Noah Baumbach knows families. Not feel-good crap or five-hankie manipulated drama. Baumbach families are a lot like the ones we share, with real awkwardness, back-handed affection and incidental trauma wound up together in the loving bonds of our flesh and blood. Despite its precious title, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) captures its titular extended clan with a disarmingly frank gaze. Debuting on Netflix today, it’s among Baumbach’s best films.
Next week, Blade Runner 2049 releases to immense hype, sans the original’s helmer Ridley Scott. That this is a good thing is almost undeniable, after Scott’s belaboured Alien sequels Prometheus and Alien: Covenant. Instead, fans will get a new replicant iteration, courtesy of French Canadian director Denis Villeneuve. That’s unequivocally awesome, cuz Villeneuve has been doing great work for awhile.
Showcasing Villeneuve’s talents is an easy win for TIFF, and they’re showing four key films from his modest filmography this week, starting tonight, Thursday, September 28th, with the inscrutable Maelström.
It’s incredible to think the real life Battle of the Sexes tennis match happened at all. Putting world number one woman tennis player Billie Jean King up against fifty-five-year-old former champ Bobby Riggs was a patently insane contest. But feminism was breaking new ground, sexism was rampant, and this circus sideshow became a cultural juggernaut. Their man vs. woman match is still the most watched tennis event ever, to this day. Does the movie Battle of the Sexes live up to its namesake, the wacko pinnacle of seventies gender wars? Or is it just a lot of racket?
Beast wasn’t in my original TIFF plans. Extremely limited press screenings forced me to blow up my schedule twice, but I saw the main things I wanted. Beast was a pick-up, from promising new filmmaker Michael Pearce. In the film, a woman is forced to defend her lover when he falls under suspicion for a series of brutal murders. While the film’s twists yank it a tad too far from the realm of believability, it’s a tense thriller and a quality debut.
Martin McDonagh’s likes his comedies like his coffee: black. Actually, I have no idea how McDonagh takes his coffee, if he takes it at all. But boy does he have a way with finding the humour in very dark situations. His first two features were uneven, but both In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths unearthed surprising depths among their myriad quirks. With his latest, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, McDonagh has created a richer film, bubbling with tension, stark satire and even a hint of that elusive trait redemption.
The Shape of Water is, ah, shaping up to be the film of the year. Guillermo del Toro’s latest brilliant film just won the top prize, the Golden Lion, at the Venice Film Festival, and it’s a good bet to win at least The People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival this year. It’s been such a hot ticket, it took me two tries to see it. And that’s at press and industry only screenings! It doesn’t come out until Friday, December 8th in North America, but lucky for all y’awl, the Red Band trailer just dropped. That and a mini-review after the jump!
This year at TIFF we’re seeing the Trump era’s first real artistic blowback. I started with Darren Aronofsky’s mother! (opening across North America this Friday, September 15th), and holy cow, it kicked things off with a bang. That exclamation point in the title is wholly deserved, and you can add about fifteen more in your head. Part psychological horror, part religious allegory, part study of the narcissistic vampirism of the artist/creator, mother! keeps coiling in on itself, like a serpent swallowing its frenzied, burgeoning tail. But is it a tale worth watching, or the sort of child only a mother could love?
Out today exclusive to PlayStation 4 is Knack 2. It’s a fun platformer, a sort of cross between the Lego games and Uncharted via Ratchet and Clank, with goblins and robots to keep you punching. The original, one of the first titles to come out for the PS4, was pretty pedestrian. Does the second instalment follow in its predecessor’s plodding footsteps, or does Knack 2 punch above its weight? Meet me after the… wait for it… jump! to find out.
It’s the silly season for Toronto filmgoers, the cine-season, TIFFmas to many devoted local movie buffs. Today the Toronto International Film Festival 2017 edition announced its first swath of upcoming films. These are Gala and Special Presentation flicks, and there’s bound to be a passel of Oscar-hunting contenders worth checking out. Catch the full list after the jump!
Man. I guess people were so depressed in the seventies they’d try just about anything. As we live through a fast-forward remix of the Watergate scandal, it’s interesting to take a look back at those strange, hungover times. The Commune is a Danish film set in the seventies, so a rather different milieu than Nixon’s America. But societal malaise was pervasive in Western culture at that time. From the talented but uneven director Thomas Vinterberg (The Celebration, The Hunt), The Commune is a loosely autobiographical film of his own experiences growing up in that era. It’s a spare tale of a marriage pushed too far, veering into melodrama.