Sunday, 4 September 2011

TIFF 11: May I Recommend/Skip It

Single tickets went on sale September 3rd and many of my friends and listeners stood in line, waited on line, and called TIFF to buy tickets. While they were doing that, I was busy with TmTm, interviewing Kirk Cooper of Film Market Access (FMA) and one of his interns, Victoria Clowater. Victoria is one of 8 film students/filmmakers that will be exploring the industry side of TIFF courtesy of FMA's Toronto Program: 5 in the Internship and 3 in Networking (FMA also has a Cannes Program.) Victoria had first heard about FMA when she caught a TmTm broadcast while driving back to school (UNB) last year. Also joining me on the show was the director of Patch Town, Craig Goodwill and the cast: Julian Richings, Toya Alexis, and Rob Ramsay. Patch Town screens in Program 1 of Short Cuts Canada, the strongest of the shorts section in this 6 program section.

With the long week-end upon me, I didn't get a chance to post any thoughts about some of the films that I have had a chance to screen before TIFF starts on September 8th. Here goes the first of many other posts to come.

So, What do I recommend?

I am a good person/I am a bad person: A CanCon indie film that is just as good as Veninger's last film, MODRA. Mother-daughter experience without any unnecessary drama or tears. It's always good to go and hear the director talk about her work, but if you cannot afford to see this at TIFF watch for the Mongrel Media release at Canadian cinemas, but go the first week as a second week is never guaranteed for Canadian films!

Le Harve: A sweet gem of a film by one of my favourite directors, Aki Kaurismäki. This film about a young African refugee (Miguel Blondin) in Normandy is not your usual look at the immigrant story thanks to a winning performance from Andre Wilms as a genial shoeshine man who helps the young boy. , and the expected low-key and enchanting acting of . The community spirit that pervades the film contrasts greatly with the gravitas and irony of the Inspector (Jean- Pierre Darroussin) on the hunt for the refugee. Look for other Kaurismäki signatures in the film, like Kati Outinen, the inclusion of a dog named Laika, and music from Little Bob (Roberto Piazza).

Lipstikka: My eyes usually roll at flashbacks in movies, but the technique is used so well in this film that I found them just as fascinating as what the film depicted in its present tense. The film unfolds like a mystery with clues doled out amidst our growing fascination with the two women, friends from teenagehood in Palestine to adulthood and differing paths in London, England. Who are they? Is there a good and a bad gal? What is the secret from the past that underscores the tension between them? The complete truth is never revealed, it cannot be when memory is at play, but the film does offer a conclusion that will have you talking. Director, Jonathan Sagall, his cast and his filmmaking team have created a film in which each frame has substance and interest.

Once Upon a Time in Anotolia: What can I say, but BRILLIANT. Director, Nuri Bilge Ceylan's film is part of the Masters programme at TIFF, and this police investigation/procedural has more than earned its well-deserved place here. Screenwriters Ercan Kesal, Ebru Ceylan, and Nuri Bilge Ceylan have written a script that I could listen to with my eyes closed, the dialogue is so good; I could eavesdrop forever on the conversations between the cops in the car, the exchanges with their superior (the Inspector), the doctor, and even the prisoners. If I had my eyes closed, however, I would miss the Turkish countryside, the meandering road and the cinematography of Gokhan Tiryaki (his interiors are not to be missed either!) as the trio of vehicles travel throughout the night from place to place. Crime is a serious matter, of course, but the humour of this film reminds us that even at its most morbid, life is not always without its bright spots nor its beauty. The film is a bit too long, but so what! Bravo!

Summer Games: Don't expect sun soaked vineyards in this trip to Tuscany! Do expect a serious film with wonderful performances by the five young cast members who are the central focus of this drama about a families at a campground during the summer. Two brothers defend their mother from their abusive father; a girl demands information about her father from her single mother in between hanging out with her younger cousin, the brothers and the young Korean boy whose father owns a local convenience store. The children all reflect the angst of their parents even as they go off on their own forays making up games that push boundaries and reacting to the changing dynamics of teenage/childhood friendships. This peek into the lives of others is not without hope, so while you might bring out the hanky it won't be drenched to the point of wringing it out by the end of the film.

The Island President: One man is trying to make a difference in the world as he fights for his people's survival. The Maldives are sinking due to climate change: a physical fact the president is trying to show to the world. A former political prisoner, who rose to form the first democratic party in the Maldives, President Mohamed Nasheed is one man who cannot give in to the pressure of the larger economies, not when his land, culture and existence is at stake. A film that I would recommend to all, not only because of the social content, but because the president himself is so darn charismatic that you can't help rooting for him. Like a hero in a piece of fiction who never gives up, you want him to succeed and triumph and have his happy ending.


Think of Me: This one is for the Industry buyers at TIFF who are looking for something suitable for Lifetime or the Women's Network. Not worth standing in TIFF line ups for, or the money you would have to spend to see it. Lauren Ambrose, who stars (as well as produces) is very strong in her role as a single mother trying to raise her young daughter while battling poverty in Las Vegas, but the episodic scenes makes it more suitable for television than cinema viewing.

A Funny Man: Not one bit funny to me, and I usually love Nordic films. I must say, in its defence that actor, Nikolaj Lie Kaas is brilliant, but I didn't like the script for this bio pic about Danish comedian Dirch Passer nor did I like the way the film was directed.

Generation P: If you can tell me what this film is about, I will write the review. Still baffled.

The Cat Vanishes: Would have been a wonderful suspense if Alfred Hitchcock had been at the helm.

Toronto International Film Festival

Sept. 8-18, 2011

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love your reviews-thanks for keeping us posted on the smaller films at TIFF!!!!!!!!

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