How long after an event can you write up your thoughts and still have it be relevant? I think I missed that window for recapping my first Toronto International Film Festival experience, but since the Vancouver International Film Festival starts tomorrow, and many of the same films are showing there, I’m doing it anyway.
I saw nine films over the 11 days of TIFF (I’m totally going to do better next year), and in totally subjective order from most to least enjoyed:
Jake Gyllenhaal is creepy as fuck in his role as an ambitious petty thief who develops an eye for capturing seedy if-it-bleeds-it-leads TV footage. This film will be of particular interest to anyone working in media, or with an opinion on the current state of local TV news.
Simon Pegg as the gun-toting bad guy? Yes please. A small Australian beach town is full of secrets and lies and shady characters, with intersecting storylines and jumps in time with a bit of a Pulp Fiction vibe. Violent and funny in the best possible way.
Yeah, it’s a rom-com, but with some surprising depth. Keira Knightley plays a woman whose friends are getting married, having babies, starting businesses — while she’s still emotionally stuck in high school. And Sam Rockwell is pretty damn sexy as the father of the teenage girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) that Keira befriends while trying to figure out her life.
I’m not typically a Jennifer Aniston fan, but she impresses in this role as a not-easy-to-like woman dealing with chronic pain who fixates on the suicide of a woman from her support group (played by Anna Kendrick). Perhaps a long shot, but this might be the role that gets Aniston an Oscar nom.
According to Jason Reitman in his remarks prior to the screening, this movie “is about the Internet and how it changed our sex lives.” But it really felt more about alienation in the digital age — why can we tweet and text about our intimate thoughts, but not say anything real to the loved one sitting right in front of us? Alas, the movie was almost too ambitious — it felt sprawling, and could have benefited from trimming back one or two of the many storylines. But Ansel Elgort continues to make me want to cuddle him, and Jennifer Garner continues to make me want to punch her in the face.
A pretty standard action movie, but it has Denzel Washington taking on Russian bad guys… with a nail gun… in slow motion… as a sprinkler rains down. That alone was worth the price of admission. Chloë Grace Moretz has a much smaller role than I expected, but it was fun… right up until the fire alarm went off in the movie theatre just before the final action sequence.
What happens when a good cop commits an illegal and immoral act for the right reasons? Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (best known for his role as Jamie Lannister on Game of Thrones) shines in the lead role in this Danish film. Hopefully this movie makes it on to Netflix someday.
This was a weird movie — parts of it were clever, parts of it were fucked up. I enjoyed the pre- and post-movie talk with Kevin Smith — and in particular his story about the origins of the idea for the film — far more than the movie itself. He’s a hilarious dude.
The only true disappointment of all the films I saw at TIFF, Cut Bank was pretty blah. According to IMDB, the screenplay “made the 2009 black list as one of the best un-produced screenplays in Hollywood” — but I think it would have been better off staying that way. Liam Hemsworth can not carry a movie, and what seemed on paper to be a pretty awesome supporting cast (Billy Bob Thorton, John Malkovich, Bruce Dern) turned out to be lacklustre. Admittedly, I may have nodded off at a few points during the film so perhaps there were some moments of brilliance I missed… but I doubt it.
There were a great many other movies that I really wanted to see during TIFF but due to scheduling (stupid work hours) or popularity (stupid pre-sale to TIFF members), I missed out on, such as Foxcatcher, Hector and the Search for Happiness, and The Imitation Game.