By Amanda Gilmore for Mr. Will Wong
DISCLAIMER: Bruised is screening as a work-in-progress at TIFF ’20
Halle Berry makes her directorial debut with Bruised. It follows disgraced MMA fighter Jackie “Justice” (Halle Berry) who has been struggling to get by after losing an important match years ago. Since then, she’s been living with her Manager-Bboyfriend Desi (Adan Canto). One night, Desi tricks Jackie into an underground fight and her passion for the sport reignites. That same night, her six-year-old son whom she abandoned years ago, is left at her doorstep. This sends Jackie on a redemption path both to prove herself both in the ring, and as a mother to Manny.
Bruised follows the classic Athlete/Fighter redemption archetype, told through a new lens. While this has been explored before with a central female character, typically see these stories with men in the lead. Berry is well aware that a woman can pack a punch too. Early, she throws us right into the ring in Jackie’s enraged world. Her short-temper is shown in the opening scene where she attacks a teenager because he films her while she’s changing. Jackie’s brute force is shown also to us immediately. In the underground match, we see just how violent and ruthless she can be when faced with a worthy competitor.
At the center of everything is Berry’s performance. She does an excellent job channeling Jackie’s pent-up rage, but also showing her weaknesses. It’s clear in the First Act that Jackie is ready to fire after her previous match. Also, there is tenderness to her when she is paired with Manny. Those quiet moments between mother and son allow Berry to show her range. It’s also an honest depiction of the female personality, that a duality of tough and gentle can co-exist.
Berry has surrounded herself with strong talent. Toronto’s own, and TIFF ’19 Rising Star Shamier Anderson is great as Jackie’s newly-minted Manager with an agenda. Canto turns-in a strong performance as Jackie’s supportive, yet abusive Manager-Boyfriend. However, the most memorable performance from the Supporting Cast comes from TIFF ’20 Rising Star Sheila Atim. She commands the screen as Jackie’s ‘zen’ Trainer.
Berry sets her Film amidst the tough streets of Newark, New Jersey, taking us into Jackie‘s heart and soul. She shoots the training and fight scenes with passion and intensity. The Film’s blockbuster fight scenes are its brightest moments. While the story veers often to other competing plot lines surrounding her family and love, which ultimately fail to come to full fruition and get resolved, we wanted more training and fights and that always should have been the central focus. A bit more judicious editing and a shorter run time would benefit this work-in-progress.
Bruised screens at TIFF ’20:
Sat, Sep 12 6:00pm
Online at Bell Digital Cinema
Sat, Sep 12 7:45pm
Visa Skyline Drive-In at CityView
Fri, Sep 18 9:00pm
Visa Skyline Drive-In at CityView
#TIFF20: IN CONVERSATION WITH…. HALLE BERRY
By Mr. Will Wong
As per of TIFF‘s SHARE HER JOURNEY initiative promoting emerging females in Film, the public got to enjoy a free virtual event, In Conversation with…. Halle Berry tonight, hosted by CBC‘s Amanda Parris.
Having been in the industry for over 30 years, Berry‘s career has been nothing short of legendary. In addition to winning an Oscar for her work in 2001’s Monster’s Ball, her extraordinary catalog has seen her star in the X-Men Franchise, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, Jungle Fever, Boomerang and several more impactful films of our time. She has seen an incredible longevity and tonight she reflected on her path to success.
Berry makes her directorial debut at TIFF ’20 with BRUISED, which premieres at the Festival. The MMA Sports-Drama sees her starring as disgraced fighter Jackie “Justice” who must face an up-and-coming rival in the ring and also confront the son she abandoned several years prior. The Film just sold in a huge deal for $20 million to Netflix.
Berry on getting into acting:
“I was looking for an outlet to explore what I had to say that modelling couldn’t. Originally, I thought I’d be a reporter and travel around the world reporting the news. In acting, I let the universe set forth what I should be doing. It happened with my directorial debut and when I started acting.”.
On being more than her shell and playing a drug addict in Spike Lee‘s Jungle Fever, her breakthrough role:
“I grew-up in an environment where I knew I didn’t always fit in. I knew I was full of substance and had tons of stories to tell. I knew I was always more than my shell. I felt from Jungle Fever on, I could be seen as more than a pretty face model-turned-actor.”.
On her Oscar-winning role in Monster’s Ball:
“I always go for the dark horse character in the race and I’m always drawn to that. This speaks to my own brokenness. I get to have a cathartic experience and share parts of myself I don’t always present so forwardly. I know where exactly the pain of this character lives innately.”.
On whether she watches her performances again:
“I watch them only once to prepare for Press and once at the Premiere. I never go back and watch them. That is the hardest thing to do. In my directorial debut, I had to watch myself over and over and over and that was one of the hardest aspects.”
On how she feels about the thought that Monster’s Ball propagates the idea of a ‘White Saviour‘:
“I stand behind everything I ever said. It was an important story to tell and a character I related to. I never looked at Billy Bob as the ‘White Saviour‘, but instead, two characters who needed love. I’ve never thought of the Film as being about ‘black and white’.”.
On winning an Oscar:
“I’ve never embraced any character thinking this is going to get me an award. Once you get an award, there is nothing to ensure you’ll get another award. The unfair expectation is once you do win an award, you will continue to win like you had control over that the first time. I’ve tried to stay hungry as an Actor and take risks… I can’t say it got any easier after I won that award.”.
On the changing landscape for coloured women in Entertainment:
“I do see things have changed. 20 years ago, we were in a different situation than we are today. Look at our landscape. I think our best movies are on TV. and it’s full of colour. I’m really proud to be part of the evolution. It’s starting to feel better.”.
On her directorial debut, BRUISED, which she had to re-imagine instead with a middle-aged black woman. The role originally was written for an Irish-American white woman.
“I wanna see someone rise above obstacle. That’s what most people relate to. We’re all struggling to survive and show-up for ourselves and our families.”.
“I was charged with finding someone to bring this story to life. After speaking to the Producers, I realized through the prodding of a close friend of mine I could direct this after thinking ‘Nobody understands what’s in my head!'”. “I pitched myself as the Director and I was off to the races.”.
Our Review of BRUISED will be posted later next week, be sure to check back.
(Photo credit: TIFF)
#TIFF20: COMPLETE FILM LINE-UP ANNOUNCED AT 2020 TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
By Mr. Will Wong
The complete list of Films to premiere at the 45th Toronto International Film Festival was released earlier today. More than ever, this year’s films are focused on representation and inclusion being a point of focus. We see loud and clear, movies this year about women, black people, indigenous people and people of colour.
Added to the slate are films like Kornél Mundruczó‘s PIECES OF A WOMAN starring The Crown’s Vanessa Kirby as a woman coping with the loss of her baby; Viggo Mortensen‘s directorial debut FALLING, shot here in Toronto, about a gay man dealing with his prejudiced father Emma Seligman‘s SHIVA BABY starring Molly Gordon (Good Boys) about a young woman who runs into her sugar daddy at a funeral with her family; J Blakeson‘s I CARE A LOT is about a legal conservator (Rosamund Pike) who defrauds elderly clients who has a run-in with a gangster;Cathy Brady‘s WILDFIRE starring Anne Heche, centering on a young girl who releases a dark secret in her friendship with a wild horse; Sonia Kennebeck‘s Documentary ENEMIES OF THE STATE which is about a family targeted by the U.S. government when it is learned their son is a hacker; Florian Zeller‘s THE FATHER starring Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman, centering on a man who refuses help from his daughter and his coping with aging; the Horror SHADOW IN THE CLOUD by Roseanne Liang and starring Chloë Grace Moretz, about a WWII pilot travelling with top secret documents, who discovers an evil force; and Regina King‘s ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI where we see Boxer Cassius Clay work together with Malcolm X, Sam Cooke and Jim Brow to change the course of history in the segregated South. Mira Nair‘s A SUITABLE BOY is set to close the Festival.
These are in addition to some of the centerpiece films announced prior like AMMONITE, NOMADLAND, GOOD JOE BELL, CONCRETE COWBOY, BRUISED and Opening Night Gala DAVID BYRNE’S AMERICAN UTOPIA.
Canadian representation is also very pronounced with Director Aisling Chin-Yee returning with NO ORDINARY MAN, a Documentary about a transgender Jazz Musician Billy Tipton who for many years was framed as an ambitious woman passing as a man in pursuit of music career. Others include Tracey Deer‘s BEANS, Michelle Latimer‘s two films INCONVENIENT INDIAN and TRICKSTER and both Madeleine Sims-Fewer/Dusty Mancinelli co-directed VIOLATION.
On this year’s lineup, TIFF Co-Head and Artistic Director says, “This year’s lineup reflects that tumult. The names you already know are doing brand new things this year, and there’s a whole crop of exciting new names to discover.”.
Complete line-up below:
180 Degree Rule Farnoosh Samadi | Iran
76 Days Hao Wu, Anonymous, Weixi Chen | USA
Ammonite Francis Lee | United Kingdom
Another Round (Druk) Thomas Vinterberg | Denmark
Bandar Band Manijeh Hekmat | Iran/Germany
Beans Tracey Deer | Canada
Beginning (Dasatskisi) Dea Kulumbegashvili | Georgia/France
The Best is Yet to Come (Bu Zhi Bu Xiu) Wang Jing | China
Bruised Halle Berry | USA
City Hall Frederick Wiseman | USA
Concrete Cowboy Ricky Staub | USA
David Byrne’s American Utopia Spike Lee | USA (Opening Night Film)
The Disciple Chaitanya Tamhane | India
Enemies of the State Sonia Kennebeck | USA
Falling Viggo Mortensen | Canada/United Kingdom
The Father Florian Zeller | United Kingdom/France
Fauna Nicolás Pereda | Mexico/Canada
Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds Werner Herzog, Clive Oppenheimer | United Kingdom/USA
Gaza mon amour Tarzan Nasser, Arab Nasser | Palestine/France/Germany/Portugal/Qatar
Get the Hell Out (Tao Chu Li Fa Yuan) I-Fan Wang | Taiwan
Good Joe Bell Reinaldo Marcus Green | USA
I Care A Lot J Blakeson | United Kingdom
Inconvenient Indian Michelle Latimer | Canada
The Inheritance Ephraim Asili | USA
Lift Like a Girl (Ash Ya Captain) Mayye Zayed | Egypt/Germany/Denmark
Limbo Ben Sharrock | United Kingdom
Memory House (Casa de Antiguidades) João Paulo Miranda Maria | Brazil/France
MLK/FBI Sam Pollard | USA
The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel Joel Bakan, Jennifer Abbott | Canada
New Order (Nuevo orden) Michel Franco | Mexico
Night of the Kings (La Nuit des Rois) Philippe Lacôte | Côte d’Ivoire/France/Canada/Senegal
Nomadland Chloé Zhao | USA
No Ordinary Man Aisling Chin-Yee, Chase Joynt | Canada
Notturno Gianfranco Rosi | Italy/France/Germany
One Night in Miami Regina King | USA
Penguin Bloom Glendyn Ivin | Australia
Pieces of a Woman Kornél Mundruczó | USA/Canada/Hungary
Preparations to Be Together For an Unknown Period of Time (Felkészülés meghatározatlan ideig tartó együttlétre) Lili Horvát | Hungary
Quo Vadis, Aïda? Jasmila Žbanić | Bosnia and Herzegovina/Norway/The Netherlands/Austria/Romania/France/Germany/Poland/Turkey
Shadow In The Cloud Roseanne Liang | USA/New Zealand
Shiva Baby Emma Seligman | USA/Canada
Spring Blossom Suzanne Lindon | France
A Suitable Boy Mira Nair | United Kingdom/India (Closing Night Presentation)
Summer of 85 (Été 85) François Ozon | France
The Third Day Felix Barrett, Dennis Kelly | United Kingdom
Trickster Michelle Latimer | Canada
True Mothers (Asa Ga Kuru) Naomi Kawase | Japan
Under the Open Sky (Subarashiki Sekai) Miwa Nishikawa | Japan
Violation Madeleine Sims-Fewer, Dusty Mancinelli | Canada
Wildfire Cathy Brady | United Kingdom/Ireland
The Toronto International Film Festival runs September 10–19, 2020.
More here on Films and their respective Programmes.
(Photo credit: Elevation Pictures)
#TIFF20: FIRST ROUND OF ANNOUNCEMENTS
By Mr. Will Wong
So things will be a bit different this year amidst this pandemic. TIFF unveiled what this year’s Festival will look like and there will be physical screenings and drive-ins, digital screenings, virtual red carpets, press conferences and industry talks. The Festival is still slated to go September 10–19, 2020. Film Premieres will be downsized to 50 films only including the likes of:
–Ammonite, directed by Francis Lee (United Kingdom) – starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan
–Another Round, from director Thomas Vinterberg (Denmark) starring Mads Mikkelsen
–Bruised, the debut film from director Halle Berry (USA) – she also stars
–Concrete Cowboy by filmmaker Ricky Staub (USA) starring Idris Elba and Jharrel Jerome
–Fauna, from director Nicolás Pereda (Mexico/Canada) starring Geordy Skolnick and Sammy Mena
–Good Joe Bell by director Reinaldo Marcus Green (USA) starring Mark Wahlberg and Connie Britton
–Spring Blossom, the debut film by director Suzanne Lindon (France) starring Raymond Aquaviva
–True Mothers by director Naomi Kawase (Japan) starring Arata Iura
TIFF Ambassadors will be taking part in the Festival including Ava DuVernay, Taika Waititi, Anurag Kashyap, Nicole Kidman, Martin Scorsese, Nadine Labaki, Alfonso Cuarón, Tantoo Cardinal, Riz Ahmed, Rian Johnson, Jason Reitman, Isabelle Huppert, Claire Denis, Atom Egoyan, Priyanka Chopra, Viggo Mortensen, Zhang Ziyi, David Oyelowo, Lulu Wang, Rosamund Pike, Sarah Gadon, and Denis Villeneuve.
Also added to the list of Ambassadors are: Hiam Abbass, Haifaa Al-Mansour, Shamier Anderson, Darren Aronofsky, Olivier Assayas, Gael García Bernal, Derek Cianfrance, Mark Cousins, Julie Delpy, Barry Jenkins, Jia Zhang-ke, Barbara Kopple, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Brie Larson, Kasi Lemmons, Tatiana Maslany, Carey Mulligan, Genevieve Nnaji, Alanis Obomsawin, Natalie Portman, Zachary Quinto, Isabella Rossellini, Albert Serra, Wim Wenders, Olivia Wilde and Donnie Yen.
Derek Cianfrance (A Place Beyond the Pines, Blue Valentine), will lead a Dialogues session and actor and producer David Oyelowo will be a guest speaker as part of the TIFF Rising Stars programme.
It remains to be seen if talent physically will be in attendance this year.
The TIFF Tribute Awards, which honoured the likes of Meryl Streep and Joaquin Phoenix last year, also will be held once again this year. Kate Winslet wil receive the TIFF Tribute Actor Award on September 15 in a virtual event.
TIFF Artistic Director and Co-Head Cameron Bailey says, “The pandemic has hit TIFF hard, but we’ve responded by going back to our original inspiration — to bring the very best in film to the broadest possible audience”.
More details to come. We appreciate so much the Festival still putting its best foot forward in trying times and you can bet our Team will still be there to deliver you coverage!
(Photo credit: Lionsgate Films)