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Entries in TIFF (212)

Tuesday
Sep172019

TIFF Jury of One - Chris Feil

Chris here, giving my own quick rundown of TIFF! Overall, I was able to see 33 films in total, including some under-the-radar thrills and more Midnight Madness films than ever before. As ever, closing out the festival is always quite bittersweet - but I'll have a little pick me up sharing what I loved most (and a few misses). Climb in my fur, and recap TIFF with me...

Best Film: Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Best Director
: Marielle Heller, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

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Monday
Sep162019

TIFF Jury of One - Nathaniel R

by Nathaniel R

We've given TIFF two days to settle and it's time to pass out awards (they're invisible but real to us) as we are prone to do and because we must move on --though we have two reviews in progress so they'll pop up soon and we'll be sure to return to some of these films soon as they emerge in movie theaters. Herewith personal favourite things from the 29 films devoured at TIFF. I got sick during the last few days so as medicinal comfort I'm allowing myself ties (gasp!) and lots and lots of categories. Ready? Here we go.

Best Film: Parasite (second runner up for the People's Choice prize)
Best Director: Bong Joon-ho, Parasite
 

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Monday
Sep162019

TIFF Quickie: Crazy White Women!

by Nathaniel R

For this last batch of short TIFF reviews, let's look at three films about mysterious and/or psychologically complex female characters. The post title was glib but the films aren't. 

DISCO (Jorunn Mykelbust Syversen, Norway)
This puzzling drama centers on a champion dancer whose mom and step-dad run some kind of evangelical church. Apparently in Scandivania -- as with America -- conservative faith movements are on the rise. Syversen shows empathy for her characters but chills it with a clinically detached rhythym to the cutting. The lost protagonist Mirjam (Josefine Frida Pettersen) has mysterious physical troubles and vacant psychology that can bring flickers of Todd Haynes' Safe (1995) to mind.

Syversen's strongest skill seems to be in observational mode. In one escalating series of scene at a Jesus camp the choices in camera distance are particularly compelling. In medium shot we observe a group of boys being told to breathe quickly in and out of paper bags to drive out the demons inside them. Cut to a long shot as we watch them comically pass out as they hyperventilate. This is a followed by a not at all comical baptism that is shot more like a drowning. Despite Syverson's obvious skill and a tight running time (94 minutes), Disco is far too repetitive and its point of view remains as opaque as Mirjam's psychology. It's not enough, always, to merely observe. C

EMA (Pablo Larraín, Chile)
The first image is a startling one: a still working traffic light engulfed in flames...

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Sunday
Sep152019

TIFF: A Good Time with "Bad Education"

by Chris Feil

Long Island public school administration corruption comes to light in Cory Finley’s Bad Education, a sharp examination of early 2000s secrets hidden in plain sight. A young school paper reporter Rachel (Blockers’ Geraldine Viswanathan) first goes looking for a quote on her high school’s flashy new building project. What she ultimately stumbles upon are records that reveal an embezzlement scheme funneling millions of taxpayer dollars into the interests of those at the top, including Hugh Jackman’s chief administrator Frank Tessone.

Based on an actual case of massive fraud, Bad Education is less salacious than you might expect and much more humanely interested. Mike Makowsky’s script starts with the big picture and focuses towards the personal, detailing not only the slippery slope of petty to major financial theft, but also the landmine of Tessone’s closeted sexuality in a culture that forces him into interiority. The film has a strong, smoothly told grasp on the finer points of the story, such as economic inequity, gender imbalance, and personal relationships allowing people to look the other way.

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Sunday
Sep152019

Silly irreverent "JoJo Rabbit" wins TIFF's People's Choice Award. Is Oscar next?

by Nathaniel R

The Grolsch People's Choice Awards at TIFF has always been a strong omen for good Oscar fortunes.  Last year Green Book was a surprise winner (it wasn't even on most Best Picture prediction charts before the screenings started, it's sudden popularity in the Oscar race came via festival debut with little pre-release buzz). This year's winner is less of a shock to the Oscar system (TFE has at least been predicting it in multiple categories since the April Foolish predictions). The winner for 2019 is Taiki Waititi's "anti-hate satire" JoJo Rabbit about a young boy and his imaginary friend "Adolf Hitler".  Noah Baumbach's moving and surprisingly funny Marriage Story and Bong Joon-Ho's brilliant Parasite, which both played to packed satisfied houses, were the runners-up. Both of those pictures are also gunning for Best Picture citations come Oscar time, though obviously Parasite has a steeper hill to climb to get there given its subtitles as Oscar's hesitancy in embracing Asian cinema. Most of the people I spoke with in Canada were actually predicting that Parasite would take the win as TIFF had to keep adding screenings. But JoJo Rabbit it is...

Though the folks at Fox Searchlight are surely celebrating JoJo Rabbit's win the road to Oscar will be much more difficult...

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Saturday
Sep142019

TIFF: "Lucy in the Sky" Flung Out of Taste

by Chris Feil

Fargo and Legion’s Noah Hawley makes his big screen directorial leap with Lucy in the Sky, a loosely transcribed true story stripped of its sensationalism. But despite this diaperless retelling of the infamous story of an earthbound astronaut’s struggles with mental illness and her eventual attempt on her lover’s life, Hawley still flattens the drama for this would-be intense character study. Even with Natalie Portman at its forefront, doing another of her signature bold, safety-net-free characterizations, Hawley’s more pseudo-humane vision is defined by its inertia. It’s too boring to be embarrassing...

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