TIFF ‘19: Hirokazu Kore-eda’s ‘The Truth’ is Well-Acted But Emotionally Light

In 2018, Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda devastated audiences with his film, Shoplifters, a story about found family and the bonds that hold them together. Kore-eda, in general, is known for his emotional films that feel like punches to the gut. His latest film, however, delivers less emotional impact. The Truth is his first English language film and while it is well-acted, it is less accessible than his previous work.

Famous actress Fabienne (Catherine Deneuve) has just realized her memoirs detailing her life as a performer and a mother. Her daughter Lumir (Juliette Binoche) arrives in France from the U.S. with her husband Hank (Ethan Hawke) and daughter Charlotte (Clémentine Grenier) to celebrate the book’s release and finally get a chance to read it. Upon opening the book, Lumir finds it riddled with lies and half-truths. They bicker and argue about it over a period of weeks while Fabienne shoots her latest film, a sci-fi feature starring a budding young actress.

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TIFF ‘19: Teen Romance Meets Climate Change in ‘Weathering With You’

In the follow-up to his wildly successful animated film, Your Name, Makoto Shinkai has written another whimsical teen romance in Weathering With You. It is about a boy and a girl who meet in a rain-filled Tokyo, where the weather has become wildly unpredictable. While his message about climate change is questionable at best, Shinkai still crafts a beautiful story about young love, found family, and struggling to discover who you truly are.

Hodaka Morishima is a 16-year-old high school student who has run away from home in pursuit of a better, less stifled life in Tokyo. However, he soon discovers that life in the big city isn’t so easy. As he goes days without eating, he tirelessly applies for jobs. He finally gets one as an office assistant as a local publishing company, run by a man and his one reporter. Hodaka copy edits, answers emails, cooks meals, everything one could possibly fathom. Then, he starts helping with a story about sunshine girls, or girls who are blessed with the ability to stop the rain.

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TIFF ’19: ‘Murmur’ Is A Search For Love In The Form Of Senior Rescue Dogs

With a long puff on an e-cigarette, we meet Donna, a woman with a love of red wine and not much else. But beneath the cloud of vapor and bottles of alcohol lies a deeply sad person who is searching for some larger purpose. Shot like a documentary with a careful and thoughtful gaze, Heather Young’s directorial debut Murmur is a gorgeous, yet heart-breaking, film about addiction, loneliness, and trying to feel loved. 

Donna (Shan MacDonald) is a recovering alcoholic who was recently convicted of driving while drunk. She is ordered to complete community service, which she does at a local animal shelter. There, she finds joy in motherless kittens and sad senior dogs. As she scrubs their cages and files down their toys’ sharp edges, she is able to feel useful; she can finally take care of something and feel loved in return. She particularly connects with a sick dog named Charlie who has a slew of medical conditions including a heart murmur. Donna believes she can give him the best life possible in his remaining months. But, once she gets a taste of being a caretaker, it spirals into another addiction that bleeds into her need for alcohol. She brings home cats, dogs, hamsters, and fish until her home is covered in pets. 

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TIFF ’19: Get Swept Away by ‘Sea Fever’

The ocean is a vast, unknown, and frankly terrifying place. It is home to massive whales and other creatures that have adapted to huge amounts of pressure and total darkness. Some of the weirdest animals on Earth can be found in the ocean, but, there’s so much we still don’t know about it. More than 80% of the ocean has not been explored, so who knows what lurks beneath the waves? Director Neasa Hardiman takes that aura of mystery to create her latest feature film, Sea Fever, an eco-thriller that reflects on aquatic possibilities as well as the effects human beings continue to have on ocean life. 

Siobhan (Hermione Corfield) is a PhD student who is most comfortable in the lab, surrounded by specimens, books, and numbers. But, her professor forces her to board a fishing boat to do field research, which means mingling with a crew of fishermen. Despite her protests, she ends up on the trawler captained by Freya (Bonnie Corfield) and her husband, Gerard (Dougray Scott). While Siobhan tries to connect with the crew, Freya and Gerard battle financial problems that could lead to them losing their boat. Despite advisories from the Coast Guard to avoid a certain part of the ocean, Gerard sets a course right through the restricted area due to high volumes of fish.

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TIFF ’19: ‘Honey Boy’ Is A Devastating and Emotionally Raw Portrayal of PTSD

Shia LaBeouf has been acting since the age of 12. He made us laugh in Even Stevens, he was the goofy protagonist in Transformers, and he was the paranoid teen in Disturbia. His career has been full of ups, but also some tragic downs that have often made him the butt of the joke. But now in Honey Boy, directed by Alma Har’el’s and written by LaBeouf, the child actor can set the record straight and offer his quasi-fictionalized side of the story.

It’s 2005 and Otis, played by Lucas Hedges, is an actor who does take after take and parties hard when the cameras turn off. But his partying lands him in rehab again, which means court-mandated therapy. His parole officer tries to get to the source of his anger and instructs him to keep a journal of what triggers his extreme emotions. In this journal, he documents his relationship with his father, James (LaBeouf), who served as a manager when he was a kid. These journal entries serve as a vehicle to flashbacks to a young Otis (Noah Jupe) at age 12, living in a motel with his dad.

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TIFF ’19: ‘Hustlers’ Knows What the F*ck Is Up

As Janet Jackson would say, Hustlers is a story about control. Jackson’s voice literally carries that message over the film’s first scene—her 1986 empowerment hit “Control” bumps through the elite Manhattan strip club where Constance Wu’s Destiny is trying to learn the ropes and take back her life. This pairing of song to scene is brass and unsubtle, but why shouldn’t it be? Hustlers knows it’s brass and unsubtle, and it knows exactly how to blend these elements, otherwise limiting in the wrong hands, into a dangerous concoction too delicious to resist. 

This cocktail of fun and energy and star power might trick you into thinking Lorene Scafaria’s latest film isn’t worth taking seriously, but you’d be dead wrong. Hustlers is big and uproarious, yes, but it’s also a for-fucking-real crime story with enough style, intrigue, and pinpoint emotional accuracy to compete with the films of Soderbergh and his ilk that have thus defined the ensemble heist genre. Thanks to the unique vision of women in control on both sides of the camera, Hustlers is a triumph—and one of the best films of the year.

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TIFF ’19: ‘Joker’ Tries and Fails to Hide Its Clownery With a Political Message

With superhero movies raking in the cash despite how much they’ve saturated the market, studios are looking for new and creative ways to tap into their passionate fanbase. One of these ideas includes standalone movies that address individual characters, both heroes and villains. Enter Todd Phillips’ Joker, an attempt to give depth and ethos to a psychopathic killer in a time where that kind of behavior is the last thing that needs to be glorified.

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