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 ...