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Entries in Instinct (2)

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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