Younge-Dundas Square, a.k.a. Canadian Times Square.
Ryan Hill is ArtsQuest’s Programming Manager for Cinema and Comedy.
This year, we sent him to the Toronto International Film Festival to do some recon on the up coming film season. Below is his journal from the Great White North.
Sent: Monday, 9/15/2014
From: Ryan Hill
Subject: Toronto International Film Festival – Day 6
I was put on an emotional roller-coaster with the first three films I saw today. Typically, when we watch emotional movies, at least those we know will be so, we plan to have the rest of the night to process the feelings we’re hit with. We don’t immediately get in the line for another emotional movie. I did exactly that, however, this morning, and twice.
At least when I saw 12 Years a Slave at TIFF last year, I was able to follow it up with Enough Said, an incredibly lighter experience than what I had just seen. It looks like I’ll have to get better about planning my days emotion-wise if I want to keep doing this festival.
Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Imitation Game”
The Imitation Game
- Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode.
- Directed by Morten Tyldum.
Through the benefit of these updates coming to you a few days after they actually happened, I can tell you that The Imitation Game picked up the People’s Choice Award at TIFF. Fitting, as it is obvious that audiences will love this movie more than critics.
The story, about the way the brilliant Alan Turing helped the Allies to win WWII, and the unconscionable way in which he was treated afterward due to the fact that he was a homosexual, is epic on its own. It would be incredibly hard to mess this story up, the knowledge of which often leaves scriptwriters and directors to play it way too safe in execution, something I believe was done here.
Plot developments happen almost breezily. Turing isn’t the head of the team assigned to crack Enigma, the German code deemed unbreakable, so he lobbies Winston Churchill himself (which we don’t see), and, in the very next scene, Turing is in charge. No sweat. Many of the film’s crucial moments are handled as such, and at no point do we see Turing with a man in ‘that’ way, as Turing’s homosexuality is played out more through flashbacks to a childhood crush’s development – a very safe way to do so when you’re making Oscar-bait.
The Imitation Game does get incredibly interesting once Enigma has been cracked, however, as a deadly cat-and-mouse game now needs to be played, and not everyone is on board and it becomes very unclear as to who can be trusted. Through all this, Cumberbatch plays Turing with uncomfortable efficiency, in an effort sure to garner him an Oscar nomination.
- Probability of coming to the FBAC: Likely the highest of any film I’ve written about so far.
This is Where I Leave You
Yes, I do lump this film, a comedy, into my emotional roller-coaster of a morning simply due to the fact that the family it portrays is very similar to my own in build (they added one brother) and roles: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, and Adam Driver could easily have been portraying me, my sister, and my brother, respectively. My mom will be pleased to know, however, that the comparison falls off a bit with Jane Fonda’s character.
This is Where I Leave You, out this coming Friday already, has many of the big city grownups coming back to their small town stomping grounds trappings. It may not feel incredibly new to many people. I did find myself enjoying it, however, mainly due to Bateman, Fey, and even Driver, despite the fact that this character wasn’t too far removed from his While We’re Young character, which isn’t too far removed from his Girls character (though quite different from his Lincoln character).
- Probability of coming to the FBAC: Low, it looks like Warner Bros have multiplex plans for this one.
Julianne Moore in “Still Alice”
- Starring Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart.
- Directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland.
It took me typing in the words ‘Still Alice’ to realize that the title is one letter away from ‘Still Alive’, which could easily have also been the title of this story involving a Columbia professor being diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Julianne Moore plays the afflicted professor, and the film does well to stay with her rather than to delve too deep into the feelings of her family, as other movies about degenerative diseases tend to. Glatzer and Westmoreland, the husband-and-husband filmmakers, the former of which was diagnosed with ALS in 2011, have obvious experience with how this sort of thing goes down.
Moore’s performance is excellent. There were serious feelings coming out of the normally-hardened film industry people in my screening. I’m really glad I had a lunch break after this.
- Probability of coming to the FBAC: High.
Roger Waters’ “The Wall”
Roger Waters’ The Wall
- Directed by Roger Waters and Sean Evans.
Many of the programmers who come to TIFF talk about making sure they get a movie screening in ‘for them’, meaning that the film is something they most likely won’t be screening in their cinemas, but they personally will enjoy it. And while programming two cinemas in a performing arts center has its share of challenges those colleagues won’t understand, that I can watch a rock concert movie and still call it work is a definite perk. Which is what I got to do in watching Roger Waters The Wall.
I was raised on Pink Floyd and have seen the first The Wall movie, the 1990 concert version, and now this, a film pulled together from three performances done during Waters’ tour of a few years ago, divided up by segments of a road trip in which he drives through Europe to visit the graves of his grandfather and father, who were killed in the World Wars.
While the concert rocks and I can’t imagine a Floyd fan walking away from this experience unhappy, some things did strike me as strange. Waters’ anti-consumerism stance is as strong as his anti-government stance in this version (look for the Apple-bashing in many a wall-plastered graphic), yet he’s driving through Europe in a Rolls-Royce. The angry Waters fans know (and maybe love?), is long gone, as the new Waters smiles and dances through Another Brick in the Wall pt. 2, and even introduces old Waters as ‘angry and f***ed up Roger’ before launching into Mother as a duet between new and old Roger thanks to the power of modern technology.
While people can (and should) change, it is strange to see a happy Roger Waters smile and groove his way through a magnum opus much the result of his anger and disillusionment.
- Probability of coming to the FBAC: It may not get a weeks-long run, but it’ll be here. Someway. Somehow.