TIFF, as seen through The Globe and Mail


Be­fore we bid adieu to celebri­ties and street­car clos­ings for an­other year, our fes­ti­val team presents the best, worst and most awk­ward mo­ments of TIFF 2018

Best dis­cov­ery: Ale­jan­dra Mar­quez Abella’s The Good Girls, and its dis­tinctly fe­male gaze. This qui­etly satir­i­cal drama is set dur­ing the Mex­i­can debt cri­sis of 1982 and fol­lows the per­fectly coiffed and beau­ti­fully dressed Sofia as her credit cards get re­turned by clerks and her ser­vants go un­paid. Played by Ilse Salas, the so­cialite is an obliv­i­ous snob, yet Abella man­ages to es­tab­lish sym­pa­thy for her fall. Re­mark­ably, the film is never cruel to its un­pleas­ant char­ac­ters even as it ex­poses their nasty so­cial hi­er­ar­chies and un­earned en­ti­tle­ment.

It’s hard not to be­lieve that The Good Girls is a di­rec­to­rial coup only a woman could pull off.

Worst preshow en­ter­tain­ment: Watch­ing the L’Oréal ads at the be­gin­ning of ev­ery pub­lic screen­ing. Seen from a very low cam­era an­gle, a posse of over-dressed, heav­ily made-up young women loom and pout, strut­ting for­ward or drap­ing them­selves over a car.

A voice-over blabs away about mak­ing a state­ment, step­ping into the spot­light, script­ing your story and be­ing seen be­fore it con­cludes with a close-up of over-

frosted pink lips and the slo­gan: “Read my lips … I’m worth it.” Okay, L’Oréal is a makeup com­pany, but was ever a spon­sor’s mes­sage as out-of-touch with the cul­tural mo­ment at this piece of hyped-up ob­jec­ti­fi­ca­tion? I was sur­prised no­body booed. Best sup­port­ing ac­tors: For­get Lu­cas Hedges. Ti­mothée Cha­la­met? More like Chala-meh.

In­stead, this year’s It Boy of TIFF was a three-way tie be­tween

char­ac­ter ac­tors Toby Huss ( Hal­loween, De­stroyer, The Front Run­ner), Brian Tyree Henry ( Wi­d­ows, If Beale Street Could Talk), and Cole­man Domingo ( If Beale Street Could Talk, As­sas­si­na­tion Na­tion). First di­rec­tor to cast the guys as a trio of, say, hard-bit­ten lawyers who team up for a seem­ingly un­winnable case with a con­spir­acy that goes all the way to the top, wins next year’s TIFF.

Worst cine­matic show-off: It’s hard to hate the long take – those sin­gle-shot feats of aes­thetic trick­ery that serve to an­nounce a film- maker means Se­ri­ous Busi­ness. But this year’s fes­ti­val was drown­ing in them. While some were sub­lime – Bi Gan’s hour-long 3-D dream in Long Day’s Jour­ney Into Night, Gas­par Noe’s de­lib­er­ately sick­en­ing vi­sion in Cli­max – oth­ers felt ex­tra­ne­ous, in­clud­ing Out­law King’s sword fight, As­sas­si­na­tion Na­tion’s home in­va­sion, and The Front Run­ner’s Alt­manesque open­ing. Cut! Best Michael Shan­non Mo­ment, Part 1: In one of my favourite films of TIFF, What They Had, Michael Shan­non plays a bar owner who’s cop­ing with the de­cline of his mother.

He also makes a per­fect Man­hat­tan. From the minute he mixed one on screen, I craved it, and on Sun­day night, at the Fox Search­light party at the Four Sea­sons Cen­tre, I had my chance.

I bellied up and or­dered one. It looked per­fect: huge, straight-up, icy cold.

I spun around to the party, hold­ing my glass like the Olympic torch, and bumped smack into… Michael Shan­non. “I’m hav­ing this be­cause of you­u­u­uuu!” I may have yelled into his face.

For a sec­ond, he looked gen­uinely fright­ened. Then we both re­cov­ered and had a nice chat. TIFF was a lot of things, some of them dis­heart­en­ing (Cana­dian print me­dia, de­nied in­ter­views at our own fes­ti­val – again). But for me, it will al­ways be the year I scared Michael Shan­non. Best Michael Shan­non Mo­ment, Part 2: You can (and should) meet your he­roes.

Just don’t ask them for an au­to­graph. Michael Shan­non and I go way back – to 2017, at TIFF, where I in­ter­viewed the ac­tor for the The Cur­rent War.

I asked him about his band. He dug that. We con­nected. I in­ter­viewed him again this year, for the fam­ily drama What They Had. “I thought I rec­og­nized you,” my pal Michael said, as we shook hands. Of course he did! It is me! Af­ter our chat, I broke jour­nal­is­tic pol­icy on au­to­graph-seek­ing for the first time in my ca­reer.

Be­cause we were close. “What’s your name?” he asked, tak­ing pen in hand. I played along and told him, “Brad.” He was kid­ding, right? Best Twit­ter-free mo­ment: The af­ter-party for A Star Is Born may have been the best TIFF event with the small­est so­cial-me­dia foot­print.

Dur­ing the star-stud­ded blues con­cert at the Con­cert Hall fea­tur­ing ev­ery­one from har­mon­ica vir­tu­oso Frédéric Yon­net to Wi­d­ows star Daniel Kalu­uya, em­cee and newly minted Emmy win­ner Dave Chap­pelle told ev­ery­one to “put down the cell­phones” and just en­joy the mu­sic – and in the spirit of the movie, al­most ev­ery­one mirac­u­lously did.

Most awk­ward favour: The “fan” who asked Barry Jenk­ins to sign a Wi­d­ows screen­play.


Di­rec­tor Barry Jenk­ins at­tends the event for If Beale Street Could Talk on Sept. 9. Barry Hertz writes that some of his favourite sup­port­ing ac­tors came from Jenk­ins’s movie.

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