Toronto International Film Festival: Meet the Monsters
|© 2012 - The Weinstein Company|
|Joaquin Phoenix in The Master|
First and foremost, there was The Master, which had its North American premiere the first weekend, setting a bar that nothing I saw after could clear. Haunted by the mythic opulence of mid-century Hollywood, it evokes a Scientology-like cult as a sideshow, convincing followers they can step into movie-like visions of their own past through methods that mimic the method of Stanislavski and Strasberg, brought into the movies of the day by mid-century stars such as Marlon Brando and Marilyn Monroe. It's also a psych exam of a nation fresh off a triumph as superheroes on the international stage, pulling together a dream future in the wake of incomprehensible horrors and unparalleled victory. What happens when you don't, or can't, conform to a collective dream?
If The Master is a journey inside a national identity just after that nation has been crowned the kings of the world, the nonfiction hybrid The Last Time I Saw Macao is, perhaps, the inverse: a document of a former colony made by descendants of its former colonizer (Portuguese filmmakers João Pedro Rodrigues and João Rui Guerra da Mata), and a drama about a loss of control. Hollywood's reach is felt here, too: Directly referencing Josef Von Sternberg's Jane Russell-starring Macao and the genre of cabaret noir, it's a travel essay made narrative by the appropriation of tropes of classic movies.