September 16, 2017

#TIFF17: There Will Be Doves

Manhunt (China, John Woo, 4) Chinese lawyer framed for murder by an evil pharmaceutical company is pursued by a maverick cop. Yeah, this overt attempt to evoke the director’s classic period suffers from the too-many-screenwriters syndrome currently afflicting commercial Chinese cinema, but Once A Thief-level Woo is still a gift at this point.

Does it have doves, you ask?

Rookie question. Not only does it have a dovecote; it has an establishing shot setting up the dovecote. Try again.

Okay, does it have freeze frames?


Cocaine Prison (Bolivia/Australia, Violeta Ayala, 3) Low-level drug trade laborers languish in an uncontrolled, overcrowded Bolivian prison. Fly-on-the-wall documentary of third world injustice, with glimmer of hope.

Radiance (Japan, Naomi Kawase, 4) Naive writer of descriptive audio tracks for films is drawn to a blunt-speaking blind ex-photographer. Subtly layered romantic drama about loss and the role senses play in feeling and memory.

The Motive (Spain, Manuel Martín Cuenca, 2) Aspiring writer manipulates the lives of his new neighbors to make them better source material for a novel. Darkly comic material cries out for speed and energy but gets a director clearly more comfortable with deliberate pacing and an understated performance style.

You can see enough of the satiric bones of the book this is based on to see what a meal Alex de la Iglesia would have made of it.

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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