TIFF Originals

Confessions of a Film Festival Junkie: Shape of Water, The Florida Project

I was in line for a French film when it was cancelled and this was its replacement. A fellow queuer said, it’s the new Sean Baker, and people love it. I’d seen Baker’s earlier MTV series “Greg the Bunny” and his L.A.-by-iPhone Tangerine but they didn’t prepare me for this: a documentary-like view of poor people who inhabit a residential motel in Orlando, only a few miles from Disney World.

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Confessions of a Film Festival Junkie: Toronto Wrap

TIFF is a mess! Well, that’s not exactly true, but the anarchic element that is the Toronto International Film Festival is part of its charm and vitality.

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Confessions Of A Film Festival Junkie – Part 3

Toronto is one of the fastest growing cities in North America, increasing population by 200,000 a year on average in the past decade with no sign of letting up. The downtown core can’t cope with mounting traffic and new subway routes to alleviate congestio are unlikely. And for locals and visitors alike, it was tougher because six blocks of King Street West (where the TIFF Lightbox sits) were turned into a pedestrian mall with food trucks, vendors, live concerts and teeming crowds. They’ve been doing it for at least three years and there’s no question it adds to the general festival experience.

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Confessions Of A Film Festival Junkie: Day Two

The Toronto International Film Festival opening day announcement was all about the escalators not working at the Scotiabank Theaters. Film festivals are not all about the art of cinema. The Scotiabank complex, has 18 screens. The climb is the equivalent of four flights and the grade is as severe as the London Undergroun’sd. I wondered why they simply didn’t reverse the working escalator and discovered they couldn’t because the “up” escalator operates on two motors and the “down” only has a single motor. Even if this is resolved overnight, it still has to be approved by a city inspector and I’m told there’s an epidemic of broken escalators in the city.

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Confessions of A Film Festival Junkie: Toronto Day One

I’ve attended the Toronto International Film Festival since when it was still called The Festival of Festivals, a moniker discarded in 1994. There have other changes across the years, of course. It’s been a long time since TIFF could be shorthanded as a “plucky” or “upstart” festival.

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The Torontonian reviews This Is Where I Leave You

Like a middling episode of House-“Arrested Development,” Shawn Levy’s This Is Where I Leave You—adapted from the Jonathan Tropper novel of the same name—is a dysfunctional family dramedy lacking in laughs and an emotional punch to really bring it home. The film gets by on its likable cast, but the fact that this film merely passes despite such a talented crop of comedic talent should speak to a general failure, or at least a sense of disappointment.

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Wrapping TIFF 2014

It was a really good TIFF. Solid.

What was missing, really, were the home run hitting feature films. (Great docs… but we expect that.)

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Confessions of a Film Festival Junkie: It’s a Wrap

Officially there were 366 features shown at the just completed edition of the Toronto International Film Festival. I saw about 30. So it should come as no surprise that few of this year’s public and jury prize winners managed to elude my grasp.

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The Torontonian reviews It Follows

One of the most enjoyable aspects of David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows—alongside its brilliant cinematography and chilling scares—is the inventive premise, which is as much to fun to describe as it is to watch (tell your friends about the “sexually-transmitted ghost” movie and watch their faces turn from disgusted to wildly amused).

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Confessions of a Film Festival Junkie

It’s kinda official. To be honest I really haven’t noticed anyone taking notice of the fact that Toronto mayor Rob Ford hasn’t shown his face at the Toronto International Film Festival. Granted the local attendees don’t appear to be his constituency and there is a mayoral race coming up before the end of the year. In fact, there either was a debate scheduled (there are three others on the ballot) or one that went forward that Ford opted out of without extending much of a reason.

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The Torontonian Reviews NIGHTCRAWLER

Currently my favourite film at TIFF, Nightcrawler is so refreshingly original that it’s surprising to see it’s also screenwriter Dan Gilroy’s directorial debut. But it is, and that’s fantastic, because the film goes places and takes risks I wish were more common in North American cinema. The result is a memorable, even great first feature.

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Confessions of a Film Festival Junkie: Toronto 2014 – Getting Started

Naturally my Canadian content level has risen in recent days and came into focus last week when Telefilm Canada hosted a pre-fest event for journalists and buyers in Los Angeles. Apart from product reels and a limited bar, the ‘do also had a healthy supply of TIFF’s program book … or rather tome. To the event’s credit it’s developed a rather good system of press and industry screenings that run parallel to the public showings. The veteran TIFFer can keep to the P&I projections with a couple of regular screenings tossed in to mingle with the hoi polloi.

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The Torontonian reviews Eden

Sure enough, the buzz is that Eden is the “Daft Punk” movie. It’s admittedly reductive to call it the “Daft Punk” movie in queues as the shorthand reference to what the film is about. Hansen-Løve is a name I respect more than that, but after seeing the film, though, I realize it’s the only salient thing.

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Confessions Of A Film Festival Junkie: TIFF 2014 Opening Days

The first thing you notice, or, rather, sense about Toronto is there is no recession. In the midst of festival village and all around there is massive construction. A couple of natives (and former TIFF employees) told me they hadn’t seen this level of building activity in the downtown district for at least two decades. So it’s noisy. Traffic, human and vehicular, is very stop-start. And just to up the ante the festival got the city to agree to closing off about four blocks and turning the area around its Bell Lightbox into a temporary mall with art and live music events.

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The Torontonian Reviews GRAVITY

Gravity is really, really cool.

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The Torontonian Reviews UNDER THE SKIN

Glazer’s decision to light the film with heavy chiaroscuro makes getting lost in the ambiguity sexy and mysterious, and it’s rare that you see the fullness of a character’s face. There is almost always something obscuring the skin or hiding the face of both prey and predator, which makes the shadows and confusion a bewitching result.

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The Torontonian Reviews PRISONERS

An unspoiled viewing of the film is so completely engrossing that every little clue or tidbit rattles and teases us. But the best mystery films are often those that withstand repeated viewings, for we watch these movies again and again to revisit how expertly handled each revelation is and how the characters react to them. Prisoners is this kind of mystery movie.

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The Torontonian Reviews PARKLAND

Their stories would likely be far more interesting in a written format, like Vincent Bugliosi’s “Four Days in November,” the book from which the film is adapted.

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The Torontonian Reviews BLUE RUIN

Blue Ruin comes bearing zero frills attached: the action is streamlined and exciting, the comic relief is perfectly timed, and the lead-foot pace maintains its acceleration before peaking at a bloody climax.

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Quote Unquotesee all »

“The thought is interrupted by an odd interlude. We are speaking in the side room of Casita, a swish and fairly busy Italian bistro in Aoyama – a district of Tokyo usually so replete with celebrities that they spark minimal fuss. Kojima’s fame, however, exceeds normal limits and adoring staff have worked out who their guest is. He stops mid-sentence and points up towards the speakers, delighted. The soft jazz that had been playing discreetly across the restaurant’s dark, hardwood interior has suddenly been replaced with the theme music from some of Kojima’s hit games. Harry Gregson-Williams’ music is sublime in its context but ‘Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots’ is not, Kojima acknowledges, terribly restauranty. He pauses, adjusting a pair of large, blue-framed glasses of his own design, and returns to the way in which games have not only influenced films, but have also changed the way in which people watch them. “There are stories being told [in cinema] that my generation may find surprising but which the gamer generation doesn’t find weird at all,” he says.
~ Hideo Kojima

“They’re still talking about the ‘cathedral of cinema,’ the ‘communal experience,’ blah blah. The experiences I’ve had recently in the theatre have not been good. There’s commercials, noise, cellphones. I was watching Colette at the Varsity, and halfway through red flashes came up at the bottom of the frame. A woman came out and said, ‘We’re going to have to reboot, so take fifteen minutes and come back.’ Then they rebooted it from the beginning, and she had to ask the audience to tell her how far to go. You tell me, is that a great experience? I generally don’t watch movies in a cinema at all. Netflix is the future. It’s the present. But the whole paradigm of a series, binge-watching, it’s quite different. My first reaction is that it’s more novelistic, because if you have an eight-hour season, you can get into complex, intricate things. You can let it breathe and the audience expectations are such that they will let you, where before they wouldn’t have the patience. I think only the surface has been touched with experimenting with that.”
~ David Cronenberg