TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
VERSUS'S BRAND OF UPTOWN FUN
The horror.... the horror.....
one, a six hour film. Day two, six films in a row. With a festival seemingly
devoted this year to all things diabolic, I'll need another six to make it par
for the course.
A good day today. Highlight had to be the live-action
martial arts demonstration on the Uptown stage. Stranger things have not been
seen methinks. It all started when Colin, the Midnight Madness God, and Nobu,
his trusty sidekick, did their damndest to provide me with satisfaction
regarding an allotment of tix for the week. In short, it's nice to feel loved,
especially given that most years of the fest at least someone made it their
business to make my life hell, rather than easy.
Damn, there's that hell
again. It just keeps creeping up this year...
All About Lilly Chou Chou
Directed by: Shunji
The first really exciting discovery for me at this year's fest,
Lily is an intoxicating, exotic film. It is remarkable not for its flamboyance
but for its stark honesty, captivating visual flair, and a style of filmmaking
that differs from anything on this side of the Pacific.
The is perhaps
the first film that authentically captures elements of the internet. Forget the
over-the-top paranoia of normal net flicks, this film presents with
surprising clarity and honesty the particular diction of chat rooms and IRC.
It's a film about adolescent disenfranchisement that never seems forces or
gratuitous, presenting a convincing mood of pathos for all the main characters
as they deal with teen life in Japan.
The chat room elements serve as
part Greek chorus and part narrative impetus, a powerful balance that runs
through the whole film. With good sound design, the different typing sounds
speak louder than most dialogue, as the screen titles speak volumes about the
intimate reflections of the chat participants.
There is nary a missed
beat, and the tone is impeccable throughout. By dealing with despair and hope
without artifice or stereotype, Lily proves to be an exciting example of
Directed by: Louis
This early 60s effort from Bunuel
continues to impress. Vulgar, obnoxious, and extremely clever, the film mixes
surrealism with sarcasm. Trained bears, sheep, and Bunuel's typical contempt
for the church all mix to create a classic of cinema. Kudos to Cinemateque once
Italian for Beginners
Directed by: Lone
With the introduction of the Dogme 95 aesthetic,
many filmmakers created stark, intimate dramas that dealt with intense and
shocking issues. From The Celebration to The Idiots, the Dogme
films have certainly embraced off-colour topics. With Italian for Beginners,
the flexibility of the Dogme rules is effectively demonstrated - with
Italian for Beginners, an enjoyable, light romantic comedy has been
filmed utilizing the same "limitations" and the other, darker movies.
While the story is forced at times, Italian for Beginners is at
the core a sweet, enjoyable movie that even the most casual movie-goer would
enjoy. It avoids becoming cloying and over predictable while presenting a warm
comic turn. A pleasant surprise that further emphasises the aesthetic
possibilities of the Dogme code.
Directed by: Amos
Gitai's films have been for me hit and miss. I found
Kadosh to be intolerable, with incredibly long, boring takes finding the
camera lingering on tiny trivial detail. The point is made in a couple seconds,
yet his intention is to let the 10 minute take play out.
on the other hand, used this device to great effect, making us watch
uncomfortable moments of helplessness or violence with an unyielding camera
gaze. In an action movie, where the cuts often outnumber the gunshots, this was
a remarkably effective device.
Eden is much more in line with
Kadosh. Told in English, it's the story of Jews in Palestine during the
second world war, as they hear snippets of what's going on in Europe. The film
could have been an interesting and compelling tale, but instead Gitai's
technique interferes. Watching rows of bricks get laid just becomes numbingly
boring, while extreme long takes make performances seem strained and awkward.
Based on an Arthur Miller story, the author himself makes a cameo in
the role of a father. His lack of acting technique is fun for a few minutes,
but after 15 or so it becomes painful. I hope that Gitai can temper his desire
to slow things down to such and extent, and that he avoids the types of
cliché circumstances he employs in this film.
Directed by: Lieven Debrauwer
Flemmish-Belgian Rain Main with two old women as the leads. Sounds enthralling,
An accidental film for me, a scheduling stumble that found me in a
film I hadn't planned on seeing. The description filled me with dread (the use
of the term "bittersweet" is usually a dead give-away).
The film was
thankfully short - just as the conceit was starting to wear thin it ended.
Certainly no shocks here, the film should appeal to those clambering for a
"nice" movie at the fest.
VERSUS BOY GETS AN ALTOIDS SPANK
by: Ryuhei Kitamura
We live in a post-genre world. Archetypes are no
longer references, but instead the products that reference the archetypes get
Too cerebral? How 'bout this
Versus is a Yakuza (Japanese Gangster) / Zombie /
Samurai movie with funky swords, beautiful women and plenty of ridiculous Kung
It owes more to Raimi than to Jackie Chan, with a
palpable Evil Dead-vibe running through the flick. Add in a dose of
Highlander and Return of the Living Dead for good measure and you
get the scope of this film. It's a spot-on, perfect film to open the Midnight
Madness schedule. Colin, you rock.
I personally think the Nobel
committee should look into granting a special award for one shot in this film -
a POV from within a skull that has been punched through. The image of
the red skullular tunnel with teeth sticking up in the foreground and another
attacker in the extreme background perfectly framed and shot with enormous
depth of field embodies all that is good about the MM format. Simply