September 15, 2018

TIFF18: Beyond the Solar System with Claire Denis and Robert Pattinson

Capsule reviews and notes from day nine of the Toronto International Film Festival.

Screwball (US, Billy Corben, 4) Documentary uses an array of zingy devices, most notably reenactments with child actors playing its stable of miscreants, to recount the baseball doping scandal arising from a Miami clinic run by self-styled “unlicensed physician” Tony Bosch. Its satirical presentation of factual material is both formally innovative and entirely fitting to the High Florida subject matter.

As a non sports fan, I was until now unfamiliar with the full kookiness of A-Rod, marquee consumer of Bosch’s unauthorized pharmaceutical regimen.

ENDZEIT - EVER AFTER (Germany, Carolina HellsgÄrd, 2) Callous survivor and traumatized psych patient try to make it from Weimar to the only other city not destroyed in the zombie apocalypse. Somber mood piece with slow pacing and arbitrary plotting.

The Realm (Spain, Rodrigo Sorogoyen, 4) Bullheaded cabinet minister (Antonio de la Torre) maneuvers to save himself from fall guy status in a corruption scandal. Crackling political thriller driven by a propulsive score and a barnburner performance from de la Torre.

High Life (France, Claire Denis, 4.5) Death row inmates, including a monkish resister (Robert Pattinson) and a controlling scientist (Juliette Binoche) take a one-way spaceship journey beyond the solar system to send astronavigational and reproductive data back to Earth. Hypnotic and distressing, horrible and beautiful vision of hijacked fecundity.

Depending on how this settles in, might get an upgrade on my final list.

A24 picked this up for distribution after its first screenings at the fest.

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, streaming platforms and DVD 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.

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