Best of TIFF 2013
I'm going to quickly run through my favorites, in the order I saw them.
An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker. A Bosnian family is refused emergency care when the mother suffers a miscarriage. Based on a true story: the director read a newspaper article about the incident, and asked the family to re-enact the events day by day. Extraordinarily naturalistic and real.
Hateship Loveship. Based on an Alice Munro story. Kristen Wiig gives a brilliantly understated performance as taciturn housekeeper who, when she sees what she believes to be an opportunity for love, goes to extraordinary lengths to obtain it. This film makes a type of character who's often overlooked, both in movies and real life, the star, and shows how much depth lies unseen.
Only Lovers Left Alive. When I read the description, this film went straight to the bottom of my list, then when I saw who was behind it, it went straight to the top. Jim Jarmusch directs a vampire movie with Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, and John Hurt as vampire Christopher Marlowe. Stylish as hell. If you like Jim Jarmusch movies, you'll like this one.
Can a Song Save Your Life? From the director of Once, a film about a washed-up music producer who spots a songwriter in a bar, organizes no-budget recording sessions which turn into a hit album. No real surprises in this film, it just does what you expect and does it well.
Burning Bush. A student sets himself on fire to protest the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Police, activists, lawyers react. Over the course of time, what galvanized Czech society seems to fade into a minor incident, but the closing credits have one hell of a kicker. Four hours long, but worth it.
We Are the Best! 13-year-old Swedish girls form a punk rock band in the '80's. Feel-good movie for those who say the hell with what society expects from women.
Tracks. Based on the memoir by Robyn Davidson, who walked 2700 kilometers through the Australian with only four camels for company. An interesting look at an extreme introvert, and a gripping adventure story.
The Wind Rises. Hayao Miyazaki's final movie, about the aircraft designer who built Japan's Zero airplane. Engineering as a heroic pursuit. The disconnect between the purity of his vision and the horror his designs facilitate is acknowledged, even emphasized, but at its heart this is a movie about the abstract pursuit of excellence. I need to see this again, and think about what it means.
Sarah Prefers to Run. It's hard to say what makes this film so appealing. At its heart is the character of Sarah who—prefers to run. Whatever else there may be, she prefers to run, which is incredibly frustrating for anyone who wants to get close to her. A really brilliant first feature.
Heart of a Lion. Finnish skinhead dates waitress, then discovers she has a son by a black father. Doesn't flinch from the ugliness of Nazi subculture, manages to find room for hope.