September 15, 2018

TIFF18: Larceny in the Family and Bollywood Meta-Action

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

It sure is easier to drag oneself across the finish line of the final few days when the fest is having a banner year.

Shoplifters (Japan, Hirokazu Kore-eda, 5) Family that supplements its scant income by stealing from stores takes in a preschooler withou informing her abusive  parents. All the more heartbreaking for the perfect delicacy of its execution.

Hidden Man (China, Jiang Wen, 2) Hamlet-like martial artist (Eddie Peng) returns to 30s Beijing to seek vengeance against the Chinese cop and Japanese officer who killed his family. Wastes Peng’s action talents on a plodding script padded with endless scenes in which the characters talk about what they might do, instead of doing things.

Emu Runner (Australia, Imogen Thomas, 3.5) 9 year old aboriginal girl copes with her mom’s death by skipping school to bond with a wild emu. Sweet-natured family drama created in collaboration with the community of Brewanna in rural New South Wales.

The Man Who Feels No Pain (India, Vasan Bala, 3.5) Dweeby boy with a condition that blocks his pain receptors grows up, learns martial arts, and vows to fight crime. Self-referential comedy action that bogs down in the middle with an unneeded, tone-breaking complication of its romantic subplot.

aKasha (Sudan/Germany, hajooj kuka, 3) With the rainy season over and the fighting season starting up again, local lothario Adnan drags his heels in rejoining the rebels fighting Sudan’s Islamic regime. Picaresque comedy suggests that low-intensity warfare is now woven into the fabric of village life.

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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