Rowthree Staff Summary of TIFF 2015

Welcome to our eighth annual Toronto International Film Festival wrap-up post. As has always been the case, regular Row Three contributors along with a few readers 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, Matthew Price, Ryan McNeil, Bob Turnbull, Mike Rot, Ariel Fisher and Sean Kelly – saw almost half of the 350 films shown at the festival and 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: ARABIAN NIGHTS [Kurt] & [Matt B.], ANOMALISA [Mike Rot] & [Ryan], OUR LITTLE SISTER [Bob], SHERPA [Ariel], and THE SLEEPING GIANT [Sean].

Personal WORST: OFFICE [Kurt], HIGH-RISE [Mike], THE MISSING GIRL [Matt B.], THE WAVE [Bob], LACE CRATER [Ariel], LONDON ROAD [Sean], and THE LOBSTER* [Ryan].

Other Consensus Picks: LOUDER THAN BOMBS, THE MARTIAN, SICARIO, AN, DEMOLITION, VICTORIA, DHEEPAN, BEASTS OF NO NATION, GREEN ROOM, and EQUALS.

The ‘MASSIVE’ version is below. All our thoughts and impressions from the 2015 Edition of the Toronto International Film Festival.

ARABIAN NIGHTS
Nearly 7 hours of allegory, absurdity, audacity and austerity. Portugal is self-examined in a collection of unpredictable stories that get stranger as things unfold. It is about history, and culture, and the present in ways that are both highly specific and yet still universal. This kind of cinema is why I go to film festivals. – Kurt [BEST] Something about watching this 7-hour epic in one sitting made me feel like every single tool of cinematic art and language had lead to this exact moment, when a Portuguese filmmaker tackled the stories we tell ourselves by way of austerity measures and the tales of Scheherezad. Frequently sublime. Oftentimes baffling. Too many chaffinches. – Matt B. [BEST]

OUR LITTLE SISTER
Neither “slight” nor “too sweet” as some have said. It’s a true wonder. I want to hug this movie and not let go. – Bob [BEST] The best live-action Studio Ghibli movie that Isao Takahata never made. Japanese Master filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-Eda’s understated story of family, cooking and the changing of the seasons in the country is a quiet, powerful work of love. – Kurt [LOVED] Hirokazu Koreeda’s adaptation of Akimi Yoshida’s beloved manga, Umimachi Diary, is a lovely, moving story of sisterhood. Nuanced, and simply executed, there’s an effortless warmth to Koreeda’s latest, and an honest joy in every frame. – Ariel [LOVED]

ANOMALISA
The unshakable truth of Anomalisa took a while to disperse through me, but when I finally let go of the safe confines of the analytical I could finally appreciate more fully the power of this film.  This is full-on sorrow triggering with a dash of Cyndi Lauper to let the medicine go down.  Kaufman’s bleakest yet, and yeah, that’s saying something. – Mike  [BEST] How does Charlie Kauffman keep surprising me? How does the man who created the portal into John Malkovich, the Lacuna Corp memory wipe, and the house that was continually on fire still find ways to delight me in new ways? You would think I have grown callous by now, that he would have to try that much harder to delight me and stir my emotions. You’d think wrong. – Ryan [LOVED] Charlie Kaufman winningly captures a man in a crisis of loneliness and disconnect, and the single-night encounter that has him (almost) climb out of his funk. Stop motion animation has never tackled a subject like this, and yet, the medium feels the perfect way to do so. Cyndi Lauper karaoke has never been this heartbreakingly warm. – Kurt [LOVED] Brilliant. Kaufman manages to take high concept and bring it down to a very personal, touching, funny and ultimately devastating story. And the best damn version of “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” you’ll ever hear. As much as I liked the idea of Scarlett Johansson getting an Oscar nomination for her off screen work in HER, Jennifer Jason Leigh deserves it even more for her voice work here. – Bob [LOVED] My god there’s just so much! Anomalisa is as important to the history of animation as Gertie the Dinosaur, Steamboat Willie, Snow White, Allegro Non Troppo & Toy Story. – Matt P. [LOVED] A landmark achievement for animation as an art form, and a beautiful film from Charlie Kaufman. He forms a moving and troubling dialogue about insatiability, and the fear of an inescapably mundane life. – Ariel [LOVED]

SHERPA
An absolute phenomenon of a film. An incredibly executed, and desperately important dialogue on the mistreatment of Sherpa’s, their rights, and the cataclysmic events of April 18th 2014 that lead to long-overdue change.  – Ariel [BEST] A Harlan County, USA labour movement at 5000 meters above sea-level. Jennifer Peedom paints the modern Mount Everest as unfettered capitalism and colonial tourism at its worst. Sherpas, the clan of Nepalese mountaineers that lug all the stuff up the side of the mountain for a growing number of expedition companies, push back against the foreigners as over a dozen are killed in a icefall accident. It is riveting stuff, without actually doing any mountain climbing. – Kurt [LOVED] Hint: the cliffhanger is emotional guys. – Matt P. [LOVED]

THE SLEEPING GIANT
In addition to the great and realistic coming-of-age story, Sleeping Giant also features some great cinematography of its Northern Ontario landscapes. When it is all said and done, Sleeping Giant can’t be considered as anything else other than an absolute masterpiece and one of the best films of 2015. – Sean [BEST]

LOUDER THAN BOMBS
This movie totally hit my sweet spots – fathers and sons, Tangerine Dream, Isabelle Huppert, style & substance and even a thoroughly well put together montage…Yeah! – Bob [LOVED] Norwegian director Joachim Trier perfectly transitions to hollywood with this powerful film on grief, emotions and photography (framing is everything). Isabelle Huppert, Gabriel Byrne, Jesse Eisenberg and newcomer Devin Druid do excellent work, but it is the structure, editing and overall construction of this film (fragments, and powerful disconnected images) that make it one of the best films of the year. – Kurt [LOVED] Conflict photography is text and subtext. – Matt P. [LOVED] A beautifully subtle prose on the delicate nature of grief, the fear of oneself, and what happens when you can’t reconcile who you are with what you want out of life. Louder Than Bombs is delicately compelling in a subtle manner that echoes long after it’s ended. An absolutely wonderful film from Joachim Trier. – Ariel [LOVED]

BEASTS OF NO NATION
The blood of children is spilled mightily on this largest of filmmaking canvasses. Idris Elba turns in what is likely his best performance to date (and that is saying something) and Cary Fukunaga is a director par excellence. Holy shit, is this filmmaking! Don’t watch this on Netflix, even though they made it, it is as big screen a movie as anything this year – Kurt [LOVED] The kind of boundary-pushing cinema that I go to film festivals for. Is to the war genre what Mad Max Fury Road is to the action blockbuster. Not a wasted shot, in every was astounding. Idris Elba’s role of a lifetime, and the kid, Abraham Attah, (not accidentally by the end) evokes Jean-Pierre Leaud in The 400 Blows. So densely visceral, like three masterpieces squeezed into one. – Mike [LOVED]

THE MARTIAN
As if in direct rejoinder to any namby-pamby qualms about the interior logic of PROMETHEUS, THE MARTIAN is a logical brick shithouse set on the planet Mars, a feel-good story like Scott has never (?) put together in his entire career, and a shit-ton of fun to watch. – Matt B. [LOVED] Scienced the shit out of space movies, populist & smart, a more satisfying Gravity 2.0. Needed more Michael Pena. – Mike [LOVED] Science is the new Providence, and Ridley Scott shoots the holy-hell out of the Wadi Rum valley as Matt Damon logics his way out of an inevitable-crisis-in-slow-motion. It’s great. and is exactly the kind of optimism I hope comes back to the Hollywood Blockbuster and the United States of America in general. – Kurt [LOVED] The movie never gets too bogged down in melodrama. While it does carry moments of high tension – especially in the film’s commencement and conclusion – it never tends to linger there, instead realizing that a well-timed joke or a silly soundtrack selection can provide a balance to all that tension that too many dramatic tales eschew. It keeps momentum up, and likely, adds a re-watchability factor to the film overall. – Ryan [LOVED]

DEMOLITION
Jean-Marc Vallee balances a pop, often funny, examination of grief with a rock and roll attitude and amazing performances from Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper and Naomi Watts. Kids with guns, men with bulldozers. Mourning Glory! -Kurt [LOVED] Thick with metaphor, but very aware of that fact, DEMOLITION is rich and full of great style. Sound and its relationship to the characters is always a Jean-Marc Vallee trademark and it continues here with pitch perfect editing. – Bob [LOVED] Jean-Marc Vallée’s Demolition starts strong visually and comedically and by the third act loses steam somewhat, preoccupied with the story of grief that feels lesser to the misfit flirtation between characters played by Jake G and Naomi Watts. This could have bested Silver Linings Playbook but got stuck in cruise control in familiar territory tried in Fight Club and Falling Down. Very funny, sharply edited with trademark punchy Vallée soundtrack. Great performances but feel like Naomi with less screentime does more. – Mike [LIKED] Choose the music to destroy to…and then destroy the music too. – Ryan [LOVED]

ONE BREATH
A look at two mothers, bifurcated into two halves of a serious crisis (a toddler is lost), is the best empathy test on cinema in some time, and it dares us not to judge how people react under sever emotional pressures. – Kurt [LOVED]

DHEEPAN
It won the Palm D’Or at Cannes, and I can see why. A surrogate family of three strangers move from war-torn Sri Lanka to make a new life in Suburban France only to find drug dealers at war in their new tenement building. The movie is never better when it has two people sit down listen to each other speak, even when they are speaking different languages. – Kurt [LIKED] Even in their hopeless situations, you can’t help but hold out hope for the happiness of these characters. Sharp storytelling by Audiard. – Bob [LOVED] At the TIFF premiere of this film, screenwriter Thomas Bidegain stated that he wants us all to look differently at the foreigners that try to sell us roses at our dinner table. I for one, will never look at these men and women the same way ever again. – Ryan [LOVED]

THE LOBSTER
I really dig the Greek Weird Wave, and The Lobster is the most accomplished film from that movement so far. It might lack the initial surprise of Dogtooth, but Lanthimos Yorgos makes a very successful transition to English and movie stars without compromising on a single thing. – Kurt [LOVED] The story shows that conformity just ain’t worth it and then the film itself doubles down by being odd and unique in its style. Pretty wonderful stuff. – Bob  [LOVED] Worst screening of the festival. Stopped midway through, backed up twenty minutes, forced to rewatch the most unpleasant ten minutes again, brought to a stop again, jumped forward five minutes before eventually sorting itself out. THEN the narrative took a hard left and turned into something very different than where we’d left off. I might appreciate this film for what it is, but based on what I saw, I can’t tell for sure. – Ryan [WORST*]

LEN AND COMPANY
The great ‘hanging out’ movie at TIFF offers a lot of pleasure to see Juno Temple and Rhys Ifans (who is both cantankerous and thoughtful Lou Reed type) finally share some scenes together after this being their third film ‘working together.’ – Kurt [LOVED] A quite enjoyable comedy about a grumpy recluse and the company that he keeps. Great performances by Rhys Ifans and Juno Temple. – Sean [LIKED]

25 APRIL
Animated War commemoration honours kiwis and history. – Matt P. [LOVED]

WHERE TO INVADE NEXT
Michael Moore’s best since Bowling for Columbine. Crams perhaps too much in to make its point, but each example more jaw-dropping than the next, so be it. This is going to stir some serious shit. – Mike [LOVED]

RAMS
A stark film – one where vast imagery is dotted by one little splash of life in the bottom left corner of the frame. It’s a striking way to tell a story, one that only underlines how powerless we are in the face of forces of nature…how it’s a great big world and we are just one tiny part of it. Seeing the world that way makes one wonder how anyone could eschew a familial bond for as long as Gummi and Kiddi do, but it’s not like their story is unique in that way. – Ryan [LOVED]

KILO-TWO BRAVO
One of the best war films since Saving Private Ryan, full of relentless tension without a single shot fired. This was easily one of the best films of the festival. – Ariel [LOVED]

WE MONSTERS
A strong and well-executed thriller that is as efficient in its storytelling as it is creative in each of its frames. – Bob [LOVED]

BROOKLYN
A movie about how “Home” is no longer associated with the place where one grows up. BROOKLYN sees that the search for a place we can feel most ourselves and most vulnerable isn’t defined by our papers or a parse of land. -Ryan [LIKED] Beautifully adapted by Nick Hornby from Colm Tóibín’s award winning novel, and elegantly directed by John Crowley (Boy A), Brooklyn flourishes with a remarkable cast. – Ariel [LOVED]

IN JACKSON HEIGHTS
Frederick Wiseman helps emphasize living with cultural diversity via packing the colour from the Jackson Heights neighbourhood into every frame. At 3+ hours long, it barely scratches the surface of how rich the culture really is in this one section of New York. – Bob [LOVED]

THE DEVIL’S CANDY
A chilling, tense, and just plain excellent horror film. And a great heavy metal soundtrack. – Sean [LOVED] Writer-director Sean Byrne follows up his monumentally entertaining The Loved Ones, after half a decade, but unfortunately, The Devil’s Candy does not live up to pent up expectations. Though hugely entertaining, things feel thin and rushed. The predominantly dark and disturbing subject matter might have benefitted from a slower pace, and little room to breathe. – Ariel [LIKED] When a sensitive metalhead painter buys a new country house for his family, it comes with some serious skeletons in the closet that challenge their tight family unit. Ethan Embry spends the entire movie in greasy blonde wig apologizing to everyone and everything, but Sean Burns knows how to edit a genre flick for maximum effect. – Kurt [LIKED] Sean Byrne is a huge talent, the paintings at the centre of the film are awesome and everything is wrapped up in an intense 80 odd minutes. I am just not sure I really enjoyed it. – Bob [LIKED]

EQUALS
Whether intended or not, with Equals, Drake Doremus completes a love/desire trilogy of movies with a film as visually and emotionally satisfying as his previous work, Like Crazy and Breathe In. The absence of Felicity Jones is felt, however Kristen Stewart gets the job done, while Nicholas Hout pulls out all stops with his best silent movie eye-acting in this claustrophobic story of furtive love in a Vulcan-like dystopia. Transcends the high concept by sheer willpower. – Mike [LOVED] Upcoming movie stars Kristen Stewart and Nicolas Hoult express intimacy as rebellion in a future where emotions and sex have been eliminated from society. It’s Nineteen Eighty-Four meets Logan Run for the Millennial generation, and it is exceptionally good. – Kurt [LOVED] A quite touching, thought provoking, dystopian romance. – Sean [LIKED]

THE DRESSMAKER
Murder, revenge, love, sewing: A WESTERN. – Matt P. [LOVED] Judy Davis was so good in this comedic-western-vengeance-melodrama melange that I even mention her before my beloved Kate Winslet. A fun and surprisingly surprising film. – Bob [LOVED] A tad too cute, with over-the-top performances from Kate Winslet, Judy Davis and Hugo Weaving. I wanted more Australian acidity and less little-old-lady shenanigans. A revenge mystery for the Double-X set, it’s not bad, just not interesting enough for me to make it to the end, while the sun is shining outside. – Kurt [WALKED OUT]

AN
A patient, lovely and sensitive look at those people tucked into the corners and forgotten. Beautiful. And boy was I ever hungry by the end of it. – Bob [LOVED] Labour and dignity are at the heart of this exceptional Japanese drama about of all things, making bean paste. In the US it would be Oscar bait of the worst kind, but here in the confident hands of director Naomi Kuwase, it is perfectly realized emotion and humanity. I wept for the entire back-half of this film. -Kurt [LOVED]

CHEVALIER
Maleness stripped down to absurdity. The movie never escalates to a climax, but is hilariously ‘blue-balls’ for its entire runtime. The punchline is subtle, but excellent. – Kurt [LIKED] Greek Deliverance minus canoes plus wangs. – Matt P. [LOVED] A brilliant representation of the fragility of masculinity that, unfortunately, had me moderately entertained, but predominantly bored. It is an exceptionally well-made film by Athina Rachel Tsangari, and deserves every accolade. – Ariel [LIKED] With gentler humour than expected, CHEVALIER puts all of the insecurities of men on full display – not that they’re ever that hard to find. – Bob [LIKED]

SICARIO
With its pragmatic sense of mystery, Sicario is the flip side of Ridley Scott’s The Counselor. Both are set in Juarez, and involve the zen-ruthless of Cartel culture. Scott’s film aims for some kind of ironic poetry of American Exceptionalism, the characters do little to get their hands dirty directly, and yet suffer all the consequences. Villeneuve is all about being on the ground where the shit happens and offers it in more prosaic, clinical fashion. Emily Blunt give her best ‘vulnerable tough gal’ performance. And Benicio Del Toro: holy shit, he is good at what he does! – Kurt [LOVED] A model of execution. It’s not the sort of story that’s going to resonate through the years, nor the sort of filmmaking that will spawn scores of descendants. But what it does it does so. bloody. well. The writing, photography, sound, acting, and direction on display in this film is stone cold perfect. It knows that the same way we can grow tense by the sight of a car in the rearview mirror, that same car disappearing can make us worry all the more. – Ryan [LOVED] The acting & technical aspects of SICARIO are magnificent but it treats Emily Blunt like a pawn just as the government ops treat her character. In the context of the film, I’m coming around to accepting this though… – Bob [LIKED]

GREEN ROOM
Sandwiched halfway between BLUE RUIN and RED PEPPER, GREEN ROOM is some kind of unholy locked-room / siege / revenge movie hybrid, driven along by its propulsive performances (even laid-back, Walter White-ish Patrick Stewart) and an almost sociopathic disinterest in giving a single fuck. Gorgeous to look at, will only watch once. – Matt B. [LIKED] Patrick Stewart mumbles his way through his role as nuts and bolts Neo-Nazi villain who lays siege to a punk band he has trapped in his club. Opening image is a winner. As a single-serving film, this one was worth my time, mainly for the well crafted WTF surprises. – Kurt [LIKED] There’s a DIY quality inherent to punk music; a disdain for the rounded edges of a digital age and the easy access of streaming culture. So perhaps it’s fitting that when a film as punk as GREEN ROOM puts intense violence at its centre, that violence is likewise very DIY. We’re talking buckshot, shivs, fire extinguishers, duct tape, broken glass, and attack dogs. The result isn’t interested in being lyrical or clean so much as it wants to be aggressive and over in three minutes or less. – Ryan [LOVED] Everything I want from the midnight madness programme at TIFF. – Matt P. [LOVED] Relentlessly tense and surprisingly violent, the Midnight Madness opener packed one hell of an entertaining punch. With a fantastic cast, Jeremy Saulnier’s outstanding follow-up to festival favorite Blue Ruin is a standout! – Ariel [LOVED] My jaw didn’t unclench until days later, but GREEN ROOM was so very worth it – overflowing with tension and bloody good fun. – Bob [LOVED]

RIGHT NOW, WRONG THEN
Hong Sang-Soo is the Korean Woody Allen, putting out one film every year on the hang-ups and awkwardness of social interaction. It usually involves a film festival, long drinking sessions and awkward sex. But lately he has been interested in film structure. Here he gives the same 60 minute film twice, only with slight differences to show how it is often the tiniest of gestures or communication that make an encounter warm and intimate, or weird and creepy. It might be a bit of work, but the film is profoundly funny. – Kurt [LOVED]

VICTORIA
There are some cinematic achievements that need to be seen to be believed, moments where the rubber-meets-the road and technical mastery goes to great lengths to elevate a narrative to new heights. They combine exercises in technique and leaps of innovation to achieve great emotional intensity. This is one of those achievements. – Ryan [LOVED] From character introductions through a heist and its denouement, the entire 135 minutes of VICTORIA is done in one unbroken shot and provides several extremely tense moments with a deep engagement into what is essentially a pretty basic story. Much more than just an impressive technical exercise. – Bob [LOVED]

SPL 2
It has been a decade since Sha Po Lang’s mixed martial arts burned up the screen, and here we are, still with delightful and new ways to stage action on screen. Despite a slow start, this film developed into an absolute joy. Along with Yakuza Apocalypse, this one of two truly great, old school inflected, Midnight Madness experiences this year. – Kurt [LOVED] Hellamazing, bananapants, emojis are plot crucial. – Matt P. [LOVED] One thing that can be said without a doubt about SPL 2 is that is has some very excellent martial arts fight scenes, particular the epic final battle. However, all this action comes at the end of a somewhat slow two hour crime drama, which wastes many of the talent that is in the film. – Sean [FELL ASLEEP]

YAKUZA APOCALYPSE
With a very absurd premise involving vampires, beaked turtle men, and a Yakuza knitting circle, this is not really a film that is meant to be watched for its plot. While Yakuza Apocalypse does end right as things are starting to get good, it is still a quite fun piece of absurdity. – Sean [LIKED] A cornucopia of Miike Madness at Midnight. The titular gangsters here are literal bloodsuckers who engage in an ever increasing scale of kung-fu battles with a green-velvet mascot and other oddities. The password is: Stay Foolish! Apocalypse accepted.- Kurt [LOVED] THIS IS HOW EVERYONE SPEAKS FOR THE WHOLE 2 HOUR FILM! IT’S PRETTY EXHAUSTING BUT ALSO SOMETIMES FUN BUT ALSO A BIT BORING! THAT NINJA FROG STARE WAS COOL THOUGH! – Bob [DISAPPOINTED] No idea. – Matt B. [LIKED]

MY NAME IS EMILY
The kind of small, warm, endearing and very heartfelt film that is a little bit of manna from heaven at a festival. – Bob [LOVED]

BODY
Fatalist Funny Formalist Fantastic And Fresh. – Matt P. [LOVED]

EVOLUTION
A very art-house horror film that turns ‘women control men’s bodies’ style patriarchy on its womb. It is breathtakingly shot, deeply unsettling, and uncompromising in making the audience do all the work. The ocean is weird in the Lovecraft-ian sense, but man, we have figured out how to photograph it in all its glory! – Kurt [LIKED] A challenging watch in its soporific pacing and rigid unwillingness to let the audience in on its own secrets even marginally ahead of time (about 15-20 minutes behind it, more often), EVOLUTION – like Hadzihalilovic’s previous feature, INNOCENCE – nonetheless comes together quite beautifully upon reflection, and contains imagery that will stay with you for a long, long while. Plus, starfishes. – Matt B. [LIKED] Beautifully shot and definitely weird sci-fi drama. – Sean [LIKED] Loads of interesting and fascinating imagery in EVOLUTION about the feminine influence on boys, but the inside of my eyelids became more compelling at some point. – Bob [DISAPPOINTED]

HEART OF A DOG
Hint – It is not really about her dog. – Matt P. [LOVED]

GUILTY
One of the most publicized murder cases in India, where a white collar professor and his wife were convicted of killing their teenage daughter and their male housekeeper, ostensibly an honour killing for alleged sexual misconduct. Meghna Gulzar reconstructs all the various points of view, that combines Rashomon and 12 Angry Men. It’s dense, but deeply engaging stuff, with the always excellent Irrfan Khan acting as both investigator and Juror#12. – Kurt [LOVED]

ROOM
What a cathartic experience as the entire Princess of Wales theatre collectively sobs (the hardest gut-punch for me was the Beasts of Southern Wild-like internalization in the boy’s narration, particularly what Room means to him). Performances of Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay make the movie, which on its own can feel at times a little too Canadian precious and visually flat in the second half. The script and the actors raise the ante. – Mike  [LIKED] Outstandingly adapted from Emma Donoghue’s 2010 novel of the same name, Room is devastatingly executed. With remarkable performances from Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, and Joan Allen, it’s the kind of film that pierces your heart in the most wonderfully painful way. – Ariel [LOVED]  
SON OF SAUL
An excellent first feature film from Laszlo Nemes, told entirely from the perspective of Saul Auslander, a Hungarian Polish Jewish Sonderkommando imprisoned at Auschwitz. It’s an emotionally complex story simply told about humanity’s desperation to cling to hope in the darkest abyss. – Ariel [LOVED]

PHANTOM BOY
It is delightful when Europeans do “American Movies.” – Matt P. [LOVED]

MY GREAT NIGHT
Precision controlled chaos from Alex de la Iglesia as he juggles more than half a dozen plots and nearly all of his regular actors stable in a single location – a TV variety special melt down. Mayhem and belly laughs ensue. – Kurt [LOVED] Some quite enjoyable ‘fake New Year’ insanity. – Sean [LIKED]

SUMMERTIME
Has the distinct natural feel of an Assayas or Hansen-Love directed personal story. Fantastic, engaging from start to finish and one of the best of the fest. I need more of director Corsini’s films. – Bob [LOVED]

SCHNEIDER VS. BAX
Delightfully absurd European screwball farce involving competent hitmen and their cluttered domestic lives. Unexpectedly hilarious. – Kurt [LOVED] Though not quite the action filled romp you might expect from two hitmen pitted against each other, it’s wholly unexpected every step of the way. A really enjoyable dark comedy. – Bob [LOVED] Great first half, then it peters out. – Matt P. [LIKED]

JOURNEY TO THE SHORE
Granted, like most “meditations”, this film meanders a great deal…But the concept of your ghosts needing to let go of you too is quite wonderful and Kurosawa once again shows his mastery of tone. – Bob [LOVED] Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s title is a literal one, but so much more. It is another film at this festival (along with Louder Than Bombs and Demolition) that deals with grief in a unique fashion. Maybe it overstays its welcome at a certain point, but it was lovely nonetheless. – Kurt [LIKED]

FEBRUARY
One of my biggest surprises of TIFF ’15 – I was far from prepared! An excellently shot, dark, tense horror thriller, with shockingly brutal overtones. February broods until it explodes in the most understated way imaginable. It is elegantly restrained, yet viscerally potent all at once. – Ariel [LOVED] Pretzel logic that cuts the mustard. – Matt P. [LOVED] Hits a slow burn 70s horror vibe with a modern look and feel. Allows the atmosphere to take centre stage, but never loses its focus. – Bob [LOVED] A solid demonic boarding school thriller that guarantees that I never view Sally Draper the same again. – Sean [LIKED] Stockholm Syndrome from Satanic Possession? An interesting idea that is often rendered listless on screen with subpar staging and cinematography. I wish it were better. – Kurt [DISLIKED]

THE WAIT
A movie about the deep desire for peace in the face of loss. When we lose someone we love, we all so dearly want – as Jeanne puts it – “to sleep pristinely”. We want to be able to walk through life on our own terms, and not be affected by every glance and glimmer. Sometimes that involves being improper, and even a tad selfish. But perhaps by being selfish, we can spare others our pain…and in a strange way help them find peace of their own. – Ryan [LOVED]

SPARROWS
The film is charming and dark (sometimes both at once) and lets its teenage protagonist slowly figure out the difference between being “manly” and being a man. – Bob [LOVED] An emotionally devastating film from returning Icelandic filmmaker Rúnar Rünarsson, whose 2011 film Volcano is still one of my favourites in my nine years at TIFF. Sparrows is delicately potent with a rare kind of nuanced anguish, with stunning performances from Atli Oskar Fjalarsson as the young, troubled protagonist, and Ingvar Eggert Sigurdsson as the boy’s deadbeat father. – Ariel [LOVED]

THE FAMILY FANG
Jason Bateman directs and stars in this adaptation of the novel of the same name. A couple of performance artists enlist their young children into elaborate on-the-street pranks. The grown up versions, Bateman and Nicole Kidman, have to come to term with the consequences of their highly unusual family dynamic. Christopher Walken as the patriarch of the family, gives his best performances since Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can. The film is also deeply funny, in a off-beat sentimental kind of cocktail. – Kurt [LOVED] A great character study looking at the intersection of family and art. – Sean [LIKED]

HOMESICK
Moodily shot, this taboo-ridden, uncomfortably erotic Norwegian drama from Anne Sewitsky offers a powerful character study of two broken and abandoned people simply trying to connect to the home they never had. This is truly a remarkable film, full of challenging subject matter that begs of its audience the utmost patience and understanding. – Ariel [LOVED]

VETERAN
This is slick fun pure entertainment. – Matt P. [LOVED] Once “Heart Of Glass” kicked in, I knew I’d have fun with this movie. It gets a bit bogged down proving how oh-so-very-evil the big bad is, but overcomes that in the end. – Bob [LIKED]

45 YEARS
A beautifully quiet and restrained film about the pain of missed opportunities, the potency of memory and nostalgia, and the true nature of marriage. Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay are outstanding, with crushingly beautiful nuanced performances. – Ariel [LOVED]

MY SKINNY SISTER
A lovely look at a great sibling dynamic between two girls trying to figure out who they are. Always pick the Scandinavian films. – Bob [LOVED]

THE CLUB
Moves from darkly comic to an absolutely scathing indictment of The Church in a brutal but wholly involving final act. – Bob [LOVED]

THE CLAN
Has a killer soundtrack that is completely inappropriate for the movie and a relatively poor structure. – Matt P. [DISLIKED]

MR. RIGHT
A very fun and enjoyable film, which I can best describe as what you would get if you took Sam Rockwell’s character from Seven Psychopaths and threw him into a romantic comedy with Anna Kendrick. – Sean [LOVED]

PORTAL TO HELL!!!
A hilariously fun horror-comedy short that makes me more sad that Roddy Piper is no longer with us. – Sean [LOVED]

THE IDOL
Even for those not all that familiar with the actual story, The Idol is a very well-done biopic of Mohamad Assaf, who embodies the hope that Palestinians can overcome their prevailing despair. – Sean [LOVED]

INTO THE FOREST
A powerful story about sisterhood and survival. The plot could have progressed more expediently and efficiently towards its end goal, with the final moments feeling a bit too on-the-nose. None the less, Into The Forest is beautifully shot, and exquisitely acted by both Evan Rachel Wood and Ellen Page. – Ariel [LIKED] A beautiful film stifled in the final minutes by awkward thematic agenda. – Mike [LIKED] A film that begins with the three members of this family all in separate rooms enjoying their comforts, and by the time it’s all over we realize that we need to get away from that. That’s not to say that we all need to unplug…just to say that we need to be able to light a fire as succinctly as we can Google. – Ryan [LIKED] That script really sticks the landing. – Matt P. [LOVED]

MEN & CHICKEN
The single most enjoyable time I’ve ever had watching something so absurdly perverse. Anders Thomas Jensen brings us Mads Mikkelsen like you’ve never seen him, and an outstanding performance from David Dencik in one of the most hilarious films I had the pleasure of seeing at this year’s festival. A complete joy! – Ariel [LOVED] Fun and deeply odd, the movie goes a long way to proving that Mads Mikkelsen may be a comic genius. And I really want an entire feature of “Josef’s Bible Stories”. – Bob [LIKED] It is more a function of ‘end of festival’ burn out, as this was the last film of a long week. I adored the two acts of Mads Mikkelsen behaving badly in a domestic red-neck cleft-lipped comedy rampage, but the back half made my eyelids heavy, and I don’t think I missed much as things slowly came to its rather obvious conclusion. – Kurt [FELL ASLEEP]

BORN TO BE BLUE
In what Ethan Hawke has referred to as an “anti-biopic”, Born to be Blue portrays the remarkable Chet Baker not historically as he lived, but emotionally and personally as he was. It’s profoundly insightful, revealing a depth to Baker’s psyche that few other feature films or documentaries have succeeded in capturing. And the soundtrack is outstanding. – Ariel [LOVED]

HITCHCOCK/TRUFFAUT
The documentary is more Hitchcock than Truffaut, but is an engaging overview of why Hitchcock’s work still resonates today, and offers some great insights into the hangups and anxieties of the Master Of Suspense as he felt increasingly boxed into being a populist craftsman. – Kurt [LIKED] Great fun as shallow overviews go. – Matt P. [LIKED] If nothing else, it may spark a renewed interest in copies of this wonderful artifact of film literacy…and at the end of the day, that’s a good thing. – Ryan [LIKED]

Exactly what I wanted: passionate directors talking passionately about directing. Was the perfect start to my festival. – Bob [LOVED]

GIRLS LOST
A stunningly shot, moody and atmospheric film about the power of masculinity, the fragility of sexuality, and the pain of not belonging in ones own skin. Unfortunately, though it has a lot to say, Girls Lost seems unsure as to how to properly articulate its thesis, losing much of its potency in the third act. – Ariel [LIKED] Plays with gender identity in a sensitive way and manages to cover a broad scope while focusing on the specific. Fabulous soundtrack. – Bob [LOVED] Teenaged girls become teenaged boys after drinking the nectar of the most fecund flower ever put on screen. The message-mongering about gender identity is a little too shrill and gets in the way of some otherwise fine filmmaking. It’s a worthy message, but do you have to lather it on this thick? Better to let the music and the actors do the heavy lifting. That being said, I really, seriously dread the inevitable Hollywood remake of this. – Kurt [LIKED] The film has a flaw or two in its execution, but at the end of the day they do not matter. What matters is that this story exists and will be within reach of teenagers like the ones it depicts trying to understand who they are, who they’re supposed to be…and most importantly, what will happen then. – Ryan [LOVED] Brave in the attempt and unsatisfying in the final analysis, this wonderful concept – high school girls become boys thanks to magic and ritual – feels a couple of drafts short of figuring out its own metaphor. Some memorable moments, but nowhere to go. – Matt B. [DISAPPOINTED]

THE WITCH
Deadly serious, and utterly committed to its period of 17th century New World puritan misery. Yet the film is beautiful, in its own horrific way. First and foremost this is a dire domestic drama, offering only a few grace notes to genre, which might be one too many, but still. – Kurt [LOVED] A handsome slow burn horror movie in the spirit of Jonathan Glazer or Stanley Kubrick, thick with atmospheric dread as a devout family have their faith tested by a dark force lurking in the woods. The Village but taken seriously.  Lives up to the Sundance hype. – Mike [LOVED] An elegantly shot, moody, and atmospheric film with a Gothic lean that, unfortunately, feels directionless. Despite outstanding performances, and a stark, troubling tone, The Witch ends with a heavy-handed thud, and doesn’t quite fulfill its potential. – Ariel [LIKED] This is not a film that will scare everyone, but to those who see blind faith as something that should be feared just as much as demonic possession, it will be truly terrifying. – Ryan [LIKED] Though it contains several stunning moments, The Witch was ultimately too dry for me to ever become anywhere near enough engaged to be terrified. I like slow atmospheric horror, but this was not that. – Bob [DISAPPOINTED] Most Gentile movie I have ever seen. – Matt P. [DISAPPOINTED]

MUSTANG
A more socially significant Virgin Suicides, and excellent feature film debut from Turkish director Deniz Gamze Ergüven. Its beautiful leading ladies offer poised, nuanced performances, while the story overtly cries out for awareness towards the horrible treatment of women around the world. – Ariel [LOVED] Though it didn’t quite deliver the emotional wallops it could have, the young cast were wonderful and the film is chock full of beautifully realized moments. – Bob [LIKED]

CEMETERY OF SPLENDOR
A movie that seems to want to take the serenity of unconsciousness and put it on the screen, and to that end the film is a success. – Ryan [LIKED]

BLACK
Romeo & Juliet, sex, drugs and machismo, Moroccan Gangs & African Mandingo level racism collide in this kinetically directed first film. It’s nothing new, but it works on most levels if you don’t mind all the rapey-bits. – Kurt [LIKED] Romeo + Juliet + African diaspora = new experience. – Matt P. [LOVED]

THE WHISPERING STAR
One of Sion Sono’s umpteen films this year, it is his quietest, most art-house by far. Using retro , monochrome, science fiction tropes to exorcise the demons of the Fukushima, it took me a long time to warm up to its idiosyncratic method of storytelling – more than half its runtime, in fact – but once it had me, I didn’t want it to end. – Kurt [LIKED] Though ultimately not very entertaining, Sion Sono’s narrative experiment (all sound dubbed after the fact made it feel like a silent film at times) is quite lovely and shows his ongoing empathy with any and all of the worlds survivors. – Bob [LIKED] Black & white cinematography and a minimalist soundtrack, The Whispering Star is a very experimental effort. – Sean [LIKED]

NO MEN BEYOND THIS POINT
This wry mockuMENtary enGENDERs societal exaMENation. – Matt P. [LIKED]

DEMON
A beautifully haunting, and oddly funny, depiction of the Jewish myth of the Dybbuk. The entire film is exquisitely shot, with phenomenal work from both the principal cast, and virtually every extra on set. Demon is an elegantly woven tapestry of chaotic mishegas. – Ariel [LOVED] A refreshing take on the typical demonic possession story, which is more family drama than horror. It’s quite a tragic turn of events that director Marcin Wrona suddenly passed away, since he definitely showed some promise with this film. – Sean [LIKED] It is hard to be creepy when you are also messy, dull and have uninteresting characters. There were elements to like, but the film never took off. – Bob [DISLIKED] Beautiful, moody, intense. Does not pass “dybbuk”. – Matt P. [LOVED]  
FIVE NIGHTS IN MAINE
A very human story. It is built on a foundation of intimacy and sorrow and tries to explore the ways we all grieve so very differently. There are moments of awkward humour and warm humanity from all involved. In short, it’s a great start from director Curran and a promise of even better things to come. – Ryan [LIKED] Excellent performances from Dianne Wiest and David Oyelowo in a calm, quiet depiction of grief and mourning. – Ariel [LIKED]

NORTHERN SOUL
While many will understand the joys that come with using someone else’s art to express your feelings – and furthermore, bring people together – the notion of using that same art to achieve a certain status within a certain crowd because they have to come to you to get their groove on might seem a bit dickish. But hey, that’s rock & roll for you. – Ryan [LIKED]

DER NACHTMAHR
I loved Loved LOVED this movie! – Matt P. [LOVED] A cute creature feature with VERY LOUD rave music. – Sean [LIKED]

THE HONG KONG TRILOGY – PRESCHOOLED, PREOCCUPIED, PREPOSTEROUS
fleeting – like a paper plane or an autumn sunset. In a blink, everyone we meet in this film will go on to become different people…so it’s important that we celebrate who they are right now, and how they make this world a better place. Ryan [LIKED]

LEGEND
A double dose of Tom Hardy helps to swallow the more mundane parts of this straightforward crime/gangster flick. He’s really quite a magnificent presence on screen and enables the movie to stay afloat. – Bob [LIKED]

THE DAUGHTER
Though emotionally potent, The Daughter often seems to lose its direction. Despite outstanding performances from Sam Neill, Odessa Young, and Ewen Leslie, The Daughter doesn’t quite hit the mark as hard as it should have. – Ariel [LIKED] Despite sporting an impressive cast and some decent performances, the melodrama of The Daughter gets progressively more depressing, to the point that viewers will likely require a stiff drink afterwards. – Sean [DISAPPOINTED]

BASKIN
The film Rob Zombie has been trying to make for years. Visionary hell. – Mike [LOVED] A grim but effective gore-horror from Turkey that boasts some pretty measured acting and story structure for this kind of thing. Indeed, as Mike said, it is film that Rob Zombie’s Lords of Salem should have been. – Kurt [LIKED] A horror film with a relatively slow pace to it. It is not really until the final act of the film, where the terror goes full throttle. While far from perfect it should still satisfy those looking for some hellish insanity. – Sean [FELL ASLEEP]

FULL CONTACT
Killing your enemies with Drone Strikes seeps out any dignity and conscience that war and conflict might possibly possess. Taking a very oblique, arthouse approach to this increasingly common thesis (see also Andrew Niccol’s Good Kill as well as 2015 doc Drone), the film is not perfect, but it is not easily forgotten either. – Kurt [LIKED]

YOUTH
There are moments from YOUTH that I won’t soon forget; there are lessons on art, love, and losing hope that I will cling to long after this festival has ended. But I will do so in spite of its later failings…which might well be the best lesson of all. – Ryan [LIKED] Very Funny. Completely Gorgeous. Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel have superb chemistry together, but too often the film feels like they are about to turn to the camera and explain what the movie is about. Nobody cries better than Rachel Weisz and she does so for most of the film. Paul Dano is beat up (again) while dressed as Hitler. – Kurt [LIKED]

COLLECTIVE INVENTION
Effectively (though not as absurdly as I’d like) uses its fish man character to view how we invent issues to avoid looking at the truth. It’s hard to love due to the extremely pathetic nature of its main character, but I found enough to like. – Bob [LIKED] Korean fishman doesn’t carp my diem. – Matt P. [DISLIKED]

BANG GANG (A MODERN LOVE STORY)
Takes the hysteria and overreaction to young people exploring their sexuality and identities in our world of social media and STDs and turns it on its head. I found this French cumming-of-age film immensely refreshing, for that if nothing else. Only the French would do this. – Kurt [LOVED] Pretty goddamn bad, but if you’re in the film festival market for a bunch of nubile French teenagers fucking for an hour or two, it is this year’s high water mark. – Matt B. [DISLIKED]

THE ASSASSIN
Glacially paced, and lacking in set-pieces, but still the most beautiful film I saw at TIFF this year. And when it decides to cross swords, it does so in an original way. Not for everyone, but very much for me. – Kurt [LIKED]

SOUTHBOUND
A well edited horror anthology that comes across as a gory mix of The Twilight Zone and Twin Peaks. – Sean [LIKED]

THE MIND’S EYE
While The Mind’s Eye is far from a perfect film, it is quite evident that director Joe Begos has a real affinity for the horror genre, which is also apparent in his debut film Almost Human from two years ago. – Sean [LIKED]

RIVER
A good enough film which tackles the ethical questions of a man going on the run in fear of a foreign judicial system. – Sean [LIKED]

HORIZON
Fridrik Thor Fridriksson & Bergur Bernburg quickly explain why Icelandic landscape painter Georg Gudni is a major contemporary artist. More essay than film, it is still a worthy introduction. – Kurt [LIKED]

THE TREASURE
89 minutes of dry humour with Romanian political subtext? Wooo! THE TREASURE delivers on all those counts while retaining your attention. – Bob [LIKED]

SEMANA SANTA
This small Mexican film believes – perhaps quite rightly – that if you really want to understand the strength of your familial bonds, you should plan a family vacation. Only then will you learn if additional freedom ends up bringing the family unit closer, or if the temptation creates fractures that may lead to bonds breaking once and for all. – Ryan [LIKED]

DESIERTO
A minimalist thriller in a desert, a gun, a dog, and a lot of running.  Too repetitive to be wholly satisfying but the Morricone-sounding score keeps the momentum overwhelming the monotony. – Mike [LIKED]

MA MA
Despite using some odd and ineffective stylistic touches, director Julio Medem manages to inch towards getting into my good books again (after CHAOTIC ANA, I wasn’t sure that was possible). Though the film probably should have fully embraced melodrama, it functions as a solid acting platform for Cruz and Tosar. – Bob [LIKED] Doesn’t get melodramatic enough to make it’s kooky parts work, nor kooky enough to buoy its maudlin nature. Handsome, and with interesting things to say, but underwhelming as a whole. – Ryan [DISAPPOINTED]

MIA MADRE
Moretti doesn’t delineate his themes succinctly. – Matt P. [LIKED]

THE REFLEKTOR TAPES
Does the job, offers a space to daydream within while listening to Arcade Fire ambient wafting as if captured from the womb. – Mike [LOVED] Most worth watching for the concert footage, thought ultimately The Reflektor Tapes is little more than a visual companion to the “Reflektor” album and is better suited as a DVD feature than a cinematic presentation. – Sean [FELL ASLEEP]

ONE FLOOR BELOW
The movie’s pace matches that of its protagonist’s slow entrapment in guilt. You can’t run from yourself. You can’t even crawl. – Bob [LIKED]

THE FINAL GIRLS
Though far from perfect, The Final Girls is much cleverer than it should have been. Intelligently referential with a poignant dialogue on the pain of loss, Todd Strauss-Schulson’s film is hugely entertaining, and an absolute treat to watch. – Ariel [LOVED] I admire the ambition immensely – this concept is as daffy as crossing SCREAM with BACK TO THE FUTURE – but can’t sort out what tone or story the movie ultimately tried to land. Taissa Farmiga is wonderful, Malin Ackerman less so, all the points ever to Thomas Middleditch. – Matt B. [DISAPPOINTED]

DISORDER
An effective and efficient thriller that manages to remain on its PTSD protagonist’s view of the world. Maybe too efficient at times as it’s over before you really feel connected to the main players. – Bob [LIKED]

THE RAINBOW KID
A touching, funny, and occasionally quite dark odyssey of a young man with Downs Syndrome. – Sean [LIKED]  
ANGRY INDIAN GODESSES
The film allows its agenda to overshadow its plot. Its goal is noble, but its impact is diluted due to the haste with which Pan Nalin tries to make his point. – Ariel [LIKED] Ungainly big chill/death wish hybrid. – Matt P. [LIKED]

JANIS: LITTLE GIRL BLUE
A quite fine biopic of Janis Joplin, with some great archive footage and performances. – Sean [LIKED] Yeah, fine, but mostly it’s clips. – Matt P. [LIKED]

PARCHED
There’s a dearth of subtlety in the storytelling which keeps PARCHED from being really great. It’s a shame because there’s a hell of a story to tell in regards to the societal roles of women in parts of India. Fortunately, the film still manages to engage. – Bob [LIKED]

HOW HEAVY THIS HAMMER
A poignant and realistic depiction of midlife crisis, which will leave you feeling both sympathy and spite towards the lead protagonist. – Sean [LIKED]

LOVE 3D
Dicks are ridiculous, the male ego even more so. – Matt B. [LIKED] There’s a world of difference between sex and love, and whether one appreciates this film depends on how much time they want to spend in the space between the two. – Ryan [LIKED] While it can be easy to write-off Love purely for its explicit use of sex, the film also portrays a very tender romance between the two protagonists, which is essentially shown backwards from their break-up to first meeting. The problem is that as the romance gets more loving, the sex ironically gets more darker and pornographic. With a lengthy threesome scene and 3D ejaculation among the film’s shocking content, it can be said that Love is a romance about sex that has way too much of it. – Sean [DISAPPOINTED]

I SMILE BACK
Sarah Silverman sheds her typical role as a comedian for a very serious dramatic performance as a woman suffering from depression. Silverman is quite excellent in her performance in the film, even if some of the self-destructive actions that she performs in the film can be hard to watch at times. – Sean [LIKED]

MAGGIE’S PLAN
A series of adorable plot points that feel as if they were executed in half-measures. The end product feels half formed, salvaged by its stellar cast and winning performances. – Ariel [LIKED] Despite the talent involved did not find this as smart and funny as the scripts wants it to be. – Mike [LIKED]

LET THEM COME
The fact that the film is disturbing, doesn’t hinder the fact that Let Them Come is a fine piece of Algerian cinema, which documents a horrendous period in the country’s history. –  Sean [LIKED]

OUR BRAND IS CRISIS
David Gordon Green in his Hollywood mode offers this Wag-The-Dog-lite comedy starring Sandra Bullock and Billy Bob Thorton that is quite funny, snappily directed and acted. And yet it manages to play in the same obnoxious space as The Blind Side, only instead of a far right pat-on-the-back in is all lefty in its patronizing. The film is all bark and no bite, but damn if I cannot be pandered too a little bit. -Kurt [DISAPPOINTED]

VILLE-MARIE
Pascale Bussieres is easily one of Canada’s best actors, but the bland stories within VILLE-MARIE really let her down. It’s a damn shame because my hometown looked so good on screen.. -Bob  [DISLIKED]

THE FORBIDDEN ROOM
It quickly becomes apparent that The Forbidden Room is more a film to experience, rather than to fully understand. The film reaches its peak fairly early on, during a musical sequence, featuring a song entitled “The Final Derriere,” performed by the band Sparks. Sadly, at just under two hours in length, The Forbidden Room is way too long for what it is and it quickly becomes apparent that the film is more interested in its stunt casting than a cohesive narrative. – Sean [DISAPPOINTED]

BLACK MASS
Johnny Depps excellent performance is hijacked by bad make-up (those blue contacts are terrible!) and muddled, uneven storytelling. I smell a rat. – Kurt [DISLIKED]

MR. SIX
Metaphysical action movie packs emotional wallop. – Matt P. [LIKED] I kinda liked the initial small story of the film localized to Mr. Six and his impact on his neighbourhood, but it lost me as it got bigger and fell into sentimentality. The great final fade came too late to make amends. – Bob [DISLIKED]

THE KIND WORDS
A perfectly entertaining film about finding your roots, and coming to terms with them. Sadly, this was a fatigued day for me. – Ariel [FELL ASLEEP]

HELLIONS
Hellions is not a perfect horror film, but it does end up being a solid, surreal, and quite twisted tale of Halloween terror. – Sean [LIKED] Mercifully Short. – Mike  [DISLIKED]

HARDCORE
Every level can’t be boss level. – Matt P. [DISLIKED]

HYENA ROAD
While the goal of Hyena Road might have been to make a Canadian version of The Hurt Locker, there isn’t all that much within the plot of this overlong war film to maintain interest. What is left are incredibly violent battle scenes, which linger on the gore, and the somewhat bothersome depiction of Canada as a military nation. – Sean [DISAPPOINTED]

THE PROGRAM
The most remarkable thing here are the performances — Ben Foster and Chris O’Dowd in particular are truly fantastic. However, it feels like there was a chunk left on the cutting room floor, and the film loses its momentum in the third act with an anticlimactic conclusion. – Ariel [DISAPPOINTED]

FRANCOFONIA
I lasted about forty five minutes. – Matt P. [WALKED OUT]

A PATCH OF FOG
Terrible construction, worse writing, no characters. – Matt P. [WALKED OUT] Even though I really like actors Conleth Hill (Varys in Game Of Thrones) and Stephen Graham (Capone in Boardwalk Empire) this sad-sack cat-and-mouse game is visually morning and too damn inevitable in its story. – Kurt [DISLIKED]

THE PARADISE SUITE
A lot of very sensitive performances in this film, but it tackles far too many targets at once. Not a happy Sunday morning watch, but I suppose it wasn’t intended to be. – Bob [DISLIKED]

KILL YOUR FRIENDS
Great music but I need a cleanse. – Matt P. [HATED]

THE HERE AFTER
The tragic story on tap here offers no easy answers to any of its characters which makes the film at times a very difficult/frustrating watch – of course, that’s part of its point. An interesting approach, but not something I want to experience again. – Bob [DISLIKED]

ENDORPHINE
I lost the thread and somewhat disengaged from the film at some point, but that’s kind of irrelevant since the film revels in its dream/hypnosis/unconscious state. Saying I disliked it is a bit harsh – I’m certainly glad I saw its experimental approach and that films like this are being made to inspire others. Take what you want from it. – Bob [DISLIKED]

THE APOSTATE
Emphasizes that if you keep acting on your convictions, the rewards (both tangible and intangible) will follow. Good advice, but just not given in any sort of rousing fashion. – Bob [DISAPPOINTED]

STONEWALL
One of the most blatantly negligent representations of a historically integral event I have ever seen. Emmerich made a conscious choice to create fictitious characters in order to tell a fictionalized account of the untold side of the Stonewall riots, while the true heroes of the events that served as a catalyst for the Gay Liberation Movement still remain predominantly uncelebrated and underrepresented. – Ariel [DISAPPOINTED]

HIGH-RISE
What a mess, what an elaborate, sometimes interesting, sometimes fascinating, sometimes tedious mess. A vertical laissez-faire Snowpiercer. -Mike [WORST] Like a montage in slow motion, Ben Wheatley’s latest film is the furthest thing from empathy or engagement. It’s stylish as hell, but is so crammed full with hatefulness that the satire becomes almost besides the point. Hiddleston has zero personality, but Portishead covering ABBA is pretty swell. High Rise might age into something interesting (a la Cronenberg’s Crash), but it makes a pretty terrible first impression. -Kurt [DISAPPOINTED] Though I was pulled in by its style initially, HIGH-RISE wears out its welcome as it beats to a pulp its points. After thinking on it some more, I’m not even sure it’s better than SNOWPIERCER (and that’s not a good sign for a movie in my book). – Bob [DISLIKED]

THE MISSING GIRL
Leaving aside the degree to which its choice of subject is rather personally insulting, at some point while watching THE MISSING GIRL I realized that it was the story of a trivial, white, straight, middle-aged man and his trivial, white, straight, middle-aged problems. And I realized I’ve seen enough of those. – Matt B. [WORST] Sometimes the most affecting moments are the simplest (like a late night phone call to Mom). – Bob [LOVED] A late in life coming-of-age story, which can be described as a quirky mix of fantasy, reality, and comic books. If you like films like Ghost World, then The Missing Girl is something worth checking out. – Sean [LIKED]

LONDON ROAD
Little more than a stage musical performed on screen, with little added substance, making for a quite disappointing cinematic experience. – Sean [WORST] The music isn’t great and the book isn’t great, but somehow this musical still works when you put it all together. – Ryan [LIKED]

OFFICE
Johnnie To cannot figure out how to make this 3D sound-stage musical about the 2008 financial melt-down work on any level. It’s boring, and for this consistently kinetic director, a total fiasco! – Kurt [WORST] If you think Romanian cinema is slow, it’ll feel like a Bugs Bunny cartoon compared to Johnnie To’s OFFICE. Downright turgid. Nice set though. – Bob [HATED] It does seem odd for Johnnie To, a filmmaker known primarily in North America for his action and crime films, to direct a musical. Indeed, the film comes off as little more than a melodramatic soap opera, with the poor 3D effects being beyond unnecessary. – Sean [DISAPPOINTED]

THE WAVE
OK, don’t always pick the Scandinavian films…Dammit, why did I think a Norwegian disaster flick would be any different than the Hollywood fare? THE WAVE does nothing new except become more actively stupid towards the end. – Bob [WORST]

LACE CRATER
No. – Ariel [WORST] Screws a ghost and the audience. – Matt P. [DISLIKED]

*Ryan’s issue with The Lobster was more to do with projection issues in the screening, than the film, which was rendered difficult to assess for watching it in such a bizarre fashion.

[WHEW…we got through this….TIFF15]

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mike rot
Guest

Nice to hear I’m not the only one loving Beasts of No Nation. Just started rewatching City of God and halfway through gotta say, Beasts while it feels similar in a way, is so much better.

Wow Ryan, The Lobster is the worst. Almost rushed it but didn’t get a chance.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Note the *ASTERISK.

mike rot
Guest

Ahhhhhh, and I listened to his show even so should have remembered that. But in general from the hype at Cannes to arrival at TIFF, seemed to be a spike down for The Lobster love.

David Brook
Admin

From the TIFF screened films I saw elsewhere:

The Lobster [LOVED]
Sicario [LIKED]
Mississippi Grind [LIKED]
Mia Madre [HATED]

Sean Kelly
Guest

I should clarify that some of the films I marked as “Disappointed” (i.e. Love), I wasn’t truly disappointed in. They just weren’t films that I liked enough to mark “Liked.”

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

There was a DISLIKED tag.

Sean Kelly
Guest

But there were none that I disliked enough….

Matthew Price
Guest

that’s awesome Sean, it sounds like you had a great festival

Sean Kelly
Guest

It wasn’t a great one, but it was a pretty solid one.

mike rot
Guest

so much easier if just star ratings… you people.

Andrew James
Admin

This. It’s such an easy gut reaction.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

I really DISLIKE 4 (or 5, or god forbid, 10) star ratings.

Matthew Price
Guest

I’m in favour of status quo, for me ratings attempt to be objective, to assign some arbitrary value. As such they are useless to me, no art has arbitrary or objective value. The tags indicate preference, making them both more useful and more truthful. I did not even indicate a [best] or [worst] for this reason.