Okay, it’s that time of year again. Whether you like it or not. At this point, I’m surprised I don’t have a gambling addiction. Last year’s winning pony was Moonlight. This year, my bets are on a Norwegian psycho-sexual drama. The festival started last week, so I’m a little late on this year’s selection. But here goes…
So about that Norwegian psycho-sexual thriller. It’s called Thelma. Which I initially thought was going to be a family drama set in Oklahoma. Nope. Instead it’s Scandi-minimalist possibly sci-fi nuts things. I just can’t wait.
When I first went through TIFF’s programme this year, I was really disappointed to see that it’s larger budget played it a little too safe. Meaning: historical and very white (there are more than two WWII movies and too many period pieces), and where it wasn’t so white, it was Denzel Washington. Enter Guillermo Del Toro to save the day. I like a little bit of whimsy and this is not unlike when he dropped Pan’s Labyrinth at the festival over a decade ago. The Shape of Water is all childlike in its wonder and the trailer is just gorgeous. Also: Octavia Spencer.
Call Me By Your Name is sumptuous in its coming of age sexuality. It says summer love all over it and who doesn’t enjoy Americans in a slow simmering affair? Get me to Aix en Provence, stat.
I’m always looking for new narratives from voices that we don’t always get to hear from. My small size foreign film selection this year comes by way of the Philippines, whose culture is not so indistinct from our own in the West. When I lived in Manila, I couldn’t get over how familiar it was. But when you step outside your affluent enclave, you couldn’t be further from the truth of what’s really happening in Duterte’s Philippines. And perhaps that’s what makes Dark Is the Night so terrifying: that I can see it happening in all of my backyards.
This year’s Midnight Madness programme at TIFF veers towards the ridiculous. Which I love. But I’m also a fan of the classical horror film set in a haunted house and involving children. Enter The Lodgers. It had me at “Shirley Jackson-esque.” Cursed, orphaned twins in a haunted house. I just saw It last night so naturally I’m picking this one.
I’m playing it terribly safe this year with my TIFF picks. But maybe it’s because I’m looking to getaway from everything that’s happening around the world. I even hear there’s a meteorite coming at us. So perhaps my TIFF picks are a little more skewed towards the fantastic this year. But if you’re interested in a variety of perspectives on the world, check out the TIFF master list. I guarantee you’ll find something that will be exactly what you’re looking for. By the way, I’ve also got a tiny little Greta Gerwig feature in my crosshairs and I couldn’t be a proud Asian-Canadian if I didn’t also tell you about Mina Shum’s latest.