This year, I saw the fewest movies at TIFF that I have seen since I first started attending the festival around a decade ago. The reason for seeing so few films will become apparent in about a month. Here is my round up of the films I saw at the 2017 edition of The Toronto International Film Festival.
As usual, I have decided to order these films by the degree to which I like them.
- The Death of Stalin, directed by Armando Iannucci (9/010): The Veep-creator’s second feature (I believe) might be even better than his first (In the Loop) at least in terms of the way in which he manages to balance ridiculous slapstick and goofball comedy with the awfulness that was Stalinism. It’s a rather incredible balancing act that takes a hysterical and enjoyable film and gives it a horrific climax.
- One of Us, directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (8/10): This is a devastating film about what it’s like to try to leave a religious cult, in this case the Hasidic Jewish community in Brooklyn, New York. The film looks at the lives of three people, one of whom has left, one of whom is trying to leave, and one of whom is sort of stuck between two worlds. It’s a powerful, affecting, kind of horrifying film.
- Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood, directed by Matt Trynauer (7/10): This film tells the story of a man who claims to have been a hustler and pimp during Hollywood’s Golden Age, claiming to have either had sex with or hooked up numerous famous Hollywood stars.
- The Racer and the Jailbird, directed by Michael R. Roskam (5/10): An entertaining if slight heist-romance hybrid is derailed by its absolutely bizarre third act and its series of improbable twists and turns which take the film from a light, entertaining diversion to a depressing, violent meditation on…I think loyalty, but I’m not entirely sure.
- Omerta, directed by Hansal Mehta (4/10): A very messy, highly flawed docudrama about convicted terrorist Omar Sheikh, which prompts more questions than it answers and which is generally a lesson in what not to do when trying to make a film about a terrorist.
So there you have it: the five flims I saw at TIFF in 2017. (I am passing on the People’s Choice Award Winner free show tonight because I have had a very busy week.) You should check out the first three.