September 13, 2016

TIFF16: Munrodovar

There are no sure things at the Toronto International Film Festival, but let’s start Tuesday with a couple of sure things.

After the Storm (Japan, Hirokazu Kore-Eda, 4) Perpetually broke failing novelist sidelines as a private investigator and tries to be a better son and father and ex-husband. Well, kinda tries. Wry, beautifully portrayed family drama.

Julieta (Spain, Pedro Almodovar, 4) Woman recalls the tragic events that led her daughter to mysteriously break off all contact with her. Fuses three Alice Munro stories into a melodrama drenched in passion, menace, and color--qualities that no one but Almodovar would find in her material.

Santa & Andres (Cuba, Carlos Lechuga, 2) Village woman assigned to act as temporary minder to gay dissident writer develops a soft spot for him. Poky, underdeveloped political drama.

In the Radiant City (US, Rachel Lambert, 3.5) Man shut out by his family after testifying against his then-juvenile brother in a murder case returns twenty years later, when the sentence comes up for review. Though the script of this hard-drinking Americana piece hooks a bigger fish than it can quite land, the visual sense, scene building and work with actors marks the director as a name to watch.

Yourself and Yours (South Korea, Hong Sang-soo, 2.5) Artist wrecks his relationship with his fiancée by accusing her of lying about her drinking--a situation that arises either out of mistaken identity, or shifting identity. Lacks the layer of comedy and/or melancholy that usually lifts Hong’s very similar films above mere formal gamesmanship.

Capsule review boilerplate: Ratings are out of 5. I’ll be collecting these reviews in order of preference in a master post the Monday after the fest. Films shown on the festival circuit will appear in theaters, disc and/or streaming over the next year plus. If you’ve heard of a film showing at TIFF, I’m probably waiting to see it during its upcoming conventional release, instead favoring choices that don’t have distribution and might not reappear.

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