As time runs out on the glam-happy Toronto International Film Festival, here's what stands out in the final three days.
NICOTINA CWC D: Hugo Rodríguez w/ Diego Luna, Lucas Crespi. Mexico. 93 minutes. Thursday, September 11, 5:15 PM VARSITY 4 or 5 Rating: NNNN
Cyber-stalking, computer hacking, cockroaches, Russian criminals with Czech names - Nicotina is a tricky thriller. What Hugo Rodríguez loses in originality he gains in sheer entertainment value.
In This world VIS D: Michael Winterbottom w/ Enayatullah, Jamal Udin Torabi. UK. 88 minutes. Thursday, September 11, 11:15 AM VARSITY 8 Rating: NNNN
The Golden Bear winner at Berlin this year begins in Pakistan's Shamshatoo refugee camp, home to 53,000 displaced people, and follows two Afghan refugees as they try to cross Iran, Turkey and most of Europe to reach their Emerald City, London. If you liked Dirty Pretty Things, consider this a prequel.
THE MIDDLE OF THE WORLD NBC D: Vicente Amorim w/ Cláudia Abreu, Wagner Moura. 85 minutes. Thursday, September 11, 9:30 PM CUMBERLAND 2; Saturday, September 13, 9:30 AM VARSITY 1 or 6 Rating: NNNN
For us northerners who tend to think of Brazil as Rio surrounded by rain forest, The Middle Of The World is an unusual road movie. It stretches across the dry hills of northern Brazil, where a family of seven are attempting to bicycle across the 2,500 kilometres from Paraíba on the northeastern coast to Rio in the south in search of a job that pays 1,000 reals (about $400 U.S.) a month. It's emotionally intelligent and spectacularly shot by Gustavo Hadba.
DISTANT SPOT D: Nuri Bilge Ceylan w/ Muzaffer Özdemir, Mehmet Emin Toprak. Turkey. 110 minutes. Friday, September 12, 3:15 PM VARSITY 1 or 6 Rating: NNNN
During an Istanbul winter, a divorced photographer's meticulously well-ordered, thoroughly modern though sterile existence is upset by a distant cousin's visit to look for work in the big city. Imagine The Odd Couple with sparse, serious dialogue by Samuel Beckett.
THE CORPORATION PC D: Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbott w/ Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore. 165 minutes. Friday, September 12, 2:15 PM VARSITY 8 Rating: NNNN
An exhaustive and essential study of what's often an invisible force, this doc marshals people like Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Vandana Shiva and Michael Moore together with current and reformed master capitalists.
BUS 174 NBC D: José Padilha . 120 minutes. Friday, September 12, 11 AM CUMBERLAND 1 Rating: NNNNN
BUS 174 begins with the microcosmic event of a man taking a bus hostage, and expands out to the entire question of the way Brazil treats its poor underclass. The best thriller I've seen in 2003, and one of the most absorbingly intelligent non-fiction films you'll see this year.
THE TULSE LUPER SUITCASES, PART 1. THE MOAB STORY VIS D: Peter Greenaway w/ JJ Feild, Valentina Cervi. UK/Netherlands. 126 minutes. Friday, September 12, 9:45 PM VISA SCREENING ROOM (ELGIN); Saturday, September 13, 10 PM UPTOWN 2 Rating: NNNN
The Tulse Luper Suitcases is a thin, repetitive drama. Young Tulse wants to find lost things, goes to Utah to find lost cities, wanders into an extremely dysfunctional Mormon family and winds up in Belgium writing on natural history for The Times on the eve of the second world war. I think. The most intellectually challenging film in the Cannes competition this year. And Greenaway is one of the few to dig into the possibilities of the new digital tools and do startling things.