My tiff partner Glenn pulled a rabbit out of the hat this afternoon, and he got us tickets to a tiff opening night film: Tabu. It was going to feel odd being in the midst of all the tiff action in downtown Toronto and not seeing a film until Friday. So as he read the high recommendation for Tabu at the Awards Daily tiff thread, he waited for an hour in his queue online at tiff (no comment) just to have a look around and see what was available, and low and behold, he got two tickets to Tabu. It was a synchronous moment because I was thinking how awesome it would be to see that movie too. So when I read my email from him telling me he got tickets, you can imagine how elated I was! This brings my tiff tally up to 17, the most films I will have seen at the festival in all my nine years of attending.
At the tiff website, here is a synopsis of Tabu:
Following the acclaimed Our Beloved Month of August, Miguel
Gomes now firmly establishes himself as one of the major talents in
contemporary world cinema with his entrancing third feature. Named after
F.W. Murnau and Robert Flaherty’s 1931 classic, Tabu is an intoxicating
mix of formal daring, political commentary, haunting romance and
exquisite beauty. Filmed in black and white, and divided into two parts —
"Paradise Lost," set in the present and filmed in 35mm, followed by an
extended flashback to the bygone "Paradise," rendered in beautifully
grainy Super 16mm — Tabu intertwines a chronicle of illicit
love with a subtle overview of Portugal’s colonial history and its
reverberations in the present.
In "Paradise Lost," we first encounter Aurora (Laura Soveral) as a
mildly batty elderly woman living in modern-day Lisbon. She spends her
days exhausting her savings on gambling binges and alienating her
steadfast Cape Verdean housekeeper Santa (Isabel Cardoso) by accusing
her of witchcraft — a bit of knee-jerk racism that serves as a reminder
of Portugal’s colonial hangover. When Aurora is hospitalized, she
confides to Pilar (Teresa Madruga), her kindly, lonesome middle-aged
neighbour and seemingly only friend, the name and address of a man whom
she wants to know of her fate: Gian Luca Ventura.
In contrast to Aurora’s unceasing chattiness in "Paradise Lost,"
"Paradise" is marked by a total absence of dialogue. This shift is a nod
to early cinema, but the roots of "Paradise" reach back further, into
the magic of oral storytelling. Narrated by the now elderly Ventura
(Henrique Espírito Santo), the film’s second part takes place fifty
years in the past, where a much younger and happier Aurora (Ana Moreira)
is married, affluent and pregnant, living on a large African estate
with a battalion of black servants and hosting garden parties where
alcohol and firearms are always handy. Life seems to promise only
pleasant placidity — until Aurora falls hopelessly in love with the
handsome, moustachioed drummer Ventura (Carloto Cotta), whose band
specializes in Portuguese versions of Phil Spector hits. Running away
into the wilderness at the foothills of Mount Tabu, the lovers play out
their illicit affair under the eyes of a watchful, mystical crocodile.
A colonialist metaphor wrapped in a gloriously cinephilic fever dream, Tabu delivers one of the year’s most rapturous love letters to the cinema.
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