Mathew Englander (mathew5000) wrote,
Mathew Englander

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TIFF 2015 half-way point report

At the midpoint of TIFF, I've been to 16 screenings, and am still waiting for a film I can get really excited about. Most of what I've seen so far has met my expectations but not exceeded them. Here are short comments about some of what I've seen. Links are to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine because TIFF tends to break all the links on its festival site within a few months.

Short Cuts Programme 7. This year TIFF merged the “Short Cuts Canada” and “Short Cuts International” sections, so that each screening has a mixture of shorts from Canada and other countries. All nine shorts in this programme are great; my favourites were “Exit/Entrance or Transumanar” by Federica Foglia, “The Boyfriend Game” by Alice Englert, and “Concerning the Bodyguard” by Kasra Farahani.

Son of Saul (dir. László Nemes). An intense, unrelenting look at the horror of Auschwitz. Stark and powerful.

Green Room (dir. Jeremy Saulnier). Included in blogTO's roundup of the best of TIFF so far, Green Room is the best movie in the standoff/siege subgenre since Panic Room. Great cast including standout performance by Patrick Stewart.

The Iron Giant (dir. Brad Bird). This “signature edition” is a remastered director's cut, with two new scenes, of the 1999 animated kids’ movie. I had never seen it before in any format, but thoroughly enjoyed the TIFF screening.

The People vs. Fritz Bauer (dir. Lars Kraume). Coincidentally the second movie I’ve seen at TIFF set in 1957 (aside from that, The Iron Giant and Fritz Bauer have nothing in common). Similar to last year’s Labyrinth of Lies, which also had Fritz Bauer as a character (there portrayed by Gert Voss), The People vs. Fritz Bauer looks at the process of West Germany coming to terms with the horrors committed by its citizens during the Second World War. Both films engagingly depict maverick lawyers seeking justice; Labyrinth of Lies follows a young prosecutor who heads the investigation that would lead to the Frankfurt Auschwitz trials, while The People vs. Fritz Bauer focuses on the attempts by State Attorney General Fritz Bauer (here portrayed brilliantly by Burghart Klaußner) to locate Adolf Eichmann and bring him to trial in West Germany.

Our Little Sister (dir. Hirokazu Kore-Eda). I was disappointed by this, because Kore-Eda’s prior film, Like Father, Like Son was so great. Our Little Sister has beautiful compositions but lacks drama.

Love (dir. Gaspar Noé). This was the TIFF film I had been most looking forward to, because I loved Irréversible and Enter the Void, but Love was disappointing. I think the idea was to show a character who is generally decent but has made some mistakes and must live with the consequences; instead, Murphy comes across as an immature asshole who doesn’t deserve the woman he claims to love, not that she’s particularly worthy either. By showing Murphy’s relationship with nonlinear chronology (you had to concentrate on his mustache to tell whether a scene is past or present), the film kept reminding me of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which is superior in every way. As for the explicit “sentimental” sex, the film had its thunder stolen by Blue Is the Warmest Colour and (to a lesser extent) Nymphomaniac. I liked some of Love’s 3D cinematography, however, including smoke rings, and the lighting in a dance club.
Tags: films, movies, tiff, toronto international film festival

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