ANDPOP’s resident movie goer, Jordan Appugliesi, will be living at theatres for the next 10 days for the Toronto 2015 Toronto Toronto Film Festival, just to bring you tips, tricks, and his thoughts on the festival’s films — and to enjoy some movies. Jordan is here to share with us the good, bad and the in between of the festival this year — fuelled by a few Venti coffees.
With The Meddler, Susan Sarandon is about to have her Diane Keaton in Something’s Gotta Give moment. The film, directed by Lorene Scafaria (Seeking a Friend for the End of the World), is Nancy Meyers (director of The Holiday, Something’s Gotta Give) level light. It’s a comedy made for your mom that you’re going to watch over and over and pretend to hate it — but secretly love (and own).
Sarandon plays Marnie, a recently widowed woman who finds herself forced into a period of transition after her husband’s passing. Not really sure what to do with her time now since he’s passed, she puts herself in the middle of everyone’s life: her daughter (played by the infallible Rose Byrne), the Apple Bar Genius (played by Jerrod Carmichael) and her daughter’s friend, played by Saturday Night Live’s Cecily Strong.
The film is the perfect mix of romance and comedy and is even a cathartic viewing experience; Marnie’s journey of letting go is as funny as it is heartwarming. Sarandon is at her most charming in years, making Marnie relatable and fun when she could have easily been grating. Supported by her strong supporting cast (also including J.K. Simmons and Casey Wilson), The Meddler is the perfect light comedy.
Closet Monster is the stunning directorial debut from Stephen Dunn. The coming of age story is centered around Oscar (played by Connor Jessup), a teenage boy who is coming to terms with his sexuality.
Oscar’s story, thanks to Dunn’s seemingly personal direction and writing, makes the film feel refreshingly intimate and original. The film confidently dissects the isolation many feel in being gay with a distinct voice that makes it stands out from the festival’s films this year. The film is handled with such confidence that it is hard to believe this is Dunn’s first feature film. In the telling of Oscar’s story, Dunn makes the familiar coming-of-age story distinct — it verges into horror without ever really going there. It’s clear Dunn is fond of the genre (love the ode to Buffy the Vampire Slayer with Oscar’s beloved pet hamster named Buffy – voiced by the comparable Isabella Rossellini) as there a little Cronenberg influence in the imagery and it makes for a memorable, striking debut film.
The Family Fang
Jason Bateman is continuing his directing passion by following up 2013’s Bad Word with The Family Fang. The film follows Annie and Baxter Fang, the children of eclectic artist parents. Through their childhood, they put Annie and Baxter through the wringer by making them participate in their elaborate schemes — impacting them greatly in the process.
The film finds itself in the disguise of a dark comedy but is neither twisted enough nor hilarious to be anything more than forgettable. It lacks any real bite and laughs and therefore, it’s a lot of nothing for 90 minutes — which is frustrating as it had the potential. Nicole Kidman and Jason Bateman make for an odd pairing on paper, but together they make for a great brother-sister duo and are what keeps the thing afloat.