More TIFF content! There’s a lot coming in, so I’m just going to start talking about the 16 films I saw in 12 days.
Not all of these films have distribution yet, so I’m unaware of their release dates, sadly.
Directed by Joseph Kahn
Joseph Kahn has his name in the spotlight. Most recently for continuing his professional relationship with Taylor Swift and directing her newest music video. As he said during our Q&A, he feels that he becomes more offensive when he’s called out on it. And Bodied shows it in spades. A pretty big “fuck you” to “PC” culture. A crowd pleaser that is also very, very vile. So it makes that myself, and the rest of the Midnight Madness audience adored it. And gave it the coveted People’s Choice award!
Directed by Andres Muschietti
Truth be told, I wish I wrote a review about this when it was fresh in my memories. I chose to see this during TIFF during opening day, and I went with fellow writer Kennisha (resident horror fanatics need to stick together) and we were terrified in the lead-up to it. By now, people should be aware but it’s less terrifying but more intense. It goes for that R rating with an opening that is both faithful to the book (almost) and ballsy. The film is also incredibly hilarious. In a featurette, Stephen King says that his novella The Body (famously adapted into Stand By Me) was preparation for IT. And this film uses that. I had heard comparisons to The Goonies, but after seeing the film all I could see was the former.
The Current War
Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
This cast is solid, their performances are also great. The film is not. It feels so messy, and that’s entirely due to the editing. There are editing choices like one in particular that have these two separate moments juxtaposed together and I still am unable to decipher what Gomez-Rejon was attempting to do. The plot could be the base of an interesting film in other hands, but not now, not this time. (I say this as a fan of AGR, after Town That Dreaded Sundown, Me & Earl, and his work on both Glee & American Horror Story). In the end, The Current War becomes yet another love letter to the birth of Cinema. Except this, if Cinema personified found this letter in her mailbox, she’d simply respond “no thanks, not interested.”
The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos
Simply put, Yorgos is not for me. I have only seen his previous film The Lobster and it did not click for me in any way. I thought that maybe this film might instead, but sadly, it didn’t either. It’s an extremely well-made film that works on multiple levels. It brings that same absurd humour he’s known for, but I can’t, and don’t laugh like the rest of the audience does. And that’s fine. I still recommend the film to be seen, and especially for those who saw and loved The Lobster (read: almost everyone else), I still liked this more.
The Florida Project
Directed by Sean Baker
Sean Baker knows people, clearly. Between this film and his previous masterpiece, Tangerine, he gives us insight into a world that isn’t usually seen on the big screen. And this film deserves to be seen on the biggest. He (mostly) puts down his iPhone and picks up some beautiful 35mm stock and films a movie that has such beautiful colours. And people. The characters in the film are wonderful, never perfect but so tangible and real. This writer has never seen William Dafoe bring so much joy to the screen, and happens to be so utterly sweet. In the final act, the film feels like it meanders a little bit, but once again like in Tangerine, he brings us perfect ending that is absolutely beautiful.
If You Saw His Heart
Directed by Joan Chemla
It’s become a tradition for me, for the past four years I’ve been to TIFF to see a film starring Gael Garcia Bernal. At first, it was because I’m a fan of him, but by now I’ve been so accustomed to loving the directors he’s worked with and that’s partially due to how he chooses his projects. This film helped keep my tradition alive while introducing me to a new female voice from France. What she pulled off in her first feature is mesmerizing as we see Gael’s character walk in an almost dream state throughout the brisk 90-minute film. This is definitely a director I’ll keep on my radar.
Directed by Dee Rees
Crucial viewing. This film first made waves back in January when it premiered at Sundance, and it was on my radar since. After Jason Mitchell’s incredible performance in Straight Outta Compton is what kept me intrigued all year. As the festival was starting, I found out that the incredible cinematographer Rachel Morison (Fruitvale Station, Dope, the unreleased Black Panther) worked on this as well, so I bought tickets immediately. In retrospect, I should have bought a ticket because of Dee Rees herself. I’m upset this was the first time I’ve heard her name because what she does with this super timely period piece, is masterful. The energy and emotion that was in the room as the film came to a close was electric. There are scenes and moments that I’m still thinking about and will continue to do so. The film was bought by Netflix and comes out in November, and I guarantee the film will be mentioned more on this site in the future.
Directed by Sebastián Leilo
Another tradition for me is to watch a film from Chile. Sadly, I couldn’t get into his other film A Fantastic Woman, but just like last year with another Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín, Sebastián also has two films so I was able to get tickets to see his English speaking film, Disobedience. This film stars Rachel McAdams, and Rachel Weisz (being on set might have been confusing for them at times) and it’s a love story of a reconnection between the two. While McAdams’ character is currently married to Weisz’ cousin. Taboo is a word that can be thrown around in the film. There’s a moment near the end of the film that would have been the absolute perfect spot to end the film, but Leilo apparently enjoys multiple endings, so the film continued.
Directed by Atsuko Hirayanagi
Oh Lucy! is a film about a Japanese woman living in Japan, who feels unwelcomed and out of place at her job. And in life. Thanks to an opportunity from her niece, she starts having English classes, which is taught by Josh Hartnett. Oh Lucy! brings humour and sweetness to a story that has lots of sadness as well. It was a gem to find in the festival.
Directed by Brie Larson
If given the chance, I bring up Short Term 12 whenever it’s possible to do so. When a film speaks to me like that does, I latch onto it, and the cast and crew. I try and track down work by specific actors, directors, and cinematographers to see how they’ve grown as an artist. Brie Larson is one of those people I follow, but that comes with a bias, one that I’m very aware of. Going into Unicorn Store, I kept trying to leave that bias outside of the theatre. It worked.
Unicorn Store has a cavity-inducing type of sweetness to it. It feels very similar to another coming of age films I see myself gravitate to (Frances Ha), but it has the added bonus to making Kit (Larson’s character) more childish than Frances. There are many child-like qualities to Kit, ones that she wears on her sleeves and that’s where the sweetness comes from. And while the film as a film is nothing truly special, but shows the potential of what Larson may be able to do with a stronger script, the important part of the film is there, it’s for people like us, who are unaware of where our future may take us. This is Brie’s way of hugging her fans and letting us be aware that as a twenty-something, we are going to be lost at times, if not multiple times, but we mustn’t give up.
Please read our review by one of our two new writers, Arianne here.
Roman J. Isreal, Esq.
Directed by Dan Gilroy
When news broke that the director of Nightcrawler was set to return with a film starring both Colin Farrell and Denzel Washington, Film Twitter exploded. When it was announced that it would premiere at TIFF as a last minute addition, fans attending re-organized their schedule in order to fit it in, including me. When the film came to an end, we realized we shouldn’t have.
Directed by Alexander Payne
Ouch, okay this one hurt. I love Nebraska, and Sideways. The plot for this film was so fascinating to me, and it was also partially shot here in Toronto, but when I saw the “comedy”, it did nothing to me. It felt awkwardly clunked together, and couldn’t find much humour in it. As a film, I just felt bored more often than I should have with a topic as this one had.
I Kill Giants
Directed by Anders Walter
A film that feels slightly similar to A Monster Calls, but makes it its own story by making the main character a bonified badass. It’s moving and emotional in the same way, and it’s a beautiful looking film. On top of that, it’s also a lot creepier with its creature design than A Monster Calls which is a great bonus.
Professor Marston & The Wonder Women
Directed by Angela Robinson
I found Professor Marston to be pretty great. I looked at the film as a companion piece to Wonder Woman and would be an incredible double feature. Yes, this film does have the far too common trope of setting it in flashback and told through an interview. We get an understanding of how the character the world would eventually love and be monumental. From my research on him earlier this year, nothing in the film was new to me and Skyler is right with his review, a second draft would have been very beneficial.
The Shape of Water
Directed by Guillermo Del Toro
I want to write more for this soon, but for the time being, I love Del Toro and his work. I think this might be my favourite of this.
Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Oh, this was intense. Absolutely anxiety-inducing, claustrophobic, unrelenting and in my opinion, brilliant. The film isn’t what the marketing shows it to be, and that’s why audiences might not be reacting in a positive way. On top of that, the film bathes in metaphors and allegories, and for me, it works. Others, less so. There’s definitely a discussion about this coming real soon.
That ends TIFF, but there’s more coming from me, and us.