SCRAP – Review by Cate Marquis

Stacey Tenenbaum’s Scrap is the kind of documentary film that invites you into its world, to look closer at something seemingly ordinary which suddenly becomes intriguing, and perhaps even a bit profound. In this case, it is the realm of metal objects whose useful lives have ended – scrap metal – but which are being re-used, restored or reborn as art.

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EMPIRE OF LIGHT (TIFF 2022) – Review by Cate Marquis

Empire of Light takes place in a grand old movie theater that is now slowly fading away in early 1980s, with a loyal movie-loving staff still selling tickets and popcorn to dwindling audiences. You would expect such a movie to be a love letter to the movies, or at least old movie theaters, fondly recalling the glory days of actual film on reels and the magic of movies. Writer/director Sam Mendes’ nostalgic drama does start out that way, but then it drifts off into something else, a plot touching on mental illness and racial tensions in the 1980s, and involving a May-October romance.

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THE LOST KING (TIFF 2022) – Review by Cate Marquis

Stephen Frears’ true story-inspired comedy-drama The Lost King is a charmer with a thoughtful underdog theme, starring the wonderful Sally Hawkins as an amateur historian who locates the long-lost grave of King Richard III, the last Plantagenet king. The grave’s location had eluded professionals for centuries. The discovery made headlines around the world, but even better, was that the person who pulled off this discovery, Philippa Langley (Sally Hawkins), was an ordinary middle-aged woman who turned amateur historian – or maybe history detective is more apt – after seeing a production of Shakespeare’s play.

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THE BLUE CAFTAN (TIFF 2022) – Review by Cate Marquis

Saleh Bakri and Lubna Azabal deliver moving performances as a traditional tailor and his wife struggling to make a living in one of the oldest medinas in Morocco, in writer/director Maryam Touzani’s moving, thought-provoking human drama The Blue Caftan. Although the drama features a traditional craftsman practicing a fading art, at its heart, The Blue Caftan is really about love in its various forms, romantic love, a love of a craft, and more. It is also a showcase for some striking performances, particularly from Lubna Azabal, in the story that takes surprising twists, and is by turns powerfully dramatic, funny, touching, or heart-wrenching, as this excellent French Moroccan, Arabic-language film unfolds

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NANNY (TIFF 2022) – Review by Cate Marquis

Nanny speaks to feminist issues, racial ones, and immigrant experiences as well as the perennial American Dream, making it an ambitious and worthy drama with creative reach. Writer-director Nikyatu Jusu’s thoughtfully mixes drama with mystical surreal sequences about a Senegalese mother working as a nanny in the U.S. while worrying about her own young son back in her home country. Nanny is a worthy, intriguing film, but one where its reach at times exceeds its grasp, although it mostly hits its target straight on.

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THE WOMAN KING (TIFF 2022) – Review by Cate Marquis

Do you like an epic film, one with rousing battle scenes, exciting fight choreography, a great story and memorable characters? Then The Woman King is for you, because it has it all. Yes, Gina Price-Bythewood’s The Woman King, a historical epic set in early 19th century Africa starring Viola Davis, is all that – and right out of the gate, was a big hit at the Toronto International Film Festival.

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WOMEN TALKING (TIFF 2022) – Review by Cate Marquis

In Sarah Polley’s searing ensemble, there are indeed women talking but it is what they are talking about and who they are that grips us from the start. The subject these conservative Mennonite women gathered in a barn are talking about is whether to forgive the men. For what, we don’t know at first but it is gradually revealed as something most would find unforgivable.

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ASCENSION – Review by Cate Marquis

Jessica Kingdon’s stunning documentary has no narrator to explain what you are seeing but may not really need one. It opens and closes with quotes from a 1912 poem, Ascension, from the filmmaker’s great-grandfather that serves as a sort of warning that what you might find when you, the warrior, finally reach the top of the rampart might be more devastation.

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HOLLER – Review by Cate Marquis

This is a realistic, unblinking view from life at the bottom of the socioeconomic strata, but Holler is mercifully free of the poverty porn found in some films of this type. It tells some hard truths about a town devastated by off-shored industries, a place where the only way to have a chance at life is to leave. Despite that, Holler is a hopeful film, focused on the bond between brother and sister.

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A THOUSAND CUTS – Review by Cate Marquis

In this documentary, journalist Maria Ressa reports on a corrupt Philippines political scenario that’s strikingly familiar, but the moment that may cause chills to run down your spine the expose that Cambridge Analytical used the Philippines as a testing ground for social media propaganda and then ported the technique to the US.

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