Tag Archives: SIFF Reviews

SIFF 2022: Sweetheart Deal (****)

By Dennis Hartley

(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on April 23, 2022)

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Dopesick and finding temporary solace from an RV-dwelling man of means by no means dubbed “The Mayor of Aurora Avenue”, four sex workers (Kristine, Sara, Amy, and Tammy) strive to keep life and soul together as they walk an infamous Seattle strip. With surprising twists and turns, Elisa Levine and Gabriel Miller’s astonishingly intimate portrait is the most intense, heart-wrenching, and compassionate documentary I have seen about Seattle street life since Streetwise.

SIFF 2022: Day by Day (***1/2)

By Dennis Hartley

(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on April 23, 2022)

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Felix Herngren’s dramedy (scripted by Tapio Leopold) is a delightful, life-affirming road movie about…death. Before a terminally ill man (Sven Wallter) can make his getaway for a solo trip to a Swiss assisted-suicide clinic, several of his longtime friends at the retirement home catch wind of his plans, and it turns into a group outing (much to his chagrin). Lovely European travelogue (nicely photographed by Viktor Davidson). Funny and touching (yes …I laughed, I cried). Sadly, Wallter passed away soon after the film wrapped, adding poignancy to his performance.

SIFF 2022: The Man in the Basement (***)

By Dennis Hartley

(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on April 23, 2022)

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Philippe Le Guay’s “neighbor from hell” thriller (scripted by Le Guay with Gilles Taurand and Marc Weitzmann)  stars one of my favorite contemporary French actors, François Cluzet (Tell No One). Cluzet plays a quiet fellow who buys the unused basement of an upper-crust couple’s Parisian apartment, presumably for storage . However, with the ink barely dry on the deed, the couple discovers to their dismay that he clearly intends to live in the cellar (sans plumbing). It gets worse when they discover his online persona is every progressive liberal’s nightmare. A slow-burner with a key takeaway: always check references!

SIFF 2022: Nothing Compares (***1/2)

By Dennis Hartley

(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on April 23, 2022)

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Kathryn Ferguson’s documentary is a beautifully constructed profile of singer Sinéad O’Connor. Arguably, O’Connor is more well-known for making her polarizing anti-Vatican remarks on SNL than for her music catalog-but history has proven not only the prescience of that stance, but how her refusal to “just shut up and sing” has inspired female artists and activists who followed in her footsteps to speak truth to power (“They tried to bury me, but didn’t realize they’d planted a seed,” she says). A superb portrait of an artist with true integrity. It’s a Showtime production, so if you’re a subscriber, keep your eyes peeled for it.

SIFF 2022: Quant (***)

By Dennis Hartley

(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on April 23, 2022)

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London swings like a pendulum do. A breezy doc about pioneering, self-taught fashion designer/entrepreneur Mary Quant (still kicking at 92). Sadie Frost’s portrait is a pleasant wallow in 60s nostalgia, connecting the dots between fashion statements and gender politics (“I didn’t have time to wait for women’s lib,” Quant says in an archival interview). Her heyday may be long past, but her influence is indelible. Commentators include Vivienne Westwood, Kate Moss, and Dave Davies.

SIFF 2022: The Passenger (***)

By Dennis Hartley

(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on April 23, 2022)

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I’m not really a gore fan, so I did not expect Raul Cerezo and Fernando González Gómez’s sci-fi/horror road movie to be so…fun. A self-employed shuttle driver and his three female passengers unwittingly take a parasitic alien onboard, and all hell breaks loose. Luis Sánchez-Polack’s screenplay is clever and frequently hilarious, with subtle undercurrents of social satire amid the mayhem. Think Lina Wertmüller’s Swept Away meets John Carpenter’s The Thing.

SIFF 2022: Only in Theaters (***)

By Dennis Hartley

(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on April 23, 2022)

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If you’ve ever fallen in love with a neighborhood art house, you’ll love Raphael Sbarge’s doc, which examines the history of a venerable LA-based theater chain that has been run by the Laemmle family for 84 years. A nice blend of great archival footage with observations by family members and admirers like Leonard Maltin, Ava DuVernay, Cameron Crowe, and James Ivory. It reminded me of the 2004 doc Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession. Unexpectedly moving.

SIFF 2022: Drunken Birds (***)

By Dennis Hartley

(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on April 23, 2022)

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Ivan Grbovic’s languidly paced, beautifully photographed culture clash/class war drama (Canada’s 2022 Oscar submission) concerns a Mexican cartel worker who finds migrant work in Quebec while seeking a long-lost love. Grbovic co-wrote with Sara Mishara. Mishara pulls double duty as DP; her painterly cinematography adds to the echoes of Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven. It also reminded me of Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm; a network narrative about people desperately seeking emotional connection amid a minefield of miscommunication.

 

SIFF 2022: Juju Stories (**½)

By Dennis Hartley

(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on April 23, 2022)

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Submitted for your approval…an anthology of three modern urban horror tales steeped in juju lore (directed by Michael Omonua, Abba T. Makama, and C.J. Obasi). It’s an uneven collection; the most compelling of the triptych is Obasi’s “Suffer the Witch”. The film is presented by the Surreal 16 Collective, described as “…an initiative that intends to create artistically minded films that move away from the reigning imperialism of Nollywood aesthetics and production practices”.

SIFF 2022: Hinterland (**1/2)

By Dennis Hartley

(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on April 23, 2022)

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Stefan Ruzowitsky directed this expressionist police procedural set in post WWI Vienna. A PTSD-afflicted veteran (Murathan Muslu) who was a policeman before the war is drawn into the investigation of a serial killer who is picking off his former fellow POWs one-by-one. A cross between Babylon Berlin and Sin City (with a hint of Berlin Alexanderplatz), it’s stylish and visually arresting, but hobbled by slow pacing and a boilerplate murder mystery. Co-written by the director, along with Robert Buchschwenter and Hanno Pinter.