Denial (UK, 2016): A fascinating story that could be more at home on TV than on the big screen, Denial rises above pedestrian filmmaking thanks to the power of the material and strong turns by Rachel Weisz (above) and Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner).
The court drama pits American historian Deborah Lipstadt against British rabble-rouser David Irving. Lipstadt accused Irving of fabricating and misrepresenting historic documents in order to support his belief that the Holocaust never took place. Rather unexpectedly, the neo-Nazi icon sued the academic for libel. Since in the UK the burden of proof lies with the accused, Lipstadt found herself having to demonstrate the systematic killing of Jewish prisoners during World War II.
The film is bursting with fascinating info (even when defeat seemed unavoidable, the Nazis went out of their way to hide all evidence of the Final Solution) and serves as a primer on Britain’s justice system. Just as important as the Lipstadt-Irving showdown are disagreements within the historian’s defense team. While Irving’s position is indefensible, the debate over calling Holocaust survivors to the stand is a riveting one. Continue reading “TIFF ’16 – Day 4: Denial, Julieta, American Honey, It’s Only the End of the World”
Queen of Katwe (USA, 2016): A calculated risk for Disney, Queen of Katwe fits among the uplifting sport movies the House of Mouse puts out every year, but it’s also distinctive enough to stand apart. The biopic is set in Uganda, has a mostly African cast and is directed by Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding, The Reluctant Fundamentalist), a filmmaker with a knack to capture cultural nuances without been patronizing.
Free Fire (USA/UK, 2016): Ben Wheatley is without a doubt one of the most interesting contemporary filmmakers at work, but his filmography is far from immaculate. He often engages in self-indulgence and glamorization of violence.
Free Fire embodies both of Wheatley’s main flaws. In fact, more than a movie, Free Fire feels like an exercise in style, following the infinitely more complex and ambitious High-Rise.
1978, Boston. A group of IRA members intents to purchase a number of automatic weapons from a shifty South African dealer at an abandon warehouse. The already tense exchange shifts into hyper-drive when men at both sides of the transaction succumb to the pressure. Continue reading “TIFF ’16 – Day 2: Free Fire, Elle, Snowden”
Toni Erdmann (Germany, 2016): A Cannes sensation, Toni Erdmann has already been celebrated as one of the comedic achievements of the decade, even making its way into the 100 Best Movies of the 21st Century list, according to the BBC.
Guess what. It’s overrated.
Don’t get me wrong, Toni Erdmann is far from a bad movie, but the 160 minutes-long comedy doesn’t deserve such unrestrained praise.
Winfried, a music teacher and incorrigible joker, tries to reconnect with his daughter Ines, a serious businesswoman on assignment in Rumania. The prankster fails in his first attempt, so he brings out the big guns, namely his alter ego, Toni Erdmann. The character is an obnoxious bore, but at least gets a reaction from Ines, noticeably depressed but unaware of it. Continue reading “TIFF ’16 – Day 1: Toni Erdmann, Werewolf, The Commune, Neruda”
Gillian Anderson, a staple of the increasingly larger Toronto FanExpo, draws large crowds. There was a full house at her Q & A even though she didn’t have anything new to promote (her next high profile gig is as Media in the TV adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods). Here are some nuggets of her talk:
Gillian hasn’t seen a single complete episode of Hannibal, the show many attended the Q & A to hear about. She has watched some scenes, but more often than not she covered her eyes at the gory parts. Asked what she liked more about her character, Lecter’s therapist Bedelia Du Maurier, she responded with a curt “I don’t fucking know”.
Anderson has no clue if or when The X-Files are coming back.
The character she relates to the most is The Fall‘s Stella Gibson. Scully is “too square”. The most fun role? Blanche DuBois in the stage version of “A Streetcar Named Desire”.
Asked about a piece of advice that has gotten her through hard times, Anderson responded, “Everything passes”.