TIFF 2017: What to see, what to skip on the final weekend

Our critics' picks (and pans) for September 15-17


Take advantage of shorter lines on this closing weekend. There are lots of great films to see before TIFF wraps up. And don’t forget about the free screenings this Sunday of the Platform and People’s Choice Award winners.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

THE SHAPE OF WATER

One of the best films playing at TIFF (and possibly this year), Guillermo del Toro’s monster love story is gunning for the People’s Choice Award. NOW’s senior film writer Norm Wilner called it “a direct response to vapid studio blockbusters like this summer’s reboot of The Mummy.” See review.

Screens Friday (September 15), 9 pm and Saturday (September 17), 6:30 pm, both at the Elgin

PROFESSOR MARSTON & THE WONDER WOMEN

Angela Robinson’s biopic about Wonder Woman creator William Marston, an academic psychotherapist who also invented the lie detector, is genuinely moving and complex. Luke Evans, Rebecca Hall and Bella Heathcote all give great performances. See review.

Screens Friday (September 15), 3 pm at the Elgin and Saturday (September 16), 9:15 pm at Winter Garden

ZAMA

Argentinean director Lucrecia Martel’s first feature in nine years subverts the conventions of colonialist period pieces by taking a greater interest in the landscapes and characters on the edges of her frames than in the macho posturing at the centre of the action. See review.

Screens on Friday (September 15), 8:45 pm at TIFF Bell Lightbox 3

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THE INSULT

Lebanese auteur Ziad Doueiri takes on the relationship between Palestinians and Lebanese Christians with this allegorical and sharply observed story of an argument that gets out of hand. See review.

Screens Friday (September 15), 2:45 pm at TIFF Bell Lightbox 1, and Sunday (September 17), 6 pm at Scotiabank 2

GRACE JONES: BLOODLIGHT AND BAMI

Sophie Fiennes gives the endlessly watchable, hilarious and extremely quotable music/fashion influencer the vérité treatment in this disarmingly beautiful doc. Full of ferocious concert scenes and memorable backstage moments – destined to be a cult classic. See review.

Screens Friday (September 15), 6:15 pm at Scotiabank 2

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I, Tonya

I, TONYA

A savvy meditation on class, the bullshit that pervades competitive sports and the dynamics of family abuse – and it’s all about figure skater Tonya Harding. Working with a clever script by Stephen Rogers, Margot Robbie nails the lead role. A pleasant surprise from TIFF 2017. See review.

Screens Saturday (September 16), 6 pm at Scotiabank 1

MRS. FANG

Chinese filmmaker Wang Bing looks at how death impacts immediate family in the days leading up to an elderly relative’s last moments in this deceptively simple and unsentimental doc. See review.

Screens Friday (September 15), 6:30 pm at AGO

THE DAY AFTER

South Korean Hong-Sang Soo’s latest is a perfectly crafted gem about male-female relationships shot in beautiful black-and-white. The director’s most straight-forward narrative in years. See review.

Screens Saturday (September 16), 3:15 pm at Scotiabank 3

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MOM AND DAD

Crank director Brian Taylor’s horror-comedy about parents that start killing their own kids lives up to its outrageous premise thanks to gonzo-as-you-want-them-to-be performances by Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair as the titular parents. See review.

Screens Saturday (September 16), 9:15 pm at Scotiabank 13.

THE DEATH OF STALIN

Veep creator Armando Iannucci reimagines the chaos within the Soviet Central Committee after the death of Stalin in this viciously funny satire. The ensemble cast – Jeffrey Tambor, Steve Buscemi, Simon Russell Beale and Michael Palin – is hilarious. See review.

Screens Sunday (September 17), noon at Ryerson


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NOT RECOMMENDED

GOOD FAVOUR

A mysterious stranger arrives at a fundamentalist Christian compound somewhere in Europe in this religious parable so delicate and placid that it practically lulls you to sleep. See review.

Screens Saturday (September 15), noon at Scotiabank 11

REDOUBTABLE

Based on Anne Wiazemsky’s memoir about her relationship with Jean-Luc Godard, this film offers a facile view of a turning point in the cinema icon’s artistic and political development. See review.

Screens Friday (September 15), 6 pm at Scotiabank 1, and Sunday (September 17), 9:45 am at Scotiabank 1

THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US

THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US

Who knew that this survival drama starring Idris Alba and Kate Winslet would turn out to be one of the festival’s worst films? The fault lies not in the stars but in the dreadful script they have to act out. See review.

Screens Saturday (September 13), 3 pm, at the Princess of Wales

CARDINALS

Grayson Moore’s debut is Canadian cinema at its most frustrating: great performances in a slim script, only adequately brought to the screen. See review.

Screens Sunday (September 17), 10 am at AGO

CHAPPAQUIDDICK

Clunky, clownish and utterly unconvincing rehashing of the 1969 incident in which late U.S. senator Ted Kennedy drove his car off a bridge and killed his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne. See review.

Screens Saturday (September 16), 11:30 am at the Elgin


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Battle Of The Sexes

WILD CARDS

BATTLE OF THE SEXES

This account of the landmark 1973 tennis match between Bobby Riggs (Steve Carrell) and Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) is as middle of the road as it gets. Stone is great, but if you really need the big screen experience it opens in general release on September 22. See review.

Screens Friday (September 15), 3 pm at Princess of Wales, and Saturday (September 16), 5 pm at Ryerson

JIM & ANDY: THE GREAT BEYOND

This deep-dive into the making of the 1999 Andy Kaufman biopic Man On The Moon got a major publicity boost after a video of Jim Carrey getting metaphysical with a reporter on a New York Fashion Week red carpet went viral. The doc landed a deal with Netflix, so you could wait for streaming or pony up for a TIFF ticket to be part of this zeitgeist-y moment.

Screens Sunday (September 17), 8:45 pm at TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

TORONTO PLATFORM PRIZE SCREENING

TIFF’s relatively new juried Platform competition has yielded Moonlight and Jackie (last year’s winner). The Death Of Stalin (see above) and Custody are standouts this year, but whatever wins is bound to be buzzy.

Screens Sunday (September 17), 8:30 pm at TIFF Bell Lightbox 3 (free)

GROLSCH PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD SCREENING

One of the biggies usually takes this one home. La La Land won it last year.

Screens Sunday (September 17), 6 pm at Roy Thomson Hall (free)

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