JUDY – TIFF19 Review by Loren King

Among the nearly 250 movies, from Hollywood blockbusters to independent foreign films, that screened at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, one of my favorites was Judy, anchored by an astonishing performance by Renee Zellweger. In her first musical performance since Chicago, Zellweger delivers a comeback role for the ages that puts her at the front of this year’s best actress Oscar race.

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TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID – Review by Loren King

Issa Lopez sets her raw and gripping fantastical tale in an unnamed Mexican city that’s been ravaged by warring drug cartels, the population decimated by ongoing violence, leaving elderly and children as victims in its wake. The city is like a lawless ghost town in a western, where neglected kids peer from the shadows and play just feet away from a corpse; where shots ring out at random; and where everything in sight is broken, defaced and abandoned.

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VITA & VIRGINIA – Review by Loren King

Vita and Virginia and, especially, Gemma Arterton’s role of Vita Sackville-West, has the daunting task of naturally drawing comparisons with the brilliant 1990 BBC miniseries Portrait of a Marriage with Janet McTeer’s masterful embodiment of Sackville-West during her passionate romance with Violette Keppel (Cathryn Harrison). In the new film, Sackville-West has moved on from Violette and becomes enamored of fellow writer Virginia Woolf (Elizabeth Debicki).

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THE NIGHTINGALE – Review by Loren King

Writer/director Jennifer Kent knows just what she wants in The Nightingale. There’s no soft-pedaling around the brutality and violence central to her story about the dehumanizing and vicious treatment of women and the indigenous people of Australia by men with power during colonization.

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FOR SAMA – Review by Loren King

“We never thought the world would let this happen.” That’s the haunting phrase from 26-year old filmmaker and activist Waad al-Kateab, who chronicles her life during the five years that her beloved city of Aleppo, Syria was destroyed by the corrupt government of Bashar al-Assad. If not turning away is how we must confront the violence, inhumanity and senselessness of war, this brutal, heart-wrenching film is essential viewing.

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ROSIE – Review by Loren King

Rosie blends human heartbreak and social realism. Anyone living even remotely close to the edge likely understands that homelessness isn’t a moral failing but a widespread social problem created by economics and greed. But scripter Doyle and director Breathnach don’t preach or moralize; they’ve told a complicated story with elegant simplicity.

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