So it’s the day after TIFF, and I’m exhausted. I got a lot of sleep yesterday since I decided against seeing the People’s Choice Award winner — Room. I had already watched it on Tuesday at the Toronto premiere and after watching the trailer today and getting choked up just watching fragments of the film, I think I made the right choice.
And yes, it is just as terrific as you have heard. I will have a more comprehensive capsule review for it later this week. So in the meantime, here’s a few smaller reviews (along with links to the films’ synopses), along with a picture of the special guest from the Midnight Madness screening of Takashi Miike’s Yakuza Apocalypse. It’s best you don’t ask what it is, because I am still not sure.
Chilling, creepy and wonderfully photographed. This one has a genuine atmosphere and looks terrific, but it seems to favour the visuals more than the plot. Mad Men‘s Kiernan Shipka (she played Don’s daughter Sally) is genuinely terrifying as a loner private school student, but her character is very one-note. The rest of the small cast is good, but they too seem to not get much development beyond moving the story forward. The twist at the end is fun, but needed a lot more weight (not to mention have some real point).
The Girl in the Photographs
This film co-written by Oz Perkins, who wrote/directed February (which I had literally just finished watching an hour before screening this), and it too looks terrific. The idea of a serial killer photographing his victims and taunting another with the photos is genuinely disturbing, but the film never uses that idea to its full potential. Instead it feels like a cookie-cutter, silly slasher movie where we watch and wait for the killers to dispatch the idiotic cast in increasingly brutal fashion. I had a good laugh seeing Footloose remake star Kenny Wormald show up here, but got increasingly annoyed every time Kal Penn showed up as a pretenious photographer. Sad that this was the final film Wes Craven worked on.
Kill Your Friends
I was really excited for this film, but it was easily the worst film I saw of the entire festival. It’s disgusting, depraved, brutal violent, offensive and just says nothing by the time the film ends. It is supposed to be a satire of the 90’s record industry, but it comes off profane and misguided. It is a total mess and has no idea what style of humour is appropriate to use. Some of the jokes and anecdotes are funny, but the whole film feels like a first draft that could have used plenty of further rewrites. Nicholas Hoult usually gives worthwhile performances, but he is so despicable here that even he cannot save it from total oblivion.
Another film I was really excited about — this one has been getting hyped for months. But I just do not see it. The build-up writer/director Robert Eggers has its moments of intensity punctuated with brutal violence and terror (mostly against children). Except the majority of the film comes across as boring and monotonous. He spends so much time on the mystery, but never really addresses what is actually going on. We can only look at your pretty looking sets for so long before we stop being interested altogether. I struggled to stay awake during this one, waiting for so long for so little payoff. TIFF compared the slow burn nature of the film to The Shining, but forgot to note that Stanley Kubrick knew something about pacing — something Eggers does not.
I have only seen a few of Takashi Miike’s films, so I cannot really speak to how this one rates next to the rest. But I will say that it may be the most bizarre thing I watched during the festival. I literally looked at my friends after it ended and loudly asked “What the fuck was that?!” The film is just a chaotic mess of ideas involving blood, vampires, monsters, milk, a smelly duck thing, swords, a knitting circle(?) and beautifully choreographed fight scenes. It does not make a lick of sense, but watching with a huge group of people at midnight made it somewhat enjoyable. Watching it alone at full attention and not half asleep? Maybe not so much.