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TIFF '09 Day 2: The Vampires, Orphans, and a Prisoner

DAYBREAKERS Vampires are harvesting humans for their blood, unfortunately, the supply is running out and blood substitutes fail with each clinical trial. Starring Ethan Hawke as a vampire with a conscience, Sam Neil as the corporate giant whose company is behind the farming of humans, and Willem Dafoe as "Elvis", this film is a great mix of jump-in-you-seat horror and bloody entertainment. Willem Dafoe must have taken this movie for the corny, cheesy lines he delivers. You can almost see the glint in his eyes as he compares being a human in a vampire world as being as dangerous as "bare-backing a five-dollar whore", or when he quotes the original Elvis. Great use and timing of the special effects. A film like this could have easily been destroyed by spending too much screen time on CGI and not enough time on the actors and plot development. Twins, Micheal and Peter Spierig (Undead) harness this movie well, providing a good balance of all the elements. They know how to get us involved in the story from the beginning with enough scares and kick-ass action (armed vampire soldiers vs. humans).

MELODY FOR A STREET ORGANI misread the running time of this Ukrainian film, thinking it was much shorter than its actual 153 minutes. I had already invested too much time in this Christmas fairy-tale of two orphan children wondering the streets, looking for either of their fathers. Their mother has died and rather than be sent to different schools, they decide to search for fathers with whom they have lost contact. TIFF programmer Dmitri Eipides, is so correct in labelling director, Kira Muratova's style as "charming mercilessness". That description is why I couldn't leave the press screening, even though I had arranged to meet friends at an earlier time. I was absolutely captivated by the colours, the pathos, the excessive greed displayed with abandon in front of these two beautifully sad children. With every step of their journey, you keep hoping that a Christmas miracle will happen, but Muratova constantly reminds you of harsh reality by sprinkling ugly, societal truths throughout her scenes. This cinematic journey, is long, sad, cold and beautiful, proving why Muratova is in the Masters section of the programme guide.

PRESUMED GUILTYIt's hard to watch this documentary without shaking your head or wanting to raise your clenched fists in frustration at the Mexican "in-justice" system. It's almost like you are watching a satire, where the main characters have to navigate in a world of insane and absurd logic. Unfortunately, for Toñio, he is spending 20 years behind bars based on evidence provided by one witness. The other three witnesses that were never interviewed in his case all stated that they saw him at work during the time of the murder he was supposed to have committed. Given the fact that Toñio works in an open market, where he is highly visible, how could he have been accused of this crime? The answers will boggle your mind. In Mexico, since you are presumed guilty, you have to prove your innocence. The catch. If everyone presumes you are guilty, then the case is obviously closed. NEXT! Crazy, but true.

Lawyer turned filmmaker for this project, Roberto Hernandez and his partner, Layda Negrete, were working on prison stats when they were approached by Toñio's girlfriend Eva. What happens next, is a true story that, even if you are familiar with the Mexican system, will still defy reason. Sharing the director's chair with Hernandez is English Surgeon director, Geoffrey Smith. Spread the word about this one.

You never know who you'll meet at TIFF's Midnight Madness. Virginia (looking fabulous in her PVC nurse's outfit) stopped to pose with me while friends and I were chatting and eating in the line up outside Ryerson Theatre. Virginia also handed me a flyer for Spike & Mike's Twisted Festival of Animation (Sept. 18th - 26th at the Bloor Cinema), which will be showing short films from around the world. Spike and Mike proudly refer to themselves as "the Kings of Tasteless Toons", so don't say I didn't warn you.

Comments

g-dawg said…
Daybreakers was unexpectedly good. It was a hoot from the beginning. They could really blow up a body.

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