September 10, 2015

It’s That Time of Year Again: The TIFF 15 Capsule Review FAQ

Once again it’s time for me to decamp from my game designerly duties and immerse myself full time in cinema at the Toronto International Film Festival. As I’ve done for many years, I’ll be writing capsule reviews of the movies I see and sharing them here.
This is the 40th anniversary of TIFF, which started out as the humble Festival of Festivals and has become the most important fest for prestige and international film in North America. An unprecedented number of flicks from my must-see directors unspool this year, making the always-complicated multi-level challenge of picking titles paradoxically easier and more vexing at the same time.

For those of you not crazy enough to take a vacation in which you see 45 films over eleven days, some questions may crop up. This post is here to answer them!

When will I get to see these films? A few titles appear in wide or limited theatrical release not long after their festival debuts. I mostly avoid these, since I’ll get another chance to see them soon. Most will continue to roll out to other film festivals, from London to Chicago and perhaps to a fest near you, over the next half a year or so. Those that get commercial releases will show up in movie houses over the next year, give or take. As little as ninety days after that, they’ll begin to filter onto disc, VOD, and finally streaming services like Netflix. Today’s distribution landscape makes it easier than ever for people to see obscure and niche titles, even when they live far from cities able to support thriving art house cinemas. Many of the films I saw and loved last year have by now appeared on Netflix, for example. This year a couple of the titles are from Netflix itself, like Cary Fukanaga’s much-anticipated Beasts of No Nation.

But you make me want to watch great films now! More a comment than a question, but I’ll allow it. To see something cool right away and program your own fest at home, consult my capsule review round up from last year.
Will you be seeing [major release making its debut in Toronto]? Almost undoubtedly not. Not at TIFF, anyway. When choosing titles I heavily weight the one that has yet to secure distribution. Although more films come our way eventually than ever, a few never surface again.

Will you be collecting these reviews into one post? Yes, at the fest’s end. To make my task harder, I’ll be ranking them in order of preference.

Will you be talking about it on Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff? As always. My capsule reviews will appear in the episode that drops on Oct 2nd.

What rating system do you use? I rank films from 1-5, with half points just to make you wonder why I don’t use a ten point scale. When compiling these into the long list, I translate these into verbal categories, sometimes adjusting up or down from my immediate impression.

1 – The Worst
2 – Not Recommended
3 – Okay
3.5 – Good
4 - Recommended
4.5 - Just Shy of a Masterpiece
5 - The Best

Isn’t this hard on the eyes? Yes. But it’s the legs that go first.

Reviews of tonight’s films drop tomorrow morning.

The Birds: Pronouns

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