Editor's Note: We can't all make it to the Toronto International Film Festival (which is too bad, since it's where some of the best films of the next year will be shown). But CT has the next best thing: daily updates during the Festival from our critic Ken Morefield. Stay tuned for the next week for capsule reviews and reflections on some of the world's most important movies.
Ladder to Damascus, directed by Mohamad Malas
Kill Your Darlings, directed by John Krokidas
Walesa. Man of Hope, directed by Andrzej Wajda
Jodorowsky's Dune, directed by Frank Pavich
I was a bit of a cinematic Agrippa on Wednesday, saying to a series of films, "almost thou persuadest me." But not quite.
Traveling to TIFF each year usually means I am not in the United States on the anniversary of 9/11. I am happy to have the global perspective that the festival provides while still being among a community of artists and people who lament the tragic loss of human life in any form.
So given recent political events, it seemed fitting to screen Ladder to Damascus, a film from the man the TIFF catalog calls "Syrian cinema's first auteur." The film begins with a camera confessional, as the protagonist laments living in a country that "demands everything" of him yet gives nothing. It's a major achievement that the film was made at all, and that achievement alone engenders tremendous respect. As the film unfolds, it becomes yet another tale of a boy infatuated with a girl played out against a historical backdrop that most want to be foregrounded. Malas can't really be blamed for how difficult it is to frame the backdrop of Syria for under-informed Western viewers, but the film ends up (by necessity ...