September 14, 2019

TIFF 2019 Day Nine: Fightin’ the Man For Your Vegetable Stand

Lyrebird [US, Dan Friedkin, 2] Former Dutch resistance officer investigates artist Hans van Meegeren (Guy Pearce) for his role in selling a recently discovered Vermeer to Hermann Göring. Old-fashioned, po-faced production withholds as some kind of big revelation the one thing you definitely know about van Meegeren if you’re interested enough to see a movie about him. Pearce plays for laughs, perhaps realizing that the well-conceived version of this is a satirical caper piece.

Flatland [South Africa, Jenna Bass, 2] Bride flees rapist husband, kills abusive pastor and goes on the lam accompanied by the trashy pregnant white girl who regards her as a sister. Ill-reconciled combination of fugitive genre and social drama modes.

Wet Season [Singapore, Anthony Chen, 3.5] High school teacher in a stagnating marriage bonds with a student who has a crush on her. Through delicate bservation, painstakingly draws the viewer along a heavily telegraphed narrative.

City Dream [China, Weijun Chen, 4] Bemused and/or frustrated Wuhan city inspectors try to relocate a family’s unlicensed sidewalk fruit stall in the face of relentless resistance from its tantrum-throwing grandfather. Verité documentary’s study of underdogs against putatively benign authority presents human comedy with an under-layer of pathos.

Devil Between the Legs [Mexico, Arturo Ripstein, 4] Even in old age, a retired pharmacist and his wife remain tormented by lust, memories, and one another. Caustic B&W drama of love and passion twisted into hate.

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 perhaps even good old physical media 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.Unless you mean The Color Out of Space, which I’m seeing on the 14th.

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