September 11, 2018

TIFF18: A Haida Wildman and Families With Boundary Issues

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

Edge of the Knife (Canada, Gwaai Edenshaw & Helen Haig-Brown, 4) After a canoeing accident. a fisherman transforms into a gaagiixiid, or wildman. Mythic storytelling recreates the material culture and rhythms of traditional life in 19th century Haida Gwai. In the endangered Haida language.

Unlike the wendigo, the gaagiixiid is a victim of spirit possession rather than a permanently monstrous devourer of human flesh.

In place of the usual production company logos, this starts with the crests of three Haida organizations, including a band council.

Kingsway (Canada, Bruce Sweeney, 4) Depressive semiotics prof whose mom and sister are wildly over-involved in his life spirals when he spots his wife’s motorbike parked outside the titular nookie motel. Sex farce of neurotic boundary trampling dispenses sharp dialogue at a near-Hawksian clip.

The Quietude (Argentina, Pablo Trapero,4) When their father’s stroke reunited two strangely intimate sisters at the family ranch, dark secrets start to spill. Particularly steamy contribution to the venerable tradition of wrapping barbed political commentary in outrĂ© melodrama.

Argentinian cinema is really on fire these days.

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.