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TIFF 11: Rum Zombies and Wine (Juan of the Dead and Superclasio)

Juan of the Dead (Juan de los Muertos)
Alejandro Brugués's take on the zombie genre is made fresh through Caribbean eyes and a distinct Cuban flavour. Much like the British, Shaun of the Dead with its British cultural references, Juan of the Dead is a distinctly Cuban film set in Havana and reflective of Cuban customs and sensibilities. In Cuba you make the most of your chances, so when zombies start popping up (there is a reference to bad drugs from a public clinic) in his neighbourhood, Juan (Alexis Días de Villegas), his best friend Lazaro (Jorge Molina) and an assortment of family and neighbours become entrepreneurs in the zombie extermination business: "Juan of the Dead, we kill your beloved ones, how can I help you?" Only in socialist Cuba would zombies be referred to as "dissidents" with the media blaming their rise on US machinations! Economic and social conditions, rum and socialism pepper Brugués' script grounding this horror comedy in an ersatz reality without sacrificing the belly laughs. The only thing that would make a screening of this film better would be the provision of some Cuban food; the film already has the music.

Monday September 12, AMC 3, 8:45pm
Saturday September 17, Scotiabank Theatre 3, 12:45pm

My love affair with Nordic Cinema continues to grow after seeing Ole Christian Madsen's wonderfully lit, intelligent comedy. I was drawn to this film because of Paprika Steen, a Danish actor who has a phenomenal range (The Substitute, Applause). She is also has a couple of directing credits (With Your Permission, Aftermath). Steen plays Anna, a want-to-be divorced wife of Christian (Anders W. Berthelsen) and mother of Oscar (Jamie Morton) and lover of soccer superstar and much younger man, Juan (Sebastian Estevanez). The story is told mainly from the point of view of Christian, who goes after Anna, who now lives in Buenos Aires. With Oscar in tow, he barges into Anna's life, hoping for a reconciliation, and a life change (his wine shop is going bankrupt due to his depression). What is doesn't expect is the openness with which he is greeted by Juan, played with charming abandon by Estevanez, and the frank practicality of the Anna's maid Fernanda (Adriana Mascialino). Oscar's constant companions are his iPod and his philosophy books until he finds himself under the spell of a young guide. Divorce, love, futbol, wine and philosophy float through this movie with bubbly depth and spirit. A pleasure to watch. I hardily recommend it!

Tuesday September 13, Scotiabank Theatre 1, 7:00pm
Thursday September 15, Scotiabank Theatre 4, 12:30pm
Saturday September 17, Scotiabank Theatre 3, 5:45pm

Toronto International Film Festival
Sept. 8-18, 2011
416-599-8433 or 1-800-599-8433


Anonymous said…
Superclassico was the surprise of TIFF 2011. Thanks for the review.

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