September 11, 2019

TIFF 2019 Day Six: Cuban Emigre Spies and Refugee Application Suspense

Love Child [Denmark, Eva Mulvad, 5] Because their adulterous relationship is punishable by death, a couple flees Iran to Turkey, where they seek refugee status and permission to live in a safe country. Fly-in-the wall documentary places you inside the subjects’ family life, with emotional rollercoaster suspense as they wait for the UNHCR to determine their fate.

To say more would spoilerize, but this includes the most acute example of dramatic irony in any documentary I can think of.

Heroic Losers [Argentina, Sebastian Borensztein, 4] Crew of everyday Joes led by local hero gas station owner (Ricardo Darin) scheme to empty a vault belonging to the corrupt official who ripped them off during Argentina’s 2001 banking collapse. Charming rural heist flick uses the power of pop cinema to recuperate from national catastrophe.

Wasp Network [France, Olivier Assayas, 4] In the early 90s, a Cuban pilot (Edgar Ramirez) defects to Miami, leaving behind his patriotic wife (Penelope Cruz) and entering into a web of terrorism and covert counterterrorism. Ensemble spy docudrama tackles a dauntingly detailed real story with a tapestry-like screenplay structure that keeps resetting itself to introduce new allegiances and agendas.

I’d have to rewatch with a pause button to be sure, but I’d estimate that this has 4 act ones, 3-5 act twos, a fake act 3 and a real act 3 — not in that order.

The Antenna [Turkey, Orçun Behram, 2] Depressed building superintendent discovers that the government satellite dish installed on the roof is threatening his tenants with a bizarre black sludge. Larry Cohen-style political allegory horror realized with the very… deliberate… pacing… typical of Turkish art cinema.

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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