movies tiff 2018

10 movies that missed the mark at TIFF

Making a film is hard. Sometimes you get brilliance, and sometimes the result is a film you wished was better than it ended up being. I managed to avoid much of the latter this year, though I still saw a number of films that either didn't quite manage to stick the landing or crashed spectacularly.

Here are my biggest movie misses from TIFF 2018.


Time will not be kind to this Nicole Kidman heist film. Slicing out some of the "humanizing" subplots and focusing on the burnt-out cop character may have rescued Karyn Kusama's folly, but as it stands it's a film that's depressingly dull and relying on some supreme stupidity for its plot to even work.

Assassination Nation

Many people love this film. I do not. Since seeing it way back at Sundance my derision for it hasn't lapsed. A classic "it's not for me" movie that I think is both boring and cheapening of the supposedly progressive ideas it pretends to present.

Red Joan

A bait-and-switch bit of nonsense, we're promised Dame Judy Dench in a spy thriller only to be snookered by a hoary framing device that sets up a flashback where most of the film takes place. It plays like a terrible TV show, complete with saccharine strings to emphasize the emotionally plodding points. Awful.

Everybody Knows

Also a cheat since I saw it back in May, but if I can celebrate Cannes selections let me take a moment to be appalled that this dud took the spot of far more worthy (and perhaps challenging) films that could have easily trumped this soap-operatic nonsense.


Jamie Bell can be great (his turn in Skin helped win that film the Platform jury prize), and he gives his all to make this noir-ish thriller work. Yet there's so much misguided angst in the film, too many times that characters do dumb things just to move the plot along. It has its moments, but far too few of them.


I wanted to love this film, honest, and there are many positive things to say about it. The production design is great, the acting pretty good, and it's a film no one else had the courage to make. While it wasn't a complete disaster, Vinterberg's film never quite found its footing, floundering as it tried valiantly to save its storyline from sinking.

Meeting Gorbachev

Werner Herzog had the opportunity to really delve into the complexity of this remarkable man and instead presented a hagiographic tale of the former Soviet leader. It's clear that the filmmaker was more in awe of his subject than anything, dropping his usual sardonic shtick (save for a funeral march) to the doc's detriment.


A cheat, for it's one of the few films I didn't stay for, but I have it on good authority that it's "dopey nonsense". I never leave a film, and lasted all of three minutes before knowing I had to check out to save my soul.

Hotel Mumbai

A film about a day-long reign of terror on citizenry doesn't call for an entertaining romp, but it does demand a precise and accomplished one. Anthony Maras desperately tries to make the the horror relatable for general audiences, resulting in a film with loads of death that somehow softens the truly diabolical nature of the attacks it brings to the screen.

Papi Chulo

If there was one film I despised with a fiery rage this was it. Ostensibly the story of a weatherman who economically enslaves a day labourer as a kind of poverty prostitution, only to be rewarded for his narcissistic nonsense, this is a film that didn't generate nearly enough protest from the audience guffawing at the cheap humour and overt racism.

Lead photo by

Everybody Knows

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