Wednesday, August 28, 2019
Adding to our ability to maximize movie watching is the offering of "Advanced Screenings" which are held for 5-6 days at then end of August, in advance of the festival. There are around 3 movies per day that are selected by the festival organizers. These are usually not the "prestige" movies with big stars or directors, since many members of the press have not arrived in Toronto yet. Not having any say in which movies are shown, we merely make the decision of whether we want to watch each advanced screener or not. This actually allows us to expand our viewing experiences a bit outside of our comfort zone, since often we are watching movies that we might not have picked for ourselves. This year there were many more interesting movies available for advanced screening than usual and we picked 12 out of 15 to watch. We would cinematically take a whirlwind worldwide tour of movies from Australia, Germany, South Africa, Korea, USA, Uruguay, Japan, Israel, Brazil, France and Canada, all in 5 days. We enjoyed most of them and four of the movies were even on our shortlists to watch during the regular festival. Being able to watch them in advance allowed us to substitute in other movies during the festival. In all, Rich and I will each watch over 40 movies at this year’s TIFF.
The main trauma in the movie occurs when one couple’s only son drowns, possibly caused by actions of the son of another couple. The subsequent story of grief and guilt is told through a series of time jumps that are difficult to follow since the people do not look that different between some of the various time periods. You resort to desperately looking for clues in clothing, hair style, technology, and setting to determine when a scene takes place chronologically. The time jumps do allow for a slow reveal of some of the plot points. The movie could have been cut by 30-60 minutes without losing too much of the plot, since much time is spent on the grieving couple sitting around looking melancholy. Despite its length, the movie is quite engrossing and very interesting in its depiction of China over this turbulent period.