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TIFF '09 Day 8: A Mixed Bag

FACE I love the work of director, Tsai Ming-liang, but he is not for everyone. I always get the sense that he makes movies to please himself, and if you like it too, great. If not, he's on to the next project regardless. He makes art house films that are beautiful to look at, but not always easy to understand. I accept that I won't always understand everything he is trying to say, but I'll have a good time watching it. Honestly, I was tired when I saw FACE and was hoping that it would get boring so I could leave, but that never happened and by the end I was tired but laughing. How can you be bored with a film that has stunning photography, French actress, Fanny Ardant, cameos by her countrywomen, Jeanne Moreau and Nathalie Baye, a deer, a bird, and a woman obsessed with banishing her reflection? A few people did walk out of the screening, but most in the sizeable theatre at the Scotia stayed. As one guy said on the way out of the screening: "I think I love it, but I don't know why." That sums up the work of Tsai Ming-liang to a T. If you are curious about this director, I suggest you start with his most accessible work, Good-bye Dragon Inn.

DELIVER US FROM EVIL Hmm...I spent most of this film wondering why I wasn't liking it as much as I should. Nothing is horribly wrong with this Danish film, but I just wasn't connecting with what was happening on screen. Considering that I am Black and the townspeople turn against a Bosnian outsider (they refer to him as "nigger"), I should have felt more than I did. I finally figured out after the film that it was the emotional tone of the film (too one-note) that I didn't like. I also didn't like the actress that played the main character's wife. Her emotional range did not come across well enough on screen for me to believe her character's reactions to certain advancements in the plot. Indifferent is not a feeling I like to experience when watching a film. Even boredom is an emotion.

THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES Fascinating. Director, Juan José Campanella knows how to tell a story using the flashback technique. So many times this method of storytelling leads to confusion or repeats elements of the plot that have already been revealed. In this film the flashbacks tell the story of a lawyer's involvement in the case of a young schoolteacher who has been raped and murdered. The present day storyline is the lawyer 25 years later trying to write a book about the case, and his reconnection with a beautiful judge who also worked on the case at the time. As a viewer you can't help but become as involved in the case as the lawyer, nor can you help but be interested in the romance, both past and present between the two leads. You feel like part detective and part matchmaker as you watch this film. The ending is disturbing, satisfying and stunning. Well done.

THE WIND JOURNEYS This simple story about a grieving accordion player and the young boy who is determined to become his mentee. When I think of the accordion, I flashback to elementary school where my Italian and Portuguese friends would complain about having to take lessons. Well, if they learned to play the accordion the way it is played in this film, then they should be making very passionate music in adulthood. I've never seen an accordion battle on screen, where each player tries to outdo the other in their playing and in their bragging lyrics. Amazing!

You will go places in this film that most people have never been, including some Colombians. Ciro Guerra directs this road trip via donkey in a languorous manner that suits the pace of the characters internal and external journeys. I enjoyed this trip through the grasslands, mountains and villages of Colombia, and the element of mysticism that cloaks the "devil's horn" accordion played by the lead character.

Comments

filmster said…
I saw Deliver Us From Evil, and although I liked the idea of the film, it really never connected with me emotionally. After the film I just felt so what. I agree that it was the lead actress, she just didn't bring it to the film.
I'm still not sure what to make of Faces, it was interesting and I would see it again on a screen, but I could not recommend the film to others it is really a personal choice to see this film. Thanks for the coverage.

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