If there was one thing I really missed during each lockdown (because there were… two? three? I really can’t be sure) apart from normal life and human connection – it was the movies. It was seeing art in real time. I missed walking over to my local theatre, and spending days in art galleries and reading about everything that’s upcoming and in the works. Seeing movies in theatres has always held a special place in my heart that I feel has only increased as I’ve gotten older. The popcorn, the big screen, the audience reactions. I find it all to be so pure. All of these strangers, in one big room, agreeing to watch a film together in silence. It’s so cute!!
My first Toronto International Film Festival experience was also during the pandemic, where I attended a drive-in screening of the documentary film ‘Enemies of the State’ which was a lot of fun and solidified my desire to make TIFF an annual thing in my books.
Of course with COVID-19, there were still restrictions on what and how the festival went about, in-person screenings were back (!) but celebrity sightings were minimal (I did however watch Denis Villeneuve get out of a car and walk into a bar). Honestly the quietness of the event was nice for someone like me who is normally anxious, and especially anxious after a year of isolation. I enjoyed myself just the same.
This year at TIFF I saw three films in person – masked up, double vaxxed and socially distanced.
And also enjoyed one from the comfort of my own home – free to eat as much popcorn and drink as much wine as I like.
A Banquet (2021) dir. Ruth Paxton
A Banquet is a British horror film that follows a mother and her two daughters as their relationships with each other become strained after the eldest daughter, Betsey, becomes ~maybe~ possessed.
I really have enjoyed a lot of the horror movies that have come out of the UK as of recent, and this was no different. I thought the story was unique and the visuals were icky (in a good way). Horror that surrounds female relationships, that be, with each other or with themselves is something I’m particularly drawn to and I thought A Banquet did it quite well. I would recommend you check it out when you can.
Food plays a large role in this story, and I feel as someone with my own struggles with food it is very obvious to me when someone who has not struggled themselves tries to portray these kind of visuals and feelings on screen, it just… doesn’t work the same and can come off as just insensitive and triggering.
Before Ruth spoke at our screening, I already knew, she had to have a similar experience as me. The way food is shot in this movie and the way it is danced around is so in tune with the reality of eating disorders it was refreshing and also horrible all at once.
Titane (2021) dir. Julia Ducournau
My first midnight screening, maybe ever. And I have no words for this movie. It is the strangest, most bizarre, tender film I’ve maybe ever seen. At times I was feeling sick to my stomach and at others feeling weirdly moved.
I had no idea what to think about this film when I walked out of the Princess of Wales Theatre. Literally no clue. Did I really just watch that? Did I hate it? Did I get it? It explored relationships with machine and gender and sexuality in such a provocative way I’m literally left scrambling to get all my thoughts in order.
I think it’s been a long time since a film as left me feeling so… uneasy and captivated… all at once.
I definitely need to rewatch it – and I would *cautiously* recommend. maybe actually I wouldn’t. Depends how you are with body horror and if you’re able to accept that you’re watching a film about a woman that fucks and gets pregnant by a car. If not then – Titane may not be for you. lol.
The Guilty (2021) dir. Antoine Fuqua
I know a lot of people get skeptical when any movie gets an American remake. And rightfully so. Usually it’s not nearly as good and you lose parts of the story. However. I can’t imagine this not being an American movie? ?? Like…. Maybe I’m native to the relationships with law enforcement in Denmark but, this movie fits an American context like a glove.
A cop gets reassigned to being an 911 operator as he awaits a court trial. The story takes place entirely the night before the trial as he becomes obsessive… er… invested in one caller.
Jake Gyllenhaal is fab, and his face is nice to look at, which you better get used to as the camera hardly leaves him (sorry I know that makes me a bad Swiftie). I feel Jake has the ‘im a shit guy trying to do something nice for my own shitty reasons, so the audience is torn with wanting to see me win and fail’ character DOWN. Which makes him perfect for the role.
The movie is currently doing a limited theatre run and set to be coming to Netflix in October. I would recommend its an easy watch.
In the Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021) dir. Michael Showalter
Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield make the most odd Christian couple maybe ever. But the way they tell stories is so fun to watch. There are tender moments and moments of awkward laughter and it left me wanting to fling myself into a Wikipedia rabbit hole.
I think as a film – its entertaining, well paced, well directed – I’ve seen there are some criticism to the historical accuracy. I wasn’t alive in the 70s or 80s so perhaps I’m not the one to comment. But I think it explores an interesting woman and her relationship with God, America and Capitalism.
Whatever Jessica is selling, I’m buying, which I imagine to a point is how Tammy was. Whether that was the reality or if that’s just how Tammy saw herself (through her own eyes, if you will), I think it was probably the latter. However, wouldn’t we all be so lucky to see ourselves as a sort of, Dolly Parton meets Princess Di – there’s something very sad and very wholesome about it. I’m not sure I have the right words.
I believe it’s out now, I would go see it.
And there you have it folks. It brings a literal tear to my eye to be able to do such normal, (seeing movies in a theatre) and yet completely not normal (attending a film festival!) thing again and be able to write about it. It’s so refreshing and comforting all at the same time. I know it’s a very lucky thing that I’m able to do these things and to do them now because I know things are still *very* bad in *many* places. And I’m never not thinking about how lucky I am to be safe and to have had access to the vaccine when I did. Although I understand that the vaccine doesn’t eliminate all risk, it did allow me to feel comfortable enough to enjoy one of my favourite things in the world. So please! If you haven’t yet and are able – go get your dang shot so you can go see some of these fab films!
Hope you’re able to see these in theatres, or stream them from the comfort of your own home, legally of course. And if you DO see any of these movies please let me know so we can chat about how good they are.