Directed by Benjamin Cantu and Matt Lambert


In Berlin of the late Golden Twenties, the Eldorado is legendary a decadent and hedonistic nightclub in which gays, lesbians and trans people dance cheek to cheek with the rich and powerful. They let loose to the electrifying music of the Weintraub Syncopators, intoxicated by the smells of perfume, rouge and manly sweat. But the Eldorado is also a space of contradictions, in which some openly gay visitors come dressed in Nazi uniforms.

It is inevitable that a documentary be made about the infamous German nightclub/cabaret of paradise known as the Eldorado.  The Eldorado was the name of multiple nightclubs and performance venues in Berlin before the Nazi Era and World War II.   The name of the cabaret Eldorado has become an integral part of the popular iconography of what has come to be seen as the culture of the period in German history often referred to as the "Weimar Republic”.

`The doc is made up of both archive footage and re-enactments.  It is a very erotic doc as everything on screen looks so sexy, hot and forbidden.

Though the locales offer ostensibly queer entertainment of some kind for the pleasure (the decadence; the drag shows; the off the wall patrons; the gaiety; the fabulousness) of heterosexual, the doc however, concentrates on the LGBT+ patrons.  The doc, essentially a history lesson, and a  very colourful and gay one at that, paints not only an account of the old now defunct club but also a few of the characters that frequent the club.  It is a good mix of subjects that keep the doc intriguing, especially making it more personal with these personal stories, though the doc appears to be taking on too many subjects without any clear direction.  Even so, it is an entertaining trip into the past, into nostalgia and into the time when all these tongs were forbidden.  One also gets to appreciate the freedom one has today.

Germany’s law off Paragraph 175, which was also the subject of another documentary and title of that film, is also examined in the doc as it plays relevance to the era. Before 1933, homosexual acts were illegal in Germany under Paragraph 175 of the German Criminal Code. The law was not consistently enforced, however, nd a thriving gay culture existed in major German cities. After the Nazi takeover in 1933, the first homosexual movement's infrastructure of clubs, organizations, and publications was shut down. After the Röhm purge in 1934, persecuting homosexuals became a priority of the Nazi police state. A 1935 revision of Paragraph 175 made it easier to bring criminal charges for homosexual acts, leading to a large increase in arrests and convictions.

Ernst Röhm is one of the more interesting subjects in the doc.  Röhmwas the leader of the SA, a paraarmy that did the dirty work like violence and cleaning up behind the Nazis.  Röhm was outwardly gay and because of his allegiance to the Nazis and his power and his persona; friendship with Adolf Hitler allowed to practice his lifestyle.  He was one of the frequent patrons of the eldorado.  Other subjects examined are three trans patrons and a couple Gottfried and Lisa who carried out a different lifestyle with a third person.

ELDORADO is currently streaming on Netflix.


Every Body (USA 2023) ****
Directed by Julie Cohen


This doc on intersex gendered people is an extremely educational, informative and emotional experience.  This doc gets my vote for Best Documentary for this reason.

The film begins with couples celebrating their soon to arrive babies.  Balloons bursting of blue or pink hues h=erald the arrival of a male or female child.  But the doc questions what if the baby is born neither male or female.  It is not always black and white.  0.07% of babies are born intersex - that is with both male or female genitals.  

EVERY BODY is a revelatory investigation of the lives of intersex people. The film tells the stories of three individuals who have moved from childhoods marked by shame, secrecy, and non-consensual surgeries to thriving adulthoods after each decided to set aside medical advice to keep their bodies a secret and instead came out as their authentic selves. Actor and screenwriter River Gallo (they/them), political consultant Alicia Roth Weigel (she/they), and Ph.D. student Sean Saifa Wall (he/him) are now leaders in a fast-growing global movement advocating for greater understanding of the intersex community and an end to unnecessary surgeries. “We are not going to be quiet!” the claim!  Woven into the story is a stranger-than-fiction case of medical abuse, featuring exclusive footage from the NBC News archives, which helps explain the modern-day treatment of intersex people.  

The doc eventually gets to its main business at hand i.e to deliver the message of ‘no more intersex surgery’.  This is what all the intersex people are trying to bring across.  Many are forced to undergo surgical operations initiated by theirs-rents son that they can fit into a male or female category, without their consent, being too young to decide at the time.  The parents mean well, but the children suffer.  It is clearly a human rights issue.  The best thing of course is to ban intersex surgery.  The #NoIntersexSurgery Movement is currently one that is taking the work by storm as an event in footage of demonstrations around the world including Dublin, Nigeria and Amsterdam.  The song ‘Stand by Me’ serves like an anthem to the movement.  It is encouraging to see that there seems to be positivity for the intersex people, unanimously,

          The best portion of the doc is the closing credits.  As all the credits appear on the screen, so do the intersex cast and crew from the subjects interviewed to the producer, director, casting director, director of photography and others.  It is so emotionally rewarding to see these people, yes 0.07% of the American population manage to find themselves and make a statement.  These intersex people prove that there is no black or white in terms of male or female, and that they are indeed beautiful people and very attractive at that, all being in their younger days.  Running at an hour and a half, this doc comes with my highest recommendations!

Focus Features and Universal Pictures Canada will release EVERY BODY in-theatres on Friday, June 30th coinciding with Toronto’s PRIDE celebrations.




Direct by James Mangold


INDIANA JONES AND THE DIAL OF DESTINY premiered at Cannes to generally mixed reviews, many implying that the franchise has been used to death.  The lead Harrison Ford playing the titular hero, Indiana Jones is already past 80 and the age shows.  Indiana Jones/Ford does not hide his age as the script contains a few jokes about Indiana’s age.  The tents needed to be perfumed by Ford is needless to say, more difficult to be done.

THE DIAL OF DESTINY in the film’s title refers to the time dial invention of Greek mathematician/scientist Archimedes.  In grade school, students were taught in Physics, Archimedes Principle That states:  The apparent loss in weight a body has simmered in a liquid is equal to the weight of the liquid displaced by it.  The script has some reference to  liquid displacement in the film but it is more about time travel and the name Archimedes just used  his part living in Greece during the attack of the Romans, whether or not this is accurate.  Oh, how fond it is of Hollywood to make up and change history.

This 5th and supposedly final instalment of the Indiana Jone franchise has the similar plot of archaeologist Jones hunting down an ancient relic that holds mysterious powers.  If the relic falls into the wrong hands that will be the end of the world or maybe even the universe.  The relic in this case is Archimedes’ Dial of Destiny.

In 1944, during World War II, American archaeologist Indiana Jones and his colleague Basil Shaw (Toby Jones) are in Europe to recover artifacts stolen by the Nazis. They prevent Jürgen Voller (Mads Mikkelsen) , a Nazi scientist, from obtaining the Archimedes Dial, a device capable of time travel.  Twenty-five years later, Jones is uneasy over the fact that the U.S. government has recruited former Nazis to help beat the Soviet Union in the Space Race.  He is about to be forced into retirement from his teaching position because of his opposition to the practice. Voller, now a NASA member and ex-Nazi involved with the Apollo Moon-landing program, wishes to make the world into a better place as he sees fit by obtaining the dial, pitting him up against Jones once again.  Basil's daughter and Jones's goddaughter, Helena Shaw (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) accompanies Jones on his journey for the dial.

Ford is once again the gallant hero.  Though older, Indiana Jones gets to do all the great stunts which includes one scene of Indiana riding a horse through a busy parade and down the subway system.  Not so glorious is his and Helena’s scuttering through an under-sea cave, full of centipedes, bugs and other crawling insects.  The film can roughly be described as a series of action set-pieces, a few meticulously crafted strung together by the typical action narrative.  After a while, especially during its over 2 hour running time, these action sequences that include some typical ones like a motorbike chase and running atop a running train are a challenge to keep fresh and exciting.

INDIANA JONES AND THE DIAL OF DESTINY opens in theatres June the 30th.


JOY RIDE (USA 2023) ***½

Direct by Adele Lim


Childhood best friends Audrey (Ashley Park) and Lolo Sherry Cola), accompanied by Audrey's former roommate Kat (Stephanie’s) and Lolo's cousin Deadeye Sabrina Wu), set out on a journey across China to find Audrey's birth mother.

With names like Evan Goldberg and Set  Rogen on the producer’s list, one can expect a lewd and rude comedy in JOY RIDE, the new Asian comedy that is co-written by Lim and  Cherry Chevapravatdumron and Teresa Hsiao.  Lim co-wrote the hot Singapore based Asian comedy CRAZY RICH ASIANS. 

This time the story shifts to both mainland China, showing off some stunning natural beauty as well as to Seoul in South Korea.  There is lots of clever writing that is based on Asian culture as well as some rude jokes in the countries’ native languages.  In fact the film’s funniest laugh-out loud joke occurs in one unexpected scene, in which this reviewer, who understands this bad word was the only one to laugh out loud, as the word is unknown to non-Hokkien speaking audiences.  (The word is pronounced ‘chee-bai’ which means ‘cunt’ that is shouted back by an admirer of the star Kat when she is told to f*** off.)

The lewd jokes come fast and funny, sometimes too fast for one to catch them all.  But if a joke or two is missed, there are plenty more to come around every corner.  A few are misses, but a lot are hits as well. 

Though JOY RIDE is by no means flawless, one must give credit to its director Adele Lim for an excellent effort.  She co-wrote CRAZY RICH ASIANS in 2018 and left writing on the sequel, following reports that she was offered significantly less pay byWarner Bros. than her white, male co-writer Peter Chiarelli.  Way to go, girl!  The Malaysian-born director shows great promise in her writing, providing the main storyline for JOY RIDE.

Though the story of four friends discovering themselves in a foreign country on a road trip is not really uncharted territory, there are a few unexpected surprises in the story.  Audrey has a big fight with her best childhood friend Lolo and says some very nasty words that are hard to take back.  It does not take a genius to guess thatchy will  make up, and they do it in a restaurant (cliched territory here) complete with applause from the customers.  The revelation of Audrey's birth mother and where it takes Audrey is a solid twist in the story.

The script also has some inventive humour like the thousand year shots, made of Chinese century eggs in a shot glass.  Being an ex-Singaporean growing up eating century eggs (an acquired taste), I could down many such shots, but for those who have never eaten a century egg, the thought of it is really disgusting especially when taking in the ammonia smell and its rubbery texture.  The bar scene is a hoot.  The reference to the K-pop Korean stars is also worthy of mention in the very inventive and funny k-pop musical number segment.

Though JOY RIDE runs on a familiar plot of girls on a trip like a road trip, there are sufficient inventive Asian and rude jokes to entertain and cause a laugh riot.


LOVE GETS A ROOM (UK/Spain 2019) **
Directed by Rodrigo Cortés


The beginning credits emphasize the fact that what follows is a true story or at least based on true events.  The titles indicate the setting as the January of 1942 in Warsaw, Poland.  The audience is told that in a narrow ghetto 40,0000 Jews are confined by the Nazis in the middle of the city.  No one can leave or enter the perimeter, which are guarded by German troops.  Outside, the audience is informed, life goes on but inside, people die of illness, hunger and the cold.  But amidst all this, the audience is to believe that art goes on.  Inside, and cut off from the outside world by a towering wall, LOVE GETS A ROOM follows Stefcia and her fellow Jewish theatre actors as they fight to keep their passion for performing alive. 

As life in the Nazi-occupied ghetto becomes a fierce fight against cold, hunger, and epidemics, the actors, against all odds, embark on a daring mission to stage Jerzy Jurandot's play, risking their lives to create something beautiful in a world of chaos and destruction.

Written and directed by visionary filmmaker Rodrigo Cortés, the film takes the audience on an emotional journey back to the tumultuous time of World War II.  With what the press notes describe as masterful direction and outstanding performances, LOVE GETS A ROOM attempts to provide a poignant exploration of the power of love, hope, and sacrifice in the face of unimaginable adversity.

LOVE GETS A ROOM is a prime example of a film that tries too hard and relies on past films on theatre to make important points - a fact that fails as audiences are often familiar with war time theatre films, such as the famous Francois Truffaut’s 1980 masterpiece LE DERNIER METRO (THE LAST metro) being the best of the lot.  Director Cortés uses the all too often used tactic of the play mirroring the true events the actors are facing.  In the play, the main lead is torn between two overs, just as in the main story, Stefcia is torn between two lovers. She has to decide who to go with - to escape with the one who loves her who she does not love anymore, or stay with the one she loves.  And she has a little daughter to compact matters,  The worst of the film’s flaws is the use of cheap theatrics to make a point.  In the film, the flaw occurs with a German entering the theatre amidst a performance firing a rifle many times and making lots of noise and drama to make a silly point.  The German wishes to dispose of a resistance fighter that has nothing to do with the characters of the story.

LOVE GETS A ROOM is based on true events during Nazi occupied Poland and Is rich with period atmosphere.  But this well-intentioned retelling of Jewish history is marred by cheap theatrics, sappiness and cliche-ridden tricks of at theatre within a theatre setting.

LOVE GETS A ROOM  finally gets a release, finally gets a VOD release on Friday, June 30, 2023.


MATTER OUT OF PLACE (Austria 2022) ***½

Directed by Nikolaus Geyrhalter


MATTER OUT OF PLACE is a film about waste in remote areas and about people who are trying to clean up the mess.  The film captures the dispersion of garbage and is observing the endless and unending work of garbage collectors and waste managers around the world.

MATTER OUT OF PLACE, as the audience is told at the beginning of the film is any object or impact that is nonnative to its native environment.  What follows are two stunning images - one of the fjords in all its beauty and the other, a much closer look at the water all covered by junk like plastic bottles and other disgusting waste. 

Waste on the shores, waste on the mountains, waste everywhere, waste on ocean floors and deep down in the earth.  In his unique imagery consisting of minutely composed pictures, director Nikolaus Geyrhalter traces immense amounts of waste across our planet.  On his journey, director Geyrhalter illustrates the sheer endless struggle of people to gain control over the vast amounts of waste that we produce every single day.  Collecting, shredding, burning, burying – a Sisyphean task, which ostensibly solves the global problem of rubbish that is stealthily growing.

The collection can be seen in one extended segment in which a rubbish man on a three-wheeled truck collects individual rubbish bags from local neighbourhoods.  It is not long before his little truck is full of bags, some rubbish spilling onto the truck and road as they are not all properly bagged and secured.  These bags are then loaded onto a bigger lorry and these lorries queue up one by one by a huge landfill to dump out their loads.  Amidst all the goings-on, it can be observed that there are poorer people at the landfill scrummaging through the waste to see if there is anything valuable that can be exchanged for money.  One can just imagine the stench of the landfill.  (Myself, I had been to one and I could not stand the really strong God-awful smell.)

As to correcting the situation of dumped garbage, volunteers are shown bagging a beach of all the plastics and other waste, to be carried away in full trucks.  The cleaned beach after the cleanup looks much, much better.

Similar to Canadian documentary filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal of MANUFACTURED LANDSCAPES and INTO THE WEEDS, director Nikolaus Geyrhalter blends stunning visual compositions of their frames in wide angled shots in a mostly calm setting.  The camera is often steady and the audience sees from a distance what is going on and for some time.  Both directors are concerned and are environmental activists through their documentaries that make a difference.

The film’s country of origin is Austria but many languages are spoken in the film including German, English, Albanian, Nepali, Swiss and German.

MATTER OUT OF PLACE opens on DVD and Digital on June the 27th.  It will also debut soon on iTunes, Vimeo-On-Demand and Amazon .Prime.     


Directed by Nicolas Bedos


Click on link below for review:



NIMONA (USA 2023) ****

Directed by Nick Bruno and Troy Quane


From Netflix, arrives a new animated feature entitled NIMONA.  NIMONA is an epic tale about finding friendship in the most surprising situations and accepting yourself and others for who they are.  According to Head of Animation Ted Ty the film took 8 years in the making.  The film is based on the National Book Award-nominated, New York Times best-selling graphic novel by ND Stevenson.

When Ballister Boldheart (Riz Ahmed), a knight in a futuristic medieval world, is framed for a crime he didn't commit, the only one who can help him prove his innocence is Nimona (Chloë Grace Moretz), a mischievous teen with a taste for mayhem — who also happens to be a shapeshifting creature Ballister had been trained to destroy.   But with the entire kingdom out to get him, Nimona is the best (or technically the only) sidekick Ballister can hope for. And as the lines between heroes, villains, and monsters start to blur, the two of them set out to wreak serious havoc — for Ballister to clear his name once and for all, and for Nimona to…just wreak serious havoc.

The knight Barrister and his white beau are reminiscent of the gay couple in Stephen Frears’ groundbreaking 1985 film MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE.  Hanif Kureishi (East Indian) and Daniel Day Lewis with his blonde hair colouring in that film is reproduced in NIMONA as Ballister’s boyfriend knight, Ambrosius (Edward Lee Yang)  also has coloured blond hair.

It is very encouraging to see how films have progressed in terms of tolerance to minorities.  In NIMONA, the key protagonist knight Ballister is gay.  The homosexuality is never questioned but taken as a given which means that being gay is accepted - no questions asked,  NIMONA is herself gay with her kinship to the female director of the Knighthood.  Ballister is also not of royalty but of the common man, the commoner never ever reaching the heights of knighthood.  Him being knighted also means himself being accepted as a hero and a protector of his Kingdom.  The film also portrays the love between knights Ballister and Ambrosius as something very precious and wonderful, enhancing a different aspect of a love story.  NIMONA, its script, story and direction are all to be complimented for being so progressive in the world’s acceptance for one another.  NIMONA has already achieved a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and the film is a strong bet to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature next year.

The animation of the shapeshifter proved more challenging especially during the rigging process of animation, when the animators need to transform the creature whether enlarging or reducing its size.  Netflix hosted a special screening of NIMONA in Toronto at the TIFF Bell Lightbox that I attended.  The event included a Q&A with Canadian Ted Ty, Animation Director on NIMONA. Ted is Global Head of Character Animation for DNEG Animation, based at their Montréal studio. and he explained the painstaking process of animation in this respect.  The animation is also amazing as the animation of Ballister’s face looks so much like actor Liz Ahmed’s in real life.   It is the eyes that do the trick.



Directed by Catherine Hardwicke


I was first amazed by actor Brian Cox way back when in 1991, the Scots Shakespearean actor played a repressed gay father in Nigel Finch’s THE LOST LANGUAGE OF CRANES.  Cox’s performances have continued to astound and he has played anything from Churchill to roles in super action hero films like X-MEN.  Cox is once again in top form in a film that unfortunately does not give the actor the chance to show his potential.  Cox still makes the movie and is the one reason to see it.

Cox comes up against Kate Benkinsale who plays his daughter in the film.    Beckinsale has a whole lot of movies in her resume including the UNDERWORLD films and art films like THE LAST DAY OF DISCO. Beckinsale hold her own when appearing with Cox, showing off her true talent in acting.

Powerhouse director Catherine Hardwicke (best known for being the director of TWILIGHT) gets to bring Cox and Beckinsale together in the indie film PRISONER’S DAUGHTER.  She devotes equal time to each character.  The story is as basic as the title implies - it is about the PRISONER’S DAUGHTER.  The father, Max has been in prison and unable to look after her daughter Maxine who is now a single mother after a bad marriage with a son, Ezra (Christopher Convery) who suffers from epileptic fits.  As the film opens. Maxine has just lost her waitressing job after her ex (Tyson Ritter) shows up at her work and punches Maxine’s supervisor.

A father fights for the love of his daughter and grandson, after serving twelve years in prison.

The main problem of PRISONER’S DAUGHTER is the cliched and predictable story with all the expected subplots that will lead, obviously, to the father’s redemption.  A lot of dialogue steers the plot points to the final redemption, that would provide the necessary ‘happy’ ending to the story.  This is not until the son, Ezra gets kidnapped by Maxine’s ex and other diversions.

Here comes the cliched plot points.  Father Max is diagnosed with terminal cancer.  He is allowed free time iut of prison before his death 5 months or so if his daughter will take him in with him at her place qhile he is under house arrest.  Max and his daughter do not get along, after he had deserted her, in the past, being too busy at his ‘questionable’ work and then in prison.  But when she needs money for her son’s seizure meds, she has no option but to take him in.  The usual stuff she imposes includes him not revealing that he is his grandad.  And to add to the melodrama, the boy is  bullied in school.  Grandad who used to be a professional boxer now teaches him the ropes.  And so on, and so on with no surprises in the story.  As expected, there will be moments when the heartstrings are tugged, and quite emotionally.

The film does contain a few charming segments like the pep talk Max gives to his grandson following which he says: “Now go apologize to your mother.”

PRISONER’S DAUGHTER opens in theatres June the 30th.


RUN RABBIT RUN (Australia 2023) **
Directed by Daina Reid


RUN RABBIT RUN is an Aussie psychological horror thriller that is made by the director of a few of THE HANDMAID’S TALE episodes.  The HANDMAID'S TALE's Elizabeth Moss was supposed to thus play the title role but the role went instead to Australian actress Sarah Cook.  Sarah Cook isn’t half bad as Sarah the fertility doctor and she bears the same similar befuddled unsettled pretty but could be scary look as does Moss.

RUN RABBIT RUN works as a scary suspense thriller as the story is always one step ahead of its audience.  The audience is near sure of exactly what is going on.  There are no deliberate confusing parts about who is a good thing.  The audience anticipation factor is high too and that is a good sign.  When this factor is high so are expectations.  In this respect the film fails to deliver its shocks and ends in what comes through as a rather expected and tepid climax.

Why the film is called RUN RABBIT RUN remains one of the film’s mysteries.  There is always a rabbit running around in the film.  Mia loves rabbits and she is shown carrying and hugging one at a few points in the film.  Her mother’s Sarah is not so lucky to get bitten by one.  Perhaps she deserves it and she is mean to that rabbit, asking it, in one of the film’s few humorous scenes to fuck off.

As in many horror films set in the woods or in the country, RUN RABBIT RUN has overhead shots, in fact quite a few of the cars driving along a long winding road with lots of vegetation,  The cinematography is actually quite stunning, courtesy of d.p. Bonne Elliot showcasing the beauty of the landscape of the state of Southern Australia.

The main positive point of the film is the lead Sarah Snook’s performance as the unsettled mother.  Clearly she shows her distress on screen, not knowing what to do and not knowing what is going on.  Is her daughter being possessed by the spirit of her dad sister or is her daughter going mad?  Or maybe she is going half bonkers as well.   The only other well-known actor in the film is Greta Scacchi who plans Joan, her mother in the nursing home suffering from Dementia, though she is Alice, Sarah’s missing sister.  She thinks Alice is still alive.  When Sarah and her daughter, Mia visit, Mia thinks she is Alice and all hell breaks loose.

The film suffered from a really thin plot and it shows.  Director Reid’s film is thus a slow burn and one can see her trying to fill up the film’s running time of an hour and a half.

The film also tackles the issues of single parenthood.  Sarah has to look after Mia alone.  Though her husband and his new wife want to help, Sarah keeps her trouble to herself, which is expected.

 The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on 19 January 2023 and will be  released on Netflix on 28 June 2023.


SO MUCH TENDERNESS (Canada 2022) **
Directed by Lina Rodriguez


It is 7 and a half minutes into the film before the first line of dialogue “Does the smoke bother you?” is heard on the soundtrack as a female speaks to another seated on the passenger side of the car.   The question is asked as she waves the cigarette smoke away with her hand.  The answer would hardly matter.  There are long shots of the back of a neck and of blank faces.  Having fled Colombia after her husband was murdered, an environmental lawyer rebuilds her life in Toronto with her tempestuous daughter, only to risk losing everything when her traumatic past re-surfaces. 

All of Rodriguez’s films including SO MUCH TENDERNESS are slow burns and much patience is required to sit through any of her movies.  It is apparent that she is a perfectionist in the creation of every vignette in the film.  Rodriguez has made her style imprint in her filmmaking and it does not involve compelling viewing.  SO MUCH TENDERNESS gets really frustrating as it seems to be going and it is difficult to fathom what is the goal of Rodriguez’s film.  Rodriguez attempts to inject a bit of suspense in this story as in the segment where the mother faint recognizes a stranger and follows him for a while and into a subway station. 

Despite director Rodriguez ’s (who serves also as writer and producer) well intentions and diligence in depicting the immigration process and unease at settling in another country, SO MUCH TENDERNESS ends up quite a bore.


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