It might be over, and I watched way too much – 42 films, to be exact. But there is nothing like Festival time, especially TIFF.
But we can’t talk about all our favourites of the festival, and it would take forever, so sometimes we settle on this.
In alphabetical order, here are some of the films I watched at TIFF that I think to deserve some love.
Directed by Charlotte Wells.
In her directorial debut, Charlotte Wells crafts a beautiful story about growing up and time. Told through the perspective of memories captured by an old camera, Aftersun slowly develops the story of a father (Normal People’s Paul Mescal) and his daughter (Frankie Corio) and their relationship as one realizes he is gradually losing his youth. At the same time, the other just wants to grow up faster. By telling the story through memories, twenty years after the fact, Aftersun creates this aura of memories and the feeling we get from them, being clouded by those emotions they bring us. As an older Sophie revisits the trip with her father on her thirty-first birthday — the same age her father was when they went on the trip — the film beautifully balances emotions and memories through reality and footage. Its slow pace and reveals work well in crafting a story that stays with you long after the screen darkens.
Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of the Universe
Directed by Aitch Alberto.
Based on the book of the same name, Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of the Universe is the sweet queer love story that you were hoping for if you have read the book. That does not mean that it isn’t impactful and doesn’t deal with sensitive subjects, but it handles it with love and care that its sensitivity bleeds with every moment on screen. Sometimes, you can tell when a queer person directs a film with how the camera follows the characters and how the camera frames the story; this is the perfect example. While it may be heavy on exposition, it can be forgiven when the film understands its audience and never deviates from it.
Directed by Clement Virgo.
Comparaison to Barry Jenkins’ work is bound to happen, and it is clear that the film style fits in this idea, but Brother stands tall on its own. Clement Virgo’s latest creates a beautiful story about two brothers trying to survive in Scarborough in the late 1990s. With powerful performances from Aaron Pierre as Francis and Lamar Johnson as Michael, Brother slowly crafts a story about grief and its effects on those affected and the community around it. There is so much to love about the story and the craft behind it, but the best way to experience it is to lose yourself in it and hope that it will never end.
Directed by Stephen Williams.
Based on the life of the titular French-Caribbean musician Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Chevalier doesn’t break barriers when it comes to biopic and is often very safe in its approach to the story. Still, there is such a charm that it is easy to forgive many of its flaws. With an incredible score and a script from Stefani Robinson that leaves you breathless by the end, Chevalier has everything to succeed but sometimes simply plays it too safe. The inconsistent accents might bring you out of the film, but the script has a way of getting you right back in and leaves you wanting more by the end.
Directed by Stephen Spielberg.
Much has already been said about Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical film, but as someone who grew up making home movies, fell in love with cinema at a young age and is also a child of divorce, there is so much to connect to with this film. It’s a director exploring his story and life, reflecting and exploring ideas while also continuing to prove how good of a director he is. With charismatic performances and the steady hand that Spielberg always has in his movies, The Fabelmans might not connect with everyone but anyone who might see themselves in one aspect of the film; there is so much to love about it.
Read Andres’ review.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
Directed by Rian Johnson
The first Knives Out films proved that Rian Johnson could do anything. The second film continues that trend, and it is a damn shame that it might not be seen the way it deserves, on a massive screen with an audience to laugh along with. With an all-star cast and the return of Daniel Craig as Benoit Blanc, there is so much to love and so little that can be said about the film without revealing any plot points. But the most important thing to know is that it is funny and has incredible performances, especially from Janelle Monae, who is the MVP of this entire thing.
Read Andres’ review.
How To Blow Up A Pipeline
Directed by Daniel Goldhaber.
Sometimes you go into a movie simply because people around you told you it was good, especially at film festivals. How To Blow Up A Pipeline was that, for me, a film added to my list at the last second simply because multiple people made a point to tell me to see it. And how am I glad I did. Based on the book of the same name, it is high octane and paced without letting you take a breath. The stake keeps getting higher and higher, the stress level just going through the roof, which is the film’s strength. The acting might be incredible throughout, and it is the script that just sends it home. Going in without prior knowledge made this even more enjoyable as everything was surprising, and every twist and turn got me on the edge of my seat.
I Like Movies
Directed by Chandler Levack.
To those who grew up in the era of Blockbuster and home videos, there is so much in there for us to feast on and fall in love with. While I might not have connected to I Like Movies like others since I did not grow up in Ontario or the suburbs, it is impossible not to fall in love with Chandler Levack’s incredible directorial debut. It’s part comedy and part punching you in the gut with your emotions. It is the feel-good movie you want while also being crucial in representing the transition from teenager to adult.
Directed by V. T. Nayani.
A love story and lost, This Place has flaws, but at its core, it wears its heart on its sleeves, and it is easy to forgive its flaws; in her first film feature, director V. T. Nayani crafts a love-story blending family obligation and identity at its core. With what very much feels at times like a first feature, This Place might have benefitted from a few more passes on the script, but the idea at the core of it is there. It has potential, and things to love, with an always incredible Devery Jacobs (Reservation Dogs); the film might not be perfect, but its charm and heart help camouflage the flaws.
Triangle of Sadness
Directed by Ruben Östlund.
Being unfamiliar with what Triangle of Sadness is about is the best way to experience this film. The Palme D’Or Winner at Cannes, Triangle of Sadness, continues Ruben Östlund’s exploration of wealth and class but doing so the only way he knows how to the extreme. There is much to love about this absurd film that pushes the boundaries of everything at every turn. Divided into three distinct acts, the film never stops going 100% and never tries to be anything else but itself. What could have been too much at the end of another director is a beautifully crafted and intelligent film that makes you ask questions and laugh along the way. If there is one thing that can be said about this film is that it might be a comedy, but it is not for the faint of heart.
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story
Directed by Eric Appel.
If you ever thought a biopic about Weird Al would be anything but a parody of one, you were lying to yourself. Making fun of things is precisely what Al Yankovic has always done, and of course, the film about his life would do so. Portrayed by Daniel Radcliff in the movie, Weird doesn’t shy away from making fun of the men himself but also the idea of a biopic. It is when it does so that the film is at its best. When it tries to be a proper biopic, it simply does not work, but when it makes fun of it all, the film knows where to go. But, while Radcliff is incredible in it, the film belongs to Evan Rachel Wood (Westworld), who plays Madonna and who the film decides for some reason to make the villain of the story, and it just is perfect. She steals every single scene she is in, and you can tell how much fun she is having with this over-the-top and ridiculous affair.
Directed by Darren Aronofsky.
Darren Aronofsky is not for everyone; you either love him or hate it. There isn’t a middle ground with him. His latest, The Whale, will for sure continue this trend of either loving or hating his work. An adaptation of a play, The Whale, does feel like a play adaptation – for better or for worst – but because of a cast brilliantly led by Brendan Fraser in the role of his career, the film can go past it. While sometimes shallow, the film’s last twenty minutes are enough to have you by the throat and to breathe in and out as Aronofsky goes all in and delivers an ending to remember.