September 06, 2019

TIFF 2019 Day Two: Final Testament of a Cinematic Master & An Argentinean Musical

Not much space between screenings to compose interstitial observations today, so its capsules and just the capsules for Friday, the first full day of films.

Lina from Lima [Argentina, María Paz González, 4] As she looks after her rich boss’ new house and awaits a Christmas trip to see her family in Peru, a beleaguered maid’s mounting frustrations manifest as fantasized musical numbers. Drama of everyday yearning heightened by the interplay of naturalism and artifice.

Varda by Agnes [France, Agnes Varda, 4]. Documentary self-summation of the director’s body of work in cinema and installation art, expanded from a series of masterclasses shot prior to her death this March. Reveals the formal rigor underlying the apparent lightness of her style.

The Traitor [Italy, Marco Bellochio, 3.5] After his sons are slain in a 1980 Palermo gang war, a top soldier cooperates in a mass trial that spirals into histrionic chaos. Mafia docudrama embraces the tone shifts, narrative sidetracks and wild implausibilities of a landmark historical case.

A Sun [Taiwan, Chung Mong-Hong, 4] High schooler’s juvenile detention sentence strains his family, particularly his relationship with his father, a truculent driving instructor. Bittersweet family drama with a noirish fourth act.

The Lost Okoroshi [Nigeria, Abba Makama, 2] Unmotivated security guard transforms into supernatural masquerade spirit, performing blessing dances for the virtuous and smiting the wicked. Satire of traditionalism’s revenge on the urban is cleverer than other Nollywood films that reach the festival circuit, but the storytelling basics still aren’t in place.

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.