Their Finest

I’m going to be honest here.  This was just okay. The film had charming moments, but it was slightly melodramatic and maudlin for my taste. I felt like I was in some sort of old fashioned movie where reality is checked at the door.  The sets seemed fake, the relationships over the top, and  the only thing that was missing was the affected speech.

This was a film about women in the film industry during WWII.  But the story seemed to be more focused on the lead character’s love life than her impact on film making.

Some will like the old fashioned style of movie making. It’s got some great people in the film including Bill Nighey who is great in everything.

Probably not one you’d seek out at the threatre but a good one to watch on Netflix some day.

Ma’Rosa – Dir Brillante Ma Mendoza

Cast: Jaclyn Jose, Julio Diaz, Andi Eigenmann, Felix Roco, Jomari Angeles, Inna Tuason

Life in Manila is hard. Harder for some than others.  Rosa does the best she can to keep her family afloat, and yes, selling crack is one of the things she does. Everyone in the neighborhood seems to respect her, but when someone rats her out, everything comes crashing down.

This is just a little snapshot of life in Manila.  Jaclyn Jose won best actress at Cannes for this role.  Interesting and compelling film.  Not sure I’ll be visiting the Phillipines any time soon.


Cast:Tahar Rahim, Constance Rousseau, Olivier Gourmetand Mathieu Amalric

I do love a good ghost story.  This one had the potential for being really great. It had an incredible cast and a novel premise. Weird man living in a secluded mansion with his mysterious daughter makes a living taking old fashioned photos on mirrors.

Sadly it lost steam towards the end and missed the mark to being a truely twisty tale. It was filmed in a beautiful location and the acting was solid.  I do love Tahar Rahim and would watch him in tacky commercials. This was not a total loss, but it could have been better.


Una – Dir Benedict Andrews

Cast: Rooney Mara, Ben Mendelsohn and Riz Ahmed

Another “why” film? Based on the play Blackbird, this is another film where the subject of the film crosses a line most of us are are not comfortable with, and that subject is adults engaging in sexual relations with minors. If you are a normal moral human being, this is NEVER okay. This story seems to play with the idea that maybe it is okay. Maybe the adult here was seduced by a manipulative 13 year old. No.My head is shaking, no. Even if a silly young girl flirts with a 40 year old man, it is NEVER, I repeat NEVER okay for him to engage in romantic or sexual relationship.

Maybe this film was saying that it is not okay. Maybe I just hated both the main characters. Thank goodness for Riz Ahmed, because I otherwise disliked this movie.

Elle – Dir Paul Verhoeven

Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Laurent Lafitte, Anne Consigny, Charles Berling, Virginie Efira, Christian Berkel, Judith Magre, Jonas Bloquet, Alice Isaaz, Vimala Pons, Raphaël L Lenglet, Arthur Mazet, Lucas Prisor, Hugo Conzelmann, Stéphane Bak

Why? Is what most of us took away from Paul Verhoeven’s latest attempt at a shocker film. Why does anyone try to glorify or promote the idea that women might actually enjoy, sadistically or otherwise, being sexually abused? Why?

Paul Verhoeven has always tried to shock audiences and create controversy. This film was just plain garbage. He thought it would create a debate? No debates here.  Everyone I know felt the same way – disgusted that we wasted $25 on the ticket. In retrospect, wish I’d walked out of the theatre.

I would not support this film and for the sake of women’s safety, neither should you.


I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House – Dir Osgood Perkins

Cast: Ruth Wilson, Paula Prentiss, Lucy Boynton, Bob Balaban

This was one of the most disappointing films I saw at TIFF.  It didn’t seem like a lot of effort went into the story or the production. The same visual of a woman was repeated throughout the film. Ruth Wilson was effectively creepy, but with the exception on one eye popping scene, there was no excitement or mystery for me here.

Sorry but I wouldn’t even recommend this on Netflix.

I, Daniel Blake – Dir Ken Loach

Cast: Dave Johns, Hayley Squires

This film won Ken Loach his second Palme D’or at Cannes. Some say Toni Erdmann should have won instead.  I disagree. While both were excellent films, in a time where bureaucracy and process beat down on the less fortunate, Daniel’s story was by far the more important story to tell.

This is a beautiful film, the  Norma Rae for the British unemployed. Daniel is a hero for the downtrodden. A film everyone should see. I sure hope it makes the Academy’s top 10 list. It’s Ken Loach’s best film yet.

Handsome Devil – Dir by John Butler

Cast: Fionn O’Shea, Nicholas Galitzine, Andrew Scott, Michael McElhatton, Moe Dunford, Ruairí O’Connor, Mark Lavery, Eoin Griffin, Jamie Hallahan, Amy Huberman, Ardal O’Hanlon

I put this on my TIFF list this year because it’s an Irish film, but also because I quite enjoyed Mr. John Butler’s last TIFF film, The Stag. It was clichéd, campy and comical and I loved it.  Still think of The Machine every now and again.  I figured this next film would be even better and it was.

This is a very charming, heartwarming coming of age film. Set in a boys boarding school that revolves around the school’s rugby team it’s the story of friendship and being proud of who you are.   Ned, Fionn O’Shea is the school outcast who makes no bones about being different, is regularly persecuted by schoolmates and avoids rugby at all costs.  Connor, Nicholas Galitzine, is the new rugby superstar who arrives and made to share quarters with Ned. In my opinion this broke new ground as I’ve not seen the topic of sexuality and sports tackled in a film before.  Certainly not in this way. Hope this makes a difference for those who feel alienated and ashamed of who they are, but most of all opens the eyes of those who feel threatened by the differences in others.

There’s a point in the film where their English teacher shouts “If you spend your whole life being someone else, who is going to be you ?”.  Probably the most important piece of dialogue in the film and I hope it gets quoted as these are beautiful words we can all learn from.

The performances from Fionn O’Shea and Nicholas Galitzine are outstanding. Supporting cast are also very fine and you’ll recognize a few from Game of Thrones.

I took my daughter, her friend and my mother to see it. We all loved it. I do hope many enjoy this inspiring and lovable film.

Orphan – Dir Arnaud des Pallières

Cast: Adèle Exarchopoulos, Gemma Arterton, Adèle Haenel, Solène Rigot

This is a story of a girl whose life is fractured by a tragic event, told over a series of time periods using different actresses to play the role of the girl.  I’m wondering if we were supposed to guess that this was the same girl and that would be the big surprise, however it’s not.  We know it’s the same girl.

This film was unnecessarily harsh and disturbing at times, and missed the mark in bringing the story together.  Maybe the story was supposed to be as fractured as the main character?

Best part of seeing this film was that we had time to walk from Hot Docs to Princess of Wales on a beautiful day!

La La Land – Dir Damien Chazelle

Cast – Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, John Legend and Rosemarie DeWitt

I really wasn’t sure what to expect for this one.  Everyone had been raving about it.  I loved Damien’s first powerhouse film, Whiplash. But a musical? Really? Part of me was bracing to hate it. But I didn’t hate it. I loved it. Do they going sing their lines like in Grease? Not really. Are the songs corny and annoying? Not particularly.

The film works on many levels. Its charming, heartwarming, funny at times and highly entertaining. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling have incredible chemistry, as we’ve seen in Crazy Stupid Love and Gangster Squad.  I think because we have seen them together before we are really starting to believe they are a couple.  Sorry Eva!  It is also nice to see triple threat performers in their element.

Some complained about the sound at this screening at the historic Elgin theatre, but did not notice any issues. The Elgin is by far one of my favourite TIFF theatres.

This very accessible film will do extremely well, and so it should.  And let’s see if a musical can win the Oscar for Best Picture.  I cannot wait to see what Damien does next!

The beautiful and historic Elgin Theatre!

Piers Handling and Damien Chazelle