TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
I skipped the earliest of films today in
favour of a few minutes more sleep. Generally a very pleasant day. It was very
hot and humid, making a strain on the AC in several of the theatres. The
Varsity public screening of Prozak Nation in particular was sauna
Still haven't seen any mind blowing films yet (excluding, of
course, mind blowing in the literal sense as exhibited last night by
Versus), but it's obviously early in the fest. Star encounters with the
likes of Ricci and Jason Biggs paled in comparison to the downright glee shown
by Andy Lau's very own fan club, complete with bright orange t-shirts. He
seemed to be continuously signing autographs, and smirking in a movie star way
at the blushing Asian ladies.
Directed by: Kim Ki-duk
From the maker of The Isle
comes a horrifying but stylish take on the effects of the US Army's presence in
Korea. The Isle was one of the most memorable films from last year's
fest, with scenes like a man making sushi by filleting a live fish and putting
it, sans sides, back in the water, to a scene where the lead puts fish hooks up
her vagina and yanks most of her insides out.
Address Unknown is
a simple tale about Dog butchery, bullying, American imperialism and Korean
bigotry. The scenes are fantastically gruesome to watch, but despite all the
intensity, it, almost amazingly, never plays as gratuitous or exploitational.
If the film has a major fault, it is that the performances of the
Americans are laughably, distractingly bad. Sub-high school play bad. It's
obvious that they are either actual US servicemen, or whatever punk-ass Yanks
they found at the local hostel.
Nonetheless, this serves as an
excellent example of the best of festival films, a movie so clearly different
than what you'd normally see in the multiplex. Horrifying and intense, there is
a strong line of beauty that makes you want to watch to the end. This would
have been a truly excellent film had he shelled out a couple more dollars for
white boys who could actually act.
You Really Got
Directed by: Pal Sletaune
A strange mix of Ransom
and Still Crazy, You Really Got Me is a rock 'n roll kidnapping movie
set in Norway. A fun little film filled with quirky characters. It all holds
together in the end, and is one of those flicks that you can just lie back and
Mr. In Between
Directed by: Paul Sarossy
A Sarterian, Existential angst
movie, with an assassin forced to confront what he does. A sort of dark
flipside to Grosse Pointe Blank, with a little bit of Eyes Wide
Shut thrown in.
This is the debut effort from Paul Sarossy, a nice
Toronto boy who was DOP on many of Egoyan's films (and even the Toronto-shot
X-men). The film is fairly interesting, but does seem to take itself a
little too seriously. The milieu is fun to visit, and his character is slick
enough to be cool, but in the end it plays just a little too much over-the-top.
At the least, it's a pretty film to watch.
Directed by: Erik
This film will certainly find praise from a lot of
viewers. They will be struck by the manic performance of actor/producer
Christina Ricci, they'll shed tears as Jessica Lange tears up the set, and even
sniffle as that Davinci's Inquest guy does his best Blow Up-style photographer
shtick as the asshole father. People will use words like "brave" and "honest",
and they'll say that this is the type of movie that they've been waiting for.
They'll all be wrong.
Prozak Nation is a manipulative, cloying
take on depression, a watered down film from a watered down book. Gone is the
limited amount of social commentary that the gen-x tome contained. Instead,
this is melodrama, pure and simple. Performers yelling at one another for a
good hour and a half. By the end, you hate them all, and wouldn't mind if
Ricci's character actually went through with her suicide attempts just to add a
One thing the film does is show that Rolling Stone has a
penchant for recruiting young writers. After last year's fest fav Almost
Famous, Prozak Nation shows another writer getting acclaim from a
music review. Where Crowe's reviews (and I've read a bunch of them) are truly
poetic and mature insights into the rock 'n roll scene, Elizabeth Wurtzel's
piece on Lou Reed, excerpted in this film, sounds like purile high-school angst
drivel. A metaphor, perhaps, for the film as a whole.
This is an
after-school special with reasonably good production values. On TV, it'd star
Meridith Baxter-Burney or Farah Fawcett as the mom. Bonus marks for the
creepyness of Anne Heche as a Psychiatrist, given her recent confessions that
she was crazy when she was gay.
Candle-lit love scenes with Jason "I'm
not just a Pie-Plooker" Biggs push this almost to camp, but not quite. The Joy
Division poster on her wall tries to inject irony perhaps (no Morresey
t-shirt?), but in the end it plays like a bad first-year Women's Studies essay
- full of bluster, free from content.
Directed by: Johnnie To, Wai Ka Fai
Last year's Mission was for me
a big disappointment. Sleeping in for a bit this morning certainly helped this
one along. An interesting plot borrowing liberally from film references
(Léon, etc.). It's a straight ahead action movie with the
positive addition of plot development.
While certainly not bombastic in
the style of Versus, there was enough punch and cool set-pieces to keep one
awake - the climax alone looks like it defies several thousand fire-safety
laws. Andy Lau is slick as ever, and the sheer exuberance of all the
performances makes for a truly fun ride.
One thing this film
demonstrates is that I have to give Mission a second chance. After a
good and long nap, that is.