TIFF returns for another year, pushed along by their Tuesday announcement of gala and special presentation films. This first slate has the same level of films that frequently find their way into the earliest announcement: films that will eventually be nominated for Oscars, or be ignored for Oscars, or find their way into hot take articles about how they should have been nominated for Oscars.
Toronto International Film Festival
By: Jessica Goddard Violeta Ayala’s Cocaine Prison is a Spanish language documentary that follows the intertwined lives of three people; two of which are entangled in the Bolivian justice system for their involvement in the illegal cocaine trade.
By: Jessica Goddard Kathleen Hepburn’s Never Steady, Never Still is a serious, greyscale, dragging meditation on subjects so inherently sombre, it’s practically masochistic to sit through the whole film without allowing yourself a break.
What happens when Andrey Zvyagintsev makes a political film with a female lead? A disappointing monstrosity that could’ve been a masterpiece with forty-percent discarded.
By: Jessica Goddard Mina Shum’s Meditation Park is an engaging, quirky, and empowering film about the overdue self-actualization of a Vancouver woman (Cheng Pei-pei) in light of the discovery of her husband’s affair. This thoroughly modern film also expertly highlights the immigrant experience in multicultural Canada, while making clear that the narrative is culturally universal. There is an exquisite balance of humour and poignancy in the writing, strengthened by an excellent cast.
It’s not healthy to compare movies, but I have a feeling I would’ve had greater appreciation for Ingrid Veninger’s Porcupine Lake if I hadn’t already seen Andrew Cividino’s Sleeping Giant. Both are of Canadian origin, they take place over the course of a Summer away from home, and they follow a coming-of-age narrative with kids.
By: Jessica Goddard Mary Shelley is an appropriately dramatic and sentimental depiction of the early life of 19th century writer Mary Shelley (Elle Fanning), as well as a satisfying exploration of Shelley’s influences in writing her now-classic novel, Frankenstein. The film focuses heavily on the arc(s) of Mary’s relationship with her eventual husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley (Douglas Booth); always emphasizing the ways in which Mary’s famous Gothic novel is affected by the various traumas of…
Short film director Govinda Van Maele encounters pacing issues with his feature-length debut Gutland.
By: Jessica Goddard Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name is a complex and highly nuanced coming-of-age story, packed with moving performances.
Michael Haneke’s Happy End looks at modern technology’s ability to capture atrocities, through a sort-of-sequel to Amour, again following the Laurents through a series of misfortunes.