When Hustlers was first announced as part of the line up for TIFF, many raised an eyebrow. All we had really to base our expectations for the film was a trailer that, after watching the film, doesn’t do justice to the film itself. Based on an article published in New York magazine in 2015 from Jessica Pressler titled The Hustlers at Scores, Hustlers tells the story of Dorothy (Crazy Rich Asians’ Constance Wu), a stripper in New York City who with her mentor and friend Ramona (Jennifer Lopez) find themselves going from stripping to stealing from Wall Street guys during the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash. Smart and empowering, Hustlers takes an out-there story that seems implausible and creates a film full of fully-formed women that take no prisoners.
Just try to imagine the pitch meeting for Jojo Rabbit; a satire about a young boy living in Nazi Germany whose imaginary best friend happens to be Adolph Hitler. Jojo Rabbit is wild, funny and at times warm. You will feel bad for about 20 minutes for laughing at something Adolph Hitler said but then you relax and everything is okay. All of this would not have been possible had the film not been in the brilliant hand of Taika Waititi. I can’t imagine this film being made had Waititi not directed Thor: Ragnarok and the film had not been a commercial success. It’s hard to imagine any executive saying yes to this had he not been so successful with his films beforehand. But I am so glad someone said yes to this because it’s something special. While it will be interesting to see how Disney, yes Disney, market this film since it is now part of their slate since the acquisition of Fox, I will continue to hope that they do it right and this becomes a hit because it deserves it.
Walking out of The Lighthouse a big sense of uneasiness inhabited me. A feeling I couldn’t shake away even hours after seeing the film. It left its mark, an impression that wouldn’t leave me even after leaving the comfort of my chair. But even in front of all this uneasiness, my eyes never looked away from the action that unfolded in front of me. I was mesmerized by what I was witnessing. The Lighthouse is powerful when you think about it: a spectacle that is shot on 35mm in black and white with only two characters and that never loses your attention. As the film progresses, you can feel the madness slowly invade your being. You feel trap, you are transported on the island with them. As they go deeper into their madness, you follow them along. Even when it’s all over, when everything is wrapped up and you sit in the darkness of the theatre as the credit play, your body is frozen in space. The Lighthouse is an experience, an experience that will leave you wanting more but also dreading more.
Oscar bait films are something we know, something that we have seen grow in number years after years. But that doesn’t always mean that they are bad, sometimes they actually are good. They just don’t try and change the norm. For me, Just Mercy falls into a category. A film packaged for the Oscar that hits hard but also doesn’t try and change anything in the way it tells its story. But the truth is that I was a mess after Just Mercy while I can see how it fails to innovate, it did hit me so hard that I was hiding in my shirt to try and to be loud. You know how it will end, just like any other courtroom movies of the sort, but you can’t help to get sucked into the story.
Movies make you feel things. Those feelings can vary from films to films but they are supposed to be there. Walking away from a film feeling nothing is never something that should happen. And then there are the movies that make you feel everything, overwhelms your sensations and make you question everything you think you know For me, Portrait of a Lady on Fire did just that. It’s not that it’s emotional per se, it’s more of a feeling that the movie gives you. While there is some moment that will bring you to tears, the atmosphere and story itself make you feel. Films that are able to set feelings without really trying are unique, they are in a category of their own, at least for me. I hate to compare films, I think it doesn’t do justice to them really. But if I had to compare Portrait of a Lady on Fire to another one, in terms of the way emotions, or at least what it made me feel, I would compare it to Call Me By Your Name. Let me tell you why.
Parasite cons you just like it’s protagonists con the family they infiltrate the life of. Bong Joon-oh makes you believe one thing and then lets the curtain fall, it’s then that you realize that you are faced with a totally different film. What Bong Joon-oh does so well is to create a feeling of comfort in you, you think you know where it’s all going and then… Goodbye comfort and hello madness. It’s wild, unpredictable but oh so delightful. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what type of film Parasite is. Not because it’s nothing but because it’s everything. At times comedy, followed by thriller to end with drama, Parasite blends genre like nothing else before.
Commentary films are somewhat of a norm nowadays. In the world we are currently living in, they are impossible to escape. But rare are those films that go in a different direction to look at our situation. Most of them are brutally honest and raw, making your emotions run wild. And Antigone does that but in a different way. It’s brutally honest and raw but decides to look also at the past to explore our present. By adapting the Greek tragedy of the same name, Sophie Deraspe (The Amina Profile, Missing Victor Pellerin) finds a way to do a commentary on today’s world while looking at the past of it all. It’s interesting and sad that such an old tale still works but Deraspe is capable of hammering down her point by changing just a few things to make it fit today’s world.
I moved to Toronto three years ago in the middle of TIFF. Three years ago, I was alone and knew no one and so I did what any cinephile does, I went to a movie. Growing up, we didn’t have an excess of money and so going to the theatre was something we did but not every week. It’s only when I started working that the theatre became a regular thing for me. Going to a Festival was all new to me, the experience was everything and more. Then, last year I was lucky enough to be able to cover the Festival and was able to see a lot more then I thought I would. And this year, well I will be again be attending the Festival as press and will provide coverage right here.
If you know me, you know I watch A LOT of television. Finding hidden gems, trying to keep up with what everyone is watching and losing myself in television is the norm for me. Television has always been my escape, even more than film. But not everyone watches as much television as I do and I know that. So in this column, I will tell you what I watched and loved and what to look forward too.
So every month, I will give you guys a television report card in a certain way. My top 10 TV shows of the month, in no particular order, some honourable mentions and what to look forward too. I will even tell you where you can watch it! Now this time it will be a little different because I want to cover shows beyond this month since a lot of great television has aired in 2019 and I haven’t covered it. So this list will be longer than usual. So here we go… Welcome to Arianne’s Watchlist.
Last week, TIFF announced their first waves of film and we were right here to tell you all about them. And again today, TIFF continued their announcements for this year’s festival by announcing their Canadian slate to the programming. This programming features newcomers, alumni and is more diverse than ever. Let’s first look at everything that was announced and then let’s take a deep dive into what TIFF has in store for us.