Monday, September 21, 2015

Toronto International Film Festival 2015

I just got home from my fourth time at the Toronto International Film Festival, seeing 4 to 5 films a day for 9 straight days, and boy are my arms tired.  Most of you probably know of TIFF from all the celebrity glitz and glamour you see on TV and on the internet.  It's one of the biggest film festivals in the world, showing around 250 feature films, and often around 25 screenings showing simultaneously throught the city from 9 AM to 2 AM.  Maybe 20% of them are high profile celebrity driven films, while the remainder are international films that don't generate nearly the same buzz.  The former are exciting for sure, but aside from being tough and relatively expensive tickets to get, they can be quite annoying to attend, even if you manage to have a ticket, with very long lines for good seats.  (Some ticket holders get in line over two hours in advance.)  Now imagine dealing with that 40 times in a row over 9 days and you can understand my mixed feeling about TIFF, at least how I do it.  Sure it's fun, or I wouldn't go.  But it's not all glamour, I assure you.  It requires lots of money, lots of planning, lots of waiting in lines, lots of sleep and food deprivation, and lots of movie watching stamina.  And just when you think that's all you can take and you can't take no more, TIFF cancels a movie you killed yourself to get tickets for, the day before it takes place, and refuses to refund your money, telling you you can instead exchange the tickets for whatever isn't already sold out (which is pretty much everything at that point) but only by physically going to the one specific box office, which probably isn't convenient to you in the least, or standing in a rush line and hoping you get in last.  It amazes me that such a world class festival exhibits such poor customer service.  But that's TIFF!  Their motto should be, "Sorry, but we don't need you."  And they don't.  But it sure would be nice to be treated better than that after spending a small fortune on movie tickets that you jumped through many hoops to get in the first place.  So will I go back?  Probably.  Eventually.  When it's great, it's great.  Some moments are priceless, with a hilariously fun intro and Q&A at 'Lolo' by Julie Delpy and Dany Boon at the top of the list, followed by seeing Jason Bateman, Christopher Walken, Ethan Hawke, Greta Gerwig, Julianne Moore, Kiefer Sutherland, Jeremy Irons, Dev Patel, Patrick Stewart, Anton Yelchin, Alia Shawkat, Imogen Poots, Lauren Holly, Kiernan Shipka, Charlie Kaufman, David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Noonan, Taissa Farmiga, Malin Akerman, Nina Dobrev, and Denis Villeneuve all do intros or Q&A's.  But still, I probably won't return next year.  It'll take me longer than that to recover.  And there are many other film festivals to attend.  Some of them may not even treat me as poorly.

With that said, a ranking and grading of the 41 I saw:
  1. Sicario     Grade: A
  2. Brooklyn     Grade: A
  3. Into the Forest      Grade: A
  4. Spotlight      Grade: A
  5. Black Mass      Grade: A
  6. Lolo     Grade: A
  7. The Meddler      Grade: A
  8. Mississippi Grind      Grade: A
  9. Where to Invade Next      Grade: A
  10. Maggie's Plan      Grade: A
  11. Victoria      Grade: A-
  12. A Month of Sundays      Grade: A-
  13. The Man Who Knew Infinity      Grade: A-
  14. Green Room      Grade: A-
  15. Anomalisa      Grade: B+
  16. Youth      Grade: B+
  17. The Witch      Grade: B+
  18. Louder Than Bombs      Grade: B+
  19. The Family Fang     Grade: B+
  20. The Final Girls      Grade: B+
  21. Forsaken      Grade: B+
  22. The Wave      Grade: B+
  23. The Program      Grade: B+
  24. Mr. Right      Grade: B+
  25. Families      Grade: B
  26. Schneider vs. Bax      Grade: B
  27. February      Grade: B
  28. Demon      Grade: B-
  29. Trapped (TV)     Grade: B-
  30. Men and Chicken      Grade: B-
  31. Man Down     Grade: B-
  32. Heroes Reborn (TV)     Grade: B-
  33. Yakuza Apocalypse      Grade: B-
  34. Disorder      Grade: C+
  35. My Big Night      Grade: C+
  36. Southbound      Grade: C
  37. Born to be Blue      Grade: C
  38. Cromo (TV)      Grade: C-
  39. High-Rise      Grade: D
  40. Hellions      Grade: D
  41. Love      Grade: D

As always, I welcome your thoughts, either on here, on Facebook, Twitter, or via email at bflieder@gmail.com.

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