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TIFF 2020: APPLES, THE WAY I SEE IT, PIECES OF A WOMAN & ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI [Capsule Reviews]

By Marina Antunes [09.19.20]


Our coverage of the 2020 edition of the Toronto International Film Festival continues with a batch of capsule reviews.

Apples

Aris is contently making his way through the world when inexplicably, he one day finds himself waking up on a bus with no memory of who he is or how he got there.


Aris is not alone. A pandemic of sudden amnesia has arrived and the world has reacted, setting up recovery centers and programs where the newly mind-wiped get assistance setting up a new identity and a new life. It's here that Ari meets Anna, a woman who is suffering from the same ailment and the film follows the pair as they form a friendship and a tentative relationship.



This is the set-up for Apples, the feature film debut of Greek director Christos Nikou. While more straight forward than most of Yorgos Lanthimos' films, it's impossible not to draw comparisons between this and Lanthimos' The Lobster which also explores themes and concepts of self-discovery in a similar set-up: a controlled environment separate from the general public.


It's a lovely story of relationships, beautifully captured by Bartosz Swiniarski, but Nikou's film lacks spark and in the end, is not very memorable.








The Way I See It

Photo journalist Pete Souza has been the official White House photographer twice: the first time with President Reagan, and most recently for President Obama, two very different men with two very different styles of leadership but for Souza, the act of capturing the President was the same: take great pictures that capture important moments. Sometimes those moments are serious but other times, they're joyous.


The Way I See It, Dawn Porter's new documentary, begins as an interesting look at Souza's career and his current role as official President Trump trol, but partway through, it stops being a documentary about Souza, or his career, or his role as photographer for Obama and instead, turns into a criticism of President Trump.


While it's a fascinating and entertaining exploration of the current political climate through an interesting lens, it's The Way I See It feels like a missed opportunity to explore the life and career of a brilliant photographer.








Pieces of a Woman

Vanessa Kirby is a spectacular talent. If that wasn't already obvious from the actor's career, it's definitely on full display in Kornél Mundruczó's Pieces of a Woman.


Written by Mundruczó's long-time collaborator Kata Wéber, Kirby stars along side alongside Shia LaBeouf, life partners expecting their first child. Sean (LaBeouf) is a talented builder but Martha's (Kirby) well-to-do family are unimpressed by his talent and see him as unworthy of Martha's attention. When tragedy strikes, the couple find themselves in the midst of numerous battles: personal battles, relationship battles, the and the pressures of family and the outside world that expects grief to look a certain way.


The opening act of Pieces of a Woman is spectacular; setting the scene for an intense, emotionally draining, drama but once the title card flashes, the film slowly sets into a familiar and largely bland exploration of grief. The sole beacons of light here are Kirby and LaBeouf who both give outstanding performances in what is an otherwise mediocre film.









One Night in Miami...

The last five years have been good for Regina King. Outstanding performances in "The Leftovers," "American Crime," If Beale Street Could Talk and Watchmen have elevated the actors' cache but hers is the story of an overnight success nearly 30 years in the making.


What hasn't been obvious over the year's is the work that King has been doing behind the camera, producing and directing for TV and so, while it looks like her feature film debut has come out of the blue, it too has been been years in the making.


Adapted by Kemp Powers from his play of the same name, One Night in Miami... is a fictionalized account of a real night that unfolded in 1964 when four black American icons met for a night of celebration in Miami that turned out to be a key turning point in both their individual lives and the growing civil rights movement.


Featuring a collection of exceptional performances, King brilliantly transfers the play into new territory, taking advantage of the medium to expand the frame and capture the unfolding unrest and kinetic energy in the streets of Miami.


Dynamic, engaging and entertaining, the themes and struggles of One Night in Miami... are as important today as they were on that night in 1965 and King's film is a worthy celebration of the legacy forged that night.



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