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by Stephen Mayne

13 Sep 2016


Tom Wilkinson in Denial (2016)

Part of the challenge of festivals is attempting to work out which films will pack in pass holders and which ones can be breezed into with a minute to spare. Day 5 at the Toronto International Film Festival had a bit of everything on that front, and a very high standard across three films that all dipped back into the 20th century.

First up was Denial, playing in the morning in the biggest screen. It was hardly a packed house, but those that did show got very solid entertainment. It’s the story of the trial that finally broke any remaining credibility disgraced British historian and Holocaust denier David Irving had. He brought the action, as well. After calling him out in her book, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory (1994), American historian Deborah Lipstadt found herself taken to court in London for libel. If she were to lose, the claims of Irving and those like him could have gained acceptability.

by Michael Barrett

13 Sep 2016


Remy Marko (Broderick Crawford) was a successful businessman: he sold bootleg hooch during the Prohibition. The legalization of alcohol was catastrophic to his affairs, but his wife (Claire Trevor) convinces Marko to go legit despite the fact that his beer is basically undrinkable and no longer sought after. Sliding into debt and repossession by the bank, Marko finds that good honest work is not for the faint of heart.

Winking and nodding somewhere in the background of Stop, You’re Killing Me is a satire of capitalism and the cut-throat world of debt and consumption. It all comes to a head one weekend at Marko’s Saratoga mansion when he throws a big party just as his barely reformed goombahs (Charles Cantor, Sheldon Leonard, Joe Vitale) discover the bodies of four murdered robbers in an upstairs bedroom.

by Stephen Mayne

12 Sep 2016


Lene Cecilia Sparrok in Sami Blood (2016)

At film festivals the normal calendar fast fades into irrelevancy. Days of the week matter little compared to the screening schedule.

The same is not true for the rest of the world outside the film bubble, as I found at the subway. Completely unaware it was Sunday, I arrived early in the morning to find the station locked. This put the first film of the day in doubt. Thankfully someone did eventually open the doors and a train turned up 25 minutes later. It meant a close-run thing, but a little bit of sprinting meant I only missed the first ten minutes of Sami Blood.

by Stephen Mayne

12 Sep 2016


Lewis MacDougall in A Monster Calls (2016)

If there’s a theme emerging from TIFF so far: monsters. At least films featuring monsters seem to be the ones I’m going for. What that says about my psychological state I will leave for someone better qualified to pass judgement. As with prior coverage, the monsters come in different shapes. The first one, leftover from day 2, looks like a tree and sounds a bit like Liam Neeson.

A Monster Calls brings Patrick Ness’ work to the big screen. His young-adult novel of the same name features fantastical stories that exist to help a lost boy deal with grief. When the film, from The Orphanage director J. A. Bayona, reveals its true intent, there were plenty of sniffles around the screening room. Even the trailer has brought on tears for those revisiting later.

by Stephen Mayne

12 Sep 2016


Anne Hathaway in Colossal (2016)

We have a lot of ground to cover, but before launching into day 2 of Toronto International Film Festival, there’s a little business from day 1 to finish off. So let’s head to Anne Hathaway and her monster with a brief detour in the forests of Norway.

Colossal is about as high concept a film as you can manage. That it makes little sense were you to think about it for more than ten seconds is just part of the charm. Hathaway plays a burnt out New York writer who spends her nights drinking and days crashing at her boyfriend’s apartment. Given she’s not contributing to the rent after a year of unemployment, he understandably has enough, kicks her out, and she’s back to the small town she grew up in.

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