North America’s largest and most prominent film festival winds down this weekend. Experienced in person or virtually, the fest was a typically mixed bag of a movie marathon, offering the usual range from triumphs to follies. The A.V. Club’s critics, A.A. Dowd and Katie Rife, caught their share of both over the last eight days. On this brand new episode of Film Club, they talk about a few they both saw, including a delicate French familial drama, a confounding German experiment, and a batshit found-footage horror movie featuring one of the most obnoxious protagonists in recent cinema history. The two also offer a couple of recommendations for movies to watch out for as the fall festival season spills out into the wider world of film releasing.
Make no mistake, however: This year, web-only TIFF is even more of a shadow of the IRL version—in large part because the festival has restricted access to some of its most prominent selections. Look, it was always a long shot that Warner Bros. was going to make Dune available to stream on tiny screens before it made its way to big ones. But it was still a bit of a shock to see just how many films wouldn’t be on the virtual menu. This appears to be the cost of luring bigger movies than last year’s crop: Perhaps out of fear of piracy or eating into the box office, major studios, their mini-major subsidiaries, and hotshot indie players like Neon have largely insisted that TIFF only play their titles in a theater proper. Which means that anyone covering the festival from outside the festival is at a distinct disadvantage.
That’s the boat The A.V. Club finds itself in. And we’d be less inclined to grumble if the messaging coming out of the fest had been clearer; after weeks of organizers stopping just short of flat-out telling American journalists not to come (in part because press and industry screenings would supposedly be very limited), it felt like buying a bill of goods, this discovery of how many high-profile films—a.k.a. the ones readers might be dying to hear about—won’t be available to virtual correspondents. (For word on some of those, including Dune, the Kristen Stewart Princess Diana biopic Spencer, and Edgar Wright’s genre-bending Last Night In Soho, check out Leila Latif’s coverage from Venice, the only major international festival that’s remained steadfast in neither cancelling outright nor offering an online option.)
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