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TIFF ’15: Top 5 picks by Max

SET DEL FILM

Youth

It’s hard to articulate just what makes Youth so special. Fresh off his Academy Award win for The Great Beauty, Sorrentino turns his attention towards two men, one a retired composer, and the other, a film director whose career has been in the decline for some time. Sorrentino is not exactly old by any stretch of the imagination, but he seems drawn on reflective works. Youth, his second English-language film, continues this trend with strong performances from Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel. If there is another commonality between Sorrentino’s latest works it would be the beauty that is captured within every frame. Luca Bigazzi once again handles cinematography for Sorrentino and records every unique encounter and beautiful set piece. With stunning camera work and unique characterization, Youth is easily a much watch endeavor.

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Anomalisa

From the strange mind of Charlie Kaufman comes his latest film on loneliness and dreams. Anomalisa couldn’t be made in the Hollywood studio system, so instead, Charlie Kaufman and co-director Duke Johnson went to Kickstarter to make their vision possible. The script is based on a play that Kaufman had written years ago about an inspirational speaker and his unfulfilling life. This is made all the more interesting since Kaufman decided to make the film using stop-motion puppets. Anomalisa doesn’t stray far from the established themes of Kaufman’s earlier works such as Being John Malkovich or Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind, but it’s a welcome visit into his genius.

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Spotlight

How do you disprove the Catholic Church? Even with stone cold evidence it is hard to sway those who have faith. Spotlight builds the case against the church and reveals an abuse scandal that rocked the world. Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo lead the cast in this exciting expose on the Catholic Church scandal. It is a story that shouldn’t be forgotten, and with fantastic direction, Spotlight is both one of the year’s best films and a worthy follower in the footsteps of works like All the President’s Men.

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Lobster

There are bizarre films and then there is The Lobster. Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth, Alps), this original story tells of an alternate reality where being single is one hell of a problem. Those who are single must find a mate within forty five days or be turned into an animal of their choice. At first glance that doesn’t seem like such a bad punishment, but it is quickly discovered that is only a fraction of the problem. Anchored by perhaps the finest Colin Farrell performance and some extremely twisted humor, The Lobster is certainly an acquired taste but if you are looking for something original, this might just do the trick.

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Brooklyn

It’s tough moving to a new place, especially when this new place is across the sea. Brooklyn tells of a young Irishwoman and her attempt to become an American. This is one film that does not rely on bells and whistles but instead tells a wonderfully crafted love story with believable characters. The dash of suspense built into the plot really plays wonderfully into the fabric of the story and Saoirse Ronan is on top of her game here as Eilis Lacey, showcasing her range as a dramatic actor. Almost equally impressive are the supporting cast, from the woman in charge of her boardinghouse (Julie Walters) to the priest who brought her over (Jim Broadbent). Brooklyn is an exceptional collaborative piece, and while it might not be the next mega-sensation, it is a loving tribute to classic love stories while touching on sensitive immigration issues that still exist today.

  • Max Covill

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