Toy Story 4 is everything you’d expect from this high calibre franchise – funny, warm, unexpected, beautifully made and rich with characters we’ve known for twenty-four years. And like its predecessors, TS4 is a wee bit subversive! All the best cartoons are. The awesome new character, Canadian Duke Caboom, played with aplomb by Keanu Reeves who happens to be on the hottest of hot streaks lately. misses Raejean, the kid who rejected him back home but now finds himself joining Woody and Buzz and the gang to save the toys from the trash heap of life. There’s a new guy called Forky, who was trash, the beloved toy made by sad, but talented little human Bonnie, out of trash and she loves him – if only they’d stop getting separated. The action runs from home to the RV across the country, to a magical antique shop filled with wonders and weirdos to the carnival in a pint-sized opera about love and belonging and belongings. It’s top drawer, excellent fun for all ages, brimming with life while it salutes toys of the past with a warm nostalgic glow. And what a voice cast – Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Tony Hale, Keagan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Bette White, Carl Reiner, Flea, Laurie Metcalfe, Estelle Harris – wow! Plus Pixar regulars John Ratzenberger and Bonnie Hunt.
Jessie Buckley’s phenomenal performance, acting and singing in Tom Harper’s Wild Rose makes this unusual Cinderella story believable and compelling. Drug addicted, irresponsible and unable to properly care for her children, single mother Rose-Lynn nurses a seemingly ridiculous dream of making it as a country western singer – in Nashville. She can’t stop herself from continuous fails, so her mother – Julie Waters – lays down the law. She’ll raise the kids until Rose-Lynn straightens up. She reluctantly takes a cleaning job that changes her life; her employer played by Sophie Okonedo sees her talent and drive and together they conspire to get her to Nashville. Impossible as it seems, Rose-Lynn ‘s tenacity and natural talent may overcome her self-destructive impulses. Wild Rose is emotional, infuriating, satisfying and deeply human, Buckley’s talent is true and watching her incredible journey is in itself, healing.
Dutch documentarian Heddy Honigmann’s Buddy looks at the profound bond between humans and dogs from the perspective of partnership. Honigmann follows six people of all ages with various disabilities to get a glimpse into a private relationship between animals trained to assist and the good they can do. Blindness, physical limitation, autism, battle-related PTSD – these are some of the challenges faced by these service dog owners. The dogs give them a new chance at life, for some independent life, dressing them, turning them over in bed, watching for disruption, comforting in times of stress, warning of physical or emotional dangers, leading the way. It’s astonishing what these dogs are capable of mentally and emotionally and how much their humans love and trust them. Honigmann’s never intrusive or sentimental or exploitative, her approach is clean and grounded in empathy and work but she gets the job done. We’re given a rare look at what goes on with these unique pairs in daily life and their most private moments. Absolutely fascinating.
Ken Scott’s The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir is a nonsensical, lighthearted fairy tale about a Mumbai street con turned humanist with elements beyond common sense for which you gladly suspend disbelief. Dhanush is Aja, a local magician and petty thief whose horizons expand wildly when his beloved mother died. He determines to carry her ashes to Paris where the father he never knew lives, the city his mother always wanted to visit. The journey itself becomes magical – he meets an American woman in the Paris IKEA store and knows she’s the one, but they are separated. He sleeps in a wardrobe and is transported to the UK in the company of Somali refugees including none other than Captain Phillips star Barkhad Abdi. Cut to: police interrogation in London turns into a musical, a trip to France makes him rich, a hot air balloon ride drops him on a Libyan bound ship and ultimately a refugee camp where he is able to perform a miracle. Imagine this unlikely history, a great comic screenplay, a well-chosen multi-national cast et voila. Based on the novel by Romain Puertolas.
The last event in this year’s TIFF Books on Film series highlights Cate Shortland’s 2013 drama Lore, based on Rachel Seiffert’s novella about her family’s experiences in the closing days of the Nazi Germany. The parents of three children are dedicated Nazis so as Allied forces take over, the youngsters must escape and adapt from their upper-middle-class upbringing to scavenging for food and shelter and doing what it takes to stay alive. Their courage, fending for themselves in a war-torn, unfriendly and horrific landscape littered with corpses is unimaginable.
Seiffert will attend the screening and speak onstage with Eleanor Wachtel afterwards. The screening and discussion take place Monday night at TIFF Bell Lightbox.
If you’re like us, you love PBS Sunday nights. This week, Poldark about a Byronic hero played by Aiden Turner begins its fourth season of period romance and adventure on Masterpiece. 8 p.m.
That’s followed at 9 by the brainy detective drama Endeavour, starring Shaun Evans as the brilliant young policeman immortalized in the detective series Inspector Morse. He solves crimes in and around Oxford solves crimes as a savant led not only by instinct and evidence by an uncanny gift for understanding the human mind.
At 10:30 we return to Jamestown the pilgrim drama set in the wild early days of the British invasion of the New World. In this episode, Henry and Winganuske’s child falls ill and Jocelyn forms a relationship with the Pamunkey.
Two major home entertainment releases from Disney – the 70thAnniversary edition of the classic animated feature Cinderella enchanted every child that saw and remembers it. The poor girl forced to cook and clean for her mother and sisters wishes so hard to go to the ball – and her fairy Godmother comes to help her out. That great Ballroom scene, the glass slipper and the handsome prince make this one of the most beloved animated films. It is available next now digitally in HD and on Tuesday on Blu-rayTM and DVD.
Also available next Tuesday on Digital, 4K Ultra HDTM, Blu-rayTM is Tim Burton’s Dumbo, the bold rendition of the classic story of a little circus elephant with embarrassingly big ears who flies to the defence of those he loves and makes their lives, and his own, better. Watch never-before-seen bonus features, deleted scenes, Easter eggs and bloopers.
BFCA BTJA AWFJ TFCA FIPRESCI