This year’s TIFF wrap-up was City Of Tiny Lights (imdb | rotten tomatoes | tiff), a rather disappointing closer. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t very good either. In fact, without Riz Ahmed, this would have been entirely unremarkable — except that he succeeded in making London look unlike London ever looks in films.
It didn’t help that some…off dude sitting next to us made it impossible to concentrate during the screening. Yo guy, just…just sit still.
There are times, reading through the TIFF program book, when you don’t even have to finish reading the description for a film before adding it to your shortlist. This was the first paragraph in the description of Prevenge (imdb | rotten tomatoes | tiff):
Alice Lowe (Sightseers) is a triple threat as the writer, director and star of this pitch-black comedy about a pregnant woman whose unborn child psychically spurs her on to murder.
Sold, to the man with the dark sense of humour. Sightseers was a perfectly weird black comedy, so I was excited about this one too. It didn’t disappoint: it was so funny and weird, with these bursts of horrific violence set in tacky British locales (a la Sightseers), and Alice Lowe was just so good. That she acted in and directed this nearly eight months pregnant was remarkable, and (this sounds weird to say) put to such good use. She was hilarious and sweet and weird in her Q&A after, so it’s safe to say she’s a sure bet for any of my future TIFF shortlists.
Our Midnight Madness selection for this year was The Belko Experiment (imdb | tiff), a near note-perfect MM experience from James Gunn, who wrote Guardians Of The Galaxy. It might have even redeemed last year’s Baskin fiasco. Black humour, insane violence, and mockery of office culture. I want ten sequels.
8.5/10 (for Midnight Madness; 7/10 in the real world)
Screening number two was at the Bloor Hot Docs theatre yesterday, and my vantage point was way the hell up in the balcony. From there I watched I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House (imdb | tiff), a slightly weird and fairly chilling little ghost story. Ruth Wilson plays the main role quirky, which helps offset the creep factor and overall made it more interesting. Not great, but entertaining. Solid add to your Netflix scary movie queue when it comes out.
It won all the buzz at Sundance (and has gathered a fair amount of bad attention since, aimed at its director) and got a big ovation last night, but I admit I didn’t love it. It was deeply important subject matter, obviously incredibly relevant to American social issues of the day, and an interesting story. But there were some technical flaws, and the story dragged where it should have sped and sped where it should have lingered.
Certainly not a bad film, but I expect some of the strong reviews it’s getting have less to do with it being a great, skillfully-made movie than with the important message it carries. That may be enough to win it best picture at Oscar time; if that means thousands or millions more eyes and minds learn the story of Nat Turner, then the Academy may still have gotten it right, flawed or not.