14 Toronto Film Fest Movies Worth Noting

14 Toronto Film Fest Movies Worth Noting

Two of the must-see films from the Toronto Film Fest on Matthew Jacobs’ list in his Huff Post blog launched at the Telluride Film Festival: ”La La Land” and “Aliens.” My review of  TFF here.

Attending the Toronto Film Festival is like stepping into a la-la land where bloated summer blockbusters are but a distant memory. This year’s gala even gave us an actual “La La Land,” the musical romance that won the festival’s top prize and jump-started the annual frenzy that is Oscar season.

That’s not all Toronto gave us. During my seven-day spree, I caught a handful of intriguing movies that will help to define the remainder of 2016’s cinematic calendar (and beyond). Here are a few words on 14 of them.

  • “Jackie”

    When I sat down for “Jackie” five days into the festival, I’d hit a wall. My body was crying out for sleep. Five minutes into the movie, sleep was the last thing I could think of. Shot in extensive close-ups, Pablo Larraín’s snapshot of the week following John F. Kennedy’s 1963 assassination shows a damaged First Lady piloting grief and rage as her Camelot crumbles. Natalie Portman shuffles through the conflicted turmoil of Jackie Kennedy, painting her as both aloof and distraught. Together, they challenge the notions of what a biopic can say about its subject. “Jackie” is astonishing.

    “Jackie” opens Dec. 9.

  • “Barry”

    Before Barack Obama ascended to the nation’s highest office, he was a puzzled 20-something with a fractured sense of identity and disdain for the political system. In Vikram Gandhi’s stirring “Barry,” we get the sense that young Barack was no different from any of us — he certainly was nothing like the many dynasties that rise to power in America (say, Bushes and Clintons). He was conflicted about his race, wary of the class divides surrounding him at Columbia University, and hesitant to consider the idea of marriage. Devon Terrell, an Australian stud making his screen debut, captures all of that inner anxiety while still foreshadowing a presidency that would honor the authors our hero is seen reading: the great Ralph Ellison and James Baldwin.

    Netflix bought the rights to “Barry” in Toronto. No date has been set.

  • “American Honey”

    “American Honey” is a sprawlingly intimate, a nearly three-hour snapshot of stateside youth at its most lawless. British director Andrea Arnold (“Fish Tank,” “Transparent”) read a New York Times story about magazine crews, the seedy, sometimes violent sales groups that employ drifting young adults. From there, Arnold crafted the story of Star (Sasha Lane), a teenager who joins a mag crew to escape the disenfranchisement of her home life. Star and her new friends set out on an open journey through the Midwest, both embracing and questioning their nomadic existence. “American Honey” feels alive. It’s dedicated to the rough edges of its setting and the characters who occupy them with more hope than most of this country can conjure.

    “American Honey” opens Sept. 30.

  • “La La Land”

    Ah, “La La Land.” Take us away with your dreamscape, where life is like a movie and aspirations start as mere daydreams. In his third feature, “Whiplash” director Damien Chazelle proves himself a master of tone, crafting a musical that would make for a fine double feature with “Singin’ in the Rain.” Chazelle knew what he was doing in reuniting Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling as an aspiring actress and jazz musician, respectively, in present-day Los Angeles. Their chemistry is palpable, but “La La Land” is more than an extensive meet-cute. It’s an uncynical playground filled with hope and romance, with a touch of bittersweet reality to ground it.

    “La La Land” opens Dec. 2.

  • “The Edge of Seventeen”…

Continue reading here.

  • Bugs Bunny
    Posted at 23:39h, 08 October

    Did you mean “Arrival”? Aliens is now a pretty old movie.

    • Susan Viebrock
      Posted at 22:37h, 14 October

      OOps. Yes. Thanks.