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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.

by Stephen Mayne

9 Sep 2016

Casey Affleck and Kyle Chandler in Manchester by
the Sea
(2016)

When the Toronto International Film Festival kicks off, so, at least to a certain extent, does the annual awards race. A mix of Hollywood favorites and the best from world cinema, TIFF usually contains future nominees within its massive program. Boasting a smattering of world premieres and a round-up of festival highlights from earlier in 2016, this year will likely prove no different.

Over the next week and a half, I’m not going to attempt to pick winners but I will watch a lot of films. Besides, winning awards isn’t everything, or even all that much compared to making a good film. Luckily, day one of the festival got things off to a strong start on the quality front.

by Valeriy Kolyadych

9 May 2016


A female-only boarding school is the setting of The Blackcoat’s Daughter. Covered, positively blanketed in snow, it’s isolated, the nights an unrelenting pitch black. Inside are two girls, Kat (Kiernan Shipka) and Rose (Lucy Boynton), both left behind during a February break, waiting for their parents. They wander through empty hallways, but the subtle noises—screeching creaks and low groans—betray the assumption that they’re alone here.

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