Reviews of Jagged, Lakewood and The Odd-Job Men

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The 2021 edition of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) will take place in hybrid form September 9-18.

Lakewood

Lakewood, directed by Philip Noyce

Another single character, one place thriller in the vein of the guilty, Lakewood seems more born out of necessity (it’s the easiest way to make a movie during a global health crisis, after all) than out of desire. Naomi Watts stars as the widowed mother of a teenager and pre-teen who decides to take a day personal and have a long run in the woods. She is immediately interrupted by a million phone calls from a million sources, only to discover in the midst of it all that there is an active shooting event at her son’s high school – and that he could be a suspect. .

It’s uncertain enough whether to structure a thriller around a school shooting, but to its infinite defense, Lakewood is much better and more sensitive than Execute Hide Combat, the action thriller distributed by Ben Shapiro and based on a vaguely similar connection line. Good taste is not necessarily a major concern when it comes to Lakewood; it’s more that director Philip Noyce plays most of his cards halfway, which then leaves the viewer patiently waiting for one of two potential outcomes for the rest of the film. Lakewood ultimately becomes a victim of its own design, constrained to a predictable structure by its own limitations. Watts does a commendable job of delivering an extremely physical performance, but Lakewood ends up collapsing under the weight of his own gadget.

Lakewood is not currently scheduled for a release in Montreal.

Lakewood, with Naomi Watts

Men at odd jobs

The Odd-Job Men Neus Ballus TIFF 2021 review
Men at odd jobs, directed by Neus Ballus

A sardonic crossing between the naturalistic exercises of the daily life of the Dardenne and the character discomfort of Calm your enthusiasm, Neus Ballus Men at odd jobs is the winning story of two mismatched plumbers who learn (and mostly fail) to strengthen a working relationship. Moha (Mohammed Mellali) takes a job at a small plumbing company in hopes of replacing Pep (Pep Sarra), who will be retiring soon, but he almost immediately finds himself grappling with the distant and macho Valero. (Valero Escolar), who clearly feels the loss of his longtime partner in crime. The film takes place during Moha’s trial week, as the three men find themselves in difficult work situations, made even more awkward by the fact that most of the clients love Moha and ignore Valero.

Small and intimate by design, Men at odd jobs nonetheless offers a precisely sketched portrait of a type of working environment that will be immediately familiar to anyone who has worked this type of manual labor even for a tiny amount of time, as I have. Men at odd jobs explores the power dynamics of people for whom jobs like this define personality and how routine becomes a kind of defense mechanism against the world. Men at odd jobs is often hilarious in a low-key way, but it’s as a character study that it really shines.

The Odd-Job Men is currently not scheduled for a release in Montreal.

The Odd-Job Men, with Mohammed Mellali, Pep Sarra and Valero Escolar

Shredded

Jagged Alanis Morissette TIFF 2021 documentary review
Jagged, directed by Alison klayman

The second musical documentary from the HBO / The Ringer partnership that I watched at TIFF this year, Shredded explores the creation and subsequent massive reaction to the work of Alanis Morissette Little jagged pill. Where doc Kenny G offers various perspectives and attempts to deepen the relationship between Kenny G and his success, Shredded borders on a sycophantic hagiography, offering a choppy and not particularly convincing description of the events that seems (for the most part) to have been cleaned up.

Morissette has publicly stated that she will not support the documentary, saying director Alison Klayman has betrayed her trust in the making of the film. Either way, it’s not immediately evident from the final product, which functions primarily as a flattering celebration of Morissette’s 1995 album. We get a bit of context for what happened before and a vague coda as to where Morissette is now, but the film’s refusal to look at the big picture makes it Shredded a frustrating experience.

The best parts of the film are those that explore Morissette’s position as the “angry feminist pop star” of her day, highlighting the hypocrisy of the industry that built her just to demolish her. Sadly, there is too much VH1 talker futility surrounding the rest to really make an impact. The film also positions the album as the starting point of a huge career, which is hardly explored thereafter. Filled with wasted opportunities and surface-level fan worship, Shredded is a passable TV doc at best.

Jagged will be released on HBO / HBOMax / Crave on November 19.

Documentary by Alanis Morissette Jagged

Read our previous TIFF 2021 reports here. Check the TIFF website for ticket availability for films shown digitally this year.


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