Last week, the Toronto International Film Festival announced some of their big galas and premieres. There were some interesting films listed, but the real excitement came today, when they unveiled the Midnight Madness, Vanguard, Masters, and Documentary programmes. These are the films that are less likely to make headlines, but are some of the best, most interesting, and craziest movies at the festival.
Here are a few films that jumped out of the lineup so far. This is by no means definitive, and at times totally subjective and irrational. There is a reasonably possibility that some of them will not be very good.
Rob Ford is not a very good mayor.
A lot of this is philosophical: If you pick a municipal issue, from budgets to social programs to transit to cycling, we will likely take opposite positions. Many of Ford’s positions are not just bad, but harmful to the City of Toronto.
You may disagree.
You might think that Waterfront Toronto spent too much building a park on the lake. You might think that the city’s plan to remodel the streetscape of Eglinton will be too expensive and lead to traffic chaos. It would be nice if you supplied some sort of evidence to back up your opinions, but these are not inherently unreasonable points of view.
But even if you believe Rob Ford holds the key to making Toronto an urban utopia, you should find little to praise in his mayoral performance. Ford is a terrible mayor not just because he has the wrong ideas, but because he’s lousy at implementing them.
HBO’s newest series, The Leftovers, was created by Damon Lindelof, one of the head writers on Lost. This should raise some red flags.
Lost had its moments: It set up an intriguing premise, and was great at building suspense and mystery. But the mysteries grew and grew, and the resolutions seemed farther and farther away; cliffhangers would tease at revelations, only to see the story move in a completely different direction in the next episode. I gave up midway through the second season, abandoning any hopes I would ever see anything resolved.
The Leftovers starts with a similarly mysterious premise: One day, in a Rapture-type event, people disappear. But with the series starting three years after the mass disappearance, it creates a second mystery: What has happened since the disappearance?
This is an odd sort of mystery, because the characters all know what happened during those three years; as such, The Leftovers seems largely built upon keeping things from the audience. There’s a certain amount of logic to this – while the world of The Leftovers is foreign to viewers, it’s become an everyday reality for the characters within it – but it also requires the script to avoid some obvious topics until they can be revealed in the most dramatic fashion.
A mild spoiler for the pilot follows. Except it’s not really a spoiler, as we shall soon see.
In his latest press release, Mayoral candidate Jonn Tory takes aim at Olivia Chow’s history of spending money as a politician. Matt Elliott took a good look at the accuracy of those claims, but the one thing that stood out in Tory’s release is the dreaded accusation that Olivia Chow is a Career Politician.
“Toronto needs a mayor with experience, fiscal common sense, and restraint – not a career politician who has been living off the public purse for three decades.”
Gillian Robespierre’s Obvious Child does one unique thing very well: It tells a story about abortion without any emotional trauma or hysterical moral wailing.
Obvious Child is the story of Donna (Jenny Slate), who gets pregnant after a drunken one-night stand and, given her complete lack of financial or emotional stability, decides to have an abortion. Predictable hijinks ensue, but more interestingly, women talk about their experiences with abortions, and none of them degenerate into tearful monologues about terrifying clinics or lifelong regret. Continue reading
It’s been long time since I was excited about seeing a Michael Keaton movie. Probably since Batman Returns, which came out 22 years ago. (At some point, I remember wanting to see Multiplicity, but I don’t think I ever did; I was excited to see Out of Sight and Jackie Brown, but those are merely movies with a small bit of Michael Keaton.)
On the other hand, I usually get excited by a new film by Alejandro González Iñárritu, even if the results don’t always meet my expectations. There’s a lot I’ve liked about 21 Grams, Babel, and Biutiful, but Inarritu often piles the drama on too heavy on top of scrawny plots & characters.
All that said, I never expected to see Inarritu and Keaton in a movie together, but that’s what we get with Birdman, and it looks fascinating. Michael Keaton’s been middle-of-the-road for so long, it’s easy to forget he made some great dark comedies in the 80s - Night Shift and Beetlejuice in particular – and also did some solid dramatic work in Pacific Heights and Much Ado About Nothing.
Birdman obviously acknowledges the conceit that, yes, Keaton used to play Batman, then appears to take that in a crazy Black Swan kind of direction.