Visually stunning with plenty of explosive action and an intriguing premise centered on humans seeking revenge for an A.I. nuclear attack, but unfortunately lacking in exploration of its bigger ideas, largely a reskin of STAR WARS, and only somewhat effective emotionally. Could have been, and should have been, so much more.
I’m doing my best to continue finding a connection for each pair of reviews. This time that link is the water. One is the excellent, inspirational and rousing dramatized story of real life super athlete Diana Nyad, who swam from Cuba to Florida in her 60s, and the other is a fantasy tale about a mysterious child with healing powers who washes up on the shore of a secluded island community and changes their way of life for better and worse.
The real life story of Philadelphia everyman Vince Papale and his unlikely journey to professional football player is a bit sanitized by the Disney production, but still covers the great success in an enjoyable manner that captures the heart of what he accomplished and what it meant to those who cheered him on.
* Note – full spoilers in effect for entire episode *
Whether you like your assassins fake, sexy, and a bit silly or old, grizzled, and seeking redemption, this episode is for you. Glen Powell oozes movie star charisma in Richard Linklater’s untraditional rom-com and Michael Keaton directs himself to sleep in a dramatic story of dementia.
Familiar stories can still be emotionally effective and entertaining, as we see in new work from both Alexander Payne and Hayao Miyazaki. THE HOLDOVERS feels like a simple dramedy that we don’t often see, but is charming and touching in equal measure. In Miyazaki’s latest fantastical adventure, a boy travels to a magical world and copes with the loss of his mother, and the director infuses the work with themes of legacy and memory that feel extremely personal.
Dever excels in this mostly solo acted and dialogueless film about a loner in a small town who fights against her own anxiety while trying to fend off an alien invasion and protect her home. Strong creepy effects and superb sound design make for taut experience.
This episode’s theme is films about women written and directed by women. HOW TO HAVE SEX follows a trio of teenage girls on a vacation partying in Greece, and one of their goals is to get laid. It’s a high energy coming-of-age story that oozes authenticity and ends up being powerfully challenging. DADDIO is a two-hander about the conversations a woman and her New York cab driver have on her way home from the airport, leading to personal reflection and an unexpected meaningful new relationship.
The Netflix episode! These weren’t the only films at TIFF that will be released on the streaming giant’s platform, but they are two of the highest profile ones. WOMAN OF THE HOUR is beloved actress Anna Kendrick’s directorial debut and she shows incredible command behind the camera in adapting this true crime serial killer story. PAIN HUSTLERS is David Yates (of Wizarding World fame) tackling the opioid crisis in America by way of energetically examining the unethical practices of a pharmaceutical company that contributed to it becoming a thing.
Two surefire contenders for the 2024 Best International Feature Film Oscar, ANATOMY OF A FALL is a high-quality courtroom drama featuring an emotionally complex leading performance and some impressive shifting perspective camerawork during its trial scenes, while THE ZONE OF INTEREST provides a glimpse into the Holocaust from the viewpoint of a German military family living an idyllic lifestyle next door to the horrific Auschwitz concentration camp.
COPA 71 is a documentary that covers the rocky origin of women’s soccer and history of an incredible international tournament buried by those who discriminated against women in the sport, as told by players who participated in the event themselves. And DUMB MONEY dramatizes the internet-driven GameStop short squeeze event of 2021 where a YouTuber called Roaring Kitty and Reddit investment group collectively took down numerous hedge funds who had bet that the company would fail. Two different styles of film but both informational and highly entertaining ones to kick off my TIFF ’23 podcast/video coverage.