With just three days left in the festival, [re]Assignment is really angering viewers.
Three more days to go until TIFF 2016 concludes. There are two more days of premieres and a Sunday full of repeat screenings to go, with attendees frantically trying to turn their remaining vouchers into movie tickets and putting together their lists of the best and worst films they saw at the festival. And then on Monday, the smell of #popcorn dissipates, Film Twitter™ goes back to getting excited-slash-worried about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and life in Toronto gets back to normal—at least until the night of Nuit Blanche.
What Were People Talking About Yesterday?
Though the debate rages on as to what the best film of TIFF 2016 was (with La La Land, Moonlight, Jackie, and Manchester By The Sea as front runners), consensus seems to be developing that the most badly received feature in the festival was Walter Hill’s thriller (re)Assignment, with some of the harshest criticism being that the film was shockingly transphobic. The plot is about a hitman who is kidnapped and forced to undergo male-to-female gender reassignment surgery by a deranged cosmetic surgeon, which has some calling for a boycott of the film. The film’s star, Michelle Rodriguez, says she took the job to express her frustration with the lack of creativity in the roles she is offered to play. Still, the film received merciless reviews from both attendees and critics.
According to #TIFF16, the screening at the festival with the most painful Q-and-A was September 13’s The Bad Batch viewing, with multiple attendees (and even the cast on stage) shaking their heads about the train wreck.
It’s customary to thank the many thousands of TIFF volunteers during the festival who often go above and beyond to direct traffic and provide information and support at venues or behind the scenes, but we would like to thank one volunteer in particular for revealing on Twitter that Gerard Butler was regularly seen in line for public screenings. Stars…they’re just like us!
What’s Going On This Weekend?
Today’s free Cinematheque screening is a rare opportunity to see a movie shot in Toronto in the 1950s! A Cool Sound From Hell was directed by Canadian Sidney J. Furie, who went on to direct a variety of major films ranging from the classic Michael Caine thriller The Ipcress File to the legendary stinker Superman IV: The Quest For Peace. A Cool Sound From Hell tells the tale of a young middle-class Torontonian who gets mixed up with hipsters, beatniks, the jazz scene, and…drugs! Shot here but never released in North America, it was long thought lost until a print of the film was discovered in London; the restored version of the film makes a triumphant return this afternoon at Bell Lightbox. Tickets available (first come, first served) starting two hours before the 4 p.m. show.
Midnight Madness finishes up strong with two films guaranteed to entertain: tonight is the North American premiere of Dog Eat Dog, the latest film from veteran provocateur Paul Schrader (writer of Taxi Driver, director of Blue Collar and The Canyons). It’s based on a novel by ex-con turned writer/actor Edward Bunker (Straight Time, Mr. Blue in Reservoir Dogs), and features Willem Dafoe and Nicolas Cage as two giant fuck-ups who join a third ex-con for one final job, kidnapping a Cleveland mobster’s baby for a big payday. We can assume things don’t go well. The 70-year-old Schrader delivers a young man’s movie here with plenty of garishness both in the performances and the events on screen that should play well with the Midnight Madness crowd. And tomorrow night’s late show is sure to bring the roof of the Ryerson Theatre down, with the long-awaited matchup against two titans of the J-horror genre: the monsters from Ju-on (The Grudge) and Ringu (The Ring) in Sadako vs. Kayako! #WhoWillWin?
On Sunday, TIFF will be announcing the winners of their awards. You can expect the full list confirmed by about 2 p.m, with the festival live-tweeting the ceremony. The highest-profile awards are the juried prize for outstanding artistic direction among the 12 eligible films in the Platform sidebar (a cash prize of $25,000 as selected by directors Brian De Palma and Mahamat-Saleh Haroun and actor Zhang Ziyi), and the coveted People’s Choice Award, which more often than not determines one of the Academy Award nominees for Best Picture, if not the eventual Best Picture Oscar winner itself. The festival will hold a free screening of the People’s Choice winner at Roy Thomson Hall at 6 p.m. Sunday (with tickets handed out two hours prior, first-come, first served), and if the big winner this year is not La La Land, this correspondent will eat his hat.