Weekend Watchlist | TIFF-riffic

By The Pitt News Staff, The Pitt News Staff

Thursday marked the start of the Toronto International Film Festival, which is back in full swing. The festival will feature the premieres of several highly anticipated films such as Rian Johnson’s sequel to “Knives Out” and Viola Davis’ “The Woman King.”

TIFF serves as a portent for Academy Season, and several popular films either won or were runners-up for the People’s Choice Award, and this week The Pitt News Staff is taking a look at some of those films.

One Night in Miami… (Prime Video) // Sinead McDevitt, Digital Manager

“One Night in Miami…” may have lost the People’s Choice Award to “Nomadland” in 2020, but it’s an amazing film. The film, based on Kemp Powers’ play of the same name, is a fictitious retelling of the night Cassius Clay (Eli Gorgee), aka Muhammed Ali, is crowned world boxing champion. It also features Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge) and Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.).

Powers returned to write the screenplay, in which the four focal characters discuss their experiences as African-American icons, the responsibilities that come with that and what is the best use of their reputations to help the African-American community. It’s a poignant piece that gives the audience a lot to think about, and Powers doesn’t try to hold the audience’s hand. The first time I saw it, I found myself still thinking about it three days later.

The screenplay is bolstered by the stellar acting, the four men carrying equal weight as they argue their points of view, and Regina King’s direction enhances it further. “One Night in Miami…” is a film everyone should watch at least once.

Jojo Rabbit (Prime Video) // Jacob Mraz, Staff Writer 

Adapted from Christine Leunens 2008 novel “Caging Skies,” “Jojo Rabbit” is a complicated comedy-drama from director Taika Waititi. Though it spent nearly a decade in development, where it was rewritten and blacklisted, it won the People’s Choice Award in 2019 at the 44th Toronto International Film Festival and was nominated for 6 Academy Awards, winning one for Best Adapted Screenplay.

The film is centered on Johannes “Jojo” Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis), a 10-year-old growing up in Nazi Germany. Jojo is a member of the notorious Hitler Youth and is prodded by the ideals of his imaginary friend, Adolf (Taika Waititi) – a buffoonish, caricature of Adolf Hitler. Over the course of the film, his radical ideologies are challenged when he discovers his mother Rosie (Scarlett Johanson) is hiding a teenage Jewish girl named Elsa Korr (Thomasin McKenzie) in their home. Though their initial meetings are hostile, Jojo quickly learns that almost everything he’s been led to believe about Jewish people has been wrong. Elsa, despite what he’s been told, is a normal little girl scared for her life and with nowhere else to go. What follows is a hilarious, beautiful and heartbreaking coming of age story that is not to be missed.

It should be stated that the subject matter may prove to be too sensitive for some. Waititi came under fire for his toning down, or comedic take on Nazism and its repercussions. But these tend to ignore the very real, harsh consequences that take place during the film and, in the end, ignore what the film is really about. It is the softening of prejudice through the eyes of a child, and an examination of character growth, which is both precious and necessary in the work of fiction.

The Princess Bride (Disney+) // Katelyn Kruszewski, Staff Writer

Winner of the People’s Choice Award in 1987, “The Princess Bride” is a classic comfort film. The fantasy adventure comedy film is based off of William Goldman’s comedic 1973 novel. This cult classic is a nonsensical work that shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

“The Princess Bride” begins with a grandfather (Peter Salk) visiting his sick grandson (Fred Savage) and telling him a bedtime story. The grandfather tells the tale of Buttercup (Robin Wright) and Westley (Cary Elwes). After falling in love, Westley is presumed dead in a tragic accident. Years after the incident, Buttercup is forcibly betrothed to Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon). Before the wedding can take place, she is kidnapped by three outlaws. As Buttercup is taken, a strange masked man makes the journey to rescue her from the outlaws, enduring battles in strength, wit and, I kid you not, giant rats. As I said, this film should not be taken very seriously.

Despite the nonsensical nature of “The Princess Bride” and its initial negative reception, it soon became a cult classic to many due to its quirky characters, humorous dialogue and breaking of the fourth wall during pivotal moments of conflict. This film is a must-watch for its humor, wit and heartfelt moments.