Hey everyone! Another day of TIFF has come and gone. I must own I did not get as many movies watched as I wanted because of a very busy day of podcasting obligations and other responsibilities. However, I still watched 3 movies, so here are my quick thoughts.
My first movie of the day came from Venezuelan director Lorenzo Vigas and is entitled The Box. It tells the story of a Mexican teen that is sent to retrieve his estranged father’s remains after a mining accident. While there he meets a man who looks just like his father and he follows him working around Mexico.
I’m definitely torn on this movie. It started out strong and I was invested for the first 20 or so minutes and then it began to lose me. The narrative becomes rambling and the characters don’t grow or change in the way they need to in order to make a compelling film. The young boy’s story is sad but I never emotionally connected with him or what he was going through.
There is also nothing in the cinematography or filmmaking that makes it stand out or particularly special. The Box unfortunately is a pass.
4 out of 10
Sometimes I think I prefer documentaries at festivals. They are more straightforward and not as pretentious as the fictional films can be. Attica is a great example of such a terrific documentary. It tells the story of the 1971 prison uprising at the Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York.
This is an event I’d heard of but didn’t know much about and Attica does a great job of not only informing us about the details of the uprising but showcasing as many perspectives as possible. We hear from a variety of inmates (who are very charismatic interviewees), the children of the hostages and the family of the prison staff also involved.
Some of the footage in Attica is shocking but history can be shocking. It’s remarkable how much footage director Stanley Nelson found and at times it can feel like watching scenes from a concentration camp. It’s that horrific but I never found it exploitative. I was riveted the entire runtime watching things play out and the individuals finally getting the chance to tell their stories.
I would be surprised if Attica is the best film out of TIFF but we will see. Either way it is definitely worth a watch.
9 out of 10
The Hill Where the Lionesses Roar
When I heard this film’s title The Hill Where the Lionesses Roar I knew I needed to check it out. It sounded visceral and exciting. Unfortunately the title is probably the most interesting part of the film. It’s not a bad film but it didn’t do much to excite me. It’s pretty standard indie fair.
The Hill tells the story of 3 teen girls in Kosovo who create a friendship pact that they will be there for each other as they grow from children to women. The new actors all do a good job and there is a rawness to their performances I appreciate. It also has some beautiful cinematography and uses music well.
The problem is everything feels played out and tired. The girls end up becoming a Kosovian version of the Bling Ring and it’s hard to believe in such a small area they would stay undiscovered as long as they are. Even so, I didn’t feel like I got to know the individual girls very well. They feel like standard indie teen characters and for most of the movie they aren’t given anything interesting to do. The narrative ambles about looking for a story and not finding much of one worthy to tell.
I’m perhaps making The Hill Where the Lionesses Roar sound worse than it is. It’s a serviceable indie coming of age story. I was just hoping from the title it would stand out more.
5 out of 10