Chocolate

Last time he was in town, Director Prachya Pinkaew brought the Uptown to ecstasy with Ong Bak. Many (myself included) were ignorant of the Thai school of martial arts, a mix of kicking, elbowing and punching that looked far from the swooping wire-work fight choreography that Hong Kong cinema had been exporting for decades. Quite […]

Patrik, Age 1.5

A gay adoption story set in Sweden, hardly the stuff of normal romantic comedies. Still, this quirky little film, has a comma causing a clerical error (much, it seems, like in Brazil), resulting in the couple adopting a 15 year old delinquent instead of an 18-month old. Certainly this could have been a cloying, saccharine […]

More Than A Game

If you’re going to follow a bunch of inner city kids as they attend a “white” school, and going to follow them for several years, make sure one of them is Lebron James. Set in Akron, Ohio, we see this group of kids grow and bond as they achieve success and suffer failure. Sure, it’s […]

At the Edge of the World

Last seen in Sharkwater, this time the crew of the pirate ship “Sea Shepherd” are trolling through Antarctica, looking to disrupt the Japanese whaling fleet. Using tactics at best described as hostile, they are striving to end the whaling in these international waters, using any means at their disposal (including the infamous “can opener” welded […]

Fear Me Not

Fear Me Not ties a mid-life crisis to an addiction to psychotropic medications. As Mikael, bored with his day-to-day routine decides to become a medical guinea pig, he explores his new found passions in ways that are not entirely appropriate. The film is starkly shot, with Ulrich Thomsen’s Mikael a “Jekyl and Hyde” menace throughout. […]

Achilles and the Tortoise

This is, I think, the most successful of “Beat” Takeshi’s recent films regarding his life and his art. The final part of a planned trilogy (joining Glory to the Filmmaker and Takeshis), this flick playfully satirizes Kitano’s penchant for painting, tracing his development from childhood, through art school, to middle age. The title is explained […]

Pontypool

A zombie movie where we don’t really get to see the zombies, they’re all outside the radio station trying to get in. Clever, but almost too clever by half, McDonald does wonders in stretching his meagre budget and single location shoot into creating a moody, wacky tale of paranoia in small town Ontario. The intimate […]

Witch Hunt

Witch Hunt follows the cases of a number of individuals who were wrongfully jailed for child molestation. Narrated by Executive Producer Sean Penn, this matter-of-fact doc tells of social workers coercing children to testify against their parents, prosecutors zealously trumping up charges and judges giving multi-century sentences to the convicted. While the story is certainly […]

Che

First the good – Benicio is simply mesmerizing in his portrayal. Soderbergh crafts the film in an effective way, and the supporting characters provide convincing and memorable performances (helpful when trying to keep everyone straight in your head). The challenge, however, is that the first half of the flick (basically the first movie), telling the […]

Me and Orson Welles

Linklater tells the tale of a young kid Richard (Zac Efron) who finds himself under the wing of Orson Welles (Christian McKay) as he puts on his rendition of Julius Caesar. As Richard falls for Welles’s assistant (played by Claire Daines), he finds that he must share the affections of his girl with his new […]

Control Alt Delete

Man fucks computer through hole drilled on side of case. Man experiences pleasure, making him addicted to plooking every computer in his office as they prepare for Y2K. Canadian drivel, an embarrassment to our industry, and the type of crap that would never play this fest if it weren’t from the Great White North. Awful.

A Film With Me In It

Who would have thought that a dark Irish comedy with a fairly significant body count would be TIFF 2008’s purest example of farce? Unapologetically silly and fun, A Film With Me In It takes a story of accidents and turns it into a clockwork-like structure of bad news followed by worse. Continuously trumping the “can’t […]

Hunger

There’s a key visual metaphor in Hunger, when Bobby Sands creates a circular work of art on his cell wall out of the only medium available to him, his own excrement. Making art out of shit is the goal of this film, one that it achieves quite dramatically. The film revels in its ambivalence, painting […]

Martyrs

The pre-film buzz was audible, this was the first film in French cinema history given the equivalent of an X-rating due to violent imagery instead of sexual content. At the MM screening someone had to leave to vomit. There were stories that at the other screenings some may have passed out. What kind of monstrous […]

Sounds Like Teen Spirit: A Popumentary

In this tremendous, joyous look at the Teen Eurovision contest, we follow a number of young individuals as they represent their countries in the music competition. American Idol this ain’t, as each child feels the weight of their country on their shoulders. Some rise to the occasion, others falter, and the usual foibles ensue. I […]

The Ghost

This is one of those “twist” movies, as a novelist hires a hitman to do some research for his books, only to find himself embroiled in the assassin’s own plans for revenge. It’s stylish and an interesting genre flick from Russia, but this type of plot has been mined far too often in American cinema […]

7915KM

Oh what a wasted opportunity. The idea is great, follow the Dakar rally as it traverses 7915km of the desert. We get a tremendously exciting opening sequence, seeing the cars bounce along the tracks, exotic locales sweeping by, and an opportunity to view this race from the inside. Instead, the director focuses on the aftermath […]

Every Little Step

An impeccable documentary, truly engaging and, in many ways, it supersedes its subject matter convincingly. The original Chorus Line was a documentary of sorts itself, drawn from recording that the original creators made of struggling New York actors as they attended audition after audition. Their own life stories energized the original production, with each part […]

Acné

Charming and unique coming-of-age movie about young sexuality in Uruguay. Rafa, 13, has lost his virginity already at the local brothel, but spends the film trying to get his first kiss. The subject of young sexuality is treated with great dexterity, never feeling forced or diluted, but neither is it exploited. The sense of awkwardness […]

Religulous

Bill Maher and Larry Charles take on organized religion, with a worldwide tour confronting those that cling to faith with a certitude that Bill finds more than suspect. Meeting with Jesus at a Bible-themed theme park, he quizzes him about the role of God in suffering. Talking with truckers in a trailer church, he asks […]

Zack and Miri Make a Porno

Kevin Smith takes on porn, what’s not to like? Sure, there’s many an obvious joke, and there’s plenty of gross out humour (involving anal leakage, no less), but at its heart this is as close as he’s gotten since to the underlying sweetness of Chasing Amy. The chemistry between Rogan and Banks is quite natural, […]

Who Do You Love?

A missed opportunity to tell the Chess record story, even the musical re-performances suffer from a sense of blandness. There’s much to mine here in the story of the brothers Chess, with their relationship with artists and business and their musical drive laying the foundation for almost all electric blues. However, this overly conventional bio-pic […]

Pride and Glory

A terrible, rambling, derivative cop show, with two brothers forced to confront corruption in the police force. With their police chief/daddy Jon Voight in charge of the force, we’re left with enough procedural drivel to make it boring, yet the most ridiculous, over-the-top police procedural that’s downright embarrassing in light of The Wire. Frankly, you […]

The Other Man

Liam Neeson flies to a foreign land to track down the lover of his wife, Antonio Banderas. The two meet over a chess board, and the film attempts to create tension through this back-and-forth competition between the two. This is a trite and boring love story, attempting complexity but instead coming off as ridiculous. The […]

The Wrestler

As The Wrestler, Mickey Rourke puts in his finest performance in his long and (at times) illustrious career. What’s perhaps more remarkable is that Aronofsky has crafted what it at its heart a feel good film, one owing much to the original Rocky (not, naturally, the repulsive sequels) as we follow the descent of a […]

Synecdoche, New York

“Si-nik-do-kee”, synecdoche, a metaphor where the whole stands in place for the part, or vice versa. A nerdy, writerly title, to be sure, perfect for this multifaceted, ridiculous and surreal film from the unique mind of Charlie Kaufman. Finally given his own film to tackle (after his celebrated scripts like Adaptation and Being John Malkovich, […]

Not Quite Hollywood

An exemplary documentary, frantic and kinetic, showing the cars, bombs and tits of “Ozploitation” cinema. Tracing the history of Australian Drive-in Classics, we see clips from a number of films, many of which I’d never heard of (let alone seen). This is an excellent primer of this period of cinematic history, and the participants tell […]

Good

Yet another World War II film, but this one has a twist – we see, quite effectively, the small decisions that when taken together result in the corruption of the soul. Ever reliable Viggo Mortensen puts on another masterclass, as he provides a nuanced, subtle look at a man who’s “good”, yet drawn deeper and […]

Three Blind Mice

Three Australian navy boys are on leave before shipping off to the Gulf. One of them decides to go AWOL, while his two friends spend the evening looking for him, and try to come to terms with the violence inflicted upon the seaman by superior officers. Heavy handed and dull, there’s a film in here […]

Blindness

It wasn’t ’till the end that I realized that Meirelles’s film was written by TIFF fav Don McKellar (based, of course, on the celebrated book). Triggered simply by McKellar’s involvement as a cast member I was tweaking on the similarities between this narrative and his (fantastic) Last Night. Blindness is similarly apocalyptic (with, of course, […]