September 15, 2020

TIFF Day 5: If You Drop the Weights He Vituperates You, But If You Lift Them He Sings About Ducks

The Inconvenient Indian [Canada, Michelle Latimer, 4] Essay-format documentary examines the Indigenous struggle for sovereignty and cultural reclamation in North America, as hosted by novelist Thomas King and inspired by his nonfiction book of the same name. Makes its case through cinematic language, pushing the archival footage and talking heads format to the background.

Beginning [Georgia, Dea Kulumbegashvili, 4] Depressed wife of a pastor bears the brunt of a persecution campaign from a local man hostile to their minority Baptist faith. The camera acts as a pitiless eye in this harsh, austere drama of pervasive male oppression.

I Care a Lot [UK, J Blakeson, 3] Corrupt legal guardian (Rosamund Pike) who slaps unsuspecting seniors into care facilities to bleed them dry triggers a cat-and-mouse game when her latest prey (Dianne Wiest) turns out to be the mother of a wealthy gangster (Peter Dinklage.) Engaging thriller— until it betrays the contract it has established with the audience.

Concrete Cowboy [US, Ricky Staub, 3] After yet another expulsion from school, a troubled teen (Caleb McLaughlin) gets dumped for the summer with his father (Idris Elba), who belongs to Philadelphia’s threatened culture of inner city horse owners. A rich social milieu is the star of the show in this affirming drama, which could do with a stronger drive to activate its protagonist.

Lift Like a Girl [Egypt, Mayye Zayed, 4] From ages 13 to 18, under the tutelage of a volcanic, motormouth coach, with a rubble-strewn lot on a busy Alexandria street, weightlifter Zebiba trains to be a champion. Fly-on-the-wall documentary inhabits a hardscrabble community powered by loving verbal abuse.

The coach and his key athletes denigrate the skills of male lifters, while constantly referring to the girls as boys, urging them to man up, and telling them they need to grow balls if they want to win.

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, disc and/or streaming over the next year plus.