TIFF is over. I can finally sleep in a little bit again.
I had the opportunity to attend two early screenings before the festival. During the festival, I saw 29 films from the program, one of which was a special screening of Jordan Peele’s Nope. I also did watch The Fabelmans twice. I also included Barbarian, a precursor to the festival, and Midnight Madness in my Twitter thread. This is to say. I’m tired.
My reviews from the festival are live, so you can read those now, but frankly, I saw so many films that I still want to discuss, so as is our tradition, here are some of the films I still want to discuss but wouldn’t be able to write as in-depth as I would like to.
For those interested, I did a loose ranking of the films I watched during the festival on Letterboxd, but I’ll mostly follow in order of that.
Dir. Sarah Polley
Women Talking was the second film of the festival that floored me. A script so beautifully written, with such nuance, pain and compassion. There are lines from the film that I can still hear echoing in my head long after the festival has ended. I imagine they will stick with me for some time. When some of the lines were spoken, you could hear the audience quietly say “wow” or someone sniffling behind you, in front of you, and even next to you. As I walked out, I needed a moment as I knew I wasn’t done crying or thinking about it. Women Talking took first runner-up for the People’s Choice award, so I believe that if it weren’t for it being Spielberg, it would have won, and frankly, it should have. Still haven’t.
Please read Arianne’s review and then see the film with some tissues when you see it.
Dir. Clement Virgo
And Brother was the first film at the festival that destroyed me. I was thankful for how much time between it and my next because I walked around in a daze as it ended. Beautifully and brilliantly told, with such pitch-perfect performances. Aaron Pierre and Lamar Johnson (as well as every other cast member) give the film their all, and you can see it in every frame. Lamar’s eyes tell you everything you need to know. They expertly show you what his character Michael, is both thinking and feeling at any moment. I loved it.
Dir. Steven Spielberg
I mean, it’s Spielberg doing some great and personal work. You can also read my review to read more of my thoughts.
Dir. Benjamin Millipied
Yes, the movie that kicked Spielberg out of my top 5. I loved this movie. Fun isn’t the right word to describe it, but there was so much energy radiating from the screen that I felt the film for the entire run time. The sound design, the score, the visuals, Carmen truly felt like a spectacle, and I am glad I didn’t miss it.
You can read my review now.
Dir. Darren Aronofsky
Your mileage on the film depends on your appreciation of Aronofsky’s prior work. As someone who loves more of his filmography than most, The Whale worked for me. Yes, it felt like a play, and yes, at times, there was minor manipulation, but not more than past Aronofsky’s work. Most people will see this film when it’s released to either see Sadie Sink give a powerful performance or to see Brendan Fraser disappear as Charlie. He truly gives an all-timer performance.
Also, I don’t want to bring it up, but those disgusting fatphobic reviews are incredibly harmful. The film is highly triggering, so if you’re aware that the film or even the discourse around it may harm you, skip the movie, watch it later, and read opinions later. It’s not worth it because even hearing some muttered phrases throughout the film during the press screening was harmful.
Dir. Stephen Williams
Chevalier is the first film I worked on the red carpet. I got to speak with the film composers (Michael Abels and Kris Bowers), the screenwriter (Stefani Robinson), and the director. They all talked about the importance of the music in the film, as well as how Joseph Bologne was erased from history for being Black, even after becoming a critical composer and friends with Marie Antoinette (played by Lucy Boynton, giving an incredible performance) at the time. Robinson’s script is fantastic. Throughout the runtime, I was in awe of the script and Kelvin Harrison Jr. (who, as some know, we interviewed for The High Note a few years back), who continues to give us great performances as he dives into this role.
Dir. Zachary Wigon
Christopher Abbott is the CEO of his late father’s company, and Margaret Qualley is the dominatrix he sees from time to time. If that doesn’t pique your interest, we cannot be friends and maybe don’t check this out. While Abbott continues to be a joy to watch, it is entirely Qualley’s film to own. We all need horny movies in our lives from time to time. It’s a nice treat when they find a way to be sweet and romantic in its bizarre way.
Dir. Mel Eslyn
We’d love to talk more about it, but not just yet. The less said about the premise of the film, the better. Sterling K. Brown & Mark Duplass are alone, trying to survive in a dome. It’s funny, it’s moving, and it’s able to go back and forth. Brown and Duplass are both great at quickly switching between the two. It seems that most lines can be played for comedy or sincerity at any given moment, and they always know the right choice.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
Dir. Rian Johnson
Rian makes it look so easy to write a murder mystery film. I liked Glass Onion a lot, and it’s incredibly clever. The truth is, I need a rewatch. Even with Knives Out, it didn’t sing to me until I saw it a second or a third time. After catching the hidden and not-so-hidden clues, a murder mystery works for me. I had a great time, and so did the cast, that much is evident, and I would love for Rian and Daniel Craig to continue making these films as Rian hopes to do so. I just don’t love this film. Yet.
Read my review now.
Raymond & Ray
Dir. Rodrigo Garcia
It’s odd to say this about this subject matter of the film, but this was delightful. It was nice to watch Ethan Hawke and Ewan McGregor give great performances and bounce off one another.
Dir. Jordan Peele
I’ve seen Nope twice by the play it played at the Cinesphere. On my first watch, I was expecting something different, so I walked away from the film, unsure of how I felt. Watching it again changed all of that, and watching it at the Cinesphere, way too close to the screen, Nope is currently my favourite Peele film.
Those are just a handful of the films I caught during the festival. I will have a write-up for a round-up of all the Midnight Madness films soon.