Sarah Cohen’. This appears to have been written by her parents. Sofia and her friends are impassioned by the child’s story. So they set out to discover what happened to young Sarah. And they attempt to deliver the letter which never reached her.

While the finale feels a little convenient to the narrative, Starry Sky is incredibly effective. …

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Indy Road Trip Comedy: Our Review of ‘Take Me Somewhere Nice’

Indy Road Trip Comedy: Our Review of ‘Take Me Somewhere Nice’

From Easy Rider to The Blue Brothers and last year’s Oscar winning Nomadland, road trip films have been a big part of the cinematic experience for a long time. They’ve encompassed many different genres as well. So no matter if you enjoy comedy, science fiction, drama or action, there is a road trip film for you. Take Me Somewhere Nice fits somewhere between drama and dark comedy, and like all films in those genres it feels like a slice of life at the same time.

Take Me Somewhere Nice follows the story of Alma (Sara Luna Zoric), a young woman who …

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Toronto Jewish Film Festival 2021: Our Review of ‘The Un-Word’

In The Un-Word, Valerie and Simon Berlinger (Ursina Lardi and Thomas Sarbacher) are a Jewish couple who are called into their son’s school after he’s involved in an altercation with an Iranian and a Palestinian student. Valerie and Simon sit in conference with the school’s principal Director Stege (Devid Striesow) and his well-meaning teacher, Ms. Ritter (Anna Bruggemann). And they demand fairness for their son. Meanwhile, they expose the subtle (and not-so-subtle) injustices that are taking place within the school’s walls.

Written and directed by Leo Khasin, Un-Word contains some solid satirical work that attempts to navigate the complexities and challenges …

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Toronto Japanese Film Festival 2021: Our Review of ‘True Mothers’

Toronto Japanese Film Festival 2021: Our Review of ‘True Mothers’

Days came and go and only fiction can keep track of them. True Mothers depicts, through a flashback structure, the lives of two families who find a connection through a boy, Asato (Reo Sato). The first of those families are the Kuriharas (Hiromi Nagasaku and Arata Iura), struggling to conceive.

Their last resort was an adoption agency, and the film them becomes a window to at least one agency in Japan with archaic rules about adoption. The contrasts are interesting here, as the film depicts the agency’s rules and the parents who live under them with a delicate, loving eye.

The tragedy here …

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The Magic Moment: Our Review of ‘Shoplifters of the World’ on Blu-Ray

Blu-Ray/DVD, Movies ‐ June 08, 2021

Everyone has “their” band…

Now available on Blu-Ray and DVD; Shoplifters of the World is a lovely piece of high school history that we can all relate to as the bands that fill our world are blaring on the radio.

In the Summer of 1987, four friends, reeling from the sudden break-up of the iconic British band The Smiths, embark on a night out of partying to mourn their musical loss. At the same time, an impassioned Smiths fan (Ellar Coltrane) takes a local radio DJ (Joe Manganiello) hostage at gunpoint and forces him to play nothing but Smiths tracks. With the …

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Sleep Test: Our Review of ‘Awake (2021)’

Sleep Test: Our Review of ‘Awake (2021)’

The citizens of the world have not agreed upon whether or not an apocalypse happened. This means that viewers don’t have a real life reference when post-apocalyptic scenarios show up on TV movies. Mark Raso’s Awake present similar elements of what we think happens during the apocalypse, as its protagonist Jill (Gina Rodriguez) inadvertently surrounds herself with chaos. But despite that chaos, she returns to work like nothing happened.

In fairness, Jill and the other characters around her don’t feel the apocalypse outright. They just noticed that all electronics are on the fritz. They don’t realize the gravity of the situation …

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Toronto Japanese Film Festival 2021: Our Review of ‘Kontora’

Toronto Japanese Film Festival 2021: Our Review of ‘Kontora’

Kontora takes forty whole minutes to set up its premise but all those minutes are worth it. It also takes up the same time to set up the conflicts between those characters. One of those conflicts is between two cousins (Taichi Yamada and Takuzo Shimizu), the latter offering to buy the former’s house after the former’s father passed away. The former is a father to Sora (Wan Marui), who herself is dealing with her grandfather’s death through drinking lots of alcohol. She also forms strange bonds, one with her cousin Haru (Seira Kojima) and with a man who walks backwards.

Most …

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Toronto Jewish Film Festival 2021: Our Review of ‘Kiss Me Kosher’

When Shira first met Maria, she knew that there was something special about their relationship. Maria unexpectedly proposes (or did she?). So Shira becomes nervous about telling her parents about her impeding engagement to a non-Jewish German woman. What’s more, the vast cultural and religious differences between the two women bubble to the surface. When Maria’s parents arrive, Maria and Shira must navigate their past. All the while, Shira’s younger brother attempt to document their relationship on video for a school project.

Directed Shirel Pileg, Kiss Me Kosher is a thoroughly engaging comedy that successfully walks the fine line between hilarious …

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