September 11, 2019

TIFF 2019 Day Seven: Converging Timelines & A Travelogue Gone Wrong

A White, White Day [Iceland, Hlynur Pálmason, 3.5] Rural cop on psych leave after his wife’s death comes to suspect that she was having an affair. Impeccably crafted Nordic bleakness drama follows a familiar thesis on the dangers of bottled-up emotion.

To the Ends of the Earth [Japan, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 4] Logistical setbacks and microhumiliations beset a young TV presenter shooting a travelogue in Uzbekistan. Like other Kurosawa titles this episodic mood piece feels slight at first but leaves images that grow in power retrospectively.

Ibrahim: A Fate to Define [Denmark/Palestine, Lina Al Abed, 3.5] Documentarian investigates the life of the father she never knew, having left his family to work for his likely eventual killers, the Abu Nidal Organization, which later (probably) executed him. As befits the subject matter, its informal interviews are less about definitive answers than coming to terms with their absence.

When evaluating a doc with fly-on-the-wall element, one of the odd things is you’re evaluating whether anything amazing happened while the camera was rolling—in other words, you’re reviewing reality and whether it did or didn’t deliver.

A Girl Missing [Japan, Koji Fukada, 4] Nurse’s tangential connection to the kidnapping of a client’s granddaughter later leads her to assume a new identity in pursuit of an enigmatic plan. Twisting psychological thriller generates suspense by interweaving a past and a present timeline and making us wonder how they’re going to connect up.

On the way out of the screening I overheard two patrons, one of whom had fallen asleep for a big chunk of this and was asking the other to explain what had happened and boy I do not know where I would even start.

It feels like about half of the films I’ve seen so far have included dream sequences and seeing this device used so many times in close proximity underlines what a weak choice it almost invariably is.

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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