2020, Movies

2020 Toronto International Film Festival

For what may be the third year in a row, I only saw 5 movies at TIFF. Every year I resolve to see more the next year but it never seems to happen.

Now, this year is different, obviously. This year I watched TIFF films on my couch. And this year I only watched 5 films because I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch more. (There was one other I was really interested in, but there was a conflict.)

Now, I could spend this post ranting about how frustrating the lack of communication from TIFF was about all of this. It was pretty ridiculous and I could easily write a very long rant about how all of it.

But I’m just happy they still exist and I got to see some movies I might not have seen otherwise.

So here they are, from best to worst, as always:

1. Enemies of the State, directed by Sonia Kennebeck (9/10)

If there is a must-watch documentary at TIFF this year, it’s Enemies of the State, sort of the Capturing the Friedmans of Wikileaks/whistle-blower documentaries. (If you haven’t seen Capturing the Friedmans, that means it’s not just about a story but about what we can and can’t know about a story.)

It’s also really well shot, which is not something I often say about documentaries. (Usually the opposite.)

It’s really worth your time. Warning, my review of Enemies of the State contains some minor spoilers. (And I strongly recommend watching this without learning more.)

2. 76 Days, directed by Weixi Chen, Hao Wu, Anonymous (8/10)

A harrowing, brief tour through four Chinese hospitals during the Wuhan lockdown. (The footage was smuggled out.) It’s a fly-on-the-wall documentary, but it is one with very little stillness. (So it’s not boring.)

Read my review of 76 Days.

3. The New Corporation: An Unfortunately Necessary Sequel, directed by Jennifer Abbott, Joel Bakan (6/10)

The same issues as the first movie but with just as much provocative, enraging content.

The issue, for me, is when the film expands to take on the pandemic and this summer’s BLM protests. Yes, these problems are all interrelated but this is a film, not a TV series. And then, things get even sketchier when it starts acting as an advocacy piece of individual politicians around the world.

Read my review of The New Corporation.

4. New Order, directed by Michel Franco (6/10)

Somehow this crazy film about class warfare in Mexico City won a prize at Venice.

This movie has one fantastic set piece and the rest of it is kind of hysterical and incoherent. (Ask yourself, for example, what the motivations are of anyone who doesn’t have a major speaking role?)

But that wedding scene is just great.

Read the review of New Order.

5. Shadow in the Cloud, directed Roseanne Liang (4/10)

A feminist WWII horror movie which is severely undercut by basic errors about WWII planes (it takes place in one), a crazy plot twist and some silly stuff with “stunts”. Read my review of Shadow in the Cloud.

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