There’s a tricky way of addressing the Holocaust and/or World War 2 through satire and humor but Jojo Rabbit does so in a perfect way. Jojo Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis) is a fanatical member of the Hitler Youth. This is where Captain Klenzendorf (Sam Rockwell, playing another racist) leads the youth in training. He’s bought into the Nazis so much that his invisible friend is none other than Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi) himself. Only Taika…"Toronto 2019: Jojo Rabbit"
The Audition is about a high school teacher who sees a lot of talent in a student and ends up training him much to the detriment of her family. The Audition follows music high school teacher Anna Bronsky (Nina Hoss, in one of two leading roles during TIFF). Anna sees a lot of talent in a student, Alexander (Ilja Monti), and wants him to play violin to the best of his potential. Unfortunately, pushing Alexander…"Toronto 2019: The Audition"
A pre-teenage boy wants to tell a fellow classmate how he feels about her in 1982 but this is just one aspect of the film. Writer-director Oualid Mouaness grounds this film by way of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon. It’s the last day of school but for one 11-year-old, Wissam (Mohammad Dali), he just has one goal before the school year comes to end. This particular goal is to inform fellow classmate Joanna (Gia Madi)…"Toronto 2019: 1982"
Knives Out may be a murder mystery comedy but no stone goes unturned in what is certainly one of the best laugh riots in 2019. Crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is discovered dead on the morning after his 85th birthday party. We don’t know whether he was killed or whether he did the deed himself. What we do know is that members of the Thrombey family are being questioned by Lt. Elliott (LaKeith Stanfield)…"Toronto 2019: Knives Out"
An elderly Austrian man requires the services of an Afghan refugee in Nobadi so that he can bury his late dog in the backyard. Heinrich Senft (Heinz Trixner) is north of 80 years old and his dog just died. The dog’s death wasn’t sudden or anything but it was merely a case of age. Unfortunately, local services aren’t able to dispose of the carcass without paying a nominal fee. As a result, the old man…"Toronto 2019: Nobadi"
A university student gets caught in a White Lie about being diagnosed with cancer when her father outs her on social media. There’s nothing worse than turning to crowdfunding to raise money because of a disease that you’re not facing. On the one hand, it’s utterly disgusting to take money under false pretenses. However, this is exactly what university student Katie Arneson (Kacey Rohl) does in the film. She would have gotten away with it,…"Toronto 2019: White Lie"
Calm With Horses is certainly one of Toronto’s strongest contenders among the films that are not playing in the Gala or Special Presentations programs. Horses may appear in the title but they don’t really have much to do with the film’s plot. Oh, we’ll get some glimpses here and there but if you’re expecting them to play a major role, you’re going to be disappointed. Douglas “Arm” Armstrong was once a boxer but now he’s…"Toronto 2019: Calm With Horses"
The Lighthouse features two very strong performances from both Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson in this beautifully shot movie. Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe) and Efraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) are lighthouse keepers in this period piece set off the coast of 1890s New England. When a four-week period is over, a storm hits the island. This means that their ride back to the mainland will never arrive. One could already feel the tension in the room…"Toronto 2019: The Lighthouse"
Daddio stars Casey Wilson and Michael McKean in a short film depicting how father and daughter approach grief differently. Based on real death events, Paul (Michael McKean) and Abby (Casey Wilson) have very different approaches to loss. For example, Paul treats his late wife’s funeral as if it were a Hollywood production, requiring another take of Abby’s eulogy. This doesn’t quite sit well with Abby (or anyone else, I would imagine). What really shows is…"Toronto 2019: Daddio"
Relish offers a contemporary take on The Breakfast Club with poignant commentary while even factoring in today’s standards for inclusion. After flipping back 48 hours, we meet the five teenagers before a group therapy session at the Deacon Treatment Facility. This isn’t going to be a film where they’re going to stay in one room all day. Instead, Kai (Tyler DiChiara) is plotting their escape. The other five include social media influencer Aspen (Hana Hayes), …"Burbank 2019: Relish"