Hey everyone! I had another busy day at virtual TIFF watching 5 movies (plus a Hallmark movie later that night)! It was a bit hit and miss as is always the case with festivals but I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to cover TIFF and get to see so many people’s creative output. I hope all of you get a similar experience at least once in your life. It’s exhilarating!
So here goes with today’s thoughts:
I’ve seen a lot of artistic films at TIFF but Violet is the first one that I completely connected with. It is unlike any movie I’ve ever seen before and I finished watching it excited and energized by what I had just experienced.
Violet is a tough movie to describe. It’s about a woman named Violet who works for a movie production company where she is passed over for promotions and not give the respect she deserves. One day she starts hearing a voice and having visions, which we see in images and written out on the screen.
Some will probably say it is a gimmick and it is but it totally worked for me. Director Justine Bateman and actor Olivia Munn capture anxiety and the female experience very well. Luke Bracey is also terrific in this and he and Munn have great chemistry. Violet is also only 92 minutes so it doesn’t wear out its welcome. I loved it!
9 out of 10
You all know I love my period pieces so I was excited for Mothering Sunday. Unfortunately all the pieces didn’t come together despite director Eva Husson creating a handsome film on a small budget.
The story centers around a maid named Jane (Odessa Young) who is having an affair with an aristocrat from next door named Paul (Josh O’Connor). Colin Firth and Olivia Colman play Jane’s employers at her house.
Mothering Sunday has strong nudity which could have been fine but O’Connor and Young have no chemistry so it just feels tedious. There is also a flash forward with Jane as a writer and her love Donald that felt like it was from another movie.
I wanted to like Mothering Sunday more but it didn’t come together in a satisfying way.
4 out of 10
Encounter is a tough movie to grade. I can’t deny while I was watching I was engaged and the performances are really good. However, when I finished I wasn’t very satisfied with the conclusion or it was all put together. It also didn’t help that it was billed as a horror movie by the festival summary with ”evil bugs” attacking everyone and it is far from that description.
The film stars Riz Ahmed stars as Malik a troubled veteran who kidnaps his 2 sons to save them from their mother who he is convinced has been taken over by alien bugs. At first it seems like he might be telling the truth and that the invasion is real. However, fairly quickly any mystery is abandoned and he is declared crazy by all of the other characters including his parole officer played by Octavia Spencer.
The kids are fantastic and Ahmed puts in a good performance. I just think more could have been done to create ambiguity towards his character. We also see the kids be put in peril a lot which is upsetting without the payoff to make those scenes worthwhile.
I don’t think Encounter is a terrible movie but it could have been so much better with a more interesting script that capitalized on the films strengths better.
5 out of 10
Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over
This is a pretty standard bio-doc about famed singer Dionne Warwick. It is very worshipful in its tone as most of these types of movies are. However, there were 2 things that made it worthwhile:
First, there is a fantastic sequence where we learn about a conference Warwick had with some ‘gangsta rappers’ like Snoop Dogg about the misogyny in their songs. Warwick tells them someday they will have daughters and they won’t want them listening to those songs, so they made changes. They have Snoop on the doc and he is great. It is really funny.
Another exemplary section is on Warwick’s AIDS activism. She faced bankruptcy and other financial problems and yet she continued to donate to the AIDS cause.
I usually know what I’m getting into with these bio-docs and this one did the job. It is very safe but I still enjoyed it and she sure can sing!
6 out of 10
As someone who lives alone this film Aloners definitely connected with me. It is about a woman named Jina who works for a credit card call in center and lives in a small apartment alone. One day her neighbor is found dead and it starts Jina thinking about her own mortality and if she is going to be found dead alone someday.
Aloners works a lot better when it is outside of the call center instead of inside working. Gong Seung-yeon does a great job in the lead. She is positive but you can also feel the weight of the loneliness on her character. It’s brutal.
Here interactions with a young new employee at the call center are less compelling.That said, I overall liked the movie and am grateful they kept the humanity of the character and didn’t associate being alone as a negative. It’s a soul-crushing exploration of loneliness and what it means to be alone.
7 out of 10
Have any of you watched any of these films? Let me know when you do. Thanks!