TIFF just recently finished here in Toronto, and having seen double digits worth of films for the past three years, I realised it’s important to pace yourself. That, and to try and find a flow if you can. And not that ever before I looked for the right film to start the festival for me, but this time I got lucky and found the perfect one. Here are the films I saw this festival, and some of my thoughts on them.
Free Fire (2017)
Directed by Ben Wheatley
Free Fire is the latest film directed by Ben Wheatley who recently released the under-watched High-Rise. Wheatley makes some very unique and different films. This time, Wheatley makes a film with his writing (and editing) partner Amy Jump, and it’s about a gun deal that goes horribly wrong. The (almost) biggest shocker is how incredibly funny it is. It’s possibly the loudest I laughed in a theatre in a long time. It’s not that the film is a comedy, but instead, it’s a 70’s crime film. All the characters have their own motivations, and their own type of humour and their jokes bleed into the film at just the right moment to make the audience erupt with laughter. Free Fire is fun and loud. The violence is never glamorised or pretty, and as Wheatley does, it is very visceral.
Directed by Nacho Vigalando
This is Vigalando’s first English speaking film, and he was able to recruit one hell of a cast. Having Anne Hathaway, and Jason Sudeikis. The film is standing at the border of two genres, romantic comedy and a kaiju. every so often, both feet go into both sides and we have a giant monster in Seoul while having a very real drama occur across the world on a playground. The movie is powerful and wonderful. It also teaches what most people know, Men (as a gender) is the enemy.
Voyage of Time: Life’s Journey (2016)
Directed by Terrence Malick
I’m going to keep this super brief, the movie is GORGEOUS. But. It felt so repetitive even though it covers most of time (one can argue history repeats itself…) but I just didn’t really walk away with anything of value. This documentary wasn’t for me, but it’s for someone out there.
Directed by Garth Davis
Here’s a biopic that shouldn’t be as good as it was. Garth Davis makes this film with such a beautiful vision and a strong grasp on not only the characters but the emotion of the story. The way that Saroo owns every moment of the screen while showcasing his fear and his own will to live. This movie very much surprised me. I wasn’t expecting to react to it the way that I ended up doing.
Blair Witch (2016)
Directed by Adam Wingard
If you’re a fan of the original, I highly suggest to watch it. It’s terrifying. At first, Wingard relies on erratic editing (as it’s found footage) to make a few jump scares to get you ready for the final act, and that’s my only real complaint. It’s funny at times, when it needs to be and relentlessly scary when it should be, which is nearly the last 40 minutes.
Directed by Jeff Nichols
This is the third film by Nichols I’ve seen now (Take Shelter, Midnight Special, and Loving) and the strange thing is I only really loved Take Shelter, but Nichols is far too cold for me. I liked a lot of what Midnight Special had for it, but there was less in this. Which is a shame, because the film is something the world needs, and people may still love it, but I just didn’t. I’ll say that Ruth Negga is a star in this, she glows and shines the entire way through it all.
Directed by Pablo Larraín
Pablo Larraín is a Chilean filmmaker, and here is his first English speaking film that is produced by Darren Aronofsky (who almost directed it himself) and it’s about Jackie Kennedy. It follows her during the week after the assassination of JFK. During a Q&A Larraín explained the film perfectly, for the past 50+ years, the story was always that JFK was sitting next to his wife as he was shot, but what if he changed it, and said that Jackie was sitting next to her husband as he was shot. By putting her in the limelight, Larraín and Noah Oppenheim (screenwriter), we get to see how important Jackie Kennedy Onassis was to history as well.
Directed by Pablo Larraín
Neruda might be one of my favourite films from the festival. About Chilean poet and politician Pablo Neruda, here was a made up story about a real event. The film takes place after World War 2 when Neruda is asked to leave the country, but instead he goes into hiding. It feels like Larraín’s love letter to his home country. Neruda is fantastical and beautiful while being vulgar, eloquent, and romantic. The film feels like it would fit into any 40’s noir film along with Gael Garcia Bernal’s narration and green screen for the car scenes, minus the digital photography. I’m not sure when the official release date is for North America, but it had already played in Chile.
The Commune (2016)
Directed by Thomas Vinterberg
Thomas Vinterberg is the man behind Celebration, and The Hunt and while I’ve heard great things about both of those films, I have not seen them yet. That being said when it comes to any new film of his, I went in with some decent expectations, expecting to see a good film, and it was good. I think. A lot was going on with the film, and a lot of it were plot points that I simply couldn’t care about, and that was a shame because the main plot that revolved around a family was so fascinating and that should have had a bigger focus. While The Commune won’t be a film I think about often, I’ll admit that the performance by Trine Dyrholm as Anna is outstanding.
Directed by Julia Ducournau
Raw is currently famous for having had two people faint and need ambulances to be called during the midnight madness premiere, and maybe it’s because I’m desensitised to a disgusting amount, but it wasn’t that gruesome. What it did have was a great story about coming to grips with yourself and your own desires. This insatiable desire for human flesh might not be one that many people relate to, but there’s a part in the film about being alone at school that people can relate to.
Directed by Barry Jenkins
In short: I loved it.
For more, my review is here.
The Bad Batch (2017)
Directed by Ana Lily Amirpour
If you’ve seen A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (and if you haven’t, do so) and liked it a substantial amount, I will highly suggest this film. It’s atmospheric and a bit slow, but it’s something I loved watching. Amirpour builds a new world, and it’s fascinating to see what she was able to create.
That was my last film for the festival, and I’m glad I caught everything I wanted to see (except for La La Land, and A Monster Calls). As always, there are too many films to see them all during the festival, but they will eventually come out in the theatres, and I’ll be there to catch not only those, but some of the ones I’ve already seen.
Until next year…