TIFF Review – Days 6-11

The 2017 Toronto International Film Festival has been an amazing experience. I have had the opportunity of seeing such amazing movies and I would like to tell you about some more of them.

Roman J. Israel Esq.
: Denzel Washington, Colin Farrell, Carmen Ejogo
Director: Dan Gilroy

Synopsis: Denzel Washington stars as Roman Israel, a driven, idealistic defense attorney who, through a tumultuous series of events, finds himself in a crisis that leads to extreme action.

Review: Denzel Washington stars as Roman J. Israel in this new film by Dan Gilroy. He stars as a lawyer whose moral compass is tested when he realizes sometimes it’s not always great to be the ‘good guy’ A very strong performance by Mr. Washington with a strong supporting turn from Colin Farrell.

Grade B+

Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz, Kevin Janssens
Director: Coralie Fargeat

Synopsis: Never take your mistress on an annual guys' getaway, especially one devoted to hunting – a violent lesson for three wealthy married men.

Review: This film, part of the Midnight Madness program, was extremely entertaining. It is very violent but the performance from Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz is definitely worth seeing. She plays a woman who is taken for granted and scorned and no one told her lover what happens to a woman who has been scorned. This ‘Revenge’ movie would make Tarantino blush!

Grade: B

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women
Stars: Luke Evans, Rebecca Hall, Bella Heathcote
Director: Angela Robinson

Synopsis: The story of psychologist William Moulton Marston, and his polyamorous relationship with his wife and his mistress who would inspire his creation of the superheroine, Wonder Woman.

Review: 2017 is the year of the woman…The Wonder Woman! This is an origin story of the Wonder Woman comic book. We meet the Professor behind the story of the DC Comic Superhero. His inspiration: His wife and their lover. This movie was not what I was expecting….it was better!

Grade: B

In the Fade
Stars: Diane Kruger, Denis Moschitto
Director: Fatih Akin

Synopsis: Katja's life collapses after the death of her husband and son in a bomb attack. After a time of mourning and injustice, Katja seeks revenge.

Review: Diane Kruger stars as ‘Katja’ a woman who has it all, a loving husband and a wonderful son and in a moment, she loses it all due to a senseless act of terror. Why has this happened? Who was behind it? Director Fatih Akin directs Ms. Kruger in her best performance to date in a film that should not be ignored come Oscar time.

Grade: B

Stars: Emilio de Mello, Juliana Lohmann
Director: Vincent Amorim

Synopsis: Director Vicente Amorim film is a wild and weird allegorical thriller. A gang of young dirt bikers on a ride across an isolated region of Brazil find themselves being hunted by a machete wielding band of motorcyclists intent on killing them all.

Review: This movie started out well. We meet a group of dirt bikers who are just having fun one day tearing up the scenery on their two-wheelers but then they realize a silent group of murderers is stalking them. This movie leaves you with more questions than answers. During a Q&A after the film the director didn’t want to answer any direct questions and wished to keep things vague. I will not be vague. You can pass on this film.

Grade: C-

Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer
Director: Darren Aronofsky

Synopsis: A couple's relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.

Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer
Director: Darren Aronofsky

Review: Coming out of the theatre people were very split on this film. Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem are a couple living out in the country who are bombarded by constant visitors. The film, which seems to have biblical undertones, is weird for the sake of being weird. It didn’t hit its mark with me and I found it a disappointment.

Grade: D+

Brawl in Cell Block 99
Stars: Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Carpenter, Don Johnson
Director: S. Craig Zahler

Synopsis: A former boxer-turned-drug runner lands in a prison battleground after a deal gets deadly.

Review: Many actors have a difficult time transitioning from comedy to drama and vice-versa, Vince Vaughn is not one of them. His turn as an ex-con who is forced back into an illegal life is amazing. This movie is not for the weak of heart but an overall strong film.

Grade: B+

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Stars: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell
Director: Martin McDonagh

Synopsis: In this darkly comic drama, a mother personally challenges the local authorities to solve her daughter's murder, when they fail to catch the culprit.

Review: Martin McDonagh has constructed such a wonderful film based on such a dark subject. A grieving mother who is frustrated with the local police department rents out three billboards and challenges them to solve the murder of her daughter in this well written film. Strong supporting turns from Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell combined with the amazing performance from Frances McDormand make this film a definite must-see.

Grade: A-

The Shape of Water
Stars: Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins
Director: Guillermo del Toro

Synopsis: An other-worldly fairy tale, set against the backdrop of Cold War era America circa 1962. In the hidden high-security government laboratory where she works, lonely Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is trapped in a life of isolation. Elisa's life is changed forever when she and co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) discover a secret classified experiment.

Review: Side note: I saw this movie in the Elgin Theatre where part of the movie was filmed. So I saw the movie in a movie…Inception! Guillermo Del Toro has brought to screen a beautiful film which is somewhat of a unique Beauty and the Beast film. A mute custodian falls in love with a scientific experiment and tries to protect him from his brutal captors. Visually stunning and a breath of fresh air.

Grade: B+

I, Tonya
Stars: Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney
Director: Craig Gillespie

Synopsis: Competitive ice skater Tonya Harding rises amongst the ranks at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, but her future in the activity is thrown into doubt when her ex-husband intervenes.

Review: Tonya Harding’s version of her life varied so differently from her ex-husbands that they decided to film this movie from different points of view and the result is some of the best work we have seen from Margot Robbie and Sebastian Stan. Allison Janney also turns in one of the most terrifying performances of the year as Tonya’s abusive mother.

Grade: B

C’est la Vie
Stars: Jean-Pierre Bacri, Suzanne Clement
Director: Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano

Synopsis: A hectic wedding party held in an 18th century French castle comes together with the help of the behind-the-scenes staff.

Review: No strangers to the Festival, Nakache and Toledano (Les Intouchables, Samba) are back with this behind the scenes look on wedding day, from the point of view from the caterers, and entertainers. The result is an extremely fun ride.

Grade: A-