TIFF 2016

Categories: 2016, Movies, and Personal.

With the decision not to see the People’s Choice Award today (a musical), I ended up seeing 11 movies this year, a little bit lower than my average. As usual, I saw more good films than bad ones. Somewhat surprising was that there was no clear “great” film – I usually see at least one film that I will consider, in hindsight, to be one of the best movies of a given calendar year. Not this year (I don’t think). Anyway, without further delay, here is what I saw this year: Read More

Mascots (2016, Christopher Guest)

Categories: 2016 and Movies.

The decision to see Christopher Guest’s latest at TIFF was one made in ignorance that this is a Netflix film, which will soon be available for streaming. Alas. It’s an amusing film that, as Jenn put it, has no dead air. It’s certainly not Guest’s best – it’s quite slight and the targets of the film are, well, easy – but it’s close to laugh-a-minute and it fulfills most of what we want from a Guest film – quirky, awkward people doing what they love most, in this case, being mascots for very small sports teams. I’d say it’s probably Read More

The Limehouse Golem (2016, Juan Carlos Medina)

Categories: 2016 and Movies.

This is an atmospheric and entertaining period mystery/horror film that struggles with both telling and tone but which is mostly entertaining. My biggest issues were with the time-hoping – there are flashbacks throughout the film and flashbacks within flashbacks, a particular pet peeve of mine – as well as with the tone of the very serious, very procedural mystery versus the campy/darkly comic imaginings of the crimes. They were enjoyable, but they often felt out of place with the rest of the film. SPOILERS Read More

Okafor’s Law (2016, Omoni Oboli)

Categories: 2016 and Movies.

For the first two thirds of this film, it is a reasonably amusing Romantic Comedy – not my thing but effective and, for someone like me not familiar with Nollywood, a decent spin on the formula, despite a few sound issues. But the wheels come off in the third act, with not only a few major tonal shifts (and some violence!) but an ending that makes zero sense. Minor SPOILERS! Read More

ABACUS: Small Enough to Jail (2016, Steve James)

Categories: 2016 and Movies.

This film is about the only bank – the only bank! – to be indicted for mortgage fraud in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. It tells the story of a bank in New York City’s Chinatown which detected loan fraud, fired the employee responsible, reported the fraud to their regulator, fired additional employees when more fraud was discovered, and then was prosecuted by the District Attorney of New York City, because some of the fraudulent loans were sold to Fannie Mae, where they made money. Read More

The Unknown Girl (2016, Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne)

Categories: 2016 and Movies.

This is one of those European “social realist” dramas that are extremely deliberately paced, feature no score and alienate a lot of North Americans because it feels like “nothing happens.” (Par for the course: there were plenty of walk-outs.) It’s unfortunate that so many of us over here feel like a film about a death could feel like “nothing happens,” but such is the divide between the heavily plotted American films we see all the time, and many smaller European films. Read More

Catfight (2016, Onur Tukel)

Categories: 2016 and Movies.

Catfight is a confused, tonally inconsistent film built around the idea of an ongoing feud between two women without weapons. At some level, I guess the premise is interesting, given that these movies nearly almost always feature men (or families, or gangs). But the execution is so inconsistent that it feels as though this was a first feature. (It’s not. Apparently it’s his 8th or something, which is a real shocker.) Here are a few of the issues: The satire, such as it is, is of American society and politics rather than, say, the revenge genre, and it is extremely Read More