High Five: Catching films from the TIFF Next Wave

We look at five feature film selections from this year's teen oriented TIFF Next Wave festival, running at TIFF Bell Lightbox from February 17th to the 19th, including comedies Girl Asleep and The Young Offenders, Canadian offerings 1:54 and Before the Streets, and the American drama As You Are.

Review: ‘The Great Wall,’ starring Matt Damon

The Great Wall is the most expensive Chinese produced motion picture ever made, and at least half the time that budget shows. The other half is a less than seamless special effects extravaganza that can’t keep any plot elements straight for more than ten minutes at a time. On the whole, it’s a relatively amiable bit of entertainment that’s probably about as good as the core B-movie premise will allow, but with that low of a bar it’s hard to justify anyone spending this much money to make the thing with an A-list international cast and one of the world’s greatest and most mythologized man made landmarks as a focal point.

Review: the Oscar nominated Swedish film ‘A Man Called Ove’

The Best Foreign Film Oscar nominated Swedish film A Man Called Ove is an unabashed, unashamed crowd pleaser that will send audiences home with a smile on their face and a few tears in their eyes, but it’s also an expertly constructed character piece that earns every bit of sentimentality honestly through the hard work of everyone in front of and behind the camera.

Review: ‘Kedi,’ a documentary by Ceyda Torun

It sounds slight, but the delightful documentary Kedi – a look at cats living on the streets of Istanbul – might end up being one of the most entertaining, relaxing, and contemplative films of the year. Not just a chance to spend some quality time with some felines that are brimming with personality, Ceyda Torun’s film also looks at how we interact with our common social spaces and the subtle things we can do to make our world a better place.

Review: ‘A Cure for Wellness,’ starring Dane DeHaan

Overlong, repetitive, and paying more attention to production design than anything resembling character or narrative, Gore Verbinski’s return to horror with A Cure for Wellness is the definition of a painful slog. It’s a simplistic, overwrought, melodramatic chiller that will appeal primarily to people who like pretty images and clichéd atmospherics and don’t care that they’re being force fed the same two or three story beats over and over again without deviation for an ungodly two and a half hours, building to a twist reveal so botched and so obvious that it only works if the viewer has never seen a horror or fantasy film in their life.

Revew: ‘Land of Mine,’ a film by Martin Zandvliet

The Danish wartime drama and Best Foreign Film Oscar nominee Land of Mine (which premiered at TIFF back in 2015) might lay the “war is hell” misery on a bit thick and melodramatically at times, but that in no ways undercuts what’s otherwise a masterclass in escalation and tension.

Toronto Black Film Festival celebrates five landmark years

Now entering its landmark fifth year, the Toronto Black Film Festival (running from February 15th to the 19th at various city venues) finds itself more relevant than ever. Given the volatile state of race relations in the world at the moment – and many examples that show racial sensitivities regressing instead of progressing – this celebration of black cinema from around the world has become even more vital and indispensable.