TIFF 2017 Day 10: “Darkest Hour,” “Lean On Pete,” “I, Tonya,” “Hostiles,” “Vampire Clay”


Busy, busy, busy day today on the 10th day of the festival. I got five more films into my lineup including Joe Wright’s “Darkest Hour,” Andrew Haigh’s “Lean On Pete,” Craig Gillespie’s “I, Tonya,” Scott Cooper’s “Hostiles,” and Sôichi Umezawa’s “Vampire Clay.” Let’s jump right in!


“Darkest Hour,” dir. Joe Wright

A thrilling and inspiring true story begins on the eve of World War II as, within days of becoming Prime Minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill must face one of his most turbulent and defining trials: exploring a negotiated peace treaty with Nazi Germany, or standing firm to fight for the ideals, liberty and freedom of a nation. As the unstoppable Nazi forces roll across Western Europe and the threat of invasion is imminent, and with an unprepared public, a skeptical King, and his own party plotting against him, Churchill must withstand his darkest hour, rally a nation, and attempt to change the course of world history.

While it does oftentimes feel like a standard retelling of history, Gary Oldman’s transformative performance as Winston Churchill and some well placed humor sprinkled throughout help make “Darkest Hour” stand out. Special shoutout to Dario Marianelli’s riveting score.



“Lean On Pete,” dir. Andrew Haigh

Charley Thompson is a homeless 15-year-old in Portland, and Lean on Pete is his best friend and a failing racehorse. They set off an a journey to find his only known relative.

For a film so deliberately slow paced, “Lean On Pete” sure is an emotional roller coaster. Charlie Plummer does an excellent job carrying this film on his shoulders and director Andrew Haigh is very careful to make sure that the movie is hard-hitting while not being overbearing or manipulative.



“I, Tonya,” dir. Craig Gillespie

The story of Tonya Harding’s rise to Olympic notoriety.

“I, Tonya” was such an entertaining surprise! The film is filled with great bursts of comedy, a killer soundtrack, and breaking of the fourth wall, while at the same time making sure that it doesn’t undercut the deeper moments. Margot Robbie and Allison Janney do outstanding work.



“Hostiles,” dir. Scott Cooper

The story centers on a legendary Native American-hating Army captain, nearing retirement in 1892, who is given one last assignment: to escort a Cheyenne chief and his family through dangerous territory back to his Montana reservation.

Off, this one was tough to sit through. Not even the solid performances by Christian Bale and Rosamund Pike could distract from “Hostiles” being lifeless, uninspired, and just flat out boring.



“Vampire Clay,” dir. Sôichi Umezawa

A plasticine demon devours the denizens of a rural art school.

Two years ago, it was “Evolution.” Last year, it was “The Bad Batch.” This year, the worst film of the festival is “Vampire Clay.” Look, I get it. It’s just a silly little midnight movie. But come on, did it have to be this lazily filmed and horrendously edited? The atrocious filmmaking “craft” here severely undercuts some impressive practical effects. Too bad the film rarely gives you a chance to enjoy it. I’m just glad it’s over and done with.


If you want to stay updated with all my reviews at TIFF as I see the films, follow me on my Letterboxd.

Now onto the final day of TIFF!


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