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

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  1. #1
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    Toronto Film Festival Sept. 5- Sept 15, 2019

    Toronto Film Festival Sept. 5- Sept 15, 2019

    Emerging favorites



    NOAH JUPE IN HONEY BOY

    Honey Boy (Alma Har’el). 3/5 stars from Benjamin Lee for Guardian, it's a "modest" autobiographical tale from Shia LaBoeuf, who wrote and is one of the actors, playing his own abusive father. A wonderful child performance by Noah Jupe is included. See the TRAILER.

    The Personal History of David Copperfield (Armando Iannucci) got 4/5 from Guardian's Lee, who is pleased with Iannucci's "buoyant and incredibly funny crowd-pleaser." It's color-blind casting includes Dev Patel in the lead role, with Tilda Swinton. Eric Kohn of Indiewire was not so pleased, thinking this was Iannucci's "first mixed bag."

    Céline Sciamma's Portrait of a Lady on Fire/Portrait d'une jeune fille en feu. A story said "everybody loves" this movie now at Toronto, but it was already a hit at Cannes (and will be in the NYFF Main Slate. Metascore now 93%. It comes out in France Wed. Sept. 18, and then we'll see how it scores with the Paris critics.

    Once Were Brothers (Daniel Roher) . The Toronto opening night film was this documentary about Robbie Robertson and The Band- with "sour notes and reckless self-mythologizing, stunning archival footage, enviable talking heads, and a queasy disregard for alternate opinions" - Indiewire, Kate Erland.

    Waves (Trey Edward Shults) (debuted at Telluride) 3/5 stars from Guardian's Benjamin Lee. The director previously made the female-meltdown drama Krisha and It Comes By Night, a two-layered horror movie. This features Kevin Harrison Jr. (of Luce, a movie I found contrived, but he's charismatic) as a high school student under growing pressure then shifts to a sweeter, quieter half about his sister, who falls for Lucas Hedges. Lee found the film split in two, but was impressed by Shults's aesthetic skills.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-14-2019 at 01:26 AM.

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    From Mike D'Angelo


    STILL FROM ABOUT ENDLESSNESS

    By "subscribing," you can get D'Angelo's Patreon reviews, in lieu of his former succinct Twitter ones, which for some reason his (more straitened) circumstances don't permit. Here are ratings and a few comments on his viewings at Toronto so far. These are in reverse order. Nothing earthshaking yet, but these show why I have missed D'Angelo's thumbnail festival reviews the past few years.

    TIFF 2019: Day 2

    Guest of Honour (Atom Egoyan, Canada): 45. "Easily his dumbest original script." With David Thewlis in the lead as "a persnickety health inspector" (in Canada).

    About Endlessness (Roy Andersson, Germany/Norway/Sweden): 65. Despite the high rating he acknowledges that without a "dinstancing effect" that supplies "a tangy flavor" things might otherwise seem "a tad rote."

    Beanpole (Kantemir Balagov, Russia): 52 "A superlatively made historical bleakfest with which I sadly never quite connected." This is on my NYFF to-do list. Deals with the nation of Russia's "unimaginable trauma" after WWII. Coming in the NYFF Main Slate.

    Vitalina Varela (Pedro Costa, Portugal): 59 He notes he doesn't like Costa but remembers he did like the "gorgeous concert film Ne change rien" though he thought it was marred by Jeanne Balibar's "mediocrity as a chanteuse." Really? Then he must not like Mathieu Amalric's Barbara, where Balibar I thought stood in quite well for the chanteuse.

    TIFF 2019: Day 1


    Les Misérables (Ladj Ly, France): 55 "Like Do the Right Thing or La Haine as experienced primarily by the racist cops, which I suppose does qualify as a somewhat fresh angle." It's beginning to emerge that these are somewhat arcane selections on D'Angelo's part. But that's the beauty of them - he makes TFF seem like ND/NF, Film Comment Selects or Locarno.

    Frankie (Ira Sachs, France/Portugal): 47 A thoroughly nice, sincere, compassionate ensemble piece that never stirred me beyond polite attentiveness. Huppert shrugs and sickly-smiles her way through the title role, frankly. . ."

    The Whistlers (Corneliu Porumboiu, Germany/France/Romania): 58 "Needed more whistling." (Cannes.)

    Zombi Child (Bertrand Bonello, France): 50 He found this Haitian zombie film by a French director is totally off the wall." the sinuous Bonello magic surfaces only on occasion. Feels like a misfire, but I’m not confident in that assessment as yet." (Cannes.)

    Liberté (Albert Serra, Germany/Portugal/Spain/France): 16 "Worst. Pornhub channel. Ever. Pure sadomasochism bores me out of my skull (one reason I adore The Duke of Burgundy), and Serra’s latest expends well over two hours lovingly (yet monotonously) cataloguing all of my least favorite perversions, from whipping to water sports to the world’s ugliest phalluses." Fair warning.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-14-2019 at 01:31 AM.

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    From Mike D'Angelo (2)


    JAMIE LEE CURTIS IN RIAN JOHNSON'SKNIVES OUT

    (Note these are just excerpts of his longer short reviews except The LIghthouse.)

    TIFF 2019: Day 3

    The County (Grímur Hákonarson, Germany/Denmark/France/Iceland): 53 More conventional and less inventive than Rams—it’s basically an Icelandic Norma Rae, with one angry widow standing up to a corrupt co-op by starting a rival, farmer-run co-op of her own.

    The Traitor (Marco Bellocchio, Italy): 54 If we must have biopics (and really, must we?), let them at least be as relentlessly eventful as this one. . .[not] really about much of anything, content merely to tap all the historical bases. . . [employs] formal devices. . .that arguably confuse more than they clarify.

    Knives Out (Rian Johnson, USA): 81 Not just the crackerjack mystery I’d hoped for, but also deeply cathartic in ways I’d never have anticipated. Final shot is pure �� [symbol of knife].[He is holding further details till it comes out in Nov. The Metascore at present is 83%.]

    [For more detail about Knives Out see as Dave Erlich's review in Indiewire: "a crackling, devious, and hugely satisfying old-school whodunnit with a modern twist — wants you to know that it takes place in the world of today" and constitutes "a sharp takedown of white entitlement."]
    The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, USA): 49 [Entire thumbnail review:} Reminded me strongly of Soderbergh’s Kafka, another b&w sophomore effort that I respected for its crazed ambition but didn’t actually much enjoy (and have never had any desire to revisit). Dafoe and Pattinson are certainly having a swell time, and I laughed at numerous salty lines and much of the gull-related comedy. Ultimately, though, the madness feels arbitrary, skin-deep, as if Eggers settled on the actors and location without fully working out what they’d do there. The Witch drew considerable power from its sheer nightmarish conviction, and that element is largely absent here. Also not a big fan of fart jokes, so maybe I’m just not the target audience this time around.

    So I guess the only ones we should really be bothered about so far are About Endlessness and Knives Out..
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-14-2019 at 01:38 AM.

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    D'Angelo day four


    MICK JAGGER IN THE BURNT ORANGE HERESY

    TIFF 2019: Day 4
    The Burnt Orange Heresy (Giuseppe Capotondi, UK/USA): 61 [complete review]
    Gotta say, Donald Sutherland’s legendary artist doesn’t make much sense, reputation-wise: Seemingly renowned for a single conceptual piece (literally an empty frame) half a century ago, he’s somehow at the center of a forgery scheme involving traditional oil-painting techniques—it’s as if Banksy had produced just one stenciled graffito and were treated like Monet following 50 years of Salinger-style seclusion. (I’m guessing Willeford’s novel handles this aspect with more clarity.) Solidly entertaining otherwise, with Debicki in particular fairly igniting the screen with casual insouciance—an especially canny performance given what we ultimately learn (or don’t learn) about her character. Capotondi strikes me as Mr. Reliable Pro.

    Martin Eden (Pietro Marcello, France/Italy): 50 [complete review]
    Has there ever been a truly strong Jack London adaptation? (I have somewhat fond memories of Curtiz’s The Sea Wolf, but it’s been a long time.) Martin Eden’s emphasis on autodidacticism and political theory makes it seem especially ill-suited for the screen, and while Marcello knows his way around an arresting image, he can’t prevent Martin’s slow, tiresome metamorphosis into the kind of guy who’s forever shouting his convictions at anyone within earshot. Social-climbing element proves strongest, though even that boils down to a comparison between two women (with London’s focus on the stigma of manual labor mostly lost). Has many passionate fans among hardcore cinephiles, but seemed like just another case of literary lepidopterology to me.

    Synchronic (Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead, USA): 47
    Benson (who writes the scripts) keeps coming up with fascinating premises and then taking them in what I find to be bizarrely unsatisfying directions.. . . . a potentially good idea semi-squandered.

    Comets (Tamar Shavgulidze, Georgia): W/O He "Didn't think" he'd "actually see" this. It "seemed to chronicle a reunion between two middle-aged women who’d perhaps been in love as teenagers (with some as-yet-unspecified trauma having separated them for many years. . ." He left the theater after 37 mins.; usually his rule is after giving a film 40 minutes of his time, he can walk out.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-14-2019 at 01:42 AM.

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    From the Guardian (Benjamin Lee)


    STILL FROM HUSTLERS

    Hustlers (Jessica Pressler) got 4/5 stars fromBenjamin Lee of the Guardian, who said watching JLo ((Jennifer Lopez) "steal" this "strippers saga" is a "vicarious thrill," "a slick, flashy, seductively entertaining segue from one season to the next" (summer to fall). A drama about a group of strippers drawn into crime robbing customers and stealing their credit card info.

    Rian Johnson's Knives Out: Like D'Angelo, the Guardian's Lee loves this one and gives it 4/5 stars, calling it a "meta" mystery homage to Agatha Christie. Johnson, working from his own script, outdoes himself here. Clearly a must-see for everybody.

    The Friend (Gabriela Cowperthwaite). A fact-based but sanitized film from the director of Blackfish. Benjamin Lee gives it only 2/5 stars. "Dakota Johnson and Casey Affleck play a couple dealing with cancer with help from a friend" in this " meandering drama," he says.

    A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller) It's not just a repeat of the doc about Mr. Rogers but more a scoffer-converted tale of a cynical journalist sent to cover him who expects to see through him but leaves converted. 4/5 also from Lee. "Tom Hanks charms as Mister Rogers: The star takes on the beloved children's TV figure in a moving and engrossing departure from a traditional biopic." Warning: the story is only partly true.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-09-2019 at 09:39 AM.

  6. #6
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    More from the Guardian


    NICOLE KIDMAN AND ANSEL ELGORT IN THE GOLDFINCH

    The Goldfinch (John Crowley) Benjamin Lee gives 3/5 to this adaptation of Donna Tartt's 800-page globe-trotting novel: "meh." It's neither good nor bad, just okay, "neither a rousing success nor an embarrassing failure, falling somewhere in between, closer to admirable attempt." At least it avoids being an "ungainly mess" as "some had expected," its "many, many moving parts" "stitched together with an elegant hand."

    (This is how I often feel about movies, that at best they fall somewhere in between rousing success and embarrassing failure.)

    Owen Gleiberman in Variety calls The Goldfinch " the year's prestige literary adaptation" that's "scrupulously faithful, yet still misses the book's captivating essence." Vanity Fair calls it "dutiful" and "well mounted but tepid" with "not enough rough texture and feeling. "

    The story line many know and is intriguing. A bombing at the Metropolitan museum, leads to a boy staling a painting while his mother is killed in the explosion. He keeps and is haunted buy the stolen secret treasure. It also has Jeffrey Wright and Sarah Paulson. Indiewire and The Globe and Mail both called Goldfinch "a disaster."


    Jojo Rabbit (Taika Waititi) is a repetitive satire that plays all Nazis as silly morons, Hitler most of all, where Hitler is just a character's imaginary friend. In the Guardian Benjamin Lee gives this 2/5 stars but says Scarlett Johansson, who's on a roll lately (isn't she always?) "is the best thing about" this movie. Owen Gleiberman of Variety calls this a " feel-good hipster Nazi comedy" (which he thinks may be a first) and " a movie that creates the illusion of danger while playing it safe." The filmmaker directed Thor: Ragnarok .

    Bad Education ( Cory Finley) From the director of Thoroughbreds is a "shaggy" retelling of a high school corruption story that Lee sees as solid but lacking except for a strong central turn by Hugh Jackman as an official determined to push the school to the bop, while Ailson Janney is a "dialed down" version of her "quippy, alcohol-soaked, Oscar- and Emmy-winning shtick," as an official who senses something fishy going on. 3/5 stars from Benjamin Lee.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 09-14-2019 at 01:52 AM.

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