Toronto After Dark Film Festival – Tim’s Tops

So The Mind Reels’ first year covering The Toronto After Dark Film Festival has come to an end, and it was FANTASTIC! Now that it’s over I thought it would be nice to compile my top 5 films of the festival.

I want to be clear, I could have happily included A Fantastic Fear of Everything and Grabbers in this list, but I knew going in that I would love those two films, they just looked like they were going to be right up my alley, and they totally were!

It was the films I was less sure about that really blew me away, the ones I was worried about, and in some cases a little nervous about, and each and every time the film was just amazing. I have nothing but applause and the highest respect for the choices Adam Lopez and his fantastic team made for this year’s festival! So now you know how I came up with my list, now, let’s have a look!

1) Sushi Girl – I haven’t been this wrapped up in a crime thriller since Reservoir Dogs. There isn’t a wasted moment, piece of dialogue or shot in the entire film. Every single one of the actors, almost all of them genre favorites, and those I didn’t know more than held their own going toe to toe with some big cult names. It’s brutal, the makeup effects are spectacular, and the whole thing is one, long, cold, calculating game. It’s a brilliant ride, and each of the characters is given a fully fleshed out character, with lots of dialogue and some scenery to chew. The twists, the turns, the revelations, and the characters.

All of it is so amazingly good, both Sue and I walked out of the film completely stunned by it. I leaned over as soon as the credits started, and claimed, then and there, that this was my favorite film of the festival. SEE IT!!!

2) American Mary – This is one of the films that I was anxious, and a little bit nervous about seeing. I’m all for body modification if that’s what you want to do, but I wasn’t sure how I would handle seeing it actually taking place. However, in my review of the film, I mentioned that the Soska twins, have created a wonderfully dark and elegant story, and Katharine Isabelle turns in a fantastic performance, from naively nervous to calculating and empowering.

The surgical sequences, which were the ones I was most worried about going into the film, are done with taste, though still striving for realism and a little gore.

The Twisted Twins (love their cameo by the way) have made the defining body modification film, and it is gorgeous to watch. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next!

3) Resolution – A cabin in the woods, found footage, and the concepts of story-telling, running the gambit from cave paintings and campfire stories to diaries, pictures, and film, Resolution puts itself firmly in a familiar genre, but twists it to its own means.

Starting with a very basic concept of making a friend go cold turkey, the story plummets and rockets like a constantly changing track on a roller coaster, just when you think you may be figuring things out, the story changes again, because it wants its ending. And it’s going to have it.

There are layers to this film, you can simply enjoy it for what it is, a very twisted cabin-in-the-woods story, or you can go deeper, and I’m looking forward to that when I get a chance to watch it again, to decipher it all, to examine the pictures, the stories they contain, there’s so much going on around the film, and under it’s surface that you can’t get it all in one viewing. Check the film’s associated blogs (another version of storytelling) and delve into this engaging creation.

4) Wrong – This was a brilliantly odd film, but nowhere near as out-there as Rubber was. It’s an enjoyable side-trip into oddity. The eccentric characters that populate the film’s world are just a little off from norm, and yet, you can still recognize the characters as people you can relate to.

Dolph’s search for his dog, Paul, leads him through a life he barely lives, people and situations he can’t connect with. His dog is his life, and without it, he’s completely adrift.

Of course, there’s also a delightful showing by William Fichtner who plays Master Chang, a pet guru, who has organized all of Dolph’s problems, at least initially, to show Dolph how important Paul is to him. (Something Dolph already knows by the way).

Odd, eccentric, and a lot of heart. A lot of fun.

5) Doomsday Book – The anthology film from this year’s Film Festival. It balanced horror, love, existentialism, laughs, family, BBQ, and online shopping into a wonderful package. Each of the stories works, wrapping you up in a zombie apocalypse, sentient robots, or an imminent impact on the planet earth.

It was an amazing film, one that when I spoke to other members of the audience , could not rave enough about it.

It’s a well-crafted and lovely film, one that touches on a number of genres, and it was a true delight to watch.

The entire crew of Toronto After Dark, from Adam, the programmers, the Bloor Cinema, the volunteers, and the sponsors, to the audience each and every night, who came in to each film ready to surrender to it and love it for what it was. deserve thanks and appreciation.

And thanks for letting Sue and I be a part of it!!! We’ll hope to see you next year!

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