2019, Movies

The 2019 Toronto International Film Festival

Once again I only saw 5 movies this year. As with previous years, the reason for that will become apparent in a month or so. But, as usual, we managed to do a pretty good job picking movies and only saw movie I wouldn’t recommend seeing, which is a pretty good ratio.

As usual, I am ranking the films from best to worst:

1. Mano de obra aka Workforce, directed by David Zonana (9/10)

I have a strong fear of debut feature filmmakers, based upon seeing hundreds of debut films and generally finding most of them to not be as good as the movies by more experienced film makers.

But Zonana is the real deal. This is an incredibly well composed film, with mostly static shots (little camera movement) and expert editing. I am a sucker for long takes so this was right up my alley.

The film tells the story of a group of working poor in Mexico City and the mansion they are building. Though it seems like it will be a thriller, it’s closer to classical Greek tragedy.

A must see if you can find it.

2. Incitement, directed by Yaron Zilberman (9/10)

An absolutely stellar recreation of the radicalization of Yigal Amir on his path to assassinating Yitzhak Rabin.

Archival footage is seamlessly blended with the captivating performance of Yehuda Halevi as Amir, and the story of his life in his family and in school.

It’s an incredibly timely film, given the propensity for politicians saying terrible things to provoke reactions.

3. A Herdade aka The Domain, directed by Tiago Guedes (7/10)

This is a gorgeous film composed of essentially two parts, one of which is basically excellent and one of which is so much more melodramatic than the first it’s hard to ignore.

The film is also overlong and overly ambitious.

But it’s extremely pretty and I look forward to what the director does with less ambitious material.

4. La odisea de los giles aka Heroic Losers directed by Sebastián Borensztein (7/10)

This is a very entertaining heist film about the poor getting even with a rich guy during Argentina’s great depression.

It’s a flawed movie to be sure. And it’s entirely possible that, were it in English, I might not have overlooked it’s flaws so easily.

It’s crowd-pleasing but it has a lot of laughs and it’s well made. And the protagonists are endearingly amateurish.

5. Lyrebird, directed by 2019, Dan Friedkin (4/10)

This is an awkwardly paced and awkwardly written and told film about the “Greatest Art Forger in History” just after World War II. Nothing works particularly well, and it gets absolutely ridiculous at the trial.

Worse, a quick read up of Wikipedia reveals that they have greatly altered so much of the story as to render the whole thing fantastic. I’m all for poetic license but changing the story this much is dishonest.

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