September 11, 2016

TIFF16: Kaiju Problems

Rained on, broiled, steamed, chilled, ketchup-spattered...I must be at the Toronto film fest, and these must be the films I saw on September 10th.

Colossal (Canada, Nacho Vigalondo, 4) After returning to her hometown to regroup, a hard-drinking ex-journalist (Anne Hathaway) discovers a link between her actions and the kaiju attacking Seoul, half a world away. Vigalondo delivers another delightful genre smush-up with this character-driven comedy/drama/monster piece. With Tim Blake Nelson and Jason Sudeikis, who gets to do a turn we haven't seen from him before.

The Red Turtle (France / Belgium / Japan,  Michael Dudok de Wit, 3.5) Island castaway lashes out at sea turtle that thwarts his raft escape plans, only to see it transform into a woman. Wordless animated feature visually references Herge and Moebius, shows that in a world of mortality, beauty and sadness are just two sides of the same experience. From Studio Ghibli.

Just Not Married (Nigeria, Uduak-Obong Patrick, 2) Ambitious student with ex-con brother and mom who needs medicine hatches scheme to get through police checkpoints with stolen cars by posing dressing himself and an accomplice as a just married bride and groom. There's a big desire on the part of fest programmers and cinema fans for the rough-and-ready Nollywood scene to yield titles that stand with the best of the developing world. Judging from this entry in this year’s TIFF spotlight on Lagos, we’re kinda rushing them.

The Oath (Iceland, Baltasar Korm├íkur, 4) When his daughter’s drug dealer boyfriend threatens his family, a driven cardiologist (Korm├íkur) demonstrates a very surgical set of skills. Spurns the exploitation roots of the vigilante genre, placing its realistic action in a moral universe where transgressions incur consequences.

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.