September 13, 2015

TIFF 15: Sometimes You Don't Want Patrick Stewart To Come Knocking

Capsule reviews and notes from the Toronto International Film Festival, Saturday Sept 12th.

Endless River [South Africa, Oliver Hermanus, 4] After his wife and children are murdered in a brutal home invasion, a French ex-pat finds himself drawn to a waitress, whose husband is a police suspect in the case. Layered, ambiguous noir drama evokes James M. Cain and the sweep of 50s CinemaScope.

Northern Soul [UK, Elaine Constantine, 3.5 ] Two lads in 1974 Lancashire bond over rare soul records and amphetamines. Bromantic music drama colors within the lines.

This was a replacement screening for Amazing Grace, a doc featuring late sixties footage of Aretha Franklin recording her classic gospel album of the same name. The filmmakers, using footage shot by the late Sydney Pollack, apparently decided to make a documentary about  Franklin without doing any research on her. Anyone familiar with her knows that her decades of experience in the music industry has left her extremely distrustful of business arrangements. So she got injunctions against them screening the film at Telluride and Chicago on the grounds that they were proceeding without her consent. The producers also then withdrew the title from TIFF, one hopes because they are now presenting Franklin with several of her legendary boxes full of cash.

Green Room [US, Jeremy Saulnier, 4] Punk band winds up trapped in a club surrounded by white supremacists intent on wiping them out. Violent survival thriller starring Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots and Alia Shawkat, with Patrick Stewart as head bad guy.

From the director of Blue Ruin, also recommended.

The Lobster [Greece, Yorgos Lanthimos, 4] Sad architect (Colin Farrell) hopes to maintain his humanity in an alternate reality dystopia where unmarrieds have 45 days to find new partners, or be transformed into animals. Alternatively funny and unsettling absurdist satire of the rules societies and individuals fight to impose on romantic love.

Other cast members include Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly and Ben Whishaw.

Office [HK, Johnnie To, 4] More than the markets are melting down for everyone from the new hires to the CEO (Chow Yun-Fat) of a trading firm headed for an IPO. Musical based on a play by star Sylvia Chang finds To continuing his  experimentations with space by leaning into the artificially of 3D on a gleaming, heavily stylized set.

Office will be getting a limited theatrical run in North America from specialty distributor Well-GO USA. Look for it almost immediately if you live near a multiplex that carries films for the Chinese community.

Have a question about my TIFF capsule reviews? It may be frequently asked. If so, I have already answered it.