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Thread: Toronto Film Festival Sept. 5- Sept 15, 2019

  1. #16
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    D'Angelo day 9



    Ordinary Love (Lisa Barros D'Sa & Glenn Leyburn, UK): W/O A two-hander with Lesly Manville and Liam Neeson of a couple whose relationship is tested when one gets a cancer diagnosis. He says the actors are "in fine form" but the film is what you'd expect, "a more tasteful, less distressing version of [Michael Haneke's] Amour, in essence." Amour wins. Pm this and the next he was just taking a chance due to a "cinematic dead zone" in the TFF scheduling.

    No. 7 Cherry Lane (Yonfan, Hong Kong): W/O/ Something like animated extra-slow expository porno, and not so as he'd want to stay over his requisite 40 mins.

    A Hidden Life (Terrence Malick, USA): 45. He "submits" that Malick's "penchant for monumental montage could scarcely be less suited to the tale of one man’s self-abnegating act of conscience." This may have been the criticism advanced at Cannes - that the Malick style doesn't fit the subject. Malick "mostly eases off on the voiceover," but uses the rushing in and then out with the camera movie even for when the subject is in the penitentiary, " which "which is anti-intuitive enough to be arresting." But he found only the last moment of the condemned man's farewell to life "got to" him. D'Angelo follows the pattern of not stating what these movies are about, most of the time, so here is the Wikipedia summary: "The film depicts the life of Franz Jägerstätter, an Austrian farmer and devout Catholic who refused to fight for the Nazis in World War II. " [This film comes out in the US in Dec.]

    Bacurau (Kleber Mendonça Filho & Juliano Dornelles, Brazil): 57 This depicts a game of hunting people down for sport. D'Angelo felt it required him to know a lot more about Brazililan politics than he does. Indeed Peter Debruge in Variety felt as "if it’s meant to be analyzed more than enjoyed, and for which footnotes might actually have done more good than subtitles. " So, same opinion. [It's in the NYFF and I expect to see it there. It has a Metascore in the 70's and some of the main anglophone critics have liked it a lot, David Erlich, Peter Bradshaw, and AA Dowd, for instance. Despite their objections about the over-referentiality or artificiality, they were impressed by the sheer pizzazz, I guess. D'Angelo concludes, "May require a second viewing following extensive reading."
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-15-2019 at 07:39 PM.

  2. #17
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    D'Angelo day 10


    A WHITE, WHITE DAY (Hvítur, Hvítur Dagur)

    [TFF '19 is over, but D'Angelo's Patreon reviews have another installment - in which he shows his tendency to have strong prejudices and enthusiasms. He turns out to hate Israeli director Nadav Lapid with a passion and to have a new favorite in the Danish director Hlynur Pálmason, whose debut Winter Brothers, shown in last year's New Directors/New Films, didn't seem to jell for me, despite evident talent. He likes the subtle Palestinian director Elia Suleiman a lot already, and this was Suleiman's first feature in a decade.]

    TIFF 2019: Day 10


    It Must Be Heaven (Elia Suleiman, Canada/Germany/France/Qatar/Turkey/Palestine): 71. "More of the same," "bemused impassivity (or impassive bemusement)" D'Angelo begins, but with Suleiman's first venture to other lands beyond Palestine - to Paris and New York. The humor for Paris are the best, doubtless because Suleiman lives there; and he said in the Q&A it's all or mostly true. Culture-clash gags are occasionally too facile, but that's counterbalanced by some of the director's "most exquisitely choreographed absurdity." We had descriptions of this film from Cannes.

    A White, White Day (Hlynur Pálmason, Denmark/Iceland/Sweden): 76 D'Angelo calls this "a below-the-radar triumph," because he hadn't known or expected anything from it, having not been immediately won over by the opening of Palmason's debut Winter Brothers. But here, he was won by the first two shots: a car in very bleak weather, and a house in multiple seasons. The film later becomes "a forbidding character study, addressing stifled grief in some of the most hauntingly oblique ways I’ve ever seen without ever losing sight of human complexity." Sequences so good he gets "chills" thinking about them, only reservations about a last scene that seemed superfluous. On verra. Hlynur Pálmason must like whiteness, since his debut notably takes place in a limestone plant. This debuted at Cannes and has won awards. See my Filmleaf ND/NF review of Winter Brothers.

    Synonyms (Nadav Lapid, Germany/France/Israel): 28. He starts by declaring Lapid "my least favorite 'name' director (by international-fest standards) currently working with whom I did not attend college". (A subscriber comments the one he dislikes more with whom he did attend college - NYU Film School - was probably Harmony Korine.) He hated everything about Synonyms: many individual scenes that he thinks bad; the new star Tom Mercier; the idea of having problems with one's nationality; Lapid's "sensibility"; the passivity of "Labid's generic French characters"; implausible aspects of the place where the protagonist too easily takes up residence immediately upon arrival in Paris from Israel - and he came in aware he'd disliked all three of Lapid's previous features. D'Angelo has talked about liking to see films with zero prior information but here he was elaborately prepared to hate every minute - which I understand, but shows inconsistency. Jay Weissberg's Variety review (at Berlin, where as D'Angelo notes, it won the Golden Bear) called this movie "deliriously unpredictable and enthrallingly impenetrable." It has a Metascore of 85% and an AlloCiné press rating of 3.4/5.0, only average, but the interesting top score is from the nearly impossible to please Cahiers du Cinéma. Synonyms is in the Main Slate of the NYFF.

    Dogs Don’t Wear Pants (J-P Valkeapää, Finland/Latvia): W/O "Exotica played straight, as a surgeon uses sessions with a dominatrix to cope with lingering grief and guilt over the accidental death of his wife. Nothing about the first 35 minutes looked particularly interesting to me, and the 'meet cute' is so clumsily engineered that I had little faith in Valkeapää’s facility. (Didn’t help that I’d previously bailed on his last film, They Have Escaped.)" [His full comment.]
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-15-2019 at 07:41 PM.

  3. #18
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    D'Angelo Last Day
    (Written back at home, he explains, hence the delay. Summarized with quotes here.)

    "Slightly delayed because I spent most of yesterday taking planes, trains and automobiles home, with spotty wi-fi on every leg of the trip."

    A Girl Missing (Kôji Fukada, France/Japan): 47. Admits he mistook the main character disguised as two different characters because he has "an embarrassing faceblindness problem with certain ASian actors." But the "protagonist's radically conflicting personae don't make emotional sense even in retrospect, plus the tentative treatment of a "key relationship, involving the sister of an abducted girl" becomes borderline offensive," and D'Angelo is "still not sold on this guy."

    Sorry We Missed You (Ken Loach, Belgium/France/UK): 54. D'Angelo found Loach's much admired Daniel Blake excessive, this less so, but says it goes into the "pitfalls of the gig economy" so extensively, he wondered if "an advocacy doc might not have been more appropriate." "The souring father-son dynamic pays dividends, though...even if the shift in emphasis means that treating one's employees as contract laborers, subject to endless penalties and fines, winds up seeming less incendiary than does a teen's anger at being deprived of his smartphone for even two minutes."

    Clemency (Chinonye Chukwu, USA): W/O [I reviewed this as part of ND/NF in March. I spoke admiringly of the serious theme and the acting, but noted that it was unenjoyable and heavyhanded. D'Angelo just walked out,and though he said "Woodard looks solid" (the star) the film he found "never not clunky."

    Deerskin (Quentin Dupieux, France): 49 He notes this oddball director is "sporadically funny" but this one of his films "really beats its single absurdist idea into the ground." This film, with Jean Dujardin, was summarized earlier on Filmleaf and I noted seeng Dupieux's previous film at ND/NF in March. This one also stars Adčle Haemel, who D'Angelo says "plays her role perhaps a bit too straight," which makes the ending "shrugworthy." but at least Dupieux keeps his films "painlessly short."

    First Love (Takashi Miike, Japan/UK): 72 His second viewing, confirming his rating; he promises a formal review coming next week on AV Club. So no need to say much or quote much here.

    This comprises 48 films seen by D'Angelo at TFF this year including six walkouts. He thinks that out of these, A White, White Day, Uncut Gems, First Love, and It Must Be Heaven "likely" to be on his top ten list "at year's end." "Plus Knives Out of course, which I feel like I saw there in spirit." He promises coming Patreon rveiews outside the Toronto list of Shadow, The Souvenir Booksmart, The Last Black Man in San Francisco,T he nightingale, The Farewell, and more.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-17-2019 at 07:29 PM.

  4. #19
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    A roundup from Screen Daily.

    Venice and Toronto 2019: which films stood out?

    This recent Screen Daily article (click on the title above) goes over some of the more discussed films of the two festivals and mentions some we hadn't heard of before. The latter include Proxima by French director Alice Winocour; Peter Cattaneo's 20-years later sequel to The Full Monty,, Military Wives (with Kirsten Scott Thomas); Only the Animals by Dominik Moll (of With a Friend Like Harry from 18 years ago).


    [Screen Daily.]

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