Original-Cin TIFF Picks, Sunday, Sept. 10

By Liam Lacey, Karen Gordon, Jim Slotek and Kim Hughes

SUBURBICON (Special Presentations)

Sunday, Sept. 10 (12 pm) Roy Thomson Hall

George Clooney co-wrote with partner Grant Heslov based on a script by the Coen Brothers, and directs.  The result amounts to a mash up of a Coen style film noir combined with a comment on racism in America.   It’s 1959, Suburbicon is a development sold as the best of the American lifestyle.  Julianne Moore stars in dual roles as twin sisters, one a bubbly brunette, The other wheelchair bound and married to Matt Damon, as a tightly wound executive.  The couple has a pre-adolescent son. It’s all white picket fences and apple pie until a quiet black family moves into the neighborhood.  While that rocks the neighborhood a nasty home invasion rocks the Damon-Moore-Moore’s ordered life. When it comes to message, Clooney’s heart is in the right place,  but as a director he doesn't have the comic-noir knack of the Coens, and ultimately doesn’t bring the two storylines together. - KG

 Bel Powley, Elle Fanning, Douglas Booth and Tom Sturbridge in Mary Shelley

Bel Powley, Elle Fanning, Douglas Booth and Tom Sturbridge in Mary Shelley

THE SQUARE (Special Presentations).

Sunday, Sept. 10 (2:30 p.m.) Elgin. Tuesday, Sept. 12 (3 p.m.) Scotia 1

Sweden’s Ruben Östlund took home the Palme D’or for this brilliant social satire. Set in the art world, the film focuses on Christian (Claes Bang), the accomplished, handsome curator of a modern museum in Sweden. He’s about to launch a new exhibit “The Square,” but a personal issue causes him to take his eye off the ball with chaotic consequences.  It would be easy to see this movie as a satire about the art world, but Ostlund’s film goes much deeper, exploring contemporary masculinity, social media and ultimately the filters through which we seem to be navigating the modern world. - KG

MARY SHELLEY (Gala Presentations)

Sunday, Sept. 10 (1:30 PM), ScotiaBank 2

Saudi Arabia’s Haifaa Al-Mansour made history with her charming 2012 feminist drama, Wadjda. Here she plays with history in this watchable but not great English costume drama about how an 18-year-old Mary (Elle Fanning), the lover and later wife of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (the dewily pretty Douglas Booth), came up with literature’s most famous monster story one rainy night in Geneva. In this stiffly over-determined version of events,  the bookish daughter of famously free-thinking parents is attracted to, and later betrayed by the poet Shelley’s unconventional ways, and her novel is a feminist response to her alienation and betrayal. There are a lot of earnest declarations in the dialogue, leavened by Tom Sturridge’s ridiculous portrayal of Lord Byron as a furry-browed, hair-sniffing fop and plagiarist. - LL

THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER (Special Presentations)

Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017 (11:15 AM), Visa Screening Room at Princess of Wales

In the latest bleakly comic provocation from from Greek absurdist, Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth, The Lobster), Colin Farrell stars as a self-satisfied and paunchy middle-aged cardiologist married to an beautiful opthamologist(Nicole Kidman), in a set-up that echoes Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut. In this case, the doctor’s unravelling is caused by his relationship with a 16-year-old boy, who changes from mysterious friend to stalker, to implacable enemy. The dialogue throughout, mixing non-sequiteurs, extreme literalism, painful banalities, suggest the theatre of Luigi Pirandello, is often laugh-out-loud funny and Farrell, as the obstinately foolish doctor is very entertaining though the increa.singly grotesqueand withdrawn denoument plot begins to feel like a lecture about magical thinking and security. - LL

PORCUPINE LAKE (Contemporary World Cinema)

Sunday, Sept. 10 (7:30 pm) ScotiaBank 4; Thursday, Sept. 14 (7:30 pm) TIFF Bell Lightbox 3; Friday, Sept. 15 (8:45 pm), ScotiaBank 9

Ingrid Veninger's story of an insecure city girl (Charlotte Salisbury) befriending a harder-edged Georgian Bay tween (Lucinda Armstrong Hall) during a summer with her parents, is a unique film about the fleeting fire of pubescent friendship. There's attentiveness, mentoring, dangerous behaviour, the beginnings of sexual curiosity, parental disapproval, "cool" bored older teens in separate orbits around them, and a "forever" feeling that is anything but. Shot amid some of the country's most beautiful countryside, this is arguably Veninger's truest movie. - JS

Read Original-Cin's interview with director Ingrid Veninger

COCAINE PRISON (TIFF Docs)

Sunday, Sept. 10 (4:15 p.m.) Scotia 11; Tuesday, Sept. 12 (9:15 pm). ScotiaBank 9; Friday, Sept. 15 (3:15 p.m.). ScotiaBank 14

Bolivian-born documentarian Violeta Ayala returns to her native country to shine a sharp light on the impact of the country's "drug war" split personality on a benighted village whose subsistence economy depends on growing coca plants (legal) and shipping it to traffickers (illegal). The product of this Catch-22 is a prison for "trafficking" that holds ten times its intended population. We meet some of the people affected by their environment, in and out of prison. And in a tremendous (and frankly dangerous) coup, Ayala has smuggled video shot inside the prison by inmates. An affecting documentary. - JS

THELMA (Special Presentations)

Sunday, Sept. 10 (9 p.m.) ScotiaBank 1; Tuesday, Sept. 12 (12:45 p.m.), ScotiaBank 3; Friday, Sept. 15 (3:45 p.m.). ScotiaBank 3

Norway has picked this supernatural film, co-written and directedby Joachim Trier as its official entry for the Oscars, and it’s no wonder. This beautifully calibrated movie slides seamlessly from a quiet coming of age story into something much different (and yes, you've heard right, more than a little reminiscent of Carrie). The movie centers on a sheltered teen named Thelma (Eili Harboe), who struggles to find her place when she moves away from her overly protective parents to go to University. This is not your typical girls gone wild film. It’s spare and tense and fascinating. - JS

 Willem Dafoe and Brooklynn Prince both soar in The Florida Project.

Willem Dafoe and Brooklynn Prince both soar in The Florida Project.

THE FLORIDA PROJECT (Special Presentations)

Sunday, Sept. 10 (3 pm), Ryerson Theatre; Monday, Sept. 11 (4:45 pm), ScotiaBank 2.

Director Sean Baker’s hotly anticipated follow-up to 2015’s brilliant guerrilla dramedy Tangerine —shot entirely on iPhones, though you’d never know it — delivers spectacularly. And painfully. Newcomer Brooklynn Prince plays the wild (and wildly charming) Moonee, a six-year-old with time to kill around the cheap Florida strip motel she and her broken but loving young mother call home. The vulnerable lives of poor children and their mostly single parents a stone’s throw from glittering Disney World offers sharp commentary on western society’s indifference to homegrown poverty. Yet Baker focuses on his characters, and so do we. Willem Dafoe gives what may be his best-ever performance as a kindly motel manager. The electrifying Prince steals the show, and breaks your heart. - KH