THE MASSIVE ROWTHREE TIFF13 SUMMARY

Welcome to our sixth annual Toronto International Film Festival Mega-Sized wrap-up post. Getting several Row Three contributors and friends to provide over 100 capsule reviews and a quick identifier tag for [BEST], [LOVED], [LIKED], [DISLIKED], [DISAPPOINTED], [BAFFLED], [WALKED OUT], [HATED] and [WORST]. Collectively we – Kurt Halfyard, Matt Brown, Matt Price, Ryan McNeil, Bob Turnbull, Mike Rot and Ariel Fisher – saw a tonne of stuff and hopefully this list can act as a ‘rough guide’ for films that are coming down the pike, to a cinema near you or perhaps one of the many streaming VOD avenues or even one of those increasingly antiquated shiny discs in the next 12 months.

THE SHORT VERSION:

Personal BEST: UNDER THE SKIN [Kurt], LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON [Mike Rot], WHY DON’T YOU PLAY IN HELL [Matt B.], STARRED UP [Bob], THE HUSBAND [Ariel], 12 YEARS A SLAVE [Ryan], and SUNSHINE ON LEITH [Matt P.].

Personal WORST: BLOOD TIES [Kurt], PARKLAND [Mike Rot], MOEBIUS [Matt B.], THE FAKE [Bob], WORDS & PICTURES [Ariel], CINEMANOVELS [Ryan], and REAL [Matt P.].

Consensus Picks: ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE, GRAVITY, 12 YEARS A SLAVE, R100, iNUMBER NUMBER, JOE, BLUE RUIN and MYSTERY ROAD.

The ‘MASSIVE’ version is tucked under the seat. Grab a cup of tea or coffee.

UNDER THE SKIN
Jonathan Glazer’s long overdue follow-up to the astounding filmmaking that was Birth was my most anticipated film of this years festival.  Somehow, with all that expectations (fan of the book, the director, and the star)  it somehow managed to deliver on the impossible-to-adapt promise of an ambiguous science fiction head-scratcher.  From its 2001: A Space Odyssey styled opening overture (which depicts the fabrication of a human eye) to its poetic, memorable, final sequence this film is delivering bonafide new cinematic language and challenges its audience towards a curious empathy.  It may not leave everyone coming out happy, but there is no denying the ambition on display here. It also puts a certain level of trust in its audience whist sustaining a delicate and disturbing mood.  The movie is a venus fly trap and you slowly, ever so slowly sink into into its murk; to be digested by it’s strangeness. -KURT [BEST]
Slightly underwhelming for something director Jonathan Glazer has been writing and thinking about for seven years but by all other standards, awesome. -ROT [LOVED]
Well that was a helluva thing, wasn’t it? Unique in concept, scope and implementation, Glazer’s film is divisive, but will likely register with anyone who sees it – and how many films do that these days? And that first 40 minutes is enthralling. -BOB [LOVED]
An interesting watch, but one that feels overly aloof and obtuse. -RYAN [DISAPPOINTED]

WHY DON’T YOU PLAY IN HELL?
I do not know what this film is, but I know that it is magnificent, daffy, outrageous, brilliant, and made (seemingly) just for me. It rung every single one of my bells, and made me take it more seriously than it wants to be taken. All of those parallel threads in the first half – too many and too complex, I’d argue, for a midnight viewing – snap together with perfect lucidity when viewed wide awake, and the back half of that movie, once all the pieces are in place, is a goddamned masterpiece. Like, I actually left wondering if Why Don’t You Play In Hell? might be the best movie I’ve ever fucking SEEN. Art transforms: and that movie takes its component elements and transforms, transcends, and transports. Also, VINE -MATT B. [BEST]
Sion Sono’s latest (described as “pure entertainment”) takes a while to get there, but lavishes 60s and 70s yakuza tributes onto its all out fun finale. A film about the joy of making films. -BOB [LOVED]
It takes a long time to build there – a very long time – but when it finally explodes, Sion Sono’s ode to the glory of filmmaking is sublime in its mayhem. An epic length yakuza battle, and the filmmaking team that attempts to make a star of one of the Bosses daughters in situ with so many other characters in orbit that you have to stand back and marvel how the Japanese continue to make movies this weird and this fun. -KURT [LIKED]
Too much, too frenetic, and too late in the game for me. A reluctant walkout, but crowd was loving it. -MATT P. [WALKED OUT]

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
In any other film, a father questioning, “Is this my son?” would be offputting. Here, it is heartbreaking. -RYAN [LOVED]
The most I have cried in a movie theater. -ROT [BEST]
“Blood alone does not make the connection”. Kore-eda’s own personal revelation that he captured beautifully through story, character and honest small moments. -BOB [LOVED]
By the yardstick of regular family drama, this one is a winner, but by the exceptionally high standard of Hirozaku Kore-Eda, and his way with child actors, I felt that this one was a bit to didactic in the nature-nurture debate. Children swapped at birth are reunited, switched back, to their biological parents with the expected results. The problem for me is that the film focused on the workoholic dad, instead of splitting the time up amongst the children and parents more evenly. It suffers from the wrong set of priorities, and just makes me want to watch Nobody Knows again. -KURT [DISAPPOINTED]

12 YEARS A SLAVE
Steve McQueen gets in touch with his inner Malick and the results are stunning. Sometimes the hype needs to be believed. -RYAN [BEST]
Cinema of the highest order shoulder to shoulder with some of the vilest brutality put onscreen. A film that does not entirely cohere as a single entity (a McQueen characteristic) rather feels like a series of perfectly realized, preciously crafted vignettes that push you through the experience of having your identity erased, your family ripped from you and your humanity tested. -ROT [LOVED]
Steve McQueen does a Terrence Malick and casts a lot of Brits to portray the worst aspects of Slavery in the American South. Excellent performances, loads of scope, and a score that continues to haunt my dreams. It is Oscarbait for sure, but the best kind of Oscarbait, the kind I want to see on a regular basis in the cinema. Plus: Finally someone is treating Chiwetel Ejiofor as a leading man and this makes me very happy. -KURT [LOVED]
A brutal, painful ride that earns every bit of emotion honestly. It lingers on the horrific without exploiting it. -BOB [LOVED]

THE HUSBAND
My favourite of this years festival, The Husband is an outstanding character study. Expertly written by Kelly Harms and lead actor Maxwell McCabe-Lokos, we are shown the portrait of a man at the end of his rope. Emotionally poignant, devastating and enlightening, the film unabashedly sheds light on a truly difficult situation, and succeeds at depicting human flaws with sympathy and compassion. -ARIEL [BEST]

STARRED UP
A last minute substitution into my schedule, David MacKenzie’s British prison film (about a son being brought to the same prison as his Dad) was authentic, engrossing and subtle in its relationships and dynamics. Surprised and blown away by how fantastic this was. -BOB [BEST]

SUNSHINE ON LEITH
Best Best Best Best Best Best. Just the Best. -MATT P. [BEST]
Pure joy. I’ll be humming these tunes for days. -RYAN [LOVED]

NIGHT MOVES
Director Kelly Reichardt brings her measured, intimate style to an issue driven thriller starring Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Saarsgard as hands on activists intent on blowing up a damn to save the environment. It is the act itself that ups the paranoia, internally and externally, to bring about the breaking point of each personality involved. If you pardon the pun, this is DAMN good filmmaking. -KURT [LOVED]
A deceptively simple, deeply satisfying depiction of guilt. Kelly Reichardt continues to make films that on the surface seem so slight but overflow with a sense of lived-in, tangible experience. Plot points may have been done before but rarely spun this authentic. The one film that has simmered in my mind long after I left the theater and persistent to stay there despite the deluge of films I caught. -ROT [LOVED]
Kelly Reichardt knows how to tell stories of high stakes, and this is no exception. It is really two stories back-to-back; one that tells about a heist, and one that discusses the fallout. -RYAN [LOVED]
Too small and slow for a fest, but great. -MATT P. [LIKED]
I didn’t get a great deal back from Kelly Reichardt’s characters in her latest, but the film’s middle section builds quite wonderfully. The paranoia is palpable, but I simply didn’t walk away with anywhere near as much as her previous films gave me. -BOB [DISAPPOINTED]

ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE
Art, Immortality and the logistics of Vampire Jet-set are handsomely examined. Why have we gone this long before someone made John Hurt a vampire? Tilda Swinton is of course exquisite, Tom Hiddleston exhibits the right amount of ennui and Mia Waskowska is in there to goose the drama. But its appreciation of art, music, and science by these long lived ones is what seals the deal and make it a far more mature bloodsucking enterprise than the recent spate of Young Adult tediousness. Putting aside Ms. Meyer, which I do happily and often, Jarmusch manages to trumps Neil Jordan and Anne Rice with this one. -KURT [LOVED]
Jarmusch makes it look easy but this is some remarkable filmmaking. – ROT[LOVED]
It’s been a good year for this – the somnambulant blood fever of Only Lovers Left Alive last night, or Stoker earlier this year, have left me hungry for a spot of blood or a pair of lips or both. Also, VINE -MATT B. [LOVED]
Dreamy trippy vampy campy lovely jubbly. -MATT P. [LIKED]

GRAVITY
An tense action film par excellence, Alphonso Cuaron raises the bar on the immersive ride of cinema with those ‘one-take’ thrill sequences started in Children of Men. I couldn’t spot a cut until over half-way through the film, as the floating camera captures the routine of astronauts working up in space before debris creates a crisis that keeps rising and falling for the entire film. An EXPERIENCE, plain and simple (and not to be missed) that showcases what over $100M can buy you in the hands of a consummate craftsman. -KURT [LOVED]
An astonishing accomplishment and true film “experience”. I grant many of the negatives others have raised about story and character, but when I was still uncurling my toes an hour after seeing it, I had to admit it was thrilling. Ho-lee-crap. -BOB [LOVED]
A helluva ride, and I will watch it over and over and pleasure in its pure cinema, but I do kinda lean on the side of this not being high art, not even on the level of Alfonso Cuaron’s previous film, Children of Men. -ROT [LOVED]
This isn’t the game-changer some might have you believe, but it IS one stellar experience. -RYAN [LOVED]

MANAKAMANA
Harvard’s Sensory Enthography Lab is an astounding 2 for 2. Last year they issued one of my favourite films in a year of films set on boats: Leviathan. They year, with new directors, comes MANAKAMANA a film that came darn close to edging out Under the Skin as my favourite screening of the festival.  Description alone is not enough to underscore just how good this film is for the observation of people.  11 cable car rides, 5 up, 6 down, to and from a temple located at the top of a verdant Nepalese mountain give further insight that it is not the destination, it is the journey.  Two 90 year old women trying to scarf down ice-cream on a stick and unguardedly laughing about the futility of doing so in close quarters on a sunny day, might just be the best cinematic image I’ve been treated to all year. Simple in craft, complex (and transcendent) in execution. -KURT [LOVED]

BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOUR
Compelling and shockingly realistic, Blue hit me hard. It has some of the most stunning performances I’ve seen in years from Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopolous, along with a beautifully nuanced story of first love. Tackling complicated material with grace and aplomb, it’s heartbreaking and relatable, and very nearly a perfect film. -ARIEL [LOVED]
Come for the Lesbian sex, stay for the interesting portrayal of young Adele as she works her way through an unambitious, but yes warm existence. I found this lengthy film, billed as Parts 1 and 2 in a possible ongoing series, to be quite compelling even though its lead isn’t really the type of character that movies are made about. She is neither hellbent on a cause or journey or anything nor suffering too much either, merely getting by like the rest of us, in life and love. I must admit the whole thing just evaporated as the credits rolled, though. -KURT [LIKED]
Too long by half, but Adele Exarchopoulos was incredible. Also, VINE -MATT B. [DISAPPOINTED]

THE UNKNOWN KNOWN
Errol Morris does not ask the questions everyone expects him to ask, and we’re so much the better because of that. -RYAN [LOVED]
Donald Rumsfeld, you sly bastard. How you weave your spell of words that go on forever, but say nothing. Kudos to Errol Morris for making the feel and cadence of his film mimic the elusive truths told by Americas all time master of spin and misdirection. The film is as awesome as it is infuriating as both Morris and Rumsfeld are detail driven wordsmiths. -KURT [LOVED]
Typical Errol Morris. You know, incredible. -MATT P. [LOVED]
“Why are you doing this?”. “That’s a vicious question!”. This time Errol Morris lets his subject (the brilliant, frustrating, obtuse, cagey and funny Donald Rumsfeld) do his own spinning of the story – and it’s a little sad to see how he comes to believe his own version. -BOB [LOVED]
Morris goes way too easy on Rumsfeld and this pissed me off no end. Would rather have had a sincere butting of heads than a smarmy Morris playing coy with a smarmy Rumsfeld over an old man’s recollection of his own mythology, letting grandpa’s grand stories go largely unblemished by facts. -ROT [HATED]

R100
Hitoshi Matsumoto continues to combine deadpan protagonists with utterly fantastical scenarios. Here a man hires an S&M firm to assault him when he least expects it. The pleasure gained from these guerrilla punish sessions (on both his body, and his sushi meal) soon evolves to anxiety as it bleeds into his family and professional life. The movie escalates into a salaryman-meets-gestapo fever dream of violence before delivering another signature Matsumoto ending. There is an element of autocritique in the whole thing in the form of characters standing in a hallway on smoke-break that is equally hilarious. Not as good as the director’s unqualified masterpiece Symbol, but darn close. -KURT [LOVED]
A befuddled single father is attacked relentlessly by S&M queens he has discreetly hired. R110 is a magnificence, in ways I’ll never be able to usefully describe. Suffice to say, when a group of miscellaneous people – after several scenes in which we cannot intuit their purpose – begin asking why the film is the way it is, I felt my brain slide sideways into helpless, happy mush, in which it stayed for the remainder; suffice further, upon the reveal shot of the man’s son, trussed up like a ham in bondage gear just off the main action, while a fat dominatrix called the Queen of Saliva dances around the father (and spits), I was a picture of joy. Also, VINE -MATT B. [LOVED]
That’s what all the Midnight Madnes movies should be like. -MATT P. [LOVED]
Fun and frisky. But when isn’t S&M mixed with Beethoven? -BOB [LOVED]
Yeah, that was about as crazy as I expected. -RYAN [LIKED]

OUR SUNHI
Hong Sang Soo at his most charmingly amused. The titular Sunhi is a struggling filmmaker arriving back at her film school after a few year hiatus. Three men who were, and still are, vie for her attentions while stealing each others best complimentary lines. The screenplay here is as magnificent as the amounts of Soju and chicken consumed at pubs and cafes. -KURT [LOVED]

FINDING VIVIAN MAIER
Lighthearted with a substantial subject, this documentary both moved and intrigued me. A photographer myself, I found John Maloof’s interest in Vivian Maier both relatable and compelling. His childlike glee is contagious, and I couldn’t help but cry throughout the process of reviving her work. -ARIEL [LOVED]

JOE
David Gordon Green is fully back in the saddle, and bless him for that. Nicolas Cage’s twin careers of quiet melancholy (Leaving Las Vegas, Bring Out The Dead) and maniac bluster (Wild At Heart, Vampires Kiss and too many to count) have finally converged into a single thing: A nuanced and still lively performance delivered here as the title character. The film is about killing trees and surrogate fathers, and is gorgeous and engaging from start to finish. Would make a great Tye Sheridan triple bill with Mud and Tree of Life…how lucky is that kid in getting roles at such an age? -KURT [LOVED]
David Gordon Green directed the shit out of this. -MATT P. [LOVED]

iNUMBER NUMBER
A Zulu Reservoir Dogs with Q.T.’s whipsmart dialogue being replaced with savvy editing and sharp action sequences. Filled to the brim with quality South African character actors fleshing out and owning their gangster roles, what here is not to love here? -KURT [LOVED]
IT STEALS YOUR ATTENTION AND NEVER LETS GO OF IT -MATT P. [LOVED]

THE F WORD
Goon was no fluke! -MATT P. [LOVED]

MYSTERY ROAD
No Country for Old Men Down Under. Blessedly combines the police procedural and classic western in a magic-hour Australian setting. An aboriginal policeman tries to solve the murder of a poverty-stricken young girl in the middle of nowhere while a suspiciously indifferent police force seems to be putting up roadblocks. The thing culminates in easily the best cinematic shoot-out of the year involving long range rifles and Hugo Weaving. -KURT [LOVED]
Aussie Western magic Hour laconic magnificence! -MATT P. [LOVED]

INTRUDERS – An absolute winner from its early dry humour through its perfectly drawn suspense and dark turns. Nobody shifts tone like Korean filmmakers. -BOB [LOVED]

BLUE RUIN – Incredibly impressed with this “different” take on the revenge thriller. Imperfect people screwing up, doing something smart and then screwing up again. And Jan Brady shoots a Tech 9. -BOB [LOVED]
Rural America renaissance keeps going. Incredible. Jeremy Saulnier joins Jeff Nichols and David Gordon Green as the preeminent chroniclers of rural American tragedy. I felt a small twinge of sadness when I thought about how much Roger Ebert would have loved it. -MATT P. [LOVED]

HEART OF A LION
A magnificent, incredible triumph of humanism over cynicism. -MATT P. [LOVED]

THE LUNCHBOX – Even though I missed the end of it, the film is a wonderful and charming look at people searching for inspiration. I liked it so much, I wanted it to play the end safe and have the characters be happy! -BOB [LOVED]

WATERMARK – No water, no life…The doc spans the globe with beautiful and terrifying images to get its message across in an engrossing way. -BOB [LOVED]

THIS IS SANLITUN
An ex-pat mockumentary that ranks with the best of team Guest. -MATT P. [LOVED]

WHEN EVEING FALLS ON BUCHAREST OR METABOLISM
The self in 17 shots. Literally crawls up its own ass. -MATT P. [LOVED]

IDA – Like an 80 minute flip-book of stunning black and white photographs that explores how culture & heritage might affect faith. Moves along at a quicker pace than that description may have you think… -BOB [LOVED]

WHAT IS CINEMA? – The film never precisely answers its own question – which is why it’s great. It gives plenty of opposing views and provides tons of clips to provoke your own interpretation. -BOB [LOVED]

ZIP & ZAP AND THE MARBLE GANG
Thrilling adventure, genuine whimsy, exultant emotion. This is why I come here. Zip and Zap was so good, so purely amazing I am about to cry tears of joy. FUCK YEAH, MOVIES -MATT P. [LOVED]

A STORY OF CHILDREN AND FILM
Marc Cousins returns with this lovely 90 minute appendix to his 15 hour Story of Film ‘Odyssey.‘ Rather than structure things chronologically, he chooses to highlight children depicted in cinema by way of behaviour. He makes it quite personal by using his niece and nephew’s behavior as a springboard. After all is said and done, I want to see one film he highlighted that involved a little boy carrying a pane of glass to fix a window, and looked to be a child’s version of Wages of Fear! -KURT [LOVED]
The most dazzling moment in the film comes at its midpoint. We have been observing Cousins’ niece and nephew as they play with a marble run, which Cousins is using as a springboard to discuss certain aspects of how children behave on camera. After a while, his nephew picks up a piece of crimson acrylic tubing and holds it up to the camera lens, using it to create a spyglass around his sister, from which be begins to describe her in a storytelling mode of his own invention. It’s lovely, and it comes in a movie where Cousins himself is telling – indeed – a story of children and film, engaging in the first alchemy (what to leave in the story, vs. what to leave out) and thereby modelling exactly what he describes in the quote above, about the constant tension between the frame and its exclusions. Cousins believes cinema is an art form in its infancy and I want to believe him. Also, VINE -MATT B. [LOVED]
I took Marc Cousins advice and let his latest foray into documenting the history of film just wash over me. It gave not just a view into children in film, but provided a wonderful view from a child’s perspective. A great continuation of his previous work. -BOB [LOVED]
Cousins avoids making “The Sixteenth Chapter” and in doing so delivers something much more interesting. -RYAN [LIKED]
Marc Cousins is pleasurable and compelling as always. MATT P. [LIKED]

YOU ARE HERE
Matthew Weiner’s greatness much more than Mad Men. -MATT P. [LOVED]

THE PAST
The two adult leads play off each other well as two people who have made mistakes and seem primed to keep making them. Not A Separation, nor does it try to be. -RYAN [LIKED]
The inevitable comparisons to Asghar Farhadi’s Oscar winning previous film do The Past an injustice. Here the director is in similar territory, but amps down the ‘action’ and amps up the visual information. Despite a relatively simple story of the dramatic fallout resulting from a couple filing divorce papers in Paris, this is a film dense with detail and information that earns its 2 hours plus runtime. -KURT [LOVED]

THE AMAZING CATFISH
The find of the festival. A tender and unassuming film about family, and those lucky enough to be adopted into one. -RYAN [LOVED]
Truly emotional. This is my highest compliment. -MATT P. [LOVED]

JODOROWSKY’S DUNE
I hope I have enough energy, passion, and gift of language at 40 than Alejandro Jodorowsky has at 84. Here he talks about the seminal adaption of DUNE which imploded in the early 1970s due to the sheer mad ambition of the thing. The creative fallout later seeded Ridley Scott’s Alien amongst other things. Jodorowsky along with likeminded souls Richard Stanley and Nicolas Winding Refn, tell the tale of one of the greatest films-to-be that continues to exist only as a perfect dream. -KURT [LOVED]
Jodorowsky is a hoot: A true madman, obviously, and his equation of filmmaking with raping a bride on her wedding night is disgusting in the extreme, but… well, like I said, he’s flat out fucking crazy, and his desire to, with Dune, make a film that is itself a prophet for a new generation (the first would-be blockbuster filmmaker ever to prioritize prophet over profit) is crazy, but it’s so endearingly wide-eyed that one can immediately see why his cadre of true believers formed so readily in the ’70s. Escaping its major talking-heads construction once in a while to visualize, as much as possible, what in the hell Jodorowsky is talking about. (A powers-of-10 long take through the whole universe, which would have started the film, is divine.) Also, VINE -MATT B. [LIKED]

THE WIND RISES
Hayao Miyazaki creates his own onscreen Eulogy with this passionate, beautiful and melancholy ode to craft, science and aviation. Like Altman’s A Prairie Home Companion, we see an artist closing the book on a wonderful career. If the protagonist this in the film considers that an artist only has 10 creative years in their life, we are blessed for Miyazaki having over 30 of them. -KURT [LOVED]
I like my Miyazaki a bit more fantastical, but there’s no denying this films beauty and introspection. -RYAN [LOVED]
A startling sentimental close to Miyazaki’s incredible career. -MATT P. [LOVED]

OMAR
A solid Palestinian crime story on par with the director’s previous film Paradise Now. -ROT [LOVED]

ANTBOY
NanananananananananananananaANTBOY! Antboy, antboy, ANTBOY! -Matt P. [LOVED]

CAN A SONG SAVE YOUR LIFE?
Something tells me I’ll take flack for this for a while. This film is messy as hell, and I can see every flaw it contains. I also don’t care. It’s about the love of music and the way music can bring us together and define any one place. I’ll never try to convince anyone who doesn’t like it that they’re wrong; sometimes you just need to go with your heart instead of your head. -RYAN [LOVED]
I admit that I was resisting the film at the outset – due partially to some cliche shortcuts and contrivances – but it wooed me and won me over with a lot of charm and music. And montages! -BOB [LIKED]
Yes, but hopefully not Adam Levine’s. that guy should die in a fire. Adam Levine is the least Jewish Jewish person that has ever lived, And I say that having watched his movie on Yom Kippur. -MATT P. [LIKED]

FOR NO GOOD REASON
Great docs have great subjects, none greater than Illustrator Ralph Steadman. -MATT P. [LOVED]

FELONY
When a decorated police officer accidentally hits a child while driving drunk and chooses to hide the crime. Other cops help him hide his lie and yet others are suspicious. A sharp morality tale that is completely upended with its ‘feel good ending’ of forgiveness that doesn’t quite nullify what has came before, but it feels to lessen things. -KURT [LIKED]

SOUTHCLIFFE
Tony Grisoni has still got that Red Riding magic; a harrowing depiction of grief. -ROT [LOVED]
Made for TV in Britain, this 3 hour series documents the consequences of a small town shooting and focuses on what true community should be through its story & characters. And let me tell you, that Eddie Marsan can break your heart. -BOB [LOVED]
Violence isn’t random, and is stoppable. -MATT P. [LIKED]

WE ARE THE BEST!
The tonic you need if you’re in a funk. So much vitality and I’m-13-and-I-love-Swedish-punk fun that you’ll bounce out singing “Hate The Sport” at top volume. -BOB [LOVED]
The three lead girls are complete darlings and their friendship, as it evolves (and particularly in regard to their differing opinions on the existence of god) is wildly sweet. It’s not quite at the Sons of Norway level in terms of storytelling, but well beyond it on character and performance. Also, VINE  -MATT B. [LIKED]
Being a girl is FUCKING PUNK ROCK AWESOME. -MATT P. [LOVED]
It is nice to watch a Swedish film that isn’t dark & depressing for a change. Great DIY punk for anyone who’s ever felt like they don’t belong. -RYAN [LIKED]

THE GREAT BEAUTY
A splendid look at la dolce vita and all its trappings. -RYAN [LIKED]

OCULUS
It’s a brilliantly conceived script in the first part, and a brilliantly executed visual piece (the editing alone is like a scotch and a hand job) in the second; it’s also scary as fuck, which few horror movies are (to me) any more. Top marks to Karen Gillan for selling an unholy mouthful of exposition in the first act, and to Analise Basso for being the redheaded 12-year-old I would most like to see get her own superhero franchise. Also, VINE – https://vine.co/v/h1KdhKmd1jn -MATT B. [LOVED]
Though a bit too crisply shot for my taste, Oculus provided easily the most startling Midnight Madness flick of the festival for me. Cleverly avoiding the predictable, it messes with your mind, and has a great time doing it. It was a shocking, and entertaining flick that I thoroughly enjoyed. -ARIEL [LIKED]
Booooooooorrriiiiiinnnngggg, wish I had been even remotely scared, or engaged. Bleagh. If Oculus really is the best that a horror film can hope to be, I am actually done with the genre. -MATT P. [HATED]

PRISONERS
The closest anybody has got to matching the sprawling grandeur of Zodiac. Its own dark little creature and even with Roger Deakins as cinematographer, Prisoners is rarely showy. -ROT [LOVED]

METALHEAD
The loudest possible version of Ordinary People. -MATT P. [LOVED]
Emotionally compelling, Metalhead is an honest and ethereal depiction of the heartbreak of loss, and the agony of moving on. With outstanding performances from Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir, Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson, and Þorbjörg Helga Þorgilsdóttir, and a soundtrack that’ll please even diehard metalheads, this film delivers. It allows you to transition as its characters do, beginning in abject blackness, and emerging on the other side aware that change and growth is possible, no matter how painful. -ARIEL [LOVED]
Devil horns raised up – way up – for this look at a young girl who takes on her brother’s love of heavy metal after he dies tragically. A story of people not letting themselves move on with their lives, it gives you the heartwarming and the hilarious. -BOB [LOVED]

CHILD OF GOD
Best Date Movie Ever! True to the Cormac McCarthy source material, perhaps to a fault. -ROT [LIKED]

DOM HEMMINGWAY
From Jude Law’s passionate delivery of a monologue on the magnificence of his member, to the strangest safe-cracking sequence this side of Sexy Beast Dom Hemingway is compulsively watchable even if the lost but lively protagonist is more like Chopper or Bronson than Ben Kingley’s crazy gangster. Plus Withnail himself, Richard E. Grant at his hang-doggiest as Hemingway’s dapper dressed reaction-rich sidekick. Not perfect, but worth a look. -KURT [LIKED]
Very Funny, with three standout scenes. -ROT [LOVED]
Brit gangster with a heavy heart mostly good! -MATT P. [LIKED]

ATILLA MARCEL
A compassionate story of overcoming the pain of repressed memories, Attila Marcel is a captivating, enchanting, and emotional film. With beautiful performances from Guillaume Gouix and Ann Le Ny, the story transitions seamlessly from whimsical comedy to sincere and heartfelt drama. This was one of my favourites this year. -ARIEL [LOVED]
Sylvain Chomet’s live action film that still feels like animation. Wonderful use of sound. -RYAN [LOVED]
Not quite the marriage of Jacques Tati and Buster Keaton that was promised, but it slowly gets on your good side. I’m still not sure why some howled with laughter (audiences are weird), but it kept a smile on my face. -BOB [LIKED]
Too precious for its own good. -MATT P. [DISAPPOINTED]

PIONEER
A bit muddled, kind of like its brain-addled hero, this Norwegian thriller centering around deep sea diving and capitalism may lose you in the middle, but it closes on a magnificent image of a oil platform being dragged out to sea, with the small family in the shadow of awesome commerce. What the heck was Wes Bentley doing in this picture with so little to do? -KURT [LIKED]
It is the first thriller about decompressing. -MATT P. [DISAPPOINTED]
Some solid 70s style and several decent moments can’t support the sloppy handling of the plot and numerous clumsy moments. It’s all a bit of a mess. That kind of works with the character’s state of mind, but it’s frustrating to watch. -BOB [DISLIKED]

CANNIBAL
An elegantly filmed romantic thriller that avoids the predictable, and instead leaves you with a haunting portrayal of a damaged man. Though elements of Hannibal Lecter are evident in Antonio de la Torre’s Carlos, the cannibalistic tailor of Granada, he avoids overt referencing, allowing the character to form his own unique identity. While an enjoyable film, it lacked a certain weight, at times feeling lack luster. -ARIEL [LIKED]
Handsome, Haneke-ish (note the remarkable opening shot and tell me you don’t think of Cache) and probably exactly what the director envisioned, this tale of a recluse tailor who cuts up people with the same meticulous care that he cuts expensive cloth failed any test of empathy or intellect (Christ metaphors abound.) I admired it even as I was kept at a distance from it.
VINE – MATT B. [LIKED]

THE STATION
A loving homage to Arctic bound The Thing, amongst other fine creature features, one should be so lucky to have the Austrian Alps as a backdrop for a monster movie. Look for the director’s mom playing a politician not afraid to get her hands dirty, and find nobility in the process. I wish they were like that in real life. -KURT [LIKED]
A fun science fiction monster thriller that will surely keep you on your toes. Between some excellent one-liners and an electric cast, it was incredibly entertaining. Though poor editing choices left a glaring plot hole at the center of the film, it still stands out as one of my favourite Midnight Madness films of 2013. -ARIEL [LIKED]
A big bug bit a weiner, bleagh. -MATT P. [DISAPPOINTED]

MAN OF TAI CHI
Somewhat dismayed by those harping on Keanu’s directorial debut, Man of Tai Chi. I found it charmingly on-model. And I will never tire of watching Reeves kick people, even if this kicks are coming around a little slower than they were ten years ago. Also, VINE  -MATT B. [LIKED]

LOVE IS THE PERFECT CRIME
Considering I walked out of these director’s previous film (Also starring Matthieu Almaric and riffing on Don McKellar’s Last Night) that I made it through this one happy enough is a big step up. Noir tropes, femme fatales, incest and murder are all snapped together in a package that is not particularly satisfying at its end, but the journey is compelling enough. -KURT [LIKED]
Great photography and a handful of well-constructed moments were frittered away by the end. Coulda. Shoulda. Didn’t. -BOB [DISLIKED]
Matthieu Almaric thinks he is a Gallic Tom Cruise. -MATT P. [HATED]

THE GREEN INFERNO
Eli Roth continues to make black comedies disguised as gore laced horror. Here he tackles the cannibals vs. idealists subgenre (see Cannibal Holocaust or Cannibal Ferox) with enthusiasm, albeit a bit too much gloss to make anything truly sink in. It’s a pleasant distraction, but you are better served to go back to the grittier originals, or hell, throw on Mel Gibsons Apocalypto. -KURT [LIKED]
I enjoyed the film a HELL of a lot more than I expected to. The setup 20 or 25 minutes is excruciating – “Get to the island faster,” as a young Jurassic Park fan once notably wrote to David Koepp about the sequel – but once the blood-red cannibals show up, that movie is the precise definition of what you want from a Midnight Madness movie. It even, in a bizarre but heartily appreciated example of restraint, does NOT perform a clitoridectomy upon its lead character after spending nearly the entire film setting up the idea that it will. The kills are gross and grand, the pot-addled cannibals are hilarious, and pretty much anytime a bunch of naked children start chowing down on fat white Americans, you know there’s gonna be ha-ha’s. Also, VINE -MATT B. [LIKED]

WE GOTTA GET OUT OF THIS PLACE
I liked this a surprising amount considering how capital D Dumb all the characters are. -MATT P. [LIKED]

CELESTIAL WIVES OF TEH MEADOW MARI
The Celestial Wives of the Meadow Mari filled me with such unrelenting joy that I nearly transported, balloon-like, through the roof of the Lightbox 4. Finally, some fucking cinema. An anthology of 23 short films – more vignettes and ideas than fully formed stories, in the majority of cases – each story foregrounded one woman and a magical / spiritual / superstitious aspect of her womanhood. So, catnip for a boy like me. But beyond this, it was far and away the most inventively composed film I’ve seen thus far at the festival, exemplifying in its many parts pretty much every aspect of filmmaking from the 1890s to the present. Such precise framing, and frames within frames; such dazzling, elliptical uses of colour and staging. Also, VINE -MATT B. [LOVED]
Warm hearted. Full blooded. Really nice hats. -MATT P. [LIKED] 

PALO ALTO
It plays like an intoxicating mash-up of Larry Clark, Smashing Pumpkins’ 1979 music video & Gus Van Sant. Solid first movie for Gia Coppola. -ROT [LOVED]
Gia Coppola seems to already have her style down pat as she shows confidence in her debut – a strong look at teenagers searching for validation and support. -BOB [LOVED]

LE DEMANTELEMENT
With a powerful, nuanced performance from Gabriel Arcand, this film captivated me. Stunning scenery make up the home of a man whose lost his sense of purpose, and feels abandoned. The ensuing story of dismantling his farm, against the wishes of those who know him, is heartbreaking and enlightening. This is very much a story about the shift in Canadian identity, and it’s told beautifully. -ARIEL [LOVED]

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ELEANOR RIGBY
Apparently I am the only person who did not wholeheartedly adore this movie. A lot of great bits but in desperate need of tightening. -ROT [LIKED]

DALLAS BUYERS CLUB
Some complained that Jean-Marc Vallee’s latest was a bit too straightforward. Well, if this is considered mainstream, sign me up. The arc of the story clipped along and Vallee continues to show his expertise at cutting to sound. McConaughey was flat out brilliant. -BOB [LOVED]
Look at how much length of Matthew McConnaghey’s belt dangles past his waste. Look at how gaunt and frail Jared Leto is as his cross-dressing homosexual business partner in running unapproved by the FDA drugs for AIDS patients. You get the idea that acting is still finding ways to improve with each year. Even though the plot of this real-life story follows the usually ups and downs of a biopic, director Jean-Marc Vallee continues to be a master of melding music into his storytelling, along with a signature image or three. The McConnaissance continues. -KURT [LIKED]
Awright Awright! Until further notice, I will be watching any movie that involves Matthew McConaughey. – RYAN [LOVED]

UNFORGIVEN
It’s handsome and glossy as hell, but simply can never, ever combine all the ripe American ingredients that resulted in Clint Eastwood’s original. But where or where did they find that actor who is a dead ringer for Morgan Freeman? -KURT [LIKED]
A big, romantic, transportative in its fantasy and gorgeous in its rendering. The film fires on all required thrusters, and Watanabe is superb. We might be in more cynical times, or perhaps Kill Bill did more harm than we realize, because the audience was waiting to laugh gruesomely along with a samurai on a revenge-crazed killing spree, and reacted at odds with the inherent pathos of the film’s story. But I didn’t mind much. I was in my balcony, drinking my last drop. The remake also carries a slight, but noticeable, feminist enhancement – correlating the whores to the samurai against the villains of the town and the state; and creating a richer political context, and sense of defiance, from both the women and the peasantry. Also, VINE -MATT B. [LIKED]
Sang Il-Lee’s remake of Clint Eastwood’s classic displaces the setting to Meiji-period Hokkaido, Japan. More emotionally wrought than the original, stunning landscapes dominate the frame, amplifying the impact of an already powerful film. While many fans of the original will disagree with me, I felt more moved by this rendition, and felt substantially more invested in the characters. Another viewing of Eastwood’s may be in order. -ARIEL [LIKED]
It’s great and a fine adaptation. Can’t displace the real one, obviously. -MATT P. [LIKED]

ENOUGH SAID
It starts off strong and wobbles off in its finish but overall a very likable, light comedy with two very charismatic leads doing what they do best. -ROT [LIKED]
A sweet exit for James Gandolfini, fun but slight. -MATT P. [LIKED]

THE DOUBLE
The Id and Ego collide with heavy influences of Brazil and Fight Club. Great use of music and soundtrack, with Eisenberg playing so well off every character, including himself. -RYAN [LOVED]
Going to confound a lot of people hoping for Submarine 2.0, and confound just how someone seemingly so light and comedic in persona as Richard Aoyade could have the ambition and talent to pull off something this Gilliam/Lynch cinematic. A film that is going to pay dividends on rewatch, when expectations are adjusted and the Synecdochean density of its satire is allowed a chance to breathe. -ROT [LOVED]
Elegantly filmed with intricate lighting, exceptional sound design, beautiful set pieces, and great performances, I absolutely loved this film. Jesse Eisenberg impressed, and consequently, surprised me with subtly varied performances as doppelgängers Simon James and James Simon. Mia Wasikouska was the weakest link for me. It’s the type of film that feels like a slow seethe; one you’ll take more away from on repeat viewings. -ARIEL [LOVED]
Taking its cues of a world-gone-made from Gilliam’s Brazil, Welles The Trial, and bits of the Coen’s Hudsucker Proxy and Tati’s Playtime, I feel like I have seen The Double before in a fashion. He has a way with a sightgag, but the chemistry of Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska is DOA which prevents this fine adaption of a Dostoyevsky novella from every achieving greatness. I look forward to Aoyade’s next one though, which is hopefully better still. -KURT [LIKED]
The Double was not, in point of fact, interesting to me; but I don’t deny that the movie does exactly what all concerned intended it to do. I have made it something of a rule, however, to never attend a sophomore film from a director whose breakout took place at TIFF because sophomore triumphs are rare birds. Also, VINE -MATT B. [DISAPPOINTED]
Jesse Eisenberg just isn’t the guy for this. -MATT P. [DISAPPOINTED]

WHEN JEWS WERE FUNNY
An unfortunate failure as a documentary – many interviewees frequently interrupt the dialogue to angrily demand Alan Zweig’s thesis – it succeeds in stirring up discussion on the matter of Jewish identity. Unfortunately, this film will appeal to a very niche market. Even within said niche, the divisive reaction is palpable. It succeeds in fuelling discussion, but fails as a film. -ARIEL [LIKED]
This probing masterpiece is funny as hell, but it’s no joke. -MATT P. [LOVED]

BURT’S BUZZ
A complex documentary on a complicated and confounding man. Burt Shavitz is an enigma of a human being, naturally quirky and eccentric, but almost for the sake of it. He’s a hard figure to like, but a hard man to hate. Ultimately I left feeling lukewarm about the man. But I’m not so sure the filmmaking is to blame. Therein lies some of Burt’s intrigue. -ARIEL [LIKED]

COLD EYES
Like most Korean thrillers this thing was expertly shot, brought a bit too much melodrama to situations that didn’t feel like they needed it and shifted between smart & ridiculous. In other words, very entertaining. -BOB [LIKED]
This is the best slicked up action movie since Dark Knight. -MATT P. [LOVED]

NINGEN
A lovely look at a Japanese fable set in contemporary times (and within the imagination) which considers what it means to be human. -BOB [LIKED]

SALVATION ARMY
A quiet and deliberate story of a young man looking for a connection and some understanding. Well-paced with full characters. -BOB [LIKED]

PARADISE: HOPE
Meatballs, by way of Kubrick or Palfi. -MATT P. [LIKED]
Also, VINE. -MATT B. [LIKED]

A TOUCH OF SIN – It’s not that Jia Zhangke is advocating violence in A TOUCH OF SIN, but don’t say he didn’t warn you…Shame it all bogs down a bit, but there’s a lot to admire. -BOB [LIKED]

FAT
A breakout film by Mark Phinney. It was a hard film to watch and doesn’t have as conclusive an ending as it needs – making a bed is a lovely first step but it’s hardly catharsis – but the lead performance by Mel Rodriguez is SO good that it scarcely matters. The movie is raw to the point of having badly-muffled location audio in some crucial scenes, but for bootstraps filmmaking, it has a scintillating honesty that overcomes the physical defects. It’s more a study of depression than a study of addiction, though as either, it’s credibly delivered. Also, VINE -MATT B. [LIKED]
It can’t be watched without considering your own demons. -MATT B. [LOVED]

MISS VIOLENCE
The magnificent opening scene, of an 11 year old girl jumping to her death from an apartment balcony that was host to her birthday party, was used unedited to make up the films trailer. It sets the Dogtoothian stage for this queer Greek concoction which has a grandfather behaving really badly with the family he is supposedly providing for. Less a comment on the greek economy, and more a Compliance style retelling of an unbelievable (but sadly true) series of events that occur in the corners of modern society. -KURT [LIKED]

TRACKS
I’m a wreck. That was emotional overdrive. -MATT P. [LOVED]
Mia Wasikowska has a distance about her, which she never quite escapes; it served her perfectly in her breakout performance on In Treatment, and works surprisingly well to her advantage in her best big screen role, (no kidding) Alice in Wonderland. That distance might be seen as an advantage in Tracks, too, where she is playing a character with a serious binge-purge relationship with companionship… but it makes it hard to get inside the character, or admire the performance on any level other than the technical. Still, that film must have been a HOOT to film. It is as thorough and compelling a travelogue for Australia as New Zealand had with The Lord of the Rings. Also, VINE -MATT B. [LIKED]

THE GRAND SEDUCTION
A quaint remake of a French Canadian hit comedy involving a small town seducing a doctor so they can get a factory contract. This is the sort of thing that Fox Searchlight specialized in putting out at the turn of the century (From The Full Monty to Saving Grace.) Director Don McKellar may make Toronto always look fine and interesting, he has a rather touristy veneer plastered over what should be the ‘real’ rural Newfoundland that makes the whole enterprise rather ironic, don’t ya think? -KURT [LIKED]

WITCHING & BITCHING
Alex De La Iglesia never lets me down. This is funny, epic, crowd pleasing greatness. -MATT P. [LOVED]
Vulgar Auteurism at its most literal. Alex De La Iglesia tackles the battle of the sexes that proves George Carlin’s theory that, “all you need to know is that women are crazy and men are stupid – and the reason why women are crazy is that men are stupid.” Plus Carolina Bang as a sexy witch, and a silver Jesus with a shotgun. God bless Alex De La Iglesia. -KURT [LIKED]
Word is that was finished at the last minute, and I feel that is evident on the screen. A cool watch, but needs some polish. -RYAN [DISAPPOINTED]

THE STAG
It is entertaining enough while still being wildly inconsistent in terms of tone and character; Andrew Scott was delicious, though, and his tearful a Capella lament in the middle of a campfire singalong brought the house down. Also, VINE -MATT B. [DISAPPOINTED]
Slight but sweet. On its best day, THE HANGOVER wishes it had this much heart and brains. -RYAN [LIKED]
One of those comedies that is written with air-tight set-up and payoffs, in the vein of Clerks or any of Edgar Wright’s Coronetto trilogy. You’ve seen it all before here, but I have to admit it all works magnificently here in a Stag that goes horribly wrong for its characters but utterly right for their growth as people. Bonus: Asks the question of why do we simultaneously love and laugh at Mulholland Dr.! -KURT [LIKED]
The whole movie plays things so very safe, so very predictable and so very forced that it earns very few moments of humour. The audience seemed to love it, but it’s obviously not meant for me. Except the empire penguin scene – now that was some funny stuff. -BOB [DISLIKED]

PROXY
Zack Parker’s film undoubtably has plenty of flaws – a few of which are performance based, but the majority of which fall squarely on directorial choices. Nevertheless, the story of really bad parents throwing their offspring (and family) under the bus in order to bask in the pity of strangers is a strange and unpredictable tale that constantly shifts points of view. The ambition is there even if the execution is somewhat lacking. It would make for an interesting companion piece with the superior genre effort, Paul Solet’s Grace. -KURT [LIKED]

UNBEATABLE
Amazing fight choreography, old fashioned story. -MATT P. [LIKED]

LABOUR DAY
The least Jason Reitman “Jason Reitman Film” yet. Not bad, just has nothing in common with his previous four. -RYAN [DISAPPOINTED]

THE WONDERS
Highly enjoyable mystery with many light moments and enough shifts in character allegiances to have you rooting for all of them. Neat trick. -BOB [LOVED]
A Jewish film that mixes noir with a trip down the rabbit hole to Wonderland. Flawed, but a decent watch. -RYAN [LIKED]
I couldn’t even muster a twitter review. It’s ooooohhhkaaay, but the Alice metaphors don’t seem really integrated into the story. And the story just isn’t that good to begin with. I did enjoy actually being able to understand some of the hebrew without reading subtitles. -MATT P. [DISAPPOINTED]

SEX, DRUGS & TAXATION
Holy cow, the Netherlands are like waaay more fucked up than I thought. This is like the bio-pic real true story version of Goldmember. -MATT P. [LIKED]
The great Danish actor, Nicholas Bro is at the centre of one of the strangest political stories ever. Where a discount vacation tycoon and a government tax lawyer brought a wacky form of conservative ethos to Denmark. Big business and small government combine (along with gorillas and erect penises) to make the most gonzo friendship since Hunter Thompson and his lawyer. -KURT [BAFFLED]
A quite remarkable “biopic” carving out complex societal ideas, complex and highly flawed characters and a mix of goofy & dark humour. Ragged, but leaves an impression. -BOB [LIKED]
One of the first films I added as a “must see” to my list of TIFF 2013 film, I was unfortunately disappointed. Morally ambiguous, its characters felt half-formed, while the script felt out of focus and disjointed. With many entertaining moments, it simply fell short of expectations, leaving me less than thrilled. -ARIEL [DISAPPOINTED]

MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS
It wasn’t bad, without being entirely good. The last five or ten minutes – wherein Mary finally surrenders to Elizabeth, and awaits her fate – were nifty, capping a largely documentarian effort with some arresting, blood-red-on-skin-white imagery. Plus I got to see Sean Biggerstaff’s bigger staff in the film, ten years after an open concern with Bex about whether his staff was in fact bigger or stafflike. Also, VINE  -MATT B. [DISAPPOINTED]

QUAI D’ORSAY
The French The Thick of It or In the Loop. Imagine that dialogue going by as subtitles. Yes, it’s too tiring to get through and unfunny for non-francophones. -MATT P. [DISAPPOINTED]

THE STRANGE COLOUR OF YOUR BODY’S TEARS
At 100 minutes, the intense editing style and visual onslaught becomes a bit insufferable. I want to get lost in the mystery of this man who returns home to find his wife gone and his world taken over by the uncontrollable sexual anxieties of his youth, but the film hammers you so hard with its Giallo money shots that it simply breaks you. -KURT [BAFFLED]
I love the fact this film exists. It makes me happy and excited that filmmakers can push their concepts right to the wall and experiment with style and technique which will influence and inspire others. But – even though it has some amazing moments – it’s truly a chore to watch at times and exhausting. Full speed Giallo at full volume for over a 100 minutes. -BOB [DISAPPOINTED]

ALMOST HUMAN
Admittedly ripping off (not quoting, referencing, or paying homage to) some of director Joe Begos’ favourite horror films, it’s next to impossible for me to champion this American indie flick. The writing was abysmal, the acting terrible, and the focus disjointed – the film flip-flops between serious sci-fi thriller and comedic gore fest so frequently that it’s impossible to become invested. The fact that it’s well shot, with stellar editing of both sound and footage, and is clearly a passion project, is all unfortunately overshadowed by its shortcomings. -ARIEL [DISAPPOINTED]

GERONTOPHILIA
Surprisingly tender, Bruce La Bruce’s story about a young man’s love of the elderly is entertaining, touching, and sweet. Though most of the performances are painfully hammy, Walter Borden’s sassy geriatric, Mr. Peabody, steals every scene. While it tries nobly to hit like an emotional sledgehammer, it’s little more than a cute film that will appeal to a very niche audience. -ARIEL [LIKED]

RIGOR MORTIS
It was nice to see the Hong Kong version Jacob’s Ladder. Loved that. -MATT P. [LOVED]
Paying homage to the hopping vampire’s of Chinese horror from the 1980’s, this film caters to a niche market, isolating the laymen. Though it’s exquisitely filmed, with an incredible performance from Nina Paw Hee-Ching, much of what makes this film significant goes over the heads of those unfamiliar with the genre. In spite of its niche appeal, it’s still a fun and shocking horror flick that will keep you glued to your seat. -ARIEL [LIKED]

BENDS
A wealthy kept woman is cut off from her rich husband. Her chauffeur tries to raise money to see his second child born in Hong Kong instead of Mainland China by swapping the expensive parts on her Mercedes for cheap knock-offs. The expected sort of, kind of happens here, but the whole thing is told with out much flair or verve. Is this is why there are so few Hong Kong art films? All the energy exists in the popular cinema. -KURT [LIKED]

HOW I LIVE NOW
By the measure of cinema adapted from Young Adult Fiction, Kevin MacDonald’s World War III film in the UK countryside can be considered a success, but that is an awfully low bar to hurdle, and the film falls into too many narrative and thematic pits to give much of a damn about anything here. If someone is going to mulch Red Dawn, The Road and Children of Men into a single film, it should be better than this. -KURT [DISAPPOINTED]
Saorise Ronan may stake a claim as my favourite actress of her generation. She is *uncannily* compelling in How I Live Now, a film which is not, otherwise, very compelling. Also, VINE – https://vine.co/v/h1dPquhwXdX  -MATT B. [DISAPPOINTED]
The kind of film that gets lost in the shuffle of TIFF but is on the whole an effective wartime romance with Soarsie Ronan continuing to blossom into a formidable actor. -ROT [LIKED]

THE SACRAMENT
I wish this were more than a straight-forward retread of the Jim Jones Massacre. There are still so many hurdles to overcome in making a good found-footage film that prettying up the cinematography and framing simply does not come close enough to addressing. This constitutes a step backwards for Ti West after his last two features, House of the Devil and The Innkeepers. -KURT [DISAPPOINTED]
My biggest disappointment of TIFF and first Ti West movie I could not whole-heartedly get behind. Misguided from first concept. -ROT [DISAPPOINTED]
Ti West can build tension well, but the whole enterprise (if we’re looking at cult collapsing films) can’t help but suffer by comparison to the “Safe Haven” sequence (from V/H/S 2). -BOB [DISAPPOINTED]
Ti West is better than this. The first 2/3 play out as well as his previous two features, but the third act is wildly disappointing. -RYAN [DISAPPOINTED]

EASTERN BOYS
This film is a slow burn, one that you have to remind yourself to give time to sink in. While it’s interestingly shot, and well acted, it takes too long to make an impact. In spite of director Robin Campillo’s noble intentions, Eastern Boys misses the mark. -ARIEL [DISAPPOINTED]

PALESTINE STEREO
A small film about the vast issue of fighting for country/land or fighting for your life, it ends up having a very distinct and defined point of view – which misses the opportunity to have a fully fleshed out set of differing opinions. -BOB [DISAPPOINTED]

MIRACLE
A cautionary tale that warns teens not to be born in Eastern Europe. -MATT P. [DISAPPOINTED]

BASTARDO
Though it’s an original take on a man desperate for acceptance (that also mixes in local crime bosses & encroaching technology with the surreal), it fails to provide any interesting central characters. -BOB [DISAPPOINTED]

LIFE OF CRIME
Far too passive and and far too banal for an Elmore Leonard adaptation. -MATT P. [DISAPPOINTED]

YOUNG AND BEAUTIFUL
The latest Francois Ozon film ultimately didn’t engage me like I wanted. -MATT P. [DISAPPOINTED]

THOU GILDS’T THE EVEN
Not much on story, the movie was mostly an exercise in using its visuals to express character feelings and thoughts. It was well executed, inspiring at times and allowed for human pinatas and tears of blood. -BOB [LIKED]
Some interesting things in this Turkish yarn, but no sense of pacing. -RYAN [DISLIKED]

HORNS
A noble if flawed attempt to mix an 80s high concept scenario, and dour aughties CGI young adult fare. From the pen of Stephen King’s son, Joe Hill, directed by High Tension’s Alexandre Aja and borrowing the geography and tone of Twin Peaks – with Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe in the lead – the film has pedigree but wastes it just like it squanders the always luminous Juno Temple. -KURT [DISAPPOINTED]
The gender issues are awful and I’m sure there’s a better 1:40 cut of Horns than the 2:02 cut, but I sort of don’t care… the movie was SO much fun to watch. Trigger warnings aplenty, particularly in the second half, but that movie is lush and plush and left me flushed. I’ve no idea what the fuck the movie is trying to say – I doubt it does, either – but whatever it is, it’s shouting it. Radcliffe emerging from the smoky bar surrounded by riots he’s caused within and without, as “Personal Jesus” explodes across the soundtrack, is this year’s definition of sublime. Also, VINE -MATT B. [LOVED]
Horns Blows. -ROT [HATED]

A FIELD IN ENGLAND
Despite the promise of Beckett meets Dante and director Ben Wheatley’s offkilter sense of humour, I never really got past the look of the film which still felt like a few actors in period clothes walking around a field for 90 minutes. A key ingredient was missing in this one, and maybe the mushrooms weren’t magic enough. -KURT [DISAPPOINTED]

BLIND DETECTIVE
Stop screaming at me, Johnnie To. -MATT P. [HATED]

ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE
Lucky McKee as a filmmaker has been declining ever since his debut feature May (which, admittedly, is a masterwork) During the climax of this Cheerleeder vs. Docs that has no redeemable characters whatsoever, the director riffs on the climax of Raiders of the Lost Ark, including ripping off the score from that scene. The film doesn’t deserve to make that kind of reference. -KURT [DISLIKED]
I did NOT have a firm handle on what that movie was about prior to seeing it, and consequently it surprised me continuously. The execution’s muddy but there are a lot of good ideas in there, and a few beats that really kick ass (an up-yours revision of The Craft’s power shot particularly got my attention for its use of music). Also, VINE -MATT B. [LIKED]
It all initially feels messy, but at some point you just realize that it means you simply don’t know where it’s going. And that leads to a good deal of fun. -BOB [LIKED]
Though nowhere near as powerful as Lucky McKee’s genius May, I really enjoyed this flick. There isn’t much in the way of brains behind the film, as its script is chaotic and at times disjointed, but it’ll be sure to entertain. Go in with minimal expectations, and just enjoy. -ARIEL [LIKED]
Yes they do, bitches, crystal clearly. -MATT P. [LIKED]

EXIT MARRAKECH
My expectations were set for a subtle father/son relationship, but I got a forced, emotionless and sometimes obvious tale. And a bland one to boot. -BOB [DISLIKED]

THE IMMORAL
Even the director felt he used too much sh-sh-sh-shaky-cam. Combined with the mid-week TIFF tiredness wall I was hitting at this point, the film’s satire fell flat for me. -BOB [DISLIKED]

ABUSE OF WEAKNESS
My hopes were highest for this film, and what I was left with was a great deal of disappointment. What was marketed as the story of a wounded woman being taken advantage of is simply a foolish and selfish woman allowing herself to be used by a known conman. Catherine Breillat portrays herself, through an excellent performance by Isabelle Huppert, as little more than a foolish woman with no remorse. – ARIEL [HATED]

THE DICK KNOST SHOW
When the most memorable moment in a movie is that you recognized the squash courts the characters were using (part of McGill University), it’s not a good sign is it? I got more enjoyment out of shedding a tear for my former glory days (when I could still hit a kill shot on the court) then I did during any moment in this laborious affair. -BOB [HATED]

CANOPY
Well, that was wordless. -MATT P. [DISAPPOINTED]
Also, VINE -MATT B. [HATED]

THE DINNER
One shocking event does not a movie make. -MATT P. [DISAPPOINTED]
I’m conflicted. Though I very much enjoyed myself during the majority of the film (as two couples debate the options to handle the trouble their sons have created), I’m not sure it has sat well since then. Though the conversation covers privilege, class, political angles and different parenting styles, it drops the intellectual discussion in favour of a cynical ending that uses a stock cliche. -BOB [LIKED] & [DISLIKED]
A mealy affair about everything and nothing all at once. The film could never find a convincing tone, being about grimly horrible things while focusing on vaguely mocking characters. VINE -MATT B. [HATED]

MOEBIUS
Exhilaratingly excruciating. South Korea as sexual dystopia. -MATT P. [LIKED]
There is so much genital and sexual violence on display in Kim Ki Duk’s latest film that it becomes bleak, black comedy. There is a scene that almost plays like a parody of the director’s previous masterpiece 3-Iron. Ultimately the less here is that pulling a Jon Bobbit to solve your domestic problems probably won’t work. And never trust the internet for advice. -KURT [LIKED]
It will take a LONG time for me to watch something crazier than this particular slice of life. -RYAN [LOVED]
The movie starts with a genuinely bravura sequence in which a drunken housewife hacks off her teenaged son’s penis – and eats it – to avenge herself upon her philandering husband. The movie is Kim Ki-Duk’s Moebius, and up till now I am all in – this is legitimately one of the two or three most amazing scenes I’ve seen thus far at TIFF ‘13. Pure cinematic storytelling – pictures and sounds – no one is speaking. Twenty minutes later, the dickless boy is somewhat adopted by a street gang who have saved him from a pack of bullies who wanted a look at his non-Johnson. The street gang proceeds to gang-rape a local shopgirl that the dickless boy has a crush on. They take her in turns as she screams and cries, and then – the joke – they send the dickless boy in last. (They do not know that he is dickless.) The dickless boy proceeds to mime raping the shopgirl to satisfy the thugs. This is taken as comic, as sweet. The audience laughed appreciatively – look at the dickless boy not-raping the terrified, bloodied shopgirl! I gathered my things and left. Fuck Kim Ki Duk. Also, VINE -MATT B. [WORST]

WORDS & PICTURES
Art vs. English equals Chemistry. -MATT P. [LOVED]
Poorly written, transparent, and hollow. Words and Pictures is the romantic comedy that masquerades as a deep and profound discovery of self but shamelessly uses alcoholism and rheumatoid arthritis as plot devices. The film neglects to explore the true agony and destructive force of either, allowing a mask of pseudo-intellectual “culture” to distract from its lack of substance. -ARIEL [WORST]

CINEMANOVELS
It didn’t always click and will likely fade from memory, but its superb cast helped to execute a interesting take on how to reconcile your past. Loses some points for several awkward moments and a criminal under-utilization of Katharine Isabelle. -BOB [DISAPPOINTED]
When your film begins with a handjob, you’re pretty much setting the tone, don’t you think? -RYAN [WORST]

THE FAKE
A completely miserable and muddled experience. Ugly in look, tone and message. Let us not speak of it again… -BOB [WORST]

PARKLAND
The most laughable whitewash soap opera dramatic rendering of a pivotal historical event I have ever had the displeasure of mostly watching (walked out at the 1:15 mark). This opinion has nothing to do with my political opinions of the event, that is the least of the problems with the film. Been going to TIFF for over ten years, and this has to be the worst movie I have seen in that time. Barely competent enough to be called a movie. -ROT [WORST]

BLOOD TIES
The obvious soundtrack, the drag ass pacing. Meh! -MATT P. [HATED]
“Cop Cliche: The Movie.” Guillaume Canet’s BLOOD TIES is a cops ‘n family drama that pulls every hoary trope out of the book and combines them with even less imaginative musical choices. The film even fails in the modest ambition of recreating gritty seventies American cinema. I call bullshit, total bullshit and am afraid to even attempt the French original from whence this crap was remade. Criminal bonus points for wasting a cast as talented as Clive Owen, Marion Cotillard and Billy Crudup. -KURT [WORST]

REAL
Is he in a coma? Is she? AM I? -MATT P. [WORST]
Kurosawa’s science-fiction slash horror slash psychological mind-fuck ends up being pitched at the 14 year old girl level of sophistication that not even a 30 foot CGI Plesiosaur can save it from its own convoluted melodrama.  Considering his past resume in horror (Cure, Pulse) or drama (Bright Future, Tokyo Sonata) it makes this film a low point in his career. -KURT [DISAPPOINTED]
Manga and zombies and plesiosaurs, Oh My! It pains me to say it, but the masterful Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s latest is a bit of a dud. I still liked most of its first half (he has a unique command of light, sound and framing), but it starts to fall apart when he resets a viewpoint and repeats the structure and ideas we’ve already seen. It crumbles to the floor in the last 20 minutes or so. -BOB [DISAPPOINTED]
With its Japanese nonsensicalness, its somnambulence and a last ten minutes featuring a rampaging pleisiosaur pursuing our heroes onto dry land and through a warehouse was possibly the greatest of all possible films, and probably the worst too; I add Kiyoshi Kurosawa to my “never again” directors, but not with the same venom as Kim Ki-Duk. Also, VINE -MATT B. [HATED]

For Previous TIFF Round-ups, Click any of the years: 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008.

Kurt Halfyard
Resident culture snob.

14 Comments

  1. Great roundup. Greg Ashman and I did a 2.5 hour roundup on our show, but shorthand from what I saw

    BEST:
    The F Word

    LOVED:
    Attila Marcel
    Labor Day
    The Double
    Enough Said
    Noah (short film)
    Blue Ruin
    Night Moves
    The Amazing Catfish
    Prisoners

    LIKED
    Hateship Loveship
    Fat
    Under the Skin
    The Unknown Known
    All the Wrong Reasons
    Le Week-end
    A Story of Children and Film
    Blue is the Warmest Color

    DISAPPOINTED
    A Field in England
    Don Jon

    HATED
    You Are Here

    WORST
    The Husband

    WALKED OUT
    Blood Ties

    I LITERALLY PUKED
    The Strange Colour Of Your Body’s Tears

    Reply
  2. If the films were properly ranked in this list and not slightly skewed to the person editing it (Kurt), 12 Years a Slave would be at the top as that got the most unanimous love. Still waiting to hear from someone who didn’t like it.

    From this list the films I am pissed that I missed:

    Joe
    Sunshine on Leith
    Finding Vivian Maier
    Starred Up
    Oculus
    Blue Ruin

    Reply
      • To be fair, I put my picks right into the post and tried to merge as best as possible – Kurt’s right that it isn’t easy. I suppose we could do a bit more scientific way of handling the order – but after TIFF no one really wants to tackle that. Maybe something to think about next year…

        The ones I regret most not seeing are:

        iNumber Number
        The Amazing Catfish
        Le Demantelement

        And a few others that I’m sure I will see soon enough:

        The Double
        Only Lovers Left Alive
        Sunshine On Leith (wish I had swapped that in place of “The Stag”)
        The F Word

        Reply
  3. After reading through this and listening to (most of) Mamo’s coverage, I think the following are top of my want-to-see list:

    Only Lovers Left Alive
    Gravity
    Can a Song Save Your Life
    12 Years a Slave
    A Story of Children and Film
    Our Sunhi
    Night Moves
    Under the Skin
    What is Cinema
    The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
    Atilla Marcel
    We are the Best!
    Jodorowsky’s Dune
    Oculus
    Why Don’t You Play in Hell
    Cold Eyes

    Reply
    • Jandy: I think of all of them, you’d enjoy OUR SUNHI the most. Seek it out! Even though the films of HONG SANG-SOO are difficult to track down, this one is worth the extra bit of effort.

      Reply
      • The AFI Fest really seems to like Hong Sang-soo. They had In Another Country last year, The Day He Arrives the year before, and both Ha Ha Ha and Oki’s Movie the year before that. I’m guessing they’ll have this one, too. Now, whether I can get to the festival or not is another question!

        In Another Country actually had a limited release here, though I imagine that was more thanks to Isabelle Huppert’s presence than a greater appreciation for Hong on our shores.

        Reply
  4. The votes have come in from the TIFF CAST Awards arranged by James McNally (torontoscreenshots.com), who gathered the opinions of 27 local Toronto bloggers (myself included).

    Here is the list (quite surprised at the runner up):
    1) 12 Years a Slave
    2) The Strange Little Cat
    3) Under the Skin
    4) Gravity
    5) Blue Ruin
    6) Over Lovers Left Alive
    7) Blue is the Warmest Colour
    8) Manakamana
    9) The Double
    10) Oculus

    You can get a full PDF with individual ballots here: http://www.torontoscreenshots.com/images/2013_CAST_TIFF_results.pdf

    Reply
    • I missed the email and the deadline to contribute, but if I had, the 10 points for UNDER THE SKIN might have put it into the #1 spot. Manakamana might have jumped a few slots north as well, being that it was my #2 film.

      Reply

Leave a Comment.


seven − = 2