The New York Film Festival’s Projections section is filled to the brim with the avant-garde, and this year’s lineup is no exception. Tsai Ming-liang’s Your Face is composed entirely of silent close-ups, while Albert Serra’s Roi Soleil is an hour of King Louis XIV moaning and writhing. The former feels like a museum exhibit; the latter is a filmed version of one. You almost always know what kind of film to expect walking into a Projections screening — experimental fare that rarely feels like it would do well in the mainstream — which is why Daniel Schmidt and Gabriel Abrantes’ Diamantino is such an unbelievable blast. It’s the kind of work that feels cobbled together from the most impulsive cinematic instincts, the ones where creators might ordinarily second-guess themselves on account of ideas being too silly, and it’s charming as hell. As wildly entertaining as any blockbuster, schlocky as any B-movie and as politically enraged as your Twitter feed, Diamantino is a start-to-finish joy.

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TIFF Midnight Madness

The Toronto International Film Festival is best-known these days as a Big Daddy of the awards season. Major films that premiere at TIFF – of which there are many – tend to do so with glamorous red-carpet events, stars congregating outside any one of the gorgeous theatres in the closed-to-traffic festival zone. Many are slick, prestigious studio dramas from celebrated filmmakers – think First Man, A Star Is Born, or If Beale Street Could Talk – and they’re rightly festooned with attention.

I did not attend TIFF this year for those films. I attended for Midnight Madness. Read More »