TIFF 2020: Wet Ass Pictures

The Film Festival That Went Virtual


The Palma is kicking off the Toronto International Film Festival like everyone in the industry: from home. My 65-inch TV and JBL - Charge 4 Portable Bluetooth Speaker don’t make up for the temporary loss of theatergoing, but obviously I’m not roughing it either.

I’ve seen five movies so far. There isn’t a stinker among them, but only two stand out: Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland and Bruce LaBruce’s Saint-Narcisse, showing the spectrum of my taste.

Nomadland is the inverse of a Roma or Happy as Lazzaro; instead of placing a non-actor in a movie, Frances McDormand is placed in a real scenario among nomad culture.

Francis is like a ghost drifting through this world, learning about it, and eventually embodying it. Fern is Francis and Francis is Fern. It feels like you can't divorce them - like Francis isn't acting. As Dewey Singleton says:

Saint-Narcisse is a movie about twincest, but it’s more wholesome than it sounds. Interestingly, the lead monk looks like Larry Kramer and has the same fervor about his homosexuality. The film bridges LaBruce’s sexually graphic early work with the subtle exploration of self in Gerontophilia. It’s a unique LaBrucian family drama.

Regina King's One Night in Miami is good, but not great. Its long dialogue is matched with dull imagery. Leslie Odom Jr. stands out as Sam Cooke, who struggles to make his silent protest for equity line up with his entertainer's image.

One Night in Miami is basically The Boys the Band (1970), but straight. I jotted down the political matrix of the four characters (Malcolm X, Cassius Clay, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown) to help explain their points of contention. Please excuse my penmanship:

Sonia Kennebeck’s Enemies of the State has a fascinating premise - the CIA engineered anthrax attacks on American citizens after 9/11 to scare us into supporting GWB’s Iraq war - but they bury the lede by drowning it in true crime potboiler tropes. It felt like Kennebeck believed the verdict of the whistleblower’s pedophilia trial, but didn't want to say she did. I wanted to hear more about the CIA using anthrax, no matter if a pervert leaked that CIA information or not. Both could be true, you know?

Until next time,

Joshua Encinias

P.S. Nomadland just won the Golden Lion at Venice.

Share The Palma