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Entries in Canada (29)


TIFF Review Index

Let this serve as the official TIFF Review reference guide since the festival closed up shop Sunday night after the Free screening of the People's Choice winner Room. We hope you enjoyed reading along with our reviews. Amir and I saw about 50 movies between us but we'll have to wrap up now as NYFF screenings have already started and Oscar charts MUST be updated and so on.

Fall Film Season is finally upon us!

3 of my favorites of the 29 I saw...

37 Films Reviewed
45 Years British marital drama (Nathaniel)
3000 Nights Palestinian prison drama (Amir)
Anomalisa Existential stop-motion dramedy (Nathaniel)
Arabian Nights: Vol 2 Portugueuse art film with politicial satire vignettes (Nathaniel)
As I Open My Eyes Tunisian music drama (Nathaniel)
Baba Joon Israel's immigrant family drama & Oscar submission (Amir)
Bang Gang French teen sex drama (Nathaniel)
The Clan Argentine true crime drama (Nathaniel)
Closet Monster Canadian LGBT drama (Nathaniel)
Dégradé Palestinian hair salon set female drama (Amir)
Demolition Canadian grief dramedy (Nathaniel)
Desde Allá Venezuelan LGBT Drama & Venice winner (Amir)
Dheepan French Immigrant drama, Palme d'or winner (Amir)
The Dressmaker Australian revenge dramedy (Glenn)
Embrace of the Serpent Black & White Colombian Amazon journey (Nathaniel)
Eva Doesn't Sleep experimental Argentine corpse drama (Nathaniel)
The Family Fang US Dramedy about a performance art family (Nathaniel)
Girls Lost Swedish LGBT Teen Drama (Nathaniel)
Granny's Dancing on the Table Swedish animated/live-action hybrid (Nathaniel)
The Here After Swedish School Drama (Nathaniel)  
Homesick Norwegian incest drama (Nathaniel)
I Saw The Light US musical biopic (Nathaniel)
Invisible Filipino immigrant drama (Nathaniel)
Love French 3D sex drama (Nathaniel)
Much Loved Moroccan docudrama on sex workers in Marrakech (Amir)
Mustang Turkish coming of age drama (Amir)
Phantom Boy French animated adventure (Nathaniel)
Room US family/crime drama, and People's Choice Winner (Nathaniel)
Spotlight, US journalist drama (Nathaniel)
Stonewall US gay history drama (Nathaniel)
Taxi Jafar Panahi's comedy & Berlinale Winner (Amir)
Truth US TV news political drama (Nathaniel) 
Victoria German continuous shot crime drama (Nathaniel)
The Wave Norwegian disaster epic (Nathaniel)
The Witch this year's Sundance horror sensation (Nathaniel)
Youth Showbiz drama (Nathaniel) 

upside down, VICTORIA turned me, inside out. and round and round

Other TIFF Articles
Best Actress Contenders (Nathaniel)
Red Carpet Opening Weekend (Jose)
Red Carpet Post-Venice (Jose)
Victoria's Single Take / Birdman Comparison (Sebastian)
People's Choice and Other Awards (Nathaniel)
Women He's Undressed - The Interview (Jose) 
IndieWire Critics Poll (Nathaniel) 

TIFF Juries of One
I polled the podcasters who stayed the whole fest. Here's what they said...

  Nathaniel R Joe Reid Nick Davis
Film Room Son of Saul Arabian Nights
Director Cirro Guerra, Embrace of Serpent Ridley Scott,
The Martian
Laszlo Nemes,
Son of Saul
Actress Charlotte Rampling,
45 Years
Cate Blanchett,
Kalieaswari Srinivasan, Dheepan
Actor Jacob Tremblay,
Abraham Attah, Beasts of No Nation Frederick Lau,
Supp. Actress Kate Dickie,
The Witch
Julianne Moore, Maggie's Plan Ghalia Benali, As I Open My Eyes
Supp. Actor Stanley Tucci,
Scoot McNairy, Our Brand is Crisis Abdella Didane,
Much Loved
Craft Contribution Sound,
Son of Saul
The Assassin
  Cinematography, Embrace of Serpent Art Direction,
Son of Saul
 The Danish Girl
Camera Operator, Victoria

"Room" is the People's Choice

Great News: Room won the People's Choice award at TIFF! 
It couldn't have happened to a more deserving film and I mean that literally since it was the best of the 29 films I caught there. Confession: I really thought that Spotlight would take it since festival goers wouldn't shut up about that one. In the past twenty years the People's Choice Award has been a very solid indicator of a future Best Picture nomination. In fact, with one exception only (Hotel Rwandaif the winner was from the States or the UK, it was nominated at the Oscars. Canadian winners (Eastern Promises and The Hanging Garden) as well as most of the non-English language winners weren't so lucky. A Best Picture nomination would be a very big deal for A24 as a young distributor but they've already released so many fine and daring films they've earned one, don't you think? 

How high would you rank the film now in your predictions? 

Winners List
People's Choice Room (Lenny Abramson)
    1st Runner Up: Angry Indian Goddesses (Pan Nalin)
    2nd Runner Up: Spotlight (Tom McCarthy)

FIPRESCI DiscoveryEva Nová (Marko Skop) 
FIPRESCI Special PresentationDesierto (Jonás Cuarón) 
NETPAC Asian Cinema AwardWhispering Star (Sion Sono) 
Toronto Platform AwardHURT (Alan Zweig) 
    Honorable Mention: Neon Bull, The Promised Land, The Clan
Best Short Maman(s) (Maïmouna Doucouré)
     Honorable Mention: Rate Me (Fyzal Boulifa) 

Best Canadian Feature Closet Monster (Stephen Dunn)
    Honorable Mention: My Internship in Canada (Philippe Falardeau)
Best Canadian First Feature Film Sleeping Giant (Andrew Cividino)
Best Canadian Short Overpass (Patrice Laliberté)
    Honorable Mention: Bacon & God's Wrath (Sol Friedman)

The odd thing about the Canadian prizes is that Closet Monster, my favorite LGBT movie from the fest, which won the "Canada Goose" for Best Canadian Film is also a First Feature; there's another prize for that that it did not win! Of the other award winners, I only managed to catch Spotlight, Room, and the Toronto Platform Honorable Mention The Clan. It's a gut-wrenching true crime drama about a notorious family in Argentina who kidnapped members of other upper class families, some of whom they knew personally, for ransom money. I suspect it will be Argentina's Oscar submission but they don't announce until the end of the month.


TIFF: An LGBT Winner "Closet Monster" 

Portions of this piece were originally published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad

The Toronto International Film Festival closes shop on its 40th year tonight (imagine the stops they'll pull out for the 2025 festival!) and I'm probably on a plane as you're reading this. Given the breakneck pace of seeing so many movies there are more reviews to come from both Amir and Nathaniel (c'est moi). In other words TIFF will have something of a half life here at the blog and the Oscar charts must be updated Monday/Tuesday and so on. With the end of the big three fall fests tonight (Telluride, Venice, TIFF) it's officially on for Awards Season. Cue: marks, gunshot, running campaigning. The first prizes won't roll around until late November / early December of course.

And for many 2015 festival films winning distribution is the only thing worth campaigning for at this moment. If you're into LGBT cinema you should also check out the reviews of Desde Allá and Girls Lost. My favorite LGBT picture of the festival was Canada's own Closet Monster. More after the jump...

Click to read more ...


Tim's Toons: Norway (and TFE) salutes Torill Kove

Tim here. It's a good time  to be Torill Kove: the Norwegian-born animator/director, who has spent virtually her entire career working in Canada, received the Anders Jahre Prize in Oslo today (or yesterday, if you want to be strict about time zones). This award is given to artists at home and abroad who have enriched the cultural life of Norway, and while most of Kove's work has been funded by the invaluable National Film Board of Canada, there's no denying the national pride of her delicate, highly personal fables of life in Norway.

The easiest proof of Kove's prominence is to note that all three of the short films she has directed in her career were nominated for the Best Animated Short Oscar, and one won. Since the NFB, in its generosity and wisdom, has made two of those available online, there could be no better opportunity or excuse to wander through the imagination of one of contemporary animation's most vivid creators. [More...]

Click to read more ...


Imaginary Couples: Villeneuve & Vallée

An unexpected treat from our neighboring country to the north and a hat tip to Kevin LaForest for sharing it with us.

Two of Canada's greatest directors Jean-Marc Vallée (Wild) and Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners) recently posed for the photographer Olivier Ciappa's anti-homophobia series which photographs heterosexual celebrities as gay couples. (For a long time I actually thought Vallée was gay because his breakout hit C.R.A.Z.Y., which Canada submitted for the Oscars back in its day a decade ago, was a fine LGBT coming out drama in addition to the other things it was good at, but it turns out he's straight.) 

Vallée is riding quite an Oscar wave at the moment post The Dallas Buyers Club and Wild and his next film Demolition with Jake Gyllenhaal premieres at TIFF. (It's planning on 2016 for its US release but don't expect that plan to stick if reviews are sensational.) Villeneuve's career has been building for some time as well. Canada has actually submitted his work three times in the foreign language film category and the last of them Incendies (2010) was nominated for the big show. His newest feature Sicario (see that intense trailer) stars Emily Blunt and Benicio del Toro in a drug trafficking drama and could be one of the fall's mightiest films and a possible Oscar player. We shall see. 

Do you like these directors?


TIFF Galas Announced

Backstage I'm trying not to panic as I've lost my lodging in Toronto (damn you stranger who cancelled my airbnb!) and so many places are already full. But as I try not to panic and calmly search for other places to crash, TIFF has announced their gala and special presentation programs. "Even if you have to sleep in the street, Nathaniel," they taunt me with this fatefully timed announcement, "you'll still want to come."*

(The initial list of films is rarely fully complete one but here's the bulk of what they'll be premiering)

These ones get the full red carpet premiere treatment

Jake Gyllenhaal in "Demolition"

  • Beeba Boys (Deepa Mehta, Canada)
  • Demolition (Jean-Marc Vallée, USA) starring Jake Gyllenhaal as an investment banker who can't deal with his grief and starts destroying things. 
  • The Dressmaker (Jocelyn Moorhouse, Australia) starring Kate Winslet
  • Eye in the Sky (Gavin Hood, UK) starring Helen Mirren & Aaron Paul
  • Hyena Road (Paul Gross, Canada) 
  • Forsaken (Jon Cassar, Canada) father and son Don & Kiefer Sutherland star
  • Freeheld (Peter Sollett, USA) starring Julianne Moore & Ellen Page
  • Legend (Brian Helgeland, UK) starring Tom Hardy as the twin Kray brothers
  • Lolo (Julie Delpy, France) Julie Delpy still doing everything for herself! 
  • The Man Who Knew Infinity (Matthew Brown, UK) starring Dev Patel & Jeremy Irons

  • The Martian (Ridley Scott, USA) starring Matt Damon
  • The Program (Stephen Frears, UK) starring Ben Foster
  • Remember (Atom Egoyan, Canada) starring Christopher Plummer
  • Septembers of Shiraz (Wayne Blair, USA) starring Adrien Brody and Salma Hayek about a jewish family during the 1979 Iranian Revolution
  • Stonewall (Roland Emmerich, USA) on the 1969 riots 

Leading filmmakers in some cases. But in some cases they may have played elsewhere but they're still billed as premieres of some kind (North-America premiere or what have you)

Emma Watson and Daniel Brühl are trapped during a Chilean coup in 1973 (Colonia)

  • Anomalisa (Charlie Kaufman & Duke Johnson) oooh, it's stop motion animation from Kaufman
  • Beasts of No Nation (Cary Fukunaga) before its Netflix premiere I guess
  • Black Mass (Scott Cooper, USA) starring Johnny Depp
  • Brooklyn (John Crowley, UK) reviewed at Sundance
  • The Club (Pablo Larraín)
  • Colonia (Florian Gallenberger, Germany) starring Emma Watson & Daniel Brühl
  • The Danish Girl (Tom Hooper, UK) starring Eddie Redmayne & Alicia Vikander
  • The Daughter (Simon Stone, Australia)
  • Deephan (Jacques Audiard, France) the Palme D'Or winner this year
  • Desierto (Jonás Cuarón)
  • Families (Jean-Paul Rappeneau, France) starring Mathieu Amalric

Jason and Nicole are grown siblings moving back in with their eccentric parents (THE FAMILY FANG)

  • The Family Fang (Jason Bateman, USA) starring Nicole Kidman and Jason Bateman
  • Guilty (Meghna Gulzar, India) starring Irrfan Khan
  • The Idol (Hany Abu-Assad, UK/Palestine)
  • I Smile Back (Adam Salky) starring Sarah Silverman, played at Sundance
  • The Lady in the Van (Nicolas Hytner, USA) starring Maggie Smith
  • Len and Company (Tim Godsall, USA) starring Rhys Ifans
  • The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos) premiered at Cannes
  • Louder than Bombs (Joachim Trier)
  • Maggie's Plan (Rebecca Miller) starring Greta Gerwig, Julianne Moore & Ethan Hawke
  • Mountains May Depart (Jia Zhang-ke, China)
  • Office (Johnnie To, China/HongKong) starring Chow Yun Fat
  • Parched (Leena Yadav, UK)

Brie Larson in ROOM (and Short Term 12 proved she's great onscreen with child actors)

  • Room (Lenny Abrahamson, Ireland/Canada) starring Brie Larson 
  • Sicario (Denis Villeneuve) starring Emily Blunt
  • Son of Saul (László Nemes, Hungary) Hungary's Oscar submission. Premiered at Cannes
  • Spotlight (Tom McCarthy
  • Summertime (Catherine Corsini, France)
  • Sunset Song (Terence Davies) 
  • Trumbo (Jay Roach, USA) starring Bryan Cranston & Helen Mirren in a Hollywood blacklist drama
  • Un Plus Une (Claude Lelouch, France) starring Jean Dujardin
  • Victoria (Sebastian Schipper, Germany) previously discussed by our German correspondent
  • Where to Invade Next (Michael Moore, USA) 
  • Youth (Paolo Sorrentino) the Cannes hit

Which movies are you most curious to read about? 



Team FYC: Enemy for Production Design

Editor's Note: We're featuring individually chosen FYC's for various longshots in the Oscar race. We'll never repeat a film or a category so we hope you enjoy the variety of picks. And if you're lucky enough to be an AMPAS, HFPA, or Critics Group voter, take note! Here's Jason on Enemy.

Toronto is a city always standing in for other places; I grew up about two hours from it and I've visited many times (I love that I saw David Cronenberg's Crash, filmed in that city, on a downtown screen there since it wasn't playing anywhere closer to me) and I've always described the town as "New York City, but clean." It is a bit sterile, a lot cold (I refer you to Cronenberg again - where else could he possibly call home?), a bit personality-free. So what better place to set Denis Villenueve's Enemy, a dark nightmare of doubles, then?

Jose Saramago's novel The Double, on which the film is based, is of course set in Portugal but more importantly it spends big chunks carrying its characters off to the countryside; Enemy however never makes it out of downtown Toronto -- there is no "out of Toronto." The city seen from far above floats between the Great Lake on one side and tundra or mist or maybe just the edge of the known world on the other; meanwhile the streets are webbed with trolley-wires and the buildings all seem like computer renderings half-finished. We see people walking the streets but they have all the presence of the ghosts haunting The Matrix, and the expressways seem to endlessly circle around in a Truman Show like loop.

Click to read more ...