During Toronto International Film Festival 2022, we had seen many films that promised to visually satisfy our curiosity. With the programming of over 200 movies, we have narrowed down to 4 most visually intriguing films, that might inspire a creative mind, make you gasp from their overwhelming beauty, or make you ponder about deeper meanings behind the beauty of a picture.
“Welcome to Daliland” — the world of sex, drugs, rock’n’roll and art! Daliland, the closing film at TIFF this year, was a beautiful exclamation point for the 47th edition of the cinematic festivities. Not only because it was a movie about the genius artist of the 20th century, but also because it was directed by a Canadian director Mary Harron.
Set in the 1970s, the story of the famed artist Salvador Dali (Sir Ben Kingsley) and his wife/muse/business manager Gala (Barbara Sukowa) is told through the eyes of his assistant, James aka San Sebastian (Christopher Briney). The latter was a gallery worker, whose angelic face and youthfulness landed him a job to help Dali prepare for his show in New York City.
The master surrounded himself with beautiful people (portrayed by real-life models Suki Waterhouse and Andreja Pejic among others). He gave them nicknames and technically stripped them down of their personalities to keep his imagination going. He also threw opulent lavish parties that often ended in orgies. He sought beauty all around him. In New York, his residence of choice was a lavish suite at the St.Regis Hotel. In his native Spain, he lived in beautiful castles by the shore. Thus came his enormous bills, and their management was on Gala’s shoulders, who was overbooking Dali and made the famed artist work over his limits. Their relationship, which many people have not understood, is the centre of the story.
While it is very easy to cosplay Salvador Dali just putting on his iconic moustache, Sir Ben Kingsley’s performance grasped the character and madness of the genius until the final moment of the film. He made Dali real in everything, including the look in his eyes. Kingsley’s incredible acting is the backbone of the movie and worth watching at least for admiring his talent.
And the visuals. While Dali himself was a famous dandy, in the film he was dressed from mink coats to opulent French emperor-inspired robes. Gorgeous costumes in this film make the characters look as if they have stepped out straight from Alessandro Michele for Gucci runways.
Even though some found the movie to be a little chaotic, that is understandable while depicting an artist who is so eccentric. Yet, a viewer can enjoy the story of art world in the 70s, get intrigued by such an important figure of the 20th century, and catch the fleeting moments of inspiration along with Salvador Dali himself.
The public release of the film has not yet been confirmed at this time.
The opulent historical drama Chevalier (directed by Stephen Williams) is set in the French court and brings out the story of a Black composer, Joseph Bologne, the Chevalier de Saint-Georges, whose legacy has been forgotten due to systematic racism laws. The valuable beauty of this film is that it is based on real events.
Born in Guadeloupe as the illegitimate son of an enslaved African and a white French aristocrat, Bologne grew up in Paris as a privileged but stigmatized son. Although he was afforded the finest education and excelled in music and fencing, his talent and ambitions could only take him to a certain level. Despite his talents and the friendship with the Queen Marie Antoinette herself (Lucy Boynton), he was still mixed-race and she was not able to help him become the head of Paris Opera — the most prestigious musical position in the country.
The story is set on the brink of the French Revolution. “Liberte. Fraternite. Egalite.” As a matter of fact, Bologne rose to a political prominence during those years, leading the first all-Black regiment in Europe. Yet, according to the final titles of the movie, after Napoleon Bonaparte became an Emperor, he reinstated slavery and completely banned Bologne’s music, which is why he was almost forgotten. Now, 200 years later, a part of his story is brought up to the silver screen for world attention.
As the story is about a musician, who was so talented and self-confident that he challenged Mozart himself at his concert (the opening scene of the movie), the score and sounds of the film are extremely powerful.
The film is an absolute eye candy, boasting gorgeous costumes, hairstyles and decorations. We suspect at least four Oscar nominations, including best costumes, hair (although not so sure about the make up as it looked way too 2022), original score and music, and art direction.
Chevalier will be in theatres from April 7, 2023.
The Colour of Ink
Acclaimed Canadian journalist, writer and documentary director Brian D. Johnson has shot a beautiful cinematic celebration of colours for his new film, The Colour of Ink. The documentary follows Toronto-based ink-maker Jason Logan, who sees the world in beautiful colours and makes natural ink virtually from anything be it New York subway’s rust or colourful floral petals.
Coming from the corporate world of print magazines, Jason used to work as an art director, graphic designer and illustrator for major publications, including New York Times, but for the last 12 years he has resided in Toronto, where he makes natural inks for his The Toronto Ink Company. The film shows the way Jason works, and explores the history of inks and colours and how the natural ways of production have evolved over time. Filmmakers travel all over the world to tell the story of inks and dyes. They go to Mexico to get the colour purple from shells in sustainable farms, red from cochineal bugs and vibrant indigo blue. In Italy, they take certain marbles for specific shades of white. In the U.S., they visit a keeper of the “ochre sanctuary”, who collects this pigment, and the ink maker, who makes inks from the metals of the guns. The films showcases the stories of yellows, pinks, blues, blacks, exploring their richness and deepness, including the change of shade depending on how deep you dip your brush.
Jason mails it to the Japanese calligrapher Kōji Kakinuma, as well as to various artists, illustrators, cartoonist and a tattoo artist in Norway and across the U.S.A. He even presents one (red, of course) to the iconic Canadian writer Margaret Atwood. When she asks about the longevity of such ink, Jason responds that if you are looking for archival, UV-proof long-lasting ink, you better go to the art supplies store. These inks have their own life and destiny, they tell their own story.
It was mesmerizing to follow the film on so many levels. First, it was about how the ink holds the value of the shade of colour. For example, Jason was asked to create an ink using the blood of a beloved dog that was sick, and he created Prussian blue, that was believed to hold medicinal qualities in the past. Then we travel along with the paints to various artists around the world and observe how it becomes a part of their new artistic creations. Here, one of the paints was used to draw an octopus, with the ink made from archaeological finds from the same waters, where that octopus lived . And, also, cinematically, the movie is beautifully shot. Watching the ink travelling the paper or mixing colours is fascinating and meditative at the same time.
The Colour of Ink is a visually lush tribute to a practice and art which has had an enormous impact on our history and our collective psyche. Every creative individual should watch this documentary as it is very poetic, truly mind-boggling and inspirational!
The public release of the film has not yet been confirmed at this time.
TIFF 2022 hosted the North American Premiere of the Austrian film Corsage about the Empress of Austro-Hungarian Empire Elisabeth, also known as Sissi. The film is set in 1877 Vienna, around Christmas time and follows Sissi’s inner turmoil regarding her famous beauty, image, age and position in the Empire.
Empress Sissi was married to Emperor Franz Joseph I at the age of 16 and was idolized for her beauty and embellished flare across the Empire. Yet, as shown in the movie, when she celebrated her 40th birthday, the conversation of a fading female beauty as she ages, started to bother her. Her role was reduced to purely performative, yet she was a woman of great energy and zest of life. On top of that, the declining desire of her husband towards her also pushed her to travel to England and Bavaria to her former lovers and friends, which caused displeasure of her son, future Emperor Franz Joseph II.
Sissi was famous for her tiniest waist, tightest corsets and the longest hair. This is far from a polished Hollywood opulent drama, yet it is a beautiful European film. It is slow-paced but not boring. It is written and directed by Marie Kreutzer and the actress Vicky Krieps (who viewers might recognize from the movie The Phantom Thread) has not only received an award for the Best Performance in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes Film Festival, but she is also an executive producer for this film. So, it is notably a female production.
Corsage is announced as Austria’s official entry for Academy Award’s Best International Feature Film for 2023.
Corsage will be in theatres from December 23, 2022.
Photography courtesy of TIFF.