Rowthree Staff Summary of TIFF 2016

Our traditional round-up of impressions and reactions to the massive slate of Toronto International Film Festival has arrived in its ninth edition here in the third row. A always been the case, Row Three staff and contributors along with a few a regular reader or two provide a tiny capsule, a postcard if you will, of all the films that they saw at the festival, accompanied by an identifier-tag: [BEST], [LOVED], [LIKED], [DISLIKED], [DISAPPOINTED], [FELL ASLEEP], [WALKED OUT], [HATED] and [WORST].

Collectively we – Kurt Halfyard, Matt Brown, Bob Turnbull, Mike Rot, Ariel Fisher and Sean Kelly – saw a sizable chunk of the 300+ films shown at the festival. Hopefully this post can act as a ‘rough guide’ for films that will be finding distribution on some platform, whether on the big screen, or small internet enabled screen, in the next 18 months.
 
 

THE SHORT VERSION:

Personal BEST: MOONLIGHT [Mike Rot], [Ariel] & [Matt B.], MANCHESTER BY THE SEA [Bob], NOCTURNAL ANIMALS [Kurt], and LA LA LAND [Sean].

Personal WORST: Several folks were not willing to truly hate anything they saw this year (and that’s cool) but the low-lights were: THE DUELIST [Kurt], ONCE AGAIN [Bob], and DOG EAT DOG [Sean].
 
 
Other Consensus Picks: PATERSON, PERSONAL SHOPPER, CERTAIN WOMEN, AFTER THE STORM, RAW, LOVING and GRADUATION.
 
 
The ‘MASSIVE’ version is below. All our thoughts and impressions from offerings of the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival.

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Cinecast Episode 456 – So Far So Good…

The summer of 2016 officially winds down to a stop (thank the maker) as The Toronto International Film Festival comes to a close. Kurt spends a good chunk of this episode going through the best of the fest (from his perspective) and one or two things that didn’t work out quite as well as one would hope. Before we get there, we join Antoine Fuqua and his Magnificent Seven as they attempt to defeat the evil, mining industrialist, Peter Sarsgaard. It’s as close to an A-list cast as one can hope for these days, so does that pay off on the IMAX screen as it once did for the Western Blockbuster (if there ever was such a thing)? Lastly, Andrew has clearly had some time away from recording and producing to see quite a fair number of films. And breezes through a half-dozen of those before the boys call it a done deal. Regrets for not tying off the DePalma retrospective with a Scarface ribbon this week as promised; though that is in the works for next episode.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!

We’re now available on Google Play!

 

 
 

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Friday One Sheet: SOS

When advertising a ‘movie-star-vehicle,’ it barely needs to be said: Advertise the faces of your stars! Removing the credit block entirely for a clean Apple/Tesla kind of design, the science fiction-romantic-action picture indeed gets big, brightly lit studio portraits of Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt. And while the dots and dashes might seem a little superfluous, they actually do say “S.O.S.” in Morse code, which is the basically the core idea of the picture.

And because we missed it earlier this week, the trailer for Passengers is also tucked the fold.

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Trailer: Trespass Against Us

Despite a turn for intensity at the end of this trailer, do not be fooled, Trespass Against Us is kind of Sundancey-cute for all of its big themes of sins of the father, academia-vs-‘school-of-life’ and the United Kingdom’s social isolation of gypsies. It’s a glossy package perfectly suited for middle-brow consumption.

The very high profile cast including Michael Fassbender, Brendan Gleeson and Sean Harris (going full retard in this one, and defying the old Robert Downy Jr. commentary on this – he is excellent here, but not featured at all in the trailer. First time director (he is normally a documentary guy) Adam Smith goes for smaller moments, but cannot resist a ‘big finish’ that the movie seems to completely earn, but is nevertheless (kind of) pulled off by the sheer magnetism of Fassbender’s presence. At this point, by my editorializing, you can guess I caught this at TIFF where it debuted to kind of muted satisfaction afterwards. Trespass Against Us passes the time, but hardly leaves much of an impression. Considering all the car chases in the film, your mileage may vary.

Micro Teasers: Ghost In The Shell

After years of false starts and unfulfilled promises, the live-action remake of Mamoru Oshii’s influential animated feature, Ghost In The Shell is coming with Scarlett Johansson in the lead role (and Michael Pitt, Beat Takeshi and Juliette Binoche on support). Throughout a recent episode of Mr. Robot, a series of 6 second micro teasers showed during the commercial breaks, and they have been re-constructed to form a teaser trailer of sorts, and the result is a creepy Under The Skin (ish) vibe going here. Which I quite like.

Blu-Ray Review: Cat People

Director: Jacques Tourneur
Screenplay: DeWitt Bodeen
Starring: Simone Simon, Tom Conway, Kent Smith, Jane Randolph
Country: USA
Running Time: 73 min
Year: 1942
BBFC Certificate: PG


CCat People is a film I saw a long time ago and have vague fond memories of, so I was keen to check out The Criterion Collection’s UK Blu-Ray release. I thought it might also get me in the mood for the usual October horror movie celebrations we film bloggers like to partake in.

From the title, Cat People sounds pretty silly and trashy, and, by all accounts, it was originally intended to be a cheap crowd-pleasing fright-fest. RKO Pictures were in trouble after Citizen Kane proved an expensive commercial failure on release (which is surprising to hear now). So they hired writer Val Lewton as a new producer for the studio, strictly to make low budget horror movies to help recoup some cash. His first film was Cat People and, although he did keep it under budget as promised and it made a lot of money, he turned a potentially daft concept into something quite poetic, subtle and intelligent.

The film sees the beautiful Serbian fashion sketch artist Irena Dubrovna (Simone Simon), now living in New York, meet and quickly fall in love with Oliver Reed (not the booze loving actor, but a character played by Kent Smith). The couple get married soon after, but cracks soon appear in their relationship as Irena refuses to consummate the marriage. She believes in an old legend from her home town about the ‘cat people’ – those who had turned to witchcraft, devil worshipping and other wicked sins through their slavery to the Mameluks, who were driven out by King John. John had these sinners killed, but some escaped to the mountains, to become cat people. Supposedly these half human, half feline creatures kill those that they kiss, so, believing she is one of their descendants, Irena is afraid of the consequences of taking her new husband to bed.

The waters are further muddied when Reed’s work colleague Alice (Jane Randolph) confesses her love to him and, aided by the cracks appearing in his new marriage, he reciprocates. As Irena begins to suspect something going on between the two, her jealousy unleashes a dark, possibly cat-like side.

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Curtis Hanson: 1945 – 2016

Friend and lover of movies, director Curtis Hanson has passed on to the next plane of existence yesterday afternoon. According to reports from the Los Angeles Police Department, Hanson (71) died as the result of a heart attack.

Hanson is probably best known for his stylistic, neo-noir drama/thriller L.A. Confidential, which won him the Oscar for best writing as well as best supporting actress trophy for Kim Basinger. Not to mention its seven other nominations including best picture and best director.

The director’s last film was “Chasing Mavericks,” a biopic of surfer Jay Moriarity starring Gerard Butler, but Hanson had to leave that production toward the end of shooting in 2011 due to what was said at the time to be complications following his recent heart surgery. Michael Apted completed the film and the two shared credit on it.

His project just prior to “Chasing Mavericks” was the HBO film “Too Big to Fail” — about the efforts to save the U.S. economy from the abyss in 2008 — for which he received two Emmy nominations.

– Variety

For me personally, my first experience with the director was in 1992’s The Hand that Rocks the Cradle; which possibly hasn’t aged very well but at the time was a fairly hearty thriller that I believe audiences cheered for and was a commercial success – and indeed was nominated for a few awards itself. But of all his films, the one I would most certainly like to go to bat for is the 2000 dramedy Wonder Boys starring Michael Douglas.

It’s too bad we won’t get to see more from this director who was kind of an “every three years” kind of film maker. Which is often the sign of someone contemplative and caring about his craft. You will be missed by many sir. God speed.