Category Archives: Hated it

Letter to the Editor – Director, Alan Berliner

Well this was my last film of the festival and sadly it was the absolute worst. Avoid this film at all costs. Alan Berliner makes very personal documentaries many of which have received awards but most of which are films I would have zero interest. I really don’t need to gain insight into the personality of the film maker or his views or prejudices. This documentary was billed as being about the end of newspapers and was to focus on the New York Times (NYT) as an example. I was intrigued but as the film starts you realize this is a documentary about Berliner’s collection of photographs he has cut out of the NYT over the last 40 years. It is sort of weird that he did this and catalogued them under multiple categories but nonetheless he really could have done something better with the movie. The 1.5 hour film is almost entirely made up of these images – hundreds of them – with Berliner talking over them about almost anything that came to mind, like how he experienced tear gas exposure personally and advice on how to cope if you are, to food choices to occasionally something about the NYT. It was boring to the max. It also contained all sorts of sound bites he has also collected which were unrelated to the photographs for the most part and mostly were really irritating. For example he had several – well many pictures of people screaming. So of course, these were accompanied by the sound of people screaming. It was loud, annoying, unannounced and in some cases prolonged. It was so loud and irritating that I had to cover my ears. I hope you are getting the message – don’t watch this movie ever.

The Favourite – Director, Yorgos Lanthimos

I was very interested to see this movie given all the praise and awards it has won. In addition it has managed ten Oscar nominations including all the big ones. So I settled in to be entertained by what was a rare comedy nominated for Best Picture. Disappointed. This is a terrible movie and I had to fast forward through the final interminable last half hour. Promoted as a comedy, the film is a tedious two hour trip as two women compete for the attention and control of  Queen Anne who is a troubled and unwell monarch not really qualified for her role in life. In the end…. Well there really isn’t an end just the sense that what you have been through for two hours will just continue. A comedy it is not. It is a cruel, pointless take on the British monarchy and is boring to boot. The performances of the three leads are good but not great and do not merit nominations or awards. The script is wordy and desperately needed editing. I found I cared nothing for the characters who were immensely unlikeable. This is the second film by Lanthimos I have seen, the first being Lobster. I hated that one and should have been forewarned before paying money to see this film. I truly hope it wins nothing but might garner Best Costumes which I would crudgingly give it. A sad waste of talent. Avoid it at all cost.

Photon, Director – Norman Leto

I was hooked by the description of this film:

Prepare yourself for a sensory overload of epic proportions.

Nothing less than the history of the universe, the formation of the stars and planets,

the origins of matter, and the daunting post-human future that lies ahead

are explored in this mind-bending experience.

All lies. This was far and away the worst film of the week and sadly my last film on the last day which left a bad taste in my eyes. The opening of the film takes us through an animated look at the origins of the universe and right through to the appearance of life. After that however the film just collapses in boring animation, themes and incredibly bad interviews with an academic who appears to also be totally bored by the questions he is asked and becomes almost hostile to his interviewer. There is a voice over narrator who speaks in monotone and is incredibly irritating. Have I done enough to put you off this one? As I left the film I muttered irritably that if I ever meet the narrator I would have to kill him. A couple of other patrons leaving with me turned and smiled agreement. Avoid this movie.

Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World – Director, Werner Herzog

First a confession. I really don’t like Werner Herzog who I believe to be one of the most over-rated film makers of all time. The only film of his I think I ever liked was Encounters at the End of World about the people who live and work at McMurdo Station in Antarctica. Other than that… nothing. Pretentious documentaries and boring meandering dramas. How he gets the attention he does is beyond me. Okay enough said. I gave him one more chance with this film because I was sold on the topic: a study of how the Internet has invaded our lives for good and bad. I was hugely disappointed. The film is trivial in the max. Nothing in the film is new or even insightful. It is one boring scene after the other and if you have lived in a cave until you saw the film you might learn something but otherwise be prepared to be unsurprised. The shallowness of the film is augmented of course by Herzog’s belief in most if not all of his documentaries that he must be the narrator. The script is silly and his voice condescending and irritating. Avoid this film at all costs.

Room – Director, Lenny Abrahamson

I really did not like this movie despite its 96 percent rating on RottenTomatoes. It is boring, unbelievable and pointless. It is winning because the kid is so damn cute but if not for that I think this film would disappear into oblivion which I suspect it will after February 28th passes. I am clearly way off the popular consensus. This starts with a woman who is a prisoner in a room with her young son. They have access to food and basic comforts but she is visited by her captor and is clearly a sexual slave to him. She has been there for seven years and the son is only 4 or 5 and is clearly the son of her and her captor. The focus of the film is that her son has no concept of the outside world except through the small television they have. The whole scenario seemed unbelievable to me. They behave as would any mother and son in a normal situation which I could not believe. The boy has concepts that he would never have if brought up in this situation. I don’t know if this is based on a real case or not or on research about people in similar circumstances but I just couldn’t believe the scenario at all. They escape in yet another unbelievable plot involving the son feigning death. Once they get out the story shifts to introducing the boy to the world he has never known. It is totally wrapped around the relationship between mother and son but it is just pointless unless you identify with the cute little boy. Sorry but this movie really is not very interesting at all. Just my opinion however. Enjoy… if you like that kind of thing.


This film has garnered 12 Oscar nominations including all the big ones except for the screenplay. It deserves maybe two of them. Di Caprio does not deserve a Best Actor award for one of his most forgettable performances ever. There is no real acting just a lot of grimacing and staring into the distance. On the other hand, Tom Hardy, who is one of my favourite actors, deserves a nomination for his role as the villain. He really does act and his scenes are among the best in the whole movie. He gets no recognition for some reason for some simply awesome character acting including Legend and The Drop to name but two. This is a great performance and deserves recognition but its not enough to save this disaster. The other nomination it deserves is for cinematography which is stunning but OMG… it just goes on and on. This is a very bad movie with the exceptions noted. It runs over 2 ½ hours and could easily be an hour shorter with no loss at all. I fell asleep briefly in one part and only stuck it out to the end to see how they were going to finish it. The story is of a scout who is leading a group of fur trappers back to what counted as civilization in the early American Northwest. They are attacked by native Americans who kill many of them and the survivors struggle on. Di Caprio’s character – the scout – is attacked by a bear and just survives but he is too badly injured to continue. His companions try to take him along but have to give up assuming he will die and they abandon him leaving one of their number to stay with him until he dies and then bury him. Di Caprio’s son also stays back. Needless to say the caregiver fails in his mission and abandons di Caprio assuming he will die and murders his son in the process. He heads back to join the others. He has miscalculated and of course di Caprio survives and comes back for revenge. The journey is long and grueling and actually totally unbelievable. The flintlock guns they use are deadly accurate (which is totally impossible) even over distances of hundreds of yards. The falls, cold and so forth di Caprio survives despite his grievous injuries are literally impossible to survive and it all becomes almost funny. The character played by di Caprio is totally unlikeable and his connections to the local native Americans are poorly drawn and not made a significant part of the story. For the last hour I must have looked at my watch every 10 minutes praying for the end to come. To be perfectly honest the only times I was captivated were with Tom Hardy’s scenes but even that, at the climax of the film, was poorly written. Also I take back my comment about the cinematography. One more shot of bleak wintery forests and mountains was one too many. Two thumbs down so to speak.

Macbeth – Director, Justin Kurzel

I am fairly conflicted about this movie which stars Michael Fassbender (who I like usually). I am not sure Kurzel has the credentials to take on something like this given his past record which is unusual and open to mixed reviews from very positive to very negative. I think Macbeth is one of the greatest plays ever written and Kurzel messes with perfection to his detriment I fear. While the cinematography is great as is the setting on the Isle of Skye, the film is really incoherent. If you did not know the play you would be totally lost. The dialogue has been butchered in the adaptation and the actors mumble and seem not to entirely understand what they are saying. On the other hand, it is very very violent which may be a good feature in the minds of some. So… amazing to look at but not Shakespeare and if you were expecting Shakespeare you would be terribly disappointed. If you expected a coherent story you might be disappointed too. Still there was something that was horribly attractive about the film. I would caution viewers who liked Fassbinder in previous outings to attend.

Into the Forest – Director – Patricia Rozema

This is officially the worst movie I have seen so far at TIFF. I was intrigued by the theme about two sisters in an isolated house in the US northwest when all the electrical power goes out for good all over the world. How will they survive? Some will remember back in 2003 when the entire northeast of the continent lost power for three days. It was survivable but a wee bit scary when you realize how dependent we are on electricity and how fragile it really is. This movie promised to help us understand that but it fails on many levels. I was not overly impressed with the script which was written by the director. The story fails to make any sense on so many levels as to be unbelievable and basically it was really boring. To go back to the Hitchcock film – there was really no suspense. The events were so predictable there was literally no tension in what should have been a very scary or at least anxiety provoking movie.

I think the director was trying to explore how a crisis like this might affect the relationship between two people particularly family members who are caught in a trap from which they really have no way out. The problem is that this scenario was not believable. The film is not science fiction or apocalyptic particularly so it was just too artificial and in the end overly melodramatic. It was also way way too long. We got the point about 30 or 45 minutes in and the rest was denouement. Oh yeah a story generally has a climax and then a denouement but this film has no climax because it really never goes anywhere.

I was also irritated by the fact that no explanation of the power outage was ever given or any sense that the country was at least adapting in some way to the crisis. The result was really a plot and story that was totally unengaging. I should tell you that this movie is well liked by many and has a high rating on IMDb for some reason yet to be made clear to me. So if you like the actors and like the director by all means go but don’t say you weren’t warned.

Pasolini – Abel Ferrara, Director

I was looking forward to this movie since I really like Willem Dafoe who plays Pasolini. In the end I was super grateful this movie is only 87 minutes long and that seemed long to me. It is very confusing, conducted in English, Italian with subtitles and Italian without subtitles and really gave very little insight to Pasolini or much else. I guess I should have been wary when the director was described as incendiary. I think if anyone uses a random word like this to describe a director then you should avoid the film at all costs. Other warning words are “challenging” “innovative” or “unique”. These generally mean ” really awful” in the opinion of this reviewer at least. Avoid this film.

Hector and the Search for Happiness – Peter Chelsom, Director

I had high hopes for this movie. Simon Pegg is one of a group of British comic actors who did films like Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End. He also was the perfect Scottie in the Star Trek reboot but here he is trivial and trite. The film follows a psychiatrist who goes off on a round the world quest to find himself and the meaning of happiness. All we get are a bunch of clichés like “Happiness is being loved for who you really are.” Or “Nostalgia is not what it used to be”. It was stupendously disappointing. Now I caution that some may like this film and you really have to like Simon Pegg (and I do) but if you don’t want to be disappointed as I was in the star. I could not find the words until I found this review that says it all.

“Looking to run fortune cookie writers and the post card industry out of business in one fell swoop, Peter Chelsom’s Hector and the Search for Happiness is not a film meant for cynics. With its pithy musings on what it means to be content, and slideshow approach to giving those musings an air of worldly wisdom, it asks the viewer to suspend not just disbelief, but emotional continence. If you’re capable of that, it will no doubt prove a wildly exciting and uplifting story of self-discovery. Keep even a shred of your self-awareness about you, and the empty enlightenment Hector and the Search for Happiness is offering becomes as grating as it is pat.”