Tiff 2019 finds its controversy in Jojo Rabbit
A young boy in Nazi Germany turns for moral guidance to a fantasy figure of Adolf Hitler in this satire that has sharply divided critics
By Jay Stone
TORONTO — Film festivals need movies that people can argue about, and the Toronto film festival has been blessed with a good one: Jojo Rabbit, a comedy set in Nazi Germany. Some people, including half of the representatives of Ex-Press.com, argue that it’s juvenile, and in bad taste, and — worst of all — not funny. Others, including the other half of Ex-Press.com staff, think it’s bold, original and filled with laughs.
And we’re not the only ones. The aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes gives it a favourable rating in the 70s, but the opinions are wildly divergent, from raves (“a triumph. A film of sophisticated brilliance and humour:” Jason Gorber, HighDef Digest) to pans (“conventional, lazy and incredibly irresponsible filmmaking:” Jordan Ruimy, World of Reel.)
Personally, I ...
The Goldfinch fails to adapt but Donna Tartt’s DNA survives
Movies: #TIFF19 - The Goldfinch
The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about survival divided audiences in print form as it fragmented in the final act. John Crowley’s visually satisfying, but dramatically disappointing, movie version falls prey to the same problems in its bid to fit too much into the frame.
Hustlers strips systemic sexism down to the boner
#TIFF19: Hustlers Movie Review
A team of smart pole dancers fleeced the wolves of Wall Street by exploiting their natural resources, but this female revenge story based on a New York magazine piece doesn’t grab at easy conclusions. Director Lorene Scafaria teases out the hard reality of gender inequality, one lap dance at a time.
The movies of TIFF 2019, but not all of them
You don't always get to see a whole movie at a film festival, but sometimes what you do see is enough, Jay Stone discovers
By Jay Stone
TORONTO — Another thing that happens at film festivals is that you don’t see a whole movie because maybe you had to leave to get to another theatre for an even more important film, or because it’s late and you have to get some sleep or you’ll pass out, or because it’s late and you do pass out right there in the cinema and the nice lady next to you has to poke you in the ribs because it turns out you were snoring. You can actually follow a movie this way — often you hear enough dialogue that you dream it — unless it’s a foreign film, in which case you jerk yourself awake and you’re not sure where you are and it takes a few seconds for your eyes to focus enough to read the subtitles.
This is part of the reason that professional film criticism is a young person’s game, or at least an awake person’s ...
#TIFF19 Going to the dogs, cats and bunny rabbits
Animals may only occupy the frame for a few moments at at time, but their presence can define an entire character and slant audience reaction in subconscious ways. Critic Katherine Monk does a head count of the creatures great and small appearing at TIFF19.
All the mothers of TIFF 2019
There are many problems for mothers in this year's Toronto film festival movies, but Jay Stone finds that his real-life mother is still going strong
By Jay Stone
TORONTO — The other night I played hooky from the Toronto film festival to have dinner with my mother, who lives in north Toronto. She’s 97, but she’s in terrific shape. She works out every day at the gym, and, as she tells it, the people at the retirement home are less amazed by the fact that she can still get down to stretch on the Pilates ball than they are by the fact that she can get back up.
This gives me a tremendous genetic advantage in life: Robert Benchley once wrote that one of the keys to a long life is to keep one’s parents alive, at gunpoint if necessary. It also gives me a huge edge over a lot of people in movies at the festival, many of which feature plots revolving around mothers who have just died, although they continue to haunt their offspring with varying dramatic ...
Beautiful day in the Oscarhood: Academy Award hopes of TIFF
The Toronto film festival features several movies that could be in the discussion for this year's top movie awards, Jay Stone writes
By Jay Stone
TORONTO — The Toronto film festival is known as a launching pad for Oscar movies. Here are a few of the early contenders.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The re-evaluation of Fred Rogers — from figure of fun in a thousand parodies of his children’s program to American hero in a famous Esquire magazine article to secular sainthood in the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? — continues in this movie that’s actually based on that Esquire article. Tom Junod, an investigative journalist, was assigned in 1998 to do a short profile of Rogers (Tom Hanks) and emerged with a 10,000-word cover story that painted him as an unexpected wise man, a life coach whose simple wisdom could heal fractures of the heart. It was as if Being There had come to life as a puppet show for children.
In this ...
TIFF 2019: When the theme is the theme
Jay Stone discovers that you can go from dance to geriatric sex at the Toronto film festival, with barely time for a refreshing doughnut
By Jay Stone
TORONTO — One of the secrets of formerly professional film criticism (I can now reveal) is to find a common theme around which you can elucidate your theories of the creative imagination. The good news is, if a common theme doesn’t occur to you, you can always make one up because who cares really?
So it was the other day that I saw a 3-D movie about dance and a black-and-white drama about geriatric sex, then attended a lunch party that was so jammed with loud freeloaders that I could barely get to the dessert table for a second doughnut. What do these things have in common?, I asked my daughter, who got me into the party because she knows a guy who knows a guy.
“Three things you don’t like,” she ventured, which is a pretty good guess. But it’s a daughter guess. I actually liked the party, especially ...
Fascism, Feminism and the big buzz movies at TIFF19
The Toronto International Film Festival is the equivalent of Christmas morning to a movie critic, and oftentimes, the most appreciated gifts are the ones in humble packages, writes critic Katherine Monk
By Katherine Monk
TORONTO — For film critics, the Toronto International Film Festival feels like waking up on Christmas morning. Pretty, promising packages bathed in sparkling light and and a tangle of reflected tinsel have arrived at the foot of the Bell Lightbox, just waiting to be torn open. They will either be loved and cherished, or completely forgotten, disposed of with the next day’s trash.
There’s no way to predict the reception, but after a few decades of scrolling through schedules, pondering publicists’ press releases, and reading between the glowing lines penned by festival programmers, you start sifting, and making lists.
The first list is always the buzz sheet: What movies are coming to the festival with some advance hype — either from ...
The dark recesses of TIFF19 and some great expectations
Smelling something familiar in the air? It’s the gentle fragrance of auteurism, leavened with the sharp odour of Oscar bait. In other words, it’s the dawn of TIFF19. Jay Stone places his bets on Tom Hanks, Nicole Kidman and Ed Norton’s directorial debut as a detective with Tourette’s.
By Jay Stone
SOMEWHERE ON THE WAY TO TORONTO — And here we go again, heading to the Toronto International Film Festival with a suitcase packed with black clothes and a head filled with dark hopes. Will our feet hold up? Can we stay awake through those evening screenings? Will we ever eat dinner before midnight? Did someone remember to pack the Lipitor?
Also: Will the movies be wonderful?
Some of them always are, but you never know: the hot buzz titles can land with a clunk, while the unknown thing you walk into because you have nothing else to do or the title grabs you — I always remember the unheralded documentary Carmen Miranda: Bananas Is My Business as the ...