SCARBOROUGH – Review by Liz Braun

Scarborough is a splendid film based on Catherine Hernandez’s award-winning novel about the community where she grew up. Like the book, the film is a love letter to a place and a community that’s home to 650,000 people in Toronto’s east end. Directed by Shasha Nakhai and Rich Williamson. the film centers on three children of 8 or 9 years old who rely on each other growing up in a tough neighborhood. Despite a tiny budget, the profoundly moving Scarborough won the Shawn Mendes Changemaker Award at TIFF last fall and now has 11 nominations at the upcoming Canadian Screen Awards.

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DOWNFALL: THE CASE AGAINST BOEING – Review by Liz Braun

The first Boeing 737 Max crash in Jakarta killed 189 people. The second crash in Ethiopia, early in 2019, killed 157. Despite attempts to “other” the crashes — blaming foreign pilots in far-away places — the truth eventually came out: the aircraft was badly flawed. It’s all revealed in Downfall: The Case Against Boeing, a disturbing documentary directed by Rory Kennedy in a just-the-facts-ma’am fashion. This is bare-bones storytelling at its most effective.

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SHAPELESS – Review by Liz Braun

Shapeless, directed by Samantha Aldana, stars Kelly Murtagh as a woman struggling with mental health issues that make themselves known through disordered eating. Murtagh co-wrote the script (with Bryce Parsons-Twesten) based on her own experiences with bulimia. As Ivy, she plays a singer in New Orleans, performing with a small group by night and working at a dry cleaners by day. Her endless struggle with her eating disorder is the focus; Ivy sings the blues, literally and figuratively, throughout the film.

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A.RTIFICIAL I.MMORTALITY – Review by Liz Braun

A.rtificial I.mmortality is an intriguing documentary from Ann Shin about the pursuit of everlasting life. What used to be the purview of religion is increasingly being handed off to the tech world in the 21st century. Can we live forever?

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DEAD MAN’S SWITCH – Review by Liz Braun

You don’t need to know anything about cryptocurrency to buy into Dead Man’s Switch: A Crypto Mystery. The new documentary from award-winning Canadian filmmaker Sheona McDonald is all about the QuadrigaCX investment scandal. McDonald enlists experts from the world of finance, crypto, crime fighting and investigative journalism to delve into the mystery around Gerald Cotten and his company.

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HOUSE OF GUCCI – Review by Liz Braun

Every bit as plastique and fabulous as a knock-off designer handbag, House of Gucci is a wildly entertaining soap opera about people fighting over money, from director Ridley Scott. .Based on a real-life story of greed and betrayal and tragedy, in the telling here it is busy and beautiful to look at. There are a couple of leaps in the storytelling that don’t quite add up and a complaint might be lodged about some of the more melodramatic bits — but it’s all so visually dazzling and fun to watch that none of these quibbles add up to much.

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WRITING WITH FIRE – Review by Liz Whittemore

In Writing With Fire, the all-female staff writers fight to keep journalism alive. After 14 years of successful print, they decide to shift to digital. Their goal? Continue to push boundaries and report the truth. Featured journalist Meera is saving lives by putting her own in danger. By doing her job, she is exposing the corruption that freely occurs in India. She and the rest of the writers are heroes. As we watch the media in chaos in the US, we understand how fearless these specific female journalists are. Writing With Fire highlights how violence is commonplace. We hear the terms “murder” and “kill” at every turn.

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SPEER GOES TO HOLLYWOOD- Review by Liz Braun

Political scuffles during COVID has the word “Nazi” being tossed around a lot. So please, meet a real Nazi: Albert Speer. Vanessa Lapa’s Speer Goes To Hollywood is a mind-boggling documentary about his historical reinvention. The film is an investigation of how Speer, Hitler’s architect, manipulated public perception of his role in the Third Reich; it’s also a tale of how well the world of movies suited his fabrications.

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THE SUBJECT – Review by Liz Braun

Every serious film-goer knows that a movie with a weak start rarely improves. This makes The Subject a huge exception to the rule, as this debut feature from director Lanie Zipoy and writer Chisa Hutchinson has a lacklustre beginning and an unexpectedly powerful second half. The Subject concerns a documentary filmmaker with a guilty conscience. He has become well known and has won awards for a documentary about a Harlem teenager, but it’s a film that includes the death of its subject.

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THE GIG IS UP – Review by Liz Braun

What’s it like to be “your own boss” in the global gig economy? Much like being rats in a maze, according to The Gig Is Up, an engaging documentary about the driver behind your Lyft ride, the Uber Eats kid who delivered dinner and the TaskRabbit guy doing your yard work. The people who are the invisible machinery behind all this ‘convenience’ are the focus of director Shannon Walsh’s film, a picture one hopes will shame the Ubers and Amazons of the world. But that doesn’t seem likely.

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