TIFF 2019 Highlights [Part 1]

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The 2019 Toronto International Film Festival began last Thursday, September 5th and still has a few more days to go before it concludes on Sunday, September 15th. In this post are some photo and review highlights from the first few days of the festival, with more to come!
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The Personal History of David Copperfield

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TIFF had the World Premiere of Armando Iannucci's The Personal History of David Copperfield, an adaptation of David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. It stars Dev Patel as the titular character, with an all-star cast filling in supporting roles: Hugh Laurie, Aneurin Barnard, Tilda Swinton, Gwendoline Christie, Benedict Wong, Ben Whishaw, and Peter Capaldi.


Reviews:
Peter Debruge for Variety: "... offbeat yet delightfully modern Charles Dickens adaptation."


John DeFore for The Hollywood Reporter: "A delightful, crowd-pleasing break from bitter comedies"


Reviews were generally very positive, with reviewers noting that Iannucci's adaptation is straightforward with a modern sensibility, and funny in a less dark way than Iannucci's other work, like Veep.

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Hugh Laurie, Armando Iannucci and Dev Patel for The Hollywood Reporter


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Dev Patel on the red carpet at the premiere

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Aneurin Barnard and cast on the red carpet at the premiere


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Dev Patel cuddling puppies



OP Says: This delightfully whimsical Dickens adaptation was fun to watch despite knowing nothing of the original story. The comedy doesn't always hit, but it's pretty funny when it does, and Iannucci uses some interesting transitions to get from scene to scene. Dev Patel wins the audience over immediately as Copperfield, and the rest of the cast is great, too.





Sound of Metal

Sound of Metal, a film by writer/director Darius Marder about a heavy metal drummer's journey through hearing loss, also had its World Premiere at TIFF. The film features several deaf actors, was presented with open captions, and there was a sign language interpreter on stage for the Q&A.

Stars Riz Ahmed and Olivia Cooke walked the red carpet with their director:

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Bonus Olivia Cooke look:

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Reviews

David Fear for Rolling Stone: "as effective as it is in terms of depicting difference without alienating anyone, this film probably works best as a showcase for its star."

Hannah Woodhead for Little White Lies: "...devastating and hopeful in the same breath, anchored by Ahmed’s remarkable turn and the technical ambition at its core."

Reviews are generally very positive, citing Ahmed's grounded lead performance as the best of his career and one of the most notable parts of the film.



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Cast photo


Variety's interview clip about the film was posted without captions; director Darius Marder reposted it with captions.

Deaf actress and cast member Chelsea Lee posted a link to a cast interview with Entertainment Weekly. She talks about how the deaf community has to be involved from the beginning on a project like this, and can't be an afterthought.




OP says: This film immerses the viewer in the perspective of a drummer and former addict who loses his hearing. We see him struggle with communication, deny there's a problem, look for a quick fix, and lash out at the people trying to help him. The character and his reactions feel real, and are never played for melodrama. It's extremely well done, if a bit long, and it's excellent to see the D/deaf community represented on screen. Would recommend.





Proxima

Eva Green stars in Alice Winocour's Proxima, a drama about an astronaut training for going to space while trying her best to be a good mom. Eva Green was filming in the UK, so there aren't any red carpet or promo shots for this one.

Fionnuala Halligan for Screen International: "a significant, ambitious and entirely impressive film by a dazzling young French director in full command of her ship."

Jordan Mintzer for The Hollywood Reporter: " this superbly crafted yet intimate family drama is so realistic in terms of its setting and technical specificity, it sometimes feels like a documentary."

Reviews are mixed to positive, with many reviewers praising Eva Green's performance, the realistic struggle to balance work and family, and Winocour's direction. Critics of the film argue that there isn't enough story, or the story that's there is too dull to be impactful.



OP says: I loved this. There are so few films about mother-daughter relationships in the context of career ambitions, and this film illustrates the difficulties that women in particular face when they have a career that takes them away from their kids. If you go into this one looking for a space movie, you'll be disappointed, because while its shot in actual astronaut training facilities, it's set entirely on earth. But if you want a fantastic performance from Eva Green, whose character faces sexist bullshit while pursuing her career goals, this one's for you. Director Alice Winocour (pictured above) was so funny and likable in the Q&A - I can't wait to watch her other films.




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Any other TIFF attendees out there? What'd you see?