September 17, 2018

TIFF18: Disturbing Samurai Violence and Giant Fluffy Puppies

The festival is over for another year. Oh, how glorious to wake up without an alarm or the need to rush out the door to rush to the subway, hoof it to a venue and join a line-up. I’ll post my full round-up of all capsule reviews in order of preference tomorrow. But for now here are my reviews for the strong line-up of titles I saw on the eleventh and final day of the Toronto International Film Festival.

Helmet Heads (Chile/Costa Rica, Neto Villalobo, 4) Motorbike courier must choose between the freedom and camaraderie of his job and his girlfriend’s request that he move with her to a crummy island. Wry proletarian comedy with a fun rock n roll soundtrack.

Complicity (Japan, Kei Chikaura, 4) Young Chinese man working illegally in Japan lies his way into a trainee chef post at a Soba restaurant. Understated drama of work and worth earns its emotions honestly.

Diamantino (Portugal, Gabriel Abrantes & Daniel Schmidt, 4) Dim-witted soccer star who visualizes his victories as a cloud of giant fluffy puppies finds a new concern for refugees and becomes the cloning target of an ethnonationalist conspiracy. Carloto Cotta joins the all-time ranks of hunky idiots in this kooky satire.

Killing (Japan, Shinya Tsukamoto, 4) Young ronin, recruited by an older samurai, discovers that his skill with a practice sword does not prepare him for the visceral horror of death-dealing. Tsukamoto reforges the samurai film into the pattern of his signature early works—an initiatory rite of extreme physical mortification.

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.