Wednesday, September 23, 2015

TIFF 2015: The Round-Up



I’m back from TIFF (the Toronto International Film Festival), where I caught about 35 films. Average film quality was high this year—even if, compared to past TIFFs, I didn’t encounter any mind-blowers like Beau Travail (1999, my first TIFF), La Captive (2000), Still Life (2006), Syndromes and a Century (2006) or RR (2008).

I'll soon be putting up a series of posts with impressions of the films. Meanwhile, here’s an overview.

Best-of-the-Fest:

Right Now, Wrong Then (Hong Sang-soo, South Korea)
The Other Side (Roberto Minervini, USA)
Arabian Nights vols. 1-3 (Miguel Gomes, Portugal)
Evolution (Lucile Hadžihalilovic, France)

Excellent:

The Treasure (Corneliu Porumboiu, Romania)
Invention (Mark Lewis, Canada)
Jafar Panahi's Taxi (Jafar Panahi, Iran)

Strong:

In Jackson Heights (Frederick Wiseman, USA)
Office (Johnnie To, Hong Kong)
In the Shadow of Women (Philippe Garrel, France)
Night Without Distance (Lois Patiño, Spain)

Very Good:

The Sky Trembles and the Earth is Afraid and the Two Eyes Are Not Brothers (Ben Rivers, UK)
Afternoon (Tsai Ming-liang, Taiwan)
The Forbidden Room (Guy Maddin/Evan Johnson, Canada)
High-Rise (Ben Wheatley, UK)
11 Minutes (Jerzy Skolimowski, Poland)

Good:

The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos, Greece)
Sector IX B (Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc, France/Senegal)
Minotaur (Nicolás Pereda, Mexico/Canada)
Bring Me the Head of Tim Horton (Guy Maddin/Evan Johnson/Galen Johnson, Canada)
The Event (Sergei Loznitsa, Ukraine/Netherlands/Belgium)
Francofonia (Alexander Sokurov, Russia)

Interesting, but Disappointing:

Murmur of the Hearts (Sylvia Chang, Taiwan)
Journey to the Shore (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Japan)
Mustang (Deniz Gamze Ergüven, Turkey)
The Apostate (Federico Veiroj, Uruguay)

Low Point of the Festival:

Les Cowboys (Thomas Bidegain, France)

Films I Was Most Sorry to Miss:

Cemetery of Splendor (Apichatpong Weereasethakul, Thailand)
Mountains May Depart (Jia Zhang-ke, China)
No Home Movie (Chantal Akerman, Belgium)
Lost and Beautiful (Pietro Marcello, Italy)

Fascinating, Need to Revisit:

The Assassin (Hou Hsiao-hsien, Taiwan)
88:88 (Isiah Medina, Canada)

Most Thrilling Mise en Scène:

Office (Johnnie To, Hong Kong)
Evolution (Lucile Hadžihalilovic, France)

Best Scene:

Taxi driving class taught by South Asian instructor in Frederick Wiseman's In Jackson Heights.

Memorable Onscreen Appearances by Directors:

Jafar Panahi (Jafar Panahi's Taxi)
Tsai Ming-liang (Afternoon)
Guy Maddin (Bring me the Head of Tim Horton)
Sylvia Chang (Office)
Miguel Gomes (Arabian Nights)
Alexander Sokurov (Francofonia)

Best Pop-Music Soundtrack:

Arabian Nights (Miguel Gomes)

Most Narrative-Maximalist:

Arabian Nights (Miguel Gomes)
The Forbidden Room (Guy Maddin/Evan Johnson)
11 Minutes (Jerzy Skolimowski)
High-Rise (Ben Wheatley, UK)
In Jackson Heights (Frederick Wiseman, USA)

Best Essay on a Festival Film:

Leo Goldsmith in Cinema Scope on The Sky Trembles and the Earth is Afraid and the Two Eyes Are Not Brothers.


* * *

Writings on films at the festival:

-- David Hudson has collected links to reviews.

-- Cinema Scope posted over a hundred reviews during the festival.

-- Danny Kasman and Fernando Croce's epistolary exchange.

-- Michael Sicinski and Jordan Cronk on the Wavelengths program at TIFF.

-- Several dispatches by Ignatiy Vishnevetsky.

pic: The Other Side (Roberto Minervini, USA)