Tuesday, September 21, 2010

TIFF REVIEW: FILM #41 " Wasted on the Young"


      I  have never seen the text message in movies dilema dealt with so well. I think the director drawers credit, if for nothin else, for this. The bonus is that the director also deserves credit fir making a really great high school drama thriller that kept me cringing and squirming and also guessing.
      The story may not be the most original, in fact it's not that original at all - new girl gets taken advantage of at a party, cool guys accussed of rape, denial, gossip, pain and revenge. It's one of the standard stories for high school genre films. BUT it's all in the execution, and wasted on the young does a superb job of telling old in a new way.
       Performances are all solid. There wasn't a character I didn't believe, primarily the leads. Wow. The intensity in this film is great, and when it builds and builds and brimms over you can't help but be excited.
    Watch this film. It's really damn good.

TIFF REVIEW: FILM #31 "I Saw The Devil"

DIRECTED BY - Kim Jee-woon

     Wholly crap this is a great thriller, both visually and contextually it's a treat. Cut 10 minutes out of the 1st half and it would have been better.
      The cut at TIFF was the extended/band in asia cut, which is always great, and when you're in unrated territory by the director of old boy, well I hope you get the picture as to how great this can be.
     The idea that serial killers are everywhere, and sociopaths just happen upon sociopaths all the time was hilarious to me, with bloody results that made me give everyone a second glance on the way home.
     While there isn't a lot of "who dun it" here, there is a lot of thought behind everything happening giving this flick an added edge over other gory hunter/prey movies.  

TIFF REVIEW: FILM #38 "Stake Land"

DIRECTED BY -  Jim Mickle

I'm sorry, but did anyone ask for zombieland with vampires? Cause that's what I just watched-right down to a constant voice over by the loser we root for as he follows the brazen "mr" on his killing sprees across the country as he heads to "new Eden"
First kill sequence, I had high hopes as a vampire that looks like a face painted rabid racoon feeds on a baby from the rafters, dropping it's tiny corpse when switching to being on the attack. Not bad. Then It all goes to shit.
A BORING voice over follows the two leads across the country as they constantly head north, killing vampires along the way. Stopping off to visit camps of survivors- trade goods- visit nameless whores and then ride on. LAME! There was NOTHING new in here at all.
It upsets me when a movie has potential, and then relies on cliche instead. The Herod pick up a girl along the way- obvious, oh and she's pregnant. Then they pick up a whitty black guy fighting for hi life against Arian religits, oh and he used to be in te military and has all the tid-bits of inormation the writers think we want to know. I was hoping they would avoid this moment, but it's cliche so why not use it.
I honestly just wanted te characters to die.
All that said, there are a few fun vampire kills, but at times the vampires seemed almost like zombies which kept making me think yet again of zombieland. There is a hilariously bad karate kid training esq montage as the lead learns how to jab a stake! Ugh!
I must say though, dropping vampires from a helicopter as an attack method is pretty damn cool, but reminded me further of how this movie is not as strong as the sum of it's parts.
The best moment is at the end- which I shall diculdge here. The plac they are all running too- new Eden- Yeah, it's Canada! Hilarious. Luckily this high moment was quickly followed up the end credits.

Stake Land won the peoples choice midnight Madness award art TIFF 2010, which makes me wonder what it was that I was missing, and what movie everyone else was watching.  The constant review I hear is that the post-apocolyptic depiction is great, the brotherhood element is so well done, the vampire moments are great...   And still I feel like my initial opinion holds true.  The state of the world is brushed over, and just as anything shows a glimpse of being interesting we're on the move again.  I just don't get it - but the film I'm sure shall get distribution so at some point I shall check it out again.

TIFF REVIEW: FILM #35 "Beautiful Boy"

IN MY OPINION - 6.5/10

Again sheen knocks it out of the park with an amazing performance.
It was nice to see a story like this, void of violence-helping show how the aftermath of violence is almost as bad as the violent act itself.
As a directorial debut this is a powerful intimate Story of loss and denial. The constant stredicam is a character all it's own as the grieving parents wander through the unsteady ground of masive guilt at the same time, making me feel like I was a distant observer bought into the quiet moments. It worked very well.

TIFF REVIEW: FILM #44 "Cold Fish"

DIRECTED BY -  Sion Sono

Uhmmm. Yeah. This movie is a little bloody. And when I say little I mean very, and when I say bloody I mean disturbing.
The last 15 minutes will surely make this "based on a true story" murder crime thriller a cult hit. It just doesn't end, and as it keeps going it keeps getting bloodier, and bloodier, and more violent and tense and wow. By the time it ends I was just glad to be able to breath.
While it's a little long cold fish does a great job of twisting the tension vice as things slowly get worse and worse and worse. And damn is there an uncomfortable ammount of comedy mixed in with all this sociopathic violence. I almost felt bad laughing as the subject gets darker, but you can't help it. Part of the charm of this murder flick is watching the actor that plays the mass murderer and his over the top hillarious demeanor. It's a great contrast to the reseved, cold fish like performance of the protege.
This movie is not for everyone, but it's a crazy true story and a great horror film.

TIFF REVIEW: FILM #45 "Monsters"

DIRECTED BY - Gareth Edwards

This is what monster movies should be like.
At it's core monsters is a simple plot really, "so if we don't get out of teh country in the next 48hrs well be stuck here for 6months". It doesn't get more blatant than that- and this is one of the worst lines of dialogue in the whole movie because of its rare on the nose delivery. The rest of monsters is such a treat where it let's you fill in the gaps and enjoy watching a movie where everyone is tired of dealing with these things and just want to get through the "attack season".
While the - get from a to b - story is basic, it's a very fun ride along the way with solid performances, stunning visuals and a good balance of comedy and Hitchcock like terror (what you can't see scares you more) monsters has a great deal of withstraint when delving into the horror/sci-fi genre.
Added coolness is that monsters was made for next to nothing by a bunch of friends who headed to mexico and just made a movie. The special effects were mostly all completed by te director alone at home, which is an accheivment in itself and should be throwing inspiration to any and all aspiring filmmakers. This is the kind of movie you can make without the system, this is the bar and it has just been raised!

Friday, September 17, 2010

TIFF REVIEW: FILM #42 " Fire Of Conscience"


Skipped to spend time with my birthday girl girlfriend. I shall re-watch infernal affairs to make up for it. :)

TIFF REVIEW: FILM #39 "Repeaters"


First off, I was tired and fell asleep before the end of this fairly self contained story, so I know I didn't get the full effect- but I also fell asleep and that can't be too good anyway.
A dark twist on "Groundhog day" repeaters really didn't grab me. I was hopin it would, as it's interesting premise had the potential to stand out against other Canadian features. But it didn't do it for me.
It's not easy getting the audience to get behind flawed characters, especially when they are all dope fiends that appear to have no redeeming qualities except feeling bad that they have to apologize to the love ones they hurt along the way. I wasn't rooting for anyone, which is probably why I fell asleep.
The film also has a very small feel and production was, i'm afraid to say, basically Canadian.
I am waiting for the time Canadian indies stand out and embrace low budgets and get creative with them. As it is parts of repeaters just felt like they were trying to make a movie out of their means, and it suffers because of it.
The idea was sound, and the potential I there, it just didn't pull all together.

TIFF REVIEW: FILM # 16 "Submarine"

DIRECTED BY - Richard Ayoade


Bloody brilliant. There is a reason this is being sought after by distributors- it's fucking hilarious, heartfelt, charming and all around great. It really is like a British rushmore in it's one liners, story structure, quirky characters and hanging on a great performance by it's young male lead.
Director Richard Ayoade has made a magnificent leap from TV to film and I shall look forward to a wide release of this, and whatever else he has coming in the future.


TIFF REVIEW: FILM #15 "Break Up Club"

DIRECTED BY - Barbara Wong


What a great little romantic comedy. It nails falling in love, breaking up, and everything in between.
The shooting style was a touch too much at times, but forgivable because all the moments were so wonderfully acted. And breaking down the stories 4th wall and the creative process was a nice touch, that had a really enjoyable pay off come the end of the film, which I was very greatful for as I was about to get upset at the unbelievable way this film was captured / told. All through fly on the wall and confessional camera work.
Its a little long though. I really do think there is something to be said for the 90 minute comedy, and unfortunately break up club didnt bring enough to the table to warran it's 2 plus hour screen time. Trim 30 minutes and it's magnificent.


TIFF REVIEW: FILM #14 "The Illusionist"

DIRECTED BY - Sylvain Chomet


I can't say anything wrong about this movie. It was an hour and a half of magnificet cell frame animation that almost had me crying by the end-almost, it was close.
How is it that if I was sitting in a live action movie I wouldn't give them the leeway to have apx 2 pages of dialogue in a feature, but with this film I didn't care at all? Storytelling at it's core, and it was pulled off with excellence and heart.
Only problem is I have to wait till Christmas to see it again.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

TIFF REVIEW: FILM #13 "State of Violence"

DIRECTED BY - Khalo Matabane


What a great little revenge film. It's told with a lot of restraint both from exposition and violence. So many films rely on the catch up moment to fill the audience in, where with SOV I got all the information I needed in due time, and it was great.
When seaking revenge dig two graves, as the saying goes, and it's usually necessary, but I do love when the people you don't expect end up in those graves.
Ive seen a few African films in the last while and this leads the pack with skill(z) on many levels. Performances are solid all round, from the bit parts to the leads you buy into each character right away. The camera work isn't amazing, but it's such a step in the right direction compared to others. The pacing of the screenplay is bang on, despite being quite short. It's just over 1hr 15 minutes, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, when it's an amature hour production, but I did want more.


TIFF REVIEW: FILM #12 "Cirkus Columbia"

DIRECTED BY - Danis Tanovic


I shall make sure to re-watch "no mans land" to make up for this.
If you haven't seen no mans land then go rent it.


TIFF REVIEW: FILM #11 "Bunraku"


IN MY OPINION - 7.5/10

Wholy fun. This is like sin city, but with an adrenaline shot. Visually it's something else, stylistically it's all by itself, action wise it's great fun and pretty awesome - have I seen better, sure, but that doesn't mean there is anything wrong with this action.
An awesome cast lead us through a narrated tale of sought after revenge in a fantastical world where everyone looks like the walked off the dick Tracey set- but in a good way.
The problem with movies like this, that rely so heavily on the action and visual style is that the second act just lags. While it wasn't so bad with Bunraku, I did find myself wondering when it was gonna wrap up and get to the final battle. And then when we get to the final battle I was let down a bit. Ron Perlman is constantly being talked up as the master and the best and all that stuff, but when we get to the end ad it's finally his time to kick some ass I was cheated out of it- which kind of sucked.
I did like hearing a mock story of spiderman told via pop-up book and watching a bunch of cirque de sole esq performance add Kung-Fu to their mix. Watch this movie, it's fun.


TIFF REVIEW: FILM #10 "Love Crime"


IN MY OPINION - 8.5/10

This is what a mystery/thriller should be like - keeping you guessing how in the hell this is all goin to come together, and then marvelling at the mastery when it does.
At the centre are two sharp performances that constantly had me wondering what are these women up too? K.S.T I yet again amazing, managing to tell so so much in a half second glance, or a split second change of mood that gives you chills and made me nervous in her presence. And ------- is everything you want as Isa. She is vulnurable, she is clever, she is a snake in te grass, showing you where she is, but never what's really up too. Amazing.
Check this movie out, it's a great little "how-dun-it" that I look forward to discecting on later viewings.


TIFF REVIEW: FILM #9 "The Strange Case of Angelica"

DIRECTED BY - Manoel de Oliveira

Oh god!!!!!
This film is getting points for the fact that the director is fucking 101 years old. I saw it on this fact and what a damn mistake. I actually think the camera was moving at the directors internal bowl movements- once an hour, and only slightly.
Man this was bad, I don't know what the hell it was about. Not at all. It was slow, boring, poorly acted , bad camera work and the lost goes on.
Points granted for a beginning and end to the film, Goddard should take note.
Avoid. If you have tickets, trade them, if you were on the fence. Jump off it.


TIFF REVIEW: FILM #8 "Viva Riva"



It's a fun movie, and it's a good screwballish gangster comedy of errors, in the vein of lockstock and two smocking barrells. The main bad guy, if you can call him that seeing as everyone is a bad guy, steals every scene he can, and I for one don't have a problem with that as he was such a great quirky character.
What I disliked though was when the only seemingly, less bad guy, went full on mean and ruthless. Just not necessary. Oh, and when a characters motivation for delving into a world of murder and crime can just be thrown aside when the third act is coming up, then it wasn't a good enough reason to begin with. It was a shame to see little things like that, and constant catch up exposition, that added nothing to the film. It was pitfalls like those that kept this from being a stronger film.


TIFF REVIEW: FILM #7 "Lapland Odyssey"

DIRECTED BY - Dome Karukoski


Very fun wild roadtrip movie.
Here's the thing. There's nothing really wrong with this movie, but there's also nothing really great about it either. It a solid film, with funny moments and emotional moments- arcs for all, but none of it jumped out or went above and beyond.
At the end there is a great wrap up helicopter moment that was just hilarious and well handled - at the same time it entirely missed the pay off to a wine bottle full of urine. Oh well, anoter time perhaps.


TIFF REVIEW: FILM #6 "Behind Blue Skies"

DIRECTED BY - Hannes Holm


Great acting
Great script
Great camera work and style.
Great film.
What I like most about this movie is the sense of responsability that rests on the leads shoulders. Whether it's at home, at his part time job, holding secrets or in the business he gets involved with, he holds his head high and soldiers on giving a fantastic moral core that resonates troughout the whole film, both in his performance and in the story.
At the heart of it this is a coming of age story, and a damn good one at that about a middle class kid surrounded by people with money and the idea that life can be a hell of a lot better than his currently is. Add to this the true story of a Swedish drug ring and you get my score of 9. The highest score so far.

I'm not sure if the first few reviewed films are all scoring high because they are the first few of the festival, or if Ive just been really lucky with the movies I've seen. And, if the rest of the week is shaping up to be like this, then this is gonna be awesome.


TIFF REVIEW: FILM #5 "I'm Still Here"

DIRECTED BY - Casey Affleck


So far I think this is one of favourite of the fest. While most are familiar with the public fall of JP, this shows such a varied view of it all.
As a documentry it's a fantastic job of capturing creative process in it's genesis, whether it's madness or genius only time will tell, but it's really engaging to watch.
For shock value, it delivers on all fronts. There's crazy high JP, there's tap dancing "found me some coke, gonna sniff a hookers bum hole" JP, and there is also the JP that gets out of a moving vehicle after appearing on letterman that breaks anyone with a heart into realizing that what JP is doing with his life is brave- it may be stupid and he may not be in the best mental state, but following muse is a tight rope.

Also, his hip hop isn't too bad. I look forward to hearing what will come out. If only there was a way for him to reveal the music without being the shadow of his former life, and epic fall.

Check this movie out, but be prepared for penis, pooh, drugs and vomit.



DIRECTED BY - Lee Changdong


Taking the screenplay award at Cannes this year I was looking forward to Poetry. And story wise it did not dissappoint.
Watching the lead deal with weight of the world on her aging shoulders is wonderfully acted and well told, it was a pacing issue that kept this from hitting a higher note with me. I was close to dozIng off a couple times. And I'm not going to say that was just the movie. It might have just been me, but I was having trouble at times keeping my eyes open and I feel guilty for it as the story was very good.


TIFF REVIEW: FILM #3 "Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen"

DIRECTED BY - Andrew Lau


What a way to start a movie. Kicking some serious serious wartime ass. I could watch the start to this movie a number of times in a row and not once be dissappointed.
Now, the rest of the movie ....
It's a solid action flick, and the action scenes are bar none. It's just the unfortunate exposition and melodrama filling the gaps that were a problem. Tacky film effects and over acting are fun, but loose their appeal durring a 2 hr film. Oh well, all is forgotten when you watch one man take on 50 and walk away with only scrapes and bruises.

If you like Chinese action films, then watch this. If you like melodrama durring war time then watch this.


TIFF REVIEW: FILM #2 "Inside Job"

DIRECTED BY - Charles Ferguson
IN MY OPINION -    8.5/10

WOW.     One of the best things about "Inside Job" is the fact that it clearly made me understand what the hell went wrong on wall st a few years ago.  Not to say I'm a dummy and didn't understand the basics, but this does an amazing job of making me understand, get engaged by it, and make me want to slap some people in the damn face.

The way information is revealed makes it feel like a thriller, always digging, and the further we get to the centre of the problem you find there is still more going on, and that spiral as it's own off shoot of problems.  It's a damn fibonacci of financial crisis, and I loved it.

Go see this movie,  tell people to see this movie.  It's as important as "an inconvenient truth" was, only it's not boring as shit.

OH, and the music selection - BRILLIANT.

TIFF REVIEW: FILM #1 "Film Socialism"

DIRECTED BY -  Jean-Luc Godard
IN MY OPINION -    2/10

first and foremost let me start by saying way to update us on the fact that this film has ZERO English subtitles so I had no idea what was going on, and on that note it might not have helped any.
Second. I gave this a 2 instead of a 1 or a 0 because it's Godard and I'm sure I'm missing something amazing and don't want to completely rip apart a master filmmaker.

Tha said. What the hell was that all about? It's partially what I expected, but then some. To be honest, it felt like some first year film school student had decided to make a film thesis where he imitates Godard while making a travel film.

At times the audio is bad it should just be removed, the video is all over the place, much to a Godard films benefit, but again without context it made no point.

There is a moment in middle of the film where a gas station attendand swats at the window to his shop where a news camerawoman and reporter are jumping up and down trying to see what's going on. This moment made sense to me, which I that Godard was sick and tired of fly on the wall camera work and wanted to shoo it from the rest of the movie. And for a good whole it is gone. Only to return and succeed in confusing me mote and more.

My first film TIFF09 was "Antichrist" and it set images in my head that lasted with me the whole festival. Film Socialisim has accomplished a similar accheivment, where this screening hall stay with me the whole fest, bad as it was.