The reason you have Midnight Madness during TIFF, and similar entries at other major film festivals, is that most of the films are simply so intense, so physically, mentally, and emotionally draining, that you need something absurd and mindless to balance out your movie going experience.
There are a slew of these heavy, challenging films, and while the following are all quite good and thought-provoking, I will not be responsible for your well-being should you choose to see all of them. You’ll understand why.
Michael Haneke’s winner of the Palme D’or at Cannes in May, this French film tells the intimate and sad story of an elderly couple coping with the imminence of death. Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva give great performances in this methodical and exacting glimpse of a woman confronting a life-threatening illness, and her husband who has to imagine a world without his wife. Funny and charming at times, but predominantly sad and deflating, it is hard not to proscribe your own feelings on love and death to this film that, like life, has a very definite ending.
Saturday September 8 – Visa Screening Room (Elgin) – 6:00 PM
Sunday September 16 – TIFF Bell Lightbox 2 – 9:00 AM
West of Memphis
An expansive and chilling documentary chronicling the murder of three young boys, the imprisonment of their three suspected killers and a society’s uprising to seek justice and truth, West of Memphis is a must-see. It is boil your blood, drop your jaw, and put tears in your eyes as you watch the culmination of an investigation made possible by the support and dedication of many since the murders took place nearly 20 years ago. For those familiar with the story, there is certainly new information in this very timely doc, one that takes the story from 1993 right through to 2012. For those who don’t know, be prepared to become riveting by this very compelling and scary story of fear, ignorance, and greed. Filmmaker Amy Berg does well to keep the movie coherent amid so many voices and so much information. At nearly two and a half hours, the documentary is not to be missed.
Saturday September 8 – Ryerson Theatre – 2:30 PM
This Italian entrant follows the life of a Napoli man consumed by the notion of fame and success. What starts off as funny slowly becomes uncomfortable and eventually scary, as hope turns into obsession for Luciano, a fishmonger infatuated with the reality series Big Brother. It is a heart-felt, intimate, and strange portrait of a man living in the 21st century, where stardom can be achieved by anyone desperate and crazy enough to go after it.
Wednesday September 12 – TIFF Bell Lightbox 1 – 6:45 PM
Thursday September 13 – Scotiabank 3 – 9:30 PM
Contemporary World Cinema
Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Aaron Paul (of Breaking Bad fame) are a young married couple who simply can’t stop drinking. Kate and Charlie find themselves with a beverage morning, noon, and night (or really until they pass out, and then again when they wake up—wherever that may be). Kate’s responsibilities as an elementary school teacher, however, force to question her drinking and seek help, while Charlie’s lack of anything work that really matters, allows him to enjoy himself in any way. As Kate tries to sober up, her marriage, among other relationships is tested. It is a stark and unnerving look at the consequences of drinking, though never over-the-top. It’s really like watching any drunk people-at first it’s funny, and then it just gets uncomfortable. You may not want a drink for a while.
Saturday September 8 – Ryerson Theatre – 6:00 PM
Thursday September 13 – Cineplex Yonge & Dundas 7 – 5:00 PM