Reel Movie Mondays: Spring 2023

Turn Every Page: The Adventures of Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb

Directed by Lizzie Gottlieb | USA 2022 | Documentary, 112 mins, PG | English, Mongrel Media

Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Robert Caro (The Power Broker, The Years of Lyndon Johnson) and legendary editor Robert Gottlieb, have worked and fought together for 50 years, forging one of publishing’s most iconic and productive partnerships.

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Caro’s The Power Broker, edited by Gottlieb continues to be a bestseller after 48 years. Now 87, Caro is working to complete the fifth and final volume of his masterwork, The Years of Lyndon Johnson; Gottlieb, 91, waits to edit it. The task of finishing their life’s work looms before them.

Directed by Gottlieb’s daughter, Lizzie Gottlieb, Turn Every Page explores their remarkable creative collaboration, including the behind-the-scenes drama of the making of Caro’s The Power Broker and the LBJ series.

With humor and insight, this unique double portrait reveals the work habits, peculiarities and professional joys of these two ferocious intellects. It arrives at the culmination of a journey that has consumed both their lives and impacted generations of politicians, activists, writers and readers, and furthered our understanding of power and democracy.

The Power Broker and the first four volumes of The Years of Lyndon Johnson are the seminal biographies of our time. A large audience patiently awaits the fifth and final Lyndon Johnson book which Caro is furiously working to finish. For those that have read any of these books, Turn Every Page is a revelation of the writing process and the mysterious relationship between an author and his editor. Those that haven’t will discover surprising and shocking moments of history that are unveiled in the investigative nature with which Caro approached them.

Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb, 1974 Courtesy of Wild Surmise Productions LLC Sony Pictures Classics

Robert Caro and Robert Gottlieb


Reel Movie Mondays: Spring 2023

The Lost King

Directed by Stephen Frears | UK, 2023 | Drama, 108 mins, NYR | English, IFC Films

In this inspiring true story, amateur historian Philippa Langley believes she has made the archeological find of the century: the lost burial site of King Richard III. She takes on Britain’s most eminent historians, forcing them to rethink the legacy of one of the most controversial rulers in English history.

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Stephen Frears’ latest retells the true story of an amateur historian (Sally Hawkins) battling skepticism and bureaucracy in a quest to locate the final resting place of King Richard III.

It is said that history is written by the victors. This was never more true than in the case of King Richard III, maligned from the moment of his defeat by Henry Tudor, the truth of his life contorted by subsequent generations (Shakespeare among them and arguably the guiltiest). Over the course of 500 years, “alternative facts” became conventional wisdom. That is, until Philippa Langley took up Richard’s cause.

Langley (Sally Hawkins) is a writer who finds herself suffering a midlife malaise after a divorce and some health challenges. She happens upon the Richard III Society, a group of amateur historians bent on rehabilitating the damaged reputation of Richard, and soon becomes obsessed with finding his long-lost remains.

Weathering derision from historians and concern from her family (the exception being her supportive but confused ex-husband John, played by Steve Coogan), our amateur sleuth does prevail. But her discovery of Richard’s true fate is not the last chapter in this fascinating story. The film’s irony-filled third act, when bureaucrats attempt to do to Philippa something akin to what Henry Tudor did to Richard, is an impassioned addendum to this true-life story.

Screenwriters Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope (TIFF 2013’s Philomena) partner with Stephen Frears to create the perfect narrative tension between the past and the present. Through her sensitive and spirited portrayal of Philippa, Hawkins shows us a woman who fights ferociously to redeem Richard, all the while seemingly powerless to change others’ misunderstanding of her. In mending history’s fractured perception of Richard III, Philippa mends herself. “Sallly Hawkins has one of her greatest roles… a historical detective story that carries the kick of a true-life Da Vinci Code.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

Reel Movie Mondays: Spring 2023

Return to Seoul

Directed by Davy Chou | South Korea, France, Cambodia, Germany, Belgium, Qatar, 2022 | Drama, 119 mins, PG | Korean w/English subtitles, Mongrel Media

Content advisory: sexual language, coarse language

In Davy Chou’s dazzling second narrative feature, a mercurial 25-year-old — born in South Korea and raised in France by adoptive parents — returns to her motherland in search of answers.

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Born in South Korea and raised in France by adoptive parents, Frédérique Benoît, a.k.a. Freddie (Ji-min Park), is an arrogant, mercurial, and unyielding 25-year-old in search of answers. Unfamiliar with her native language or the intricacies of Korean culture, she spontaneously travels “home” — there’s no place like it — after being rerouted by a typhoon.

There, she befriends a hotel employee named Tena (Guka Han), who sets her on the path to finding her biological parents and unearthing her origin story. While her mother remains a mystery, Freddie successfully confronts her eager father (Kwang-rok Oh). But much is lost in translation and her impetuous journey leaves her already heavy baggage packed with more questions than answers.

As Thomas Wolfe once wrote, “You can’t go home again,” and it’s not long before Freddie — still recognizable, though with her foundations fully transformed and wanderlust as her North Star — is back in her motherland constructing another house of cards.

Director Davy Chou, who was born in France to Cambodian parents, follows his debut Diamond Island (which won the SACD award in Cannes’ Critics’ Week programme in 2016) by unveiling his heartfelt sophomore in elliptical acts spanning eight years. Guided by cinematographer Thomas Favel’s eye and Dounia Sichov’s masterful editing, we trail Freddie’s absorbing transformation from a woman navigating the meandering roads of nature and nurture to directions unknown. First-time actor Ji-min Park brings enormous intrigue to a character whose compass guides the film. Return to Seoul is a spectacular voyage for anyone in search of home or for eternal travellers who already know that it’s not the destination — it’s the journey.

RETURN TO SEOUL. Photo credit: Thomas Favel. © Aurora Films. Courtesy of Pictures Classics.

Reel Movie Mondays: Spring 2023

I Like Movies

Directed by Chandler Levack | Canada, 2022 | Comedy/Drama, 99 mins, 14A | English, Mongrel Media

Content advisory: themes of suicide, sexual abuse, and mental distress

Opening with an easy contender for most hilariously (intentionally) inept parody of A Christmas Carol ever made, Chandler Levack’s ultra-indie I Like Movies is a smart, funny, and ornery exploration of adolescent trauma and early onset cinephilia. It’s hardly surprising that one condition only exacerbates the other.

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Lawrence Kweller (Isaiah Lehtinen) is an irascible, self- and movie-obsessed teenager living in the wilds of early-2000s Burlington, Ontario. He’s the kind of guy who, when he buys a movie ticket, mentions the director’s name just to show that he’s there for the right reasons. He dreams of NYU, where he’ll be mentored by a grateful Todd Solondz. But for Lawrence, who delivers every statement with utter certainty, this isn’t a mere dream: it’s locked in — as long as he can make thousands of dollars working part-time at his local video store, Sequels, to afford tuition.

Lawrence has more serious problems — ones that the 10 free video rentals he gets weekly at Sequels won’t solve. His egocentrism threatens his only real friendship, with longtime buddy and fellow lonely guy Matt Macarchuk (Percy Hynes White), the put-upon co-star and co-creator of his student short. It becomes increasingly clear that Lawrence’s movie obsession (and his inability to tolerate anyone) is a way of burying a world of hurt and avoiding any real connection.

Levack and her collaborators have created a touching and very recognizable world driven by empathy. As infuriating as Lawrence can be, the film sticks with him as he bounces from one small but impactful disaster to the next. We find ourselves rooting for him — not to realize his fantasies, but to engage with his reality. I Like Movies is also blessed with an excellent cast, led by Lehtinen and Hynes White and ably supported by Romina D’Ugo as Lawrence’s Sequels boss, and the ever-versatile Krista Bridges as Lawrence’s resilient mother.

L to R: Percy Hynes White (Matt), Isaiah Lehtinen (Lawrence) and Krista Bridges (Terri) in I LIKE MOVIES. Photo courtesy of VHS Forever Inc.

Reel Movie Mondays: Spring 2023


Directed by Jerzy Skolimowski | Poland, Italy, United Kingdom, 2022 | Drama, 86 mins, 14A | Polish, English, French, Italian, w/English subtitles, filmswelike

Content advisory: animal cruelty, violence

Polish master Jerzy Skolimowski’s gripping new drama, which shared the Jury Prize in last year’s Cannes competition, follows a sentient donkey as it experiences the best and worst mankind has to offer. EO is a fable-like journey through contemporary Europe, rooted in its tumultuous past, looking towards its uncertain future.

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Told through vignettes, the film’s anchor is the anthropomorphic eyes of a donkey (played by six different equines named Taco, Ola, Marietta, Ettore, Rocco, and Mela) that senses its way through the wheels of fortune.

These include helpless indenturement inside a mobile circus (under the care of wide-eyed Kasandra, played by Sandra Drzymalska), heading full speed for a glue factory on Mateo’s (Mateusz Kościukiewicz) lorry, a fractious adventure with prodigal-son-turned-priest Vito (Lorenzo Zurzolo), and a peek inside the so-called good life in the bourgeois home of a bored housewife named The Countess (Isabelle Huppert).

To err is human, to forgive divine — and we are only left to guess what Eo — after seeing the best and worst of humanity — would do. A subtle reminder about the absolute cruelty of eating animals, Skolimowski’s chef d’oeuvre makes clear that we’re not so different from the most common beasts: we are born, briefly experience suffering and (if lucky) love, are unceremoniously exploited for our labour, and then we die.


On January 26th we have received word that the distributor for The Whale has decided to honour our original booking of THE WHALE. 

Reel Movie Mondays: Winter 2023

The Whale

Directed by Darren Aronofsky | USA | 2022 | Drama | 117 minutes | English, Elevation Pictures | Rated 14A

Brendan Fraser gives a career-defining performance in this arrestingly intimate drama from director Darren Aronofsky. The Whale invites us to identify with a man in a precarious state of isolation that has been exacerbated by a potentially lethal mix of technology and our culture of body shaming.

Writing instructor Charlie (Fraser) never seems to have his webcam enabled while teaching online. He makes excuses and is so good-natured that no one makes a fuss, but the real reason for his invisibility is his appearance. Charlie weighs 600 pounds. His obesity starts to pose a grave threat to his health and his friend Liz (Hong Chau, also at this year’s Festival in The Menu), a nurse, begs him to check into a hospital, but also recognizes that it might be more important to simply offer support.

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Charlie’s current status quo is upended by the return of his long-estranged adolescent daughter, Ellie (Sadie Sink), though her willingness to resume a relationship seems prompted as much by Charlie’s offers to ghostwrite her school essays as it is by her sense of familial loyalty. Meanwhile, Charlie receives visits from a door-to-door evangelist (Ty Simpkins) who engages him in a dialogue about redemption that, despite Charlie’s lack of religious inclination, proves surprisingly resonant. Can any of these folks, regardless of their personal agendas, serve as the lifeline to self-acceptance that Charlie so urgently needs?

Screenwriter Samuel D. Hunter, here adapting his own play, has already proved himself a compassionate chronicler of offbeat characters with the FX series Baskets. With The Whale — the title a reference to Moby Dick, Charlie’s favourite book — Hunter has given us a story that fuses love, grief, and discomfort as a zigzag path to empathy.

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Reel Movie Mondays: Winter 2023


Directed by Oliver Hermanus | United Kingdom 2022, Drama, Rated PG, English | 102 minutes | Mongrel Media | Rated PG

In this exquisitely realized remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 film Ikiru, director Oliver Hermanus teams with Nobel- and Booker Prize–winning author Kazuo Ishiguro to renew a classic.

Mr. Williams (Bill Nighy) is a buttoned-down, pinstripe- and-bowler hat–clad stereotypical English gentleman in 1952, with a mid-level bureaucratic job in a postwar London county council. Through his taciturn manner, Mr. Williams lets his staff (which includes Aimee Lou Wood, Sex Education) know that maintaining the status quo on files is more important than progress.

One day Williams receives a dire diagnosis from his doctor and soon the tightly held reins of his very prosaic life begin to loosen. We discover he is a widower, estranged from his only son, with few friends and fewer interests. Williams realizes that he isn’t facing death; he’s been living it. And so, in the clumsy manner of one who is unpracticed in these things, he begins putting work aside for new experiences. In charmingly awkward sequences, Nighy beautifully captures that specific lead-up to the end of life and the inevitably accompanying questions: did I accomplish anything? Will I leave anything behind?

While the heart of the film is Nighy’s understated lead performance, equally as masterful is the profound sense of time and place created by the craft elements, notably production design by Helen Scott (Mothering Sunday, TIFF ’21; Small Axe) and costume design by the multiple Oscar–winning Sandy Powell. It’s all captured on screen by cinematographer Jamie Ramsay (Mothering Sunday), who deeply impresses with his creation of beautiful images filled with light. Mr. Williams would be pleased.

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Reel Movie Mondays: Winter 2023


Directed by Gail Maurice | Canada | 92 mins | English, Photon Films | Rated PG

Métis writer-director-actor Gail Maurice’s feature film debut tells the story of a suddenly orphaned Indigenous girl and her newly chosen family in Montreal in the 1980s.

Rosie (Keris Hope Hill) is a visibly Indigenous, English-speaking, sweet, and headstrong little girl and her mother has just died. A children’s services agent brings her to her only living relative, her Francophone aunt Frédèrique (Mélanie Bray). “Fred” doesn’t have a solid foundation on which to raise a child. She is unprepared — she’s working at an adult entertainment shop and threatened with eviction — and is at first unwilling to take on caring for her adopted sister’s young daughter.

From images of people working on the street to a scene involving sleeping rough in a car in a junkyard, ROSIE captures an uncomfortable reality understood through innocent eyes. Seeing things from the girl’s viewpoint explains why Fred’s gender-bending friends — from the Cree perspective of being genderless — Flo (Constant Bernard) and Mo (Alex Trahan) appear in various forms of drag, and why the night in the car is seen as a fun camping experience. The film focuses on characters living on the fringes of society, including a homeless Cree man (Brandon Oakes), and how united and transformed they become through the eponymous character’s vibrant presence.

Touching on the Sixties Scoop and disconnection from Indigenous identity, ROSIE is an ode to finding your chosen family when your blood relations have been removed from the picture.

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Reel Movie Mondays: Winter 2023

The Territory

Directed by Alex Pritz | Brazil/Denmark/USA | 83 mins | Portuguese w/ English subtitles, The Impact Series | Rated PG

Partially shot by the film’s subjects and filmed over the course of several years, director Alex Pritz’s feature documentary debut follows the struggle of the Uru-eu-wau-wau people as they defend their land from deforestation. With breathtaking cinematography of the dramatic landscape as parts of the Amazon rainforest burn, The Territory offers insight into the precious — and precarious — ecosystems under threat.

A still from The Territory by Alex Pritz, an official selection of the World Cinema: Documentary Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

There are fewer than 200 people living in the Uru-eu-wau-wau community, and the film follows how this small group of mighty land defenders protect the sovereignty of more than 18,000 square kilometres of rainforest from non-natives who seek to exploit it. Bitaté Uru-eu-wau-wau, a young Indigenous leader, and his mentor Neidinha Bandeira decide to try a new tactic to protect their land and community: they create their own news media team to reclaim their story, risking their lives to expose the truth.

The Territory is an arresting look at the tireless fight of the Uru-eu-wau-wau, and the ever-present dangers of exploitative expansion and colonialism.

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Reel Movie Mondays: Winter 2023

The Inspection

Directed by Elegance Bratton | USA | 95 mins | English, levelFilm | Not Yet Rated

In Elegance Bratton’s deeply moving film inspired by his own story, a young, gay Black man, rejected by his mother and with few options for his future, decides to join the Marines, doing whatever it takes to succeed in a system that would cast him aside. But even as he battles deep-seated prejudice and the grueling routines of basic training, he finds unexpected camaraderie, strength, and support in this new community, giving him a hard-earned sense of belonging that will shape his identity and forever change his life.

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