Ong Bak 2: The Beginning

Let me be blunt: Ong Bak 2 is an incoherent mess with a narrative that could be politely described as batshit confusing. Save for the title and the style of fighting, this film has nothing whatsoever to do with the first film (it takes places, weirdly, some 600 years before the first one). There were […]

The Disappearance of Alice Creed

The first reel of this film is shocking in its clinical accuracy – you see with silent determination two men execute what appears to be a perfect abduction. Textbook precision, from the plastic lined van to the ingenious unlocking of a door’s security chain (that one will haunt me for a while), you have at […]

Up In The Air

Take it from me, this Jason kid’s going places. Festival darling Reitman has crafted a mature, nuanced, funny film about frequent flyer points and corporate downsizing. Clooney is at the absolute top of his game here, with a mix of misplaced bravado and a quiet absurdity that he injects into every scene. The rest of […]

Wheat (Mai Tian)

Another dynastic Chinese historical epic gone awry – this one’s even worse than you might expect. Two “odd couple” warriors go AWOL in order to head home for the harvest. They find refuge in a town of the enemy that they have slaughtered, where the pretend to be not who they are. In this town […]

Valhalla Rising

A strange, somber “missionary tale” of sorts. A group of Vikings take a wrong turn and end up accidentally in the new world, where they’re met by unfriendly strangers. Set in the transitional times between pagan worship and burgeoning Christian movement, this is a dreamlike, misty affair. Mads Mikkelsen plays a savage, one eyed, taciturn […]

A Town Called Panic (Panique au village)

A crazy jumble of joy, Panic uses dollar store plastic toys, poorly stop motion animated, to tell a tale of, well, uh, stuff. The plot is a bit of a headscratcher, but we’ve got Horse, Cowboy, and Indian coming to save they day after the walls of their unbuilt house are being stollen by frogmen […]

Mr. Nobody

This film came out of nowhere for me and completely floored me. I was expecting just another sci-fi, time bending narrative, and instead was simply entranced by this engaging, original, provocative, downright stunning film from Van Dormael. It is a film with an unrelenting structure, bending time and our perception of it in delightful ways. […]

Hipsters

Described as Hairspray meets Swing Kids, Todorovksy has crafted an epic musical about Soviet era dissidents, kids that would flaunt conservatism to dress like crazy cats and dance to the pop music of their day. Superficially, this is a kids-against-the-system tale, but underlying it is a fairly sophisticated political message. Much more akin to Moulin […]

My Dog Tulip

Essentially a memoir about a man and his dog, this animated film is a quirky, charming feat. Narrated with gusto by Christopher Plummer, this is no hagiography of a fine specimen – tulip is a unwieldy bitch, and to the great consternation of her hapless owner, she gets into all sorts of trouble. The sketch […]

Reel Injun

Reel Injun does a decent job of contextualising the role of the “Injun”, or stereotypical Aboriginal North American, through the last century of cinema. Drawing interviews from the likes of Clint Eastwood, Adam Beech, and Sacheen Littlefeather (who talks, finally, about her Oscar moment), Diamond takes us on a road trip through America, seeking the […]

Deliver Us from Evil (Fri os fra det onde)

A strange, dark film about integration, racism, and the underlying current of small town evil (a theme, apparently, for this year’s fest). Things go awry after an accident causes the town folk to go on a rampage. Hicks assaulting a farmhouse lead to obvious comparisons to Straw Dogs, yet the film both lacks the visceral […]

Excited

Bruce Sweeney has crafted a cloying, repulsive film about premature ejaculation, smothering mothers, and golf in Vancouver. Canadian crap, an absolute embarrassment to our country’s cinema. Awful, terrible performances, sloppy direction, and yet another example of just how terrible a film of this ilk can be.

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

Well, you certainly can’t fault Nicholas Cage for not going full out in this role. Thankfully spared any connection to the former, abysmal Bad Lieutenant, Herzog traces the downfall of a good cop in antediluvian New Orleans. In the first moments of the film, we see Cage jump over a ledge into murky water. Causing […]

Micmacs (Micmacs à tire-larigot)

Another joyful, whimsical tale from Jeunet. This one centers around a group of misfit street performers who set off to pit one arms dealer against another. Part caper, part circus performance, each frame seems to be a throwback to a different time of storytelling. Like Gilliam’s addition to this year’s fest, Jeunet’s Micmacs is hard […]

Solomon Kane

Just as Black Hole or the original Battlestar Galactica series saw the light of day after the success of Star Wars, this clearly derivative, post-Lord of the Rings meets Pirates of the Caribbean sword flick is told with so much earnestness that it all appears a bit silly. Drawn from the pages of the comic […]

My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?

A weird mess of a film, Herzog has taken a procedural crime drama and turned it on its head. Minutes into the film we find out that a murder has occurred. We know who did it, where they are hiding. The rest of the film is spent either in surreal flashback to ancient Greek theatrical […]

The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers

Comprised of talking head interviews, news reports, and (somewhat clumsy) “recreations” of key events (Oooh, photocopying!) the film exposes Ellsberg rise as one of the most famous American whistleblowers of all time. Broadening its scope from simply a biography of Ellsber’s remarkable journey, the central thesis is that it was the release of the Pentagon […]

Life During Wartime

It seems, well, creepy that Todd Solondz has crafted an accessible, almost mainstream film. Sure, the familiar themes of his latest works still abound – paedophilia, and other forms of dysfunctional relationships are once again covered – but this film seems to have a lightness that Happiness and especially Palindromes lacked. This is probably as […]

Youth in Revolt

Michael Cera turns his well developed awkward adolescent character on its head in this wonderful adaptation of the novel by C.D. Payne. Cera plays Nick Twisp, a teen that finds he must create an alter ego to woo a girl he’s fallen for. Given her love of all things Belmondo, Twisp uses Francois to be […]

Vengeance

Johnny Hallyday as chef-cum-hitman, out of his element and out for revenge in this latest from icon Johnny To. A typical triad vs. triad piece, there are nonetheless moments of startling beauty. A set piece where giant cubes of garbage are incessantly rolled towards the protagonists, Katamari-style, is an image not soon forgotten. Other than […]

Atom Egoyan Masterclass

Not a film, per se, but a Q&A scheduled during the press and industry screening schedule. Local boy Atom showed up and fielded questions from the author of a book about The Adjuster. Affable, energetic, as loquacious as ever, Atom spoke for about 45 minutes, where he was interrupted by a (superfluous) clip show. Pleasingly, […]

A Single Man

A touching, heartwarming film set in the halcyon days of 60s California. Colin Firth plays a closetted man who has recently lost his long term lover, and is desperately trying to mask his misery with the rigid routine he uses to maintain order. His best friend, played by Julianne Moore, is an equally damaged yet […]

Waking Sleeping Beauty

Disney of the mid-80s was in crisis, the glory of its past reduced to infighting and the defection or retirement of the core talent that shaped it from its earliest days. Into this environment came both an executive and creative shakeup, resulting, in part, in some of the most successful films (animated or not) of […]

Bitch Slap

Silly, jiggly, Bitch Slap is a Russ Meyer-wannabe girl gang flick. The plot (do you care?) somehow involves stollen look buried out in the desert. Three girls are on the hunt. Chaos ensues. Stylistically, the film relies heavily on green screen, comic book style flashbacks (think Speed Racer, but with TV-level CGI). Produced and directed […]

Leaves of Grass

Boy, this film on paper should have rocked my world. Tim Blake Nelson, stalwart performer from the Coens’ Oh Brother…, treads into their pool, making a genre defying thriller/comedy about twin brothers. You’ve got the usually exemplary Edward Norton playing both twins, one a knockabout weed dealer who woos the other sibling, an accomplished professor […]

Moloch Tropical

A broad resetting of Sokurov’s 1999 film Moloch, replacing Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest with a castle atop a mountain in contemporary Haiti. Trading fascist Europe for a neurotic, despostic leader on a Tropical island is a bold and interesting move. The scope of the film aims for the Shakespearean, with heightened dialogue and situations, an almost […]

Chloe

Egoyan is back, this time with a film that many were surprised when it was not selected as the opening Gala, an honour that’s usually bestowed upon a Canadian film (Creation starting things off instead). Making no secret of its Toronto location, Chloe is a tale of doubt, recrimination, and humiliation. While the film doesn’t […]

Whip It

A film of infectious charm and unabashed fun, Barrymore’s Directorial debut is a supremely entertaining film.The film is pitch perfect, eschewing the Will Ferrel-style sport film to allow the inherent ridiculous of the sport of Rollerderby to shine through. But it is in the characters, completely real without the heightened “teen” dialogue that has proliferated […]

Harry Brown

Continuing along the lines of other geriatric revenge films like Gran Torino, Harry Brown is a step back from the renaissance of Michael Caine’s career. Overly earnest, this is little more than a thugs and drugs flick, complete with angry ex-Marine men looking to make a mark on the world. A trite female detective character […]

Eccentricities of a Blond Hair Girl

Well, gotta hand it to him – Manouel is a hundred years young, and still managing to make films. Does that alone make for a good festival experience? Alas, no. The idea was to actually see a remarkable pair of films, this latest work, and his first from from the silent era, shot some 80 […]