September 14, 2019

TIFF 2019 Day Ten: Nicolas Cage Battles a Color. Yeah, That Color. From You Know Where

The Truth [France/Japan, Hirokazu Kore-eda, 4] Legendary actress (Catherine Deneuve) launches her memoir and shoots a role opposite an intimidating new star as her resentful screenwriter daughter (Juliet Binoche) and her husband (Ethan Hawke) come to visit. Funny, beautiful tribute to French cinema and showcase to an actor even more legendary than her character.

This is part of a funding program that brings Japanese directors to make films in France. Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s 2016 Daguerreotype brilliantly imports his subtly weird sensibility to a French setting. Kore-eda on the other hand seems to say: “French film? If I’m getting one chance to make a French film it’s gonna be glamorous people drinking wine and hurting each other’s feelings in a beautiful house. I can’t get Deneuve can I? Really? Well then how about Juliet Binoche? Wow! Let’s also throw in Ludivine Sagnier. And Ethan Hawke as a wild card. And did I mention it’s also gonna tip the hat to Day For Night? Because it is. Because you did say French film, right?”

Unlike most films about filmmaking, this doesn’t send up the movie they’re making, and it does not appear to suck.

The Twentieth Century [Canada, Michael Rankin, 3] Weaselly perv William Lyon MacKenzie King falls in with imperialist forces as he yearns for an icy blond harpist and aims to become Prime Minister of Canada. The stylized, ironic mantle of Guy Maddin weighs heavily on this surreal historical spoof, which runs out of joke before it runs out of run time.

If you don’t laugh when you see Arthur Meighen portrayed as the archetypal rich bully, you have stumbled onto something that is not for you.

Color Out of Space [US, Richard Stanley, 4.5] Cozy family life for a cancer survivor (Joely Richardson) and her ex-artist hubbie (Nicolas Cage) on a farm an hour’s drive from Arkham takes a terrible turn when a glowing meteor strikes their property. Exhilarating, funny, horrible, and packed with reference points for the cognoscenti,, this is Stanley’s best film and the most philosophically faithful Lovecraft adaptation.

Among its many virtues it perfectly deploys its strategic Nicolas Cage reserves. I salute the choice that allows him to keep saying lines featuring the word “alpaca.” (So yes not a literal period adaptation but a modern update. With alpacas.)

The title shift conveniently allows us to distinguish the film Color Out Of Space from the story “The Colour Out of Space.”

Jallikattu [Malaysia, Lijo Jose Pellissery, 4] Chaos erupts when villagers try to recapture a rampaging water buffalo. Kinetic action spectacle where man vs beast devolves into man vs man, driven ever foreward by massed bodies in motion, a roving camera, quick cuts, masterful compositions and a propulsive score.

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.

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