Category Archives: TIFF
The TIFF Kids International Film Festival is close to wrapping up, but there’s a few gems that are still worth checking out. While teens are unlikely to be moved by the charmingly chill ghost flick Room 213, it’s perfect for a younger audience, with a simple story and zero horror histrionics.
High school dramas are back with a vengeance. There’s the noir soap opera shenanigans of Archie, Betty and Veronica on Riverdale, and the sharply observed teen pathos of Thirteen Reasons Why. Both series paint a portrait of high school about fifty shades darker than the quaint distractions of a John Hughes movie. Out on the big screen in limited release this weekend is My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea, joining the class of 2017 with a surrealistic romp fusing teen comedy and disaster movies to hilarious effect.
You know you’ve done it. You’re breezing through Twitter, and some outrageous post pisses you off. You retweet it with a snarky comment, probably signing off with a SMH or FFS. You’re still riled, so you repost it to Facebook. People start commenting, tempers flare. Friends are texting you. Meanwhile, you’re hopping off the bus and headed to a restaurant, checking in your location on Facebook, hardly thinking about the myriad crumbs you’ve left in your wake, info bits awash in the net’s digital ocean. “Digital exhaust” is what Prof. Ron Diebert calls it, the ephemera of our constant internet output waiting to be hoovered up and fed into patterns that reveal more than you could possibly imagine. It’s bad enough here, where we mostly fret about corporations assembling minutely accurate portraits of our likes and dislikes to sell us more stuff. In other places, the governments actively use Facebook and other internet media to mislead and pinpoint activists and critics, rounding them up and arresting them. In some countries, posting the wrong thing can get you killed.
I got the chance to catch Nicholas de Pencier’s documentary Black Code as part of TIFF’s Human Rights Watch Film Festival, where he and Prof. Diebert engaged in a Q&A after the screening. The doc has been playing the festival circuit, and it’s well worth checking out, if you want to stress out about how piss-poor your digital security practices probably are. The film was released in 2016, and speaking about its concerns in a contemporary context, it was clear both men recognized how the intervening year has only made their film even more painfully relevant.
There’s nothing quite like a David Lynch movie. You know the second you find yourself immersed in one of his unsettling worlds, the strange blend of earnest innocence and churning malevolence vying against one another, light and dark and laughter and horror and violence but especially the eeriness. Nobody but nobody does eerie like David Lynch. Which makes David Lynch: The Art Life so fascinating, a movie about a movie-maker that takes up all the stuff he does other than movies.
Remember the Arab Spring? That democratic fluorescence that erupted in late 2010 in Tunisia and spread with massive demonstrations to Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Iraq? It was a giddy, dangerous time when a predominantly youth movement rose up against autocratic regimes steeped in conservative Islamic ideology. Through riots and violent government crackdowns, people poured into the streets pressing for change. In Egypt, Bassem Youssef was one of the unlikely people at the forefront of the massive cultural shift. A heart surgeon turned satirical TV host, Youssef was dubbed the Egyptian Jon Stewart. Tickling Giants, the documentary from Sara Taksler, follows Youssef’s meteoric rise and lamentable fall, as a funny, principled man becomes an enemy of the state. As Donald Trump demonizes the media in America, Tickling Giants is even more resonant than when it debuted at festivals last year, revealing both the power of satire and its harsh limitations.
The big Hollywood musical is alive and well. Sure, it’s an endangered species, but Damien Chazelle’s vibrant La La Land is about as fine a specimen as you can find. Chosen by Toronto’s filmgoing horde as the best film at TIFF this year, La La Land is a throwback tour de force.
Werner Herzog is a living legend, a madman director who insists he’s “the only sane filmmaker.” The director of the eighties remake of Nosferatu and the surreal “let’s drag an entire steamship over a mountain” movie Fitzcaraldo (plus countless others) has largely turned his attention to documentary in the past twenty years. His latest explores a subject close to his fevered, compulsive mind. Into the Inferno follows Herzog and co-director and vulcanologist Clive Oppenheimer as they traipse around the globe, visiting the world’s mightiest volcanoes.
Amy Adams is having a pretty great year. It’s only going to get better. With two top-flight films at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, she’s this year’s Benedict Cumberbatch. I already wrote about her note-perfect performance as the love-lorn gallery curator in Tom Ford’s chilly noir Nocturnal Animals. Her role in Denis Villeneuve’s cerebral sci-fi feature Arrival is even better. The movie is pretty great, too. But Amy, she should clear some space on her mantle.
With Nocturnal Animals, Tom Ford seems compelled to make up for lost time. Seven years after the success of the fashion designer’s directorial debut A Single Man, Ford’s second feature merges two noir tales into a single multifaceted narrative, dancing through time and multiple fictions. Haunting, by turns icy and anguished, it’s an unsettling and exquisite study of failure, loss and revenge.
Following a rag-tag group of teens selling and sexing across the mid-West, American Honey is a modern-day Kids, minus that film’s relentless pessimism and narrative drive. With a near interminable three-hour running time, director Andrea Arnold’s fourth feature is fuelled by muddled hope and hunger, and the boundless energy of its kinetic youthful stars. If slam-bangin’ road movies across the corroded skeleton of America are your thing, read on.