TIFF Day Four
1) Anomalisa (Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson)
I started my day with this unusual offering from these unusual people (the first Kaufman film in eight years for those keeping track). This film follows a man who lives in a world where everybody looks and sounds the same. He eventually falls for a woman who looks and sounds different. In the hands of Kaufman, this leads to a film that is equal parts absurd and romantic, two fields in which he has shown his capability. Pairing that up with the uncanny stop motion of Johnson leads to perhaps the first Kaufman film that is literally unreal and despite their plastic exteriors, characters such as the titular Lisa are incredibly fleshed out and three dimensional. Expect to leave the screening feeling depressed in the most wonderful kind of way.
2) Our Little Sister (Hirozaku Kore-eda)
Kore-eda is one of the most underappreciated filmmakers working today. This film tells the story of three sisters, who live together, who meet their younger sister upon their father’s death. This younger sister also happens to be the daughter of the woman for whom their father abandoned them. Soon after, they invite her to live with them. This film is incredibly serene. The characters are incredibly likable and their conflicts are not the results of misunderstandings or whatever else, but merely life getting in the way, the main issues being how to deal with getting older as the world continues on unabated and how to deal with the loss of an individual who made your own life more difficult. The film is not fluff, but it is just so calm and relaxing, causing the viewer to just feel so lucky to be in the company of these people.
3) Closet Monster (Stephen Dunn)
Closet Monster is a surprisingly non-political film (yes, I know everything is political and queer cinema is inherently political, but beyond the inescapable politics, it’s fairly non-political) that follows a young man who witnessed a violent hate crime as a child and who has ignored his queerness since, as thinking about it causes him severe pain. This is a fairly conventional coming-of-age story which is aided by a great supporting cast including a talking hamster. Without sounding condescending, the film is very cute and contains many laughs; basically, the film is at its best when it is avoiding heavy-handed commentary, which it manages for the most part. Certain moments seem out of place (the lead’s first sexual experience with a man, his parents’ obvious symbolism of his internal gender struggle (this in itself being fairly problematic as it reinforces a binary)), but for the most part, this is a good to quite good Canadian film. Word of warning: there is some blood and gore in the film, which is necessary, but which may catch you by surprise. The film is also preceded by the director’s previous (hilarious) short, Pop-Up Porno: M4M, which premiered at Hot Docs.