Original-Cin TIFF Picks: Thursday, September 6

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

It’s opening day… get your game on, Toronto!

Anthropocene: The Human Epoch (Special Presentations)

Thur. Sept. 6, 6:30 pm, Winter Garden Theatre; Wed. Sept. 12, 12:30 pm TIFF Bell Lightbox.

Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier, and Edward Burtynsky complete their trilogy of meditations of human effect on the environment – from the industry-created landforms in Manufactured Landscapes to the sobering Watermark. Here, they embrace the new scientific notion of an Anthropocene Epoch, in which the world’s ecosystems are defined by human activity. It is, as before, stunningly, even mesmerizingly shot (it opens with a prolonged gaze deep into fire). From the world’s largest landfill in Kenya, to the most polluted city in Russia (Norilsk, Siberia) to a breakwall being built in China to, ironically, protect oil rigs from the waters of climate change, to tons of tusks representing 10,000 dead elephants. A hard doc to walk away from unaffected. JS

 A scene from Patricia Rozema's Mouthpiece.

A scene from Patricia Rozema's Mouthpiece.

Mouthpiece (Special Presentations)

Thur. Sept. 6, 9:30 pm, Winter Garden Theatre; Fri. Sept. 7, 12:45 pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox 1; Sun. Sept. 15, 6 pm, Jackman Hall

From its opening scenes, this film adaptation of Amy Nostbakkenand Norah Sadava's hit Canadian play is intriguingly baffling: Who exactly are these two women (performed by Nostbakken and Sadava) sharing a bike, bed, and bath? It takes a few beats to realize they represent the double consciousness of the same woman, Cassandra, a thirtyish journalist struggling with grief over her mother's recent death and anger at her own complicity with the patriarchy.  Director Patricia Rozema(I've Heard the Mermaids Singing) wields style and restraint, preserving the play’s conceptual wit while weaving in wintry downtown Toronto backdrops as Cassandra takes calls, shops for the funeral, and battles with herself while composing a eulogy for her mother that balances honesty and love. The score by Nostbakken, using women’s voices as a wordless chorus, is a stand-out. LL

 The Fall of The American Empire (Special Presentations)

Thurs., Sept 6, 6 pm, Elgin Theatre; Fri. Sept. 7, 9:45 am, TIFF Bell Lightbox.

Despite the hook of its title, Denys Arcand’s latest is not a sequel to The Decline of the American Empire (1986) or the Oscar-winning The Barbarian Invasions (2004). This comme ci comme ça satire of modern financial corruption follows Pierre-Paul (Alexandre Landry), a 36-year-old Montreal delivery driver and misanthropic intellectual who, on an impulse, lifts a couple of duffel bags full of mob money from the scene of robbery. As he considers his future and quotes philosophical maxims, Pierre-Paul links up with an escort (Maripier Morin) and a grizzled ex-con with a gift for finance (Rémy Girard in a ponytail) while they’re trailed by a pair of persistent but ineffective detectives (Louis Morisette and Maxim Roy). Though the set-up screams wacky caper, the satire lands like a blunt axe. LL

Want more? Check out our TIFF Preview with films grouped by category...