September 07, 2018

TIFF18: Masterful Swedish SF and more

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

Ulysses & Mona (France, Sébastien Betbeder, 4) Art student seeking challenge appoints herself assistant to a gruff retired artist (Eric Cantona) as he finds reason for an amends tour. Charming comedy-drama with flashes of Jarmuschian eccentricity.

Although mobile phones have ruined many movie plots, Skype has made scenes that would previously been shot as voice calls more connected and easier to shoot.

Mobile phones have also ruined many movie screenings but that’s a whole other area.

ANIARA (Sweden, Pella Kågerman & Hugo Lilja, 5) When a luxury mass transport ship taking passengers to Mars from a ravaged Earth goes off course, a mediator of computer-assisted hallucinations struggles to keep hope alive. Surprising, multi-layered, emotionally resonant SF recalls Ballard and Kubrick while maintaining its own distinctive vision.

Among the brilliant elements of this film is the obvious-in-retrospect idea that a passenger transport vehicle would look like a combination of a hotel and a modern airport, food court and all.

Mothers’ Instinct (Belgium, Olivier Masset-Depasse, 3) After her best friend’s young son dies in an accident, a 50s housewife comes to suspect that the woman has sinister designs on her family. Otherwise assured Hitchcock homage winds up breaking the thriller contract in a way Hitch would never have signed off on.

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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