Catching up: ‘Eleanor Rigby,’ ‘Skeleton Twins,’ and ‘Land Ho!’

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My post-TIFF film life has been busy, and has involved lots of catching up on reviews, screeners, and more. Three quick review links from the Buffalo News, then: two and half stars for “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby” and three and a half stars for both “The Skeleton Twins” and “Land Ho!” (the latter of which I saw and reviewed before the festival).

More to come, including a review of “God Help the Girl” …

‘20,000 Days on Earth’ might be the year’s most unique documentary — and perhaps its best, too

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While it is unlikely to land an Academy Award nomination — it’s far too hip and groundbreaking for that — I’m not sure there will be a more unique, exhilarating, entertaining documentary this year than Nick Cave’s “20,000 Days on Earth.”

Of course, Cave is not the director of “20,000” days; British documentarians Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard are the filmmaking team responsible. But calling it Cave’s film seems appropriate, since his voice, visage, and mind dominate every moment.

Not quite a biography, not really a concert film, although there are elements of both, “20,000 Days on Earth” is something altogether fresh. For a little over 90 minutes, we spend one day with the iconic singer-songwriter as he drives around, works on his next album (eventually released as Push the Sky Away), talks about his life, chats with Ray Winstone and Kylie Minogue, and discusses his approach to life and art.

Perhaps that does not sound altogether fascinating. But it most certainly is, even for just a minor Cave fan. (I’ve always been intrigued and enjoy much of his music, but until watching this film I never quite considered myself a Cave fanatic. Now, I’m happy to.) There are not many performers who could make such a project feel so invigorating, but Cave can. He’s that cool.

Drafthouse Films opens “20,000 Days on Earth” nationwide on September 17, but Buffalonians have an opportunity to see it at Squeaky Wheel on October 22. This is a 4-star film, and a must-see. For more info on the Squeaky screening, visit http://www.squeaky.org/events/2014/fall/20000-days-on-earth-nick-cave. And for the trailer and details on the film, visit www.drafthousefilms.com.

Analyzing TIFF14: Buffalo News coverage

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The 2014 Toronto International Film Festival is now behind us, and for me, it was a successful one featuring some truly great films — “The Duke of Burgundy,” “Clouds of Sils Maria,” “While We’re Young,” “Nightcrawler,” “Leviathan.”

For the first time ever, I covered TIFF for the Buffalo News, and below you’ll find links to all of my posts to Buffalo.com. There is plenty more TIFF coverage to come from me, and soon I’ll be posting grades of the more than 20 films I saw on this site.

Photo: Juliette Binoche in “Clouds of Sils Maria”

Credit: Courtesy of TIFF

TIFF14: Under-the-radar gems include ‘They Have Escaped,’ ‘Life In a Fishbowl, ‘In the Crosswind’

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One of the joys of the Toronto International Film Festival is stumbling upon interesting “smaller films.” These are the international entries that often come from directors yet to establish themselves in North America. I had the opportunity to see several, and even the selections I liked less are worth seeking out:

They Have Escaped ***
The story of two troubled teenagers, Joni and Raissa, who run away from a halfway house and find an even scarier world. Directed by Finnish filmmaker J.P. Valkeapää, it is a moving, always involving tale with a central relationship that is believably messy. While the film’s final third takes an unnecessary turn toward quasi-horror, the first hour is a strong portrait of youths on the run.

Life In a Fishbowl ***
Icelandic director Baldvin Zophoníasson’s multi-character drama feels obvious at times, and a tad too predictable. But it’s three central stories are endearing enough that the end result is pretty charming.

In the Crosswind ***

This black and white drama about a woman and her daughter struggling to get home to Estonia in 1941 featured some of TIFF14’s most memorable images. Star Laura Peterson and director Martti Helde are two talents to watch.

Other less heralded, but certainly worthy TIFF14 picks:

  • National Gallery ***1/2 (Wiseman’s latest doc is typically gorgeous, and, as usual, essential viewing.)
  • The Wanted 18 *** (The most unique doc I saw at this year’s fest.)
  • Who Am I — No System Is Safe **1/2 (Slick, silly, but very fun, this thriller is watchable from start to finish, if too predictable.)
  • Trick or Treaty **1/2
  • In Her Place **

Schobert on TIFF, in Gusto: ‘Toronto International Film Festival is an 11-day movie buffet’

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This week sees the start of the Toronto International Film Festival, and starting on Thursday I’ll be filing reports for the Buffalo News, on Twitter, and elsewhere. I was very excited to have the opportunity to preview #TIFF14 with a Gusto cover story in the Buffalo News.

Click here to read the piece. More TIFF coverage on the way …