TIFF 2014 Top Picks – Reviews by Julide Tanriverdi

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My personal viewing program at TIFF 2014 included 32 films, and of those, I’ve picked five as my top favorites. Add them to your viewing list as they open in time for the upcoming awqrds season.
Read on…

Mommy: Canadian director Xavier Dolan is only 25 years old and showed Mommy his fifth feature (yes, you read right) at the Cannes Film Festival and won the Jury Prize (the award was shared with filmmaking legend Jean-Luc Godard who won for his Goodbye to Language). The film tells the story of an overwhelmed mother’s relationship with her troubled son and is really sensational. Mommy is emotional, touching and a real drama with incredible performances by the two lead actors Anne Dorval and Antoine-Olivier Pilon. Dolan also plays with the film format, at times presenting a square picture which makes watching the movie more intimate. The film is an absolute must-see and Dolan is most certainly a filmmaker to watch. One wonders what he might do when he actually grows up! Canada has selected this movie as their bid for the Best Foreign Film category at the Oscars.

The Imitation Game : Alan Turing was the genius who cracked the code of the Nazis in the Second War. One would assume that he was celebrated as a hero for that. But his homosexuality became known and he was arrested – and his life took a tragic turn. Director Morten Tyldum delivers a sensitive film about the life of the mathematician. It tells an important story, but is at the same time entertaining — and it doesn’t feel like a history lesson. Benedict Cumberbatch, who turns in another terrific performance. is in good company with his fellow cast members Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode and Allen Leech.

Force Majeure: A Swedish family – a couple with two kids – go on a skiing trip to the French Alps and experience an avalanche. Let’s just say nobody gets physically hurt but the story preents an interesting perspective on what is masculinity and what’s expected of men. Ruben Östlund has written and directed a hilarious movie.

The Drop : Everyone is talking about Tom Hardy and his acting talent. The Drop is another showcase for that. The film is kind of a slowburner: Hardy works in a bar in Brooklyn run by his cousin (played by the late James Gandolfini) where some shady characters make their money-laundering drops. But his life changes when he finds a puppy (OMG! What a cute puppy it is!) in a dumpster in front of a house where Noomi Rapace’s character lives. They become closer and of course things don’t go as one would wish. The crime drama gets more dramatic by the minute and its ending is a complete surprise.

Wild Tales: If the name of cult director Pedro Almodovar and his brother Agustin appear in the credits, then you have an indication that this might be a bizarre and probably hilarious ride of a movie. And nobody will get disappointed. Wild Tales from the Argentine director Damian Szifron (who also wrote the screenplay) contains six short films which are only linked by the same subject (the stories itself are stand alones). The theme? Revenge! Of the best kind. Never saw a movie where the audience could not stop laughing. Pure insanity!

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