TIFF HITS AND MISSES

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The An­i­mal Project, The Great Beauty, Siddharth – just a few of the must-sees we tip among 25-plus TIFF reviews

THU, SEP 5 A STORY OF CHIL­DREN AND FILM

DOC D: Mark Cousins. United King­dom. 101 min. Sep 5, 6 pm TIFF Bell Light­box 2; Sep 6, 9 am Jack­man Hall ( AGO); Sep 15, 2:45 pm Sco­tia­bank 11 Rat­ing: NNN Cousins fol­lows his epic doc­u­men­tary The Story Of Film: An Odyssey with a smaller, more in­ti­mate project ex­plor­ing the de­pic­tion of chil­dren in mo­tion pic­tures from the silent era to the present day. Us­ing home-video footage of his young niece and nephew at play as a con­trast, Cousins flips through dozens of clips from a cen­tury of cin­ema to show how film­mak­ers have shaped the purer, less fil­tered per­for­mances of child ac­tors for the screen.

It’s an in­tel­lec­tual ex­er­cise more than an emo­tional one, and Cousins’s en­thu­si­asm for squeez­ing in just one more ex­am­ple of a given re­ac­tion means he winds up re­peat­ing his points more than once. But those points are pretty com­pelling, and, if noth­ing else, you’ll be in­tro­duced to two or three movies you’d oth­er­wise never have dis­cov­ered. NW

ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE

SP D: Jim Jar­musch w/ Tom Hid­dle­ston, Tilda Swin­ton. U. S. 123 min. Sep 5, 9 pm Ry­er­son; Sep 7, 12:15 pm Bloor Hot Docs Cin­ema Rat­ing: NNNN Pow­ered by dron­ing guitars and a heroin- chic cin­e­matic pal­ette, Jar­musch’s tale of a vam­pire cou­ple ( Swin­ton, Hid­dle­ston) meet­ing up in de­cay­ing Detroit has the tex­ture and vibe of ev­ery Vel­vet Un­der­ground song ever recorded – but of course that’s also its cen­tral metaphor.

Hid­dle­ston’s Adam lives like a recluse in a shabby Mo­town manse, mak­ing mu­sic he swears he’ll never re­lease; Swin­ton’s Eve is his fash­ion plate part­ner, just back from hang­ing out in Tang­iers with a guy she calls Kit Mar­lowe ( John Hurt). They pick up de­liv­er­ies of “the good stuff” and swan around in el­e­gant deca­dence un­til Eve’s wild- child sis­ter (Mia Wasikowska) gets in from L. A. and fucks up their per­fect en­nui. There’s still a week be­fore TIFF 2013 be­gins, but here’s a sneak peek at some of the big-buzz flicks, awards­bound en­tries, quiet sleep­ers... and a few you should prob­a­bly skip. Plus, NOW’s crit­ics re­veal what’s on their per­sonal gotta-see lists. And check out tons more in next week’s is­sue along with news, reviews and tweets at now­toronto.com/tiff. By NOR­MAN WILNER, SUSAN G. COLE, GLENN SUMI, JOHN SEM­LEY, RAD­HEYAN SI­MON­PIL­LAI and PAUL ENNIS

The bone- dry wit and lan­guid pac­ing re­call the Jar­musch of Mys­tery Train and Dead Man, and the en­tire cast is hav­ing a ball. Adam’s mu­sic is pretty good, too. NW THE PAST (LE PASSé)

SP D: As­ghar Farhadi w/ Ali Mosaffa, Bérénice Bejo. France/Italy. 130 min. Sep 5, 9:30 pm Visa Screen­ing Room (El­gin); Sep 7, 10: 30 am TIFF Bell Light­box 2 Rat­ing:

NN The Past sees the pleas­ant soap­i­ness that greased A Sep­a­ra­tion, Farhadi’s Os­car win­ner, reach full froth.

The Ira­nian di­rec­tor’s mas­tery of melo­drama feels suf­fo­cat­ing here, tragedy tee­ter­ing into schmaltz. Mosaffa plays Ahmad, an Ira­nian who re­turns to a Parisian sub­urb to fi­nal­ize a di­vorce with his wife (Bejo) so she can marry another man ( Ta­har Rahim). Ahmad’s de­sire to fix things – upon ar­rival he im­me­di­ately re­pairs a child’s bi­cy­cle – ends up fis­sur­ing his ex’s fam­ily dy­namic, ex­pos­ing lies on top of lies. Ahmad’s role as noble Mr. Fixit is never un­der­mined, his low- key van­ity of­fered as the so­lu­tion to, never the cause of, the prob­lems of ev­ery­one around him.

Farhadi may be heavy- hand­edly root­ing for the cathar­tic power of The Truth, but his melo­drama is tripped up by its own false­ness – over­wrought and shot through with some nasty misogyny. JS

FRI, SEP 6

WATER­MARK

SP D: Jen­nifer Baich­wal, Ed­ward Bur­tyn­sky. Canada. 92 min. Sep 6, 7

pm TIFF Bell Light­box 1; Sep 8, 9 am Sco­tia­bank 13 Rat­ing: NNNN The new doc­u­men­tary by Man­u­fac­tured Land­scapes col­lab­o­ra­tors Baich­wal and Bur­tyn­sky feels very much like a con­tin­u­a­tion of their pre­vi­ous work, once again ex­plor­ing the ef­fects of hu­man in­dus­try on the nat­u­ral world. Here they look at our oceans and rivers.

Baich­wal’s con­tem­pla­tive ap­proach meshes nicely with Bur­tyn­sky’s fond­ness for find­ing geo­met­ric pat­terns in gar­gan­tuan con­struc­tions – in this case, dams and aquifers. And pro­ducer/cin­e­matog­ra­pher Ni­cholas de Pencier cap­tures some splen­did high- def­i­ni­tion images. ( Water­mark may set a record for the most he­li­copter shots in a Cana­dian pro­duc­tion.)

Baich­wal and Bur­tyn­sky cush­ion their po­ten­tially grim eco­log­i­cal mes­sage with philo­soph­i­cal di­gres­sions and mo­ments of un­ex­pected whimsy… which seems like an aw­fully good idea right about now. NW

PALES­TINE STEREO

(FALASTINE STEREO)

CWC D: Rashid Masharawi w/ Mah­moud Abu Jazi, Salah Han­noun. Pales­tine/ Tu­nisia/France/Norway/United Arab Emi­rates/Italy/Switzer­land. 90 min. Sep 6, 9: 30 pm Sco­tia­bank 14; Sep 7, 2:15 pm Sco­tia­bank 14; Sep 15, 6 pm

Sco­tia­bank 14 Rat­ing: NNNN In this sly, ul­ti­mately mov­ing Pales­tine en­try, Abu Jazi and Han­noun play Gaza brothers left home­less by an Is­raeli air strike, which also took Stereo’s wife and Sami’s hear­ing.

They de­cide to im­mi­grate to Canada, and in or­der to raise the $10,000 their ap­pli­ca­tion re­quires, un­der­take a se­ries of sound gigs, tap­ping Sami’s elec­tri­cian skills and the equip­ment Stereo used as a work­ing mu­si­cian.

The script is laced with irony – the guys rent a bul­let- rid­den am­bu­lance to move their gear, and most of the gigs that gar­ner their per­sonal prof­its are col­lec­tive protests against in­jus­tice.

This is by no means a one-note indictment of Is­rael. The Pales­tinian politi­cians are blowhards, and the con­ver­sa­tions be­tween Stereo and his friends, of­ten ex­co­ri­at­ing Pales­tine’s in­ef­fec­tual lead­er­ship, show com­plex­ity.

Bet­ter still, the pic was made for a pal­try $ 1.5 mil­lion. Just shows that good sto­ry­telling doesn’t re­quire a big bud­get. SGC

EM­PIRE OF DIRT

CWC D: Peter Steb­bings w/ Cara Gee, Jen­nifer Podem­ski. Canada. 99 min. Sep 6, 9:45 pm Sco­tia­bank 2; Sep 8, 9:15 am

Sco­tia­bank 14 Rat­ing: NNN See the Cara Gee cover story and re­view of the film, page 8.

Sat, Sep 7

YOUNG & BeaU­tI­FUL

(Je­une & Jolie)

SP D: François Ozon w/ Marine Vacth, Géral­dine Pail­has. France/Bel­gium. 94 min. Sep 7, 6 pm Visa Screen­ing Room

(El­gin); Sep 15, 6 pm TIFF Bell Light­box 2 Rat­ing: NNNN Ozon’s story of a 17-year- old high school girl who leads a dou­ble life as a pros­ti­tute – a ju­nior Belle De Jour – is a baf­fling work, but that’s its strength.

As Is­abelle’s (a bril­liant Vacth) hor­mones surge, she dis­penses with her vir­gin­ity on va­ca­tion like she’s shed­ding a coat. Ozon films the scene as if Is­abelle can watch her­self in ac­tion (in­ac­tion, ac­tu­ally – she’s plainly not into it), sug­gest­ing the dis­as­so­ci­a­tion many have linked to sex work.

But it’s never clear why Is­abelle re­turns home and starts pil­ing up cash by turn­ing tricks after school. Is it be­cause her dad is ab­sent, or to sep­a­rate from her car­ing mom (a su­perb Pail­has)? Does she rel­ish her sex­ual power?

Told over the course of a year in four parts, each rep­re­sent­ing a sea­son, the movie has some charm­ing grace notes: the loving re­la­tion­ship be­tween Is­abelle and her younger brother, a win­ning se­quence in which Is­abelle’s class dis­cusses Rim­beau, and a su­perb fi­nal scene fea­tur­ing the great Char­lotte Ram­pling.

But it’s Vacth who owns this movie. SGC

SUN, Sep 8

tHe SeLF­ISH GI­aNt

CWC D: Clio Barnard w/ Con­ner Chap­man, Shaun Thomas. United King­dom. 91 min. Sep 8, 9:15 pm TIFF Bell Light­box 2; Sep 9, 2:15 pm TIFF Bell Light­box 3 Rat­ing: NNNN Tossed out of school, 13-year- old Ar­bor (Chap­man) and his best friend, Swifty ( Thomas), earn money steal­ing metal for Kit­ten ( Sean Gilder), who owns a scrap­yard. Ar­bor is clever, en­ter­pris­ing and pos­sessed of con­sid­er­able charm and a gift of gab – per­haps symp­to­matic of ADHD. His am­bi­tion trig­gers a heart-tug­ging se­quence of events that need never have hap­pened.

We’re in Ken Loach so­cial re­al­ist coun­try. Di­rec­tor Barnard finds beauty in the win­try in­dus­trial waste­land of Brad­ford in north­ern Eng­land and gets nat­u­ral­is­tic per­for­mance from the ac­tors. Her spunky, work­ing- class/bro­ken- home char­ac­ters are all the more touch­ing be­cause their schemes are un­likely to bear fruit. PE

RUSH

GALA D: Ron Howard w/ Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl. United King­dom/Ger­many. 123 min. Sep 8, 9: 30 pm Roy Thom­son Hall; Sep 9, noon

Ry­er­son Rat­ing: NNNN As in Apollo 13, Howard re­vis­its his­tory, mak­ing his ma­te­rial ex­cit­ing and sus­pense­ful even though the out­come is a mat­ter of pub­lic record.

Through­out 1976, the world of For­mula One auto rac­ing was dom­i­nated by two men: the cold, cere­bral Aus­trian Niki Lauda (Brühl) and the wildly charis­matic English play­boy James Hunt (Hemsworth). Howard and su­perb screen­writer Peter Mor­gan con­trast their sto­ries ef­fec­tively, cul­mi­nat­ing in a se­ries of races that – even for non-fans like me – will have your heart pound­ing in time with Hans Zim­mer’s propul­sive score.

The cam­er­a­work makes you feel like you’re on the track, but it’s Mor­gan’s script and the con­vinc­ing, lived-in per­for­mances by the two ac­tors that drive home the themes about com­pe­ti­tion and the best way to live one’s life. GS

MON, Sep 9

GaBRIeLLe

SP D: Louise Ar­cham­bault w/ Gabrielle Mar­ion- Ri­vard, Alexan­dre Landry. Canada.

104 min. Sep 9, 5 pm TIFF Bell Light­box 1; Sep 11, 9 am Bloor Hot Docs Cin­ema

Rat­ing: NNN Que­bec writer/di­rec­tor Ar­cham­bault isn’t aim­ing to push but­tons in this gen­tle, charm­ing ro­mance about a men­tally chal­lenged 22-year- old ex­plor­ing love and sex for the first time. She han­dles slightly provoca­tive sub­ject mat­ter with a touch so sen­si­tive that at times the film bor­ders on timid.

Mar­ion- Ri­vard (who ac­tu­ally has Wil­liams syn­drome) de­liv­ers a win­ning per­for­mance as the ti­tle character, a choir singer whose ro­mance with a sim­i­larly hand­i­capped young man (Landry) is sti­fled by the prac­ti­cal con­cerns of ev­ery­one around them.

While of­fer­ing an emotionally sin­cere ( if slight) por­trait of life with dis­abil­ity, Ar­cham­bault gets caught up in rous­ing, overtly metaphor­i­cal choir num­bers. They cul­mi­nate in a grand ap­pear­ance by Que­be­cois legend Robert Charlebois, who ush­ers in a res­o­lu­tion to sat­isfy an au­di­ence’s sweet tooth. RS

tHe IN­VIS­I­BLe WOMaN

SP D: Ralph Fi­ennes w/ Fi­ennes, Felic­ity Jones. United King­dom. 111 min. Sep 9, 6 pm Visa Screen­ing Room (El­gin); Sep 10, 11:45 am TIFF Bell Light­box 1 Rat­ing: NNNN On its face, The In­vis­i­ble Woman seems like a safe project for Fi­ennes’s di­rec­to­rial follow- up to 2011’s Co­ri­olanus. It’s a con­ven­tional drama about the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Charles Dick­ens (Fi­ennes) and Nel­lie Ter­nan ( Jones), the young woman who be­came his mis­tress. But while all the trap­pings of the proper Bri­tish pe­riod piece are in place, this is a much more ex­per­i­men­tal treat­ment of the story than one might ex­pect, with a com­plex con­sid­er­a­tion of all the char­ac­ters – in­clud­ing Dick­ens’s wife, Cather­ine ( Joanna Scan­lan) – and an ed­i­to­rial style that lingers on un­com­fort­able si­lences and re­pressed im­pulses.

Fi­ennes and Jones are ter­rific, but the ac­tor/di­rec­tor gets ex­cel­lent work out of pretty much ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing his English Pa­tient co- star Kristin Scott Thomas. NW

FOR NO GOOD Rea­SON

MAV D: Charlie Paul. United King­dom. 89 min. Sep 9, 7:15 pm TIFF Bell Light­box 3 Rat­ing: NNN For No Good Rea­son po­si­tions it­self as a doc­u­men­tary about Ralph Stead­man, the Bri­tish il­lus­tra­tor whose in­stantly rec­og­niz­able style was the per­fect ac­com­pa­ni­ment to Hunter S. Thomp­son’s gonzo jour­nal­ism in the glory days of Rolling Stone mag­a­zine.

But di­rec­tor Paul and os­ten­si­ble host Johnny Depp spend far too much time pump­ing the ge­nial artist for sto­ries of Thomp­son’s de­mented cru­sades – il­lus­trated by an­i­mated ver­sions of Stead­man’s draw­ings, of­ten nar­rated by Depp-as-Thomp­son – and pay not nearly enough at­ten­tion to the man in front of them.

A se­quence in which Stead­man makes a lovely paint­ing of his dog – defin­ing mus­cu­la­ture through splotches of paint, cre­at­ing per­son­al­ity in sharp lit­tle lines – is a fas­ci­nat­ing win­dow into his process. The film could have done with more of that and fewer video clips of Thomp­son act­ing out. NW

ME­TAL­LICA THROUGH THE NEVER

SP D: Nim­ród An­tal. Canada/U. S. 92 min. Sep 9, 7: 30 pm Sco­tia­bank 12 Rat­ing: NNN Com­ing nearly a decade after the grow­ing pains that formed the crux of Joe Ber­linger and Bruce Si­nof­sky’s su­perb be­hind-the- scenes doc Some Kind Of Mon­ster, Me­tal­lica Through The Never feels like a palate cleanser. It shows the band in peak form, work­ing through hits like Fade To Black, Master Of Pup­pets and Fuel.

Like Bruce McDon­ald’s This Movie Is Bro­ken, this film un­com­fort­ably su­tures a fic­tional nar­ra­tive onto its con­cert footage, fol­low­ing a Me­tal­lica roadie (Dane DeHaan) dis­patched on a fetch quest dur­ing the con­cert. The side plot’s os­ten­si­ble ten­sion be­tween pro­test­ers and riot po­lice is to­tally bo­gus. It’s also dis­tract­ing, es­pe­cially when An­tal’s con­cert footage is so crisply chore­ographed. (Even the 3D works.)

Sim­i­larly off­putting: the con­sis­tent fo­cus on James Het­field and Lars Ul­rich, the cer­ti­fi­able ego­ma­ni­acs at the cen­tre of the band. Why cut away from Kirk Ham­mett dur­ing a solo to fo­cus on Het­field’s strained, tak­ing-a-dump fa­cial ex­pres­sion? As in all things Me­tal­lica, it feels like the band’s un­like­able founders had fi­nal cut. JS

GLO­RIA

SP D: Se­bastián Lelio w/ Paulina Gar­cía, Ser­gio Her­nan­dez. Chile/ Spain. 109 min. Sep 9, 7:45 pm TIFF Bell Light­box 1; Sep 10, 5 pm Sco­tia­bank 2 Rat­ing: NNNN Gar­cía is su­perb in this por­trait of a smart 50-some­thing woman, di­vorced for over 12 years and yearn­ing for sex­ual con­nec­tion. When she meets Al­berto (Her­nan­dez) at a club for mid­dle-aged sin­gles and be­gins a re­la­tion­ship, she learns she’s not will­ing to set­tle for half- mea­sures.

Gar­cía won – and richly de­served – the best-ac­tress prize at the Berlin Film Fes­ti­val as a woman cop­ing with frus­tra­tion. But as es­sen­tial as her per­for­mance is the film’s un­flinch­ing por­trayal of sex be­tween ag­ing part­ners. It’s such a rare thing in movies, it takes your breath away. SGC

THE GREAT BEAUTY (la Grande bellezza)

SP D: Paolo Sor­rentino w/ Toni Servillo, Carlo Verdone. Italy. 142 min. Sep 9, 9:45 pm Sco­tia­bank 1; Sep 11, 12:15 pm TIFF Bell Light­box 2 Rat­ing: NNNNN Sure, this gor­geous, sweep­ing indictment of con­tem­po­rary Ro­man so­ci­ety un­der Ber­lus­coni is self-in­dul­gent, but Sor­rentino is the kind of di­rec­tor you want to in­dulge.

Servillo stars as a 60- some­thing jour­nal­ist who wrote a best­selling novel when he was in his 20s but hasn’t writ­ten a thing that mat­ters since. In­stead, he’s im­mersed him­self in all things shal­low: the party cir­cuit, pseudo-in­tel­lec­tual confabs with the rich and fa­mous, mean­ing­less sex.

Now he’s re­flect­ing on his empty life in a se­ries of spec­tac­u­lar vignettes that come tum­bling out of cin­e­matog­ra­pher Luca Bigazzi and Sor­rentino’s vivid imag­i­na­tion – over-the-top par­ties, an artist per­form­ing be­side Ro­man ru­ins, a money- grub­bing doc­tor in­ject­ing Bo­tox in pub­lic, and a ton more.

Gar­ish party se­quences col­lide with serene images of Rome’s an­cient art; beau­ti­ful, in­spi­ra­tional mu­sic meets club bangers. Just let the damn thing wash over you.

This movie is what film fes­ti­vals are for. SGC

GERON­TOPHILIA

VAN D: Bruce LaBruce w/ Pier- Gabriel La­jole, Wal­ter Bor­den. Canada. 90 min. Sep 9, 10: 30 pm Bloor Hot Docs Cin­ema; Sep 11, 9: 30 pm Sco­tia­bank 11; Sep 13, 12:15 pm Sco­tia­bank 3 Rat­ing: NNN A young man named Lake (La­joie) has a poster of Gandhi hang­ing on his bed­room wall, not just to in­spire ide­al­ism but also a hard- on.

This may not be so shock­ing for those fa­mil­iar with Cana­dian film­maker LaBruce. The queer provo­ca­teur tack­les a new taboo in this com­ing- of-ager that re­volves around Lake’s thing for se­niors. If his ro­mance with 81-year- old Mr. Pe­abody (Bor­den) ini­tially seems like an at­tempt to nee­dle con­ser­va­tives, LaBruce sur­prises with a warmth and ten­der­ness – and quite a bit of hu­mour – that car­ries the cen­tral re­la­tion­ship beyond fetishism. RS

TUE, SEP 10 SIDDHARTH

CWC D: Richie Mehta w/ Ra­jesh Tailang, Tan­nishtha Chat­ter­jee. Canada. 96 min. Sep 10, 5 pm Win­ter Gar­den; Sep 12, noon TIFF Bell Light­box 1 Rat­ing: NNNN Richie Mehta is quickly be­com­ing a premier voice in In­dian cin­ema de­spite the fact that he’s from Canada. His sopho­more fea­ture about a man’s des­per­ate search for his miss­ing son is an as­sured and har­row­ing look at the poverty and des­per­a­tion in In­dia’s slums that makes tragedy so common.

In a per­for­mance both dis­creet and wrench­ing, Tailang plays Ma­hen­dra, a chain-wal­lah (he fixes zip­pers) who sends 12-year- old Siddarth to work out of town to help support the fam­ily. When Siddarth fails to re­turn home, mat­ters both triv­ial and crit­i­cal frus­trate Ma­hen­dra’s scrupu­lous pur­suit. He has barely enough money for the trip and doesn’t even have a photo of his son to aid his in­ves­ti­ga­tion. A so­ciopo­lit­i­cal cri­tique that

doesn’t in­ter­fere with the in­ti­mate story be­ing told, Siddarth could be Canada’s next for­eign- lan­guage Os­car nom­i­nee. RS

DON JON

SP D: Joseph Gor­don- Le­vitt w/ Joseph Gor­don- Le­vitt, Scar­let Jo­hans­son. U. S. 90 min. Sep 10, 6: 30 pm Princess of Wales; Sep 11, 3 pm Ry­er­son Rat­ing: NNN Writer/di­rec­tor Gor­don- Le­vitt won’t be mak­ing any friends among those who – un­like me – think pornog­ra­phy isn’ toxic. He stars as Jon, a porn-ad­dicted stud who can at­tract hot women but thinks porn is more ex­cit­ing than the real thing – in­clud­ing Bar­bara ( Jo­hans­son, who’s ter­rific), his lat­est gor­geous but de­mand­ing con­quest. Ju­lianne Moore turns up as a griev­ing woman who could turn him around.

The script is some­times su­per- savvy – es­pe­cially when it makes the con­nec­tions be­tween hard­core porn and every­day ad­ver­tis­ing and when it touches on fam­ily in­flu­ences, like Jon’s crude dad ( Tony Danza).

But it’s just a lit­tle too on the nose, and it con­tains a ton of porn, which raises the ques­tion: should an anti- porn film be re­pro­duc­ing so much of this toxic ma­te­rial? SGC

AIN’T MIS­BE­HAVIN’ (un voyageur)

DOC D: Mar­cel Ophüls w/ El­liott Er­witt, Jeanne Moreau. France. 106 min. Sep 10, 7:15 pm Sco­tia­bank 10; Sep 12, 12: 30 pm TIFF Bell Light­box 3; Sep 15, 7:15 pm Jack­man Hall (AGO) Rat­ing: NNN Like an en­ter­tain­ing din­ner guest who feels he owes you for the invitation, ac­claimed doc­u­men­tar­ian Ophüls ( The Sor­row And The Pity) breezily re­calls his life as the son of the leg­endary Max (Lola Mon­tès) be­fore touch­ing on his own ca­reer.

Mem­o­ries of a child­hood spent play­ing on the sets of some of Ger­many’s most fa­mous films morph into vi­sions of his fa­ther as se­ducer in ex­pen­sive sports cars, then turn to the son’s in­sider in­sights on a priv­i­leged life among fig­ures like Preston Sturges, Jean- Paul Bel­mondo, Woody Allen, Stan­ley Kubrick, Ber­tolt Brecht and Jeanne Moreau, among oth­ers. His rec­ol­lec­tions of a long friend­ship with François Truf­faut and a brief in­ter­lude with Marlene Di­et­rich pro­vide some top- notch dish. PE

OMAR

SP

D: Hany Abu-As­sad w/ Adam Bakri, Leem Lubany. Pales­tine. 98 min. Sep 10, 7: 30 pm TIFF Bell Light­box 1; Sep 11, noon Bloor Hot Docs Cin­ema; Sep 15, 9: 30 pm Sco­tia­bank 4 Rat­ing: NNNN On the out­skirts of a Pales­tinian vil­lage di­vided by Is­rael’s con­crete se­cu­rity wall, three friends at­tack an Is­raeli gar­ri­son and kill a sol­dier. Omar (a sen­si­tive Bakri) is ar­rested and, be­cause he misses his girl­friend (Lubany) who lives on the other side of the wall, agrees to col­lab­o­rate with a ma­nip­u­la­tive Is­raeli agent (a su­perb Waleed F Zuaiter).

Abu-As­sad’s film, about in­for­mants and du­plic­ity in the Pales­tinian ter­ri­tory, is a must- see for those who value the cin­ema of com­mit­ment. Sit­ing its con­flict within a rec­og­niz­able so­cial con­text puts a hu­man face on a re­mark­ably can­did de­pic­tion of both sides of the on­go­ing cat-and- mouse game that is life in the oc­cu­pied West Bank. PE

WHEN JEWS WERE FUNNY

DOC D: Alan Zweig. Canada. 90 min. Sep 10, 9:15 pm Sco­tia­bank 13; Sep 12, 9:15 pm Bloor Hot Docs Cin­ema; Sep 15, 4:45 pm Sco­tia­bank 9 Rat­ing: NNN T.O. film­maker Zweig isn’t sure of his themes in this survey of Jewish comics. Is it about whether Jews de­fine Amer­i­can hu­mour, what makes Jews funny or where Zweig him­self fits in now that he’s mar­ried a non-Jew?

And it’s mainly a film about male Jewish comics. Of his scores of sub­jects, only two are women, and Judy Gold ham­mers away at that sex­ist ch­est­nut, her hor­ri­ble Jewish mother. Where’s Sarah Sil­ver­man, San­dra Bern­hard, Fran Drescher? If you can dredge up archival stuff on Jackie Ma­son, you can find footage of Joan Rivers.

Still, it’s is a very en­ter­tain­ing survey of guys who know funny. Howie Man­del, Mark Bres­lin and David Brenner are es­pe­cially smart, and almost all of them get laughs.

Es­pe­cially fas­ci­nat­ing are the in­ter­views with the older pros, Norm Crosby, Jack Carter, Shel­ley Ber­man, all of whom deny their hu­mour is Jewish. Then Ber­man sings an old Yid­dish song that’ll make you verklempt. SGC

STRANGER BY THE LAKE

CWC D: Alain Guiraudie w/ Pierre De­ladon­champs, Christophe Paou. France. 97 min. Sep 10, 9:45 pm Sco­tia­bank 4; Sep 11, 3:45 pm TIFF Bell Light­box 2; Sep 15, 3:15 pm TIFF Bell Light­box 2 Rat­ing: NNNN This un­easy master­piece of genre mash­ing com­bines ho­mo­sex­ual de­sire with homi­cide (not to men­tion some full- on hard­core man- on- man sex). At a male nude beach on the edge of a French for­est, Franck (De­ladon­champs) falls in love with Michel (Paou) even though he’s just seen him drown a pre­vi­ous lover.

Beau­ti­fully shot in nat­u­ral light, tak­ing full ad­van­tage of the lo­ca­tion’s in­trin­sic beauty (and us­ing only am­bi­ent sound), the film walks a fine line be­tween sex, death and pas­sion in a gay mi­cro­cosm. On one level a sus­pense­ful thriller, ul­ti­mately this com­plex film is about lust it­self. PE

WED, sEp 11

THE AN­I­mAL pROJEcT

ñCWC

D: In­grid Veninger w/ Aaron Poole, Joey Klein. Canada. 90 min. Sep 11, 7: 30 pm Is­abel Bader; Sep 12, 5 pm Sco­tia­bank 13; Sep 14, 7:45 pm TIFF Bell Light­box 4 Rat­ing: NNNN The An­i­mal Project feels like a tran­si­tional project for Veninger – and I mean that in a good way. The reign­ing queen of lo-fi Cana­dian cin­ema has upped her game with­out abandoning any of her char­ac­ter­is­tic whimsy.

Her tale of an act­ing teacher (Poole) who dresses his stu­dents in an­i­mal cos­tumes and sends them out into Toronto to jump around and hug peo­ple has a nar­ra­tive struc­ture with solid story beats rather than the gen­tle drift of Only, Mo­dra and i am a good per­son / i am a bad per­son. It also fur­ther dis­tin­guishes it­self with a more for­mal visual style than she’s at­tempted be­fore.

Veninger’s still do­ing what she does best – find­ing mov­ing mo­ments of emo­tional con­nec­tion be­tween awk­ward, con­fused peo­ple. It’s just that this time one of them’s wear­ing a squir­rel suit. NW

MANUSCRIPTS DON’T BURN (Dast-neveshte­haa ne­misoozanD)

CWC

D: Mo­ham­mad Ra­soulof. Iran. 127 min. Sep 11, 9:15 pm Sco­tia­bank 14; Sep 13, 9: 30 am Sco­tia­bank 10; Sep 15, 1:45 pm Jack­man Hall (AGO) Rat­ing: NNNN In this com­pul­sively watch­able piece of hu­man­is­tic ag­it­prop, two em­ploy­ees of the Ira­nian se­cu­rity ap­pa­ra­tus use clin­i­cal, mat­ter- of-fact thug­gery to si­lence free­dom of speech. In­spired by the at­tempted mur­der of 21 writ­ers and jour­nal­ists in 1995 and filmed clan­des­tinely in Iran and Ger­many, the film shines a gi­ant light on Ira­nian gov­ern­ment in­tim­i­da­tion and re­pres­sion.

It’s an au­da­cious act of courage on the part of Ra­soulof, who was sentenced to a year in prison (the sen­tence has yet to be car­ried out) and for­bid­den to make a film for 20 years. (He’s now out­side Iran.) He’s a con­fi­dent sto­ry­teller and a man of great courage. For their own pro­tec­tion, the names of the cast mem­bers are de­lib­er­ately miss­ing from the cred­its. PE

THu, sEp 12

THE sTRANGE LIT­TLE cAT (Das merk­würDige kätzchen)

WL

D: Ra­mon Zürcher w/ Jenny Schily, Mia Kasalo. Ger­many. 72 min. Sep 12, 7:45 pm Jack­man Hall ( AGO); Sep 13, 9:45 am TIFF Bell Light­box 2 Rat­ing: NNNN Set en­tirely within a Berlin apart­ment, Zürcher’s min­i­mal­ist de­but charts the in­ter­ac­tions of half a dozen mem­bers of a fam­ily as they bus­tle around the small­ish space in an­tic­i­pa­tion of an el­derly rel­a­tive’s ar­rival.

An in­cred­i­bly ob­nox­ious lit­tle girl (Kasalo) both­ers ev­ery­one, while her mother (Schily) spends her time star­ing into the mid­dle dis­tance, gripped by a melan­choly that’s never ex­plained. Two of the men­folk get their shirts dirty and have to change. Oc­ca­sion­ally the fam­ily pets wan­der through the ac­tion. ( The cat is not that strange.)

It’s up to us to suss out what each in­ter­ac­tion means or doesn’t mean. This isn’t a con­ven­tional do­mes­tic tale; it’s a styl­ized, el­lip­ti­cal study of un­spo­ken af­fec­tion and buried ten­sions. NW

FRI, sEp 13 A FIELD IN ENG­LAND

WL

D: Ben Wheat­ley w/ Reece Shearsmith, Michael Smi­ley. United King­dom. 90 min. Sep 13, 9 pm Ry­er­son; Sep 14, 9 pm TIFF Bell Light­box 3 Rat­ing: NNNN After Kill List in 2011 and Sight­seers and The ABCs Of Death last year, Bri­tish mav­er­ick Wheat­ley re­turns to the fes­ti­val with his odd­est work to date, which is re­ally say­ing some­thing.

It’s 1648, and a cowardly ser­vant ( Shearsmith) finds him­self among a ragged group of English Civil War de­sert­ers com­manded by a ma­niac ( Smi­ley) bent on find­ing the trea­sure he’s con­vinced is hid­den some­where in the epony­mous lo­ca­tion. Dig­ging en­sues, and also mad­ness, div­ina­tion, so­cial dis­ease and shov­els to the face.

Shot in widescreen black-and-white by Lau­rie Rose and edited by Wheat­ley and screen­writer Amy Jump, it’s al­ter­nately beau­ti­ful to be­hold and ut­terly as­saultive. But it would have been bet­ter placed in Mid­night Mad­ness, where the au­di­ence is ready to freak out right along with the movie.

NW

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