Roger and Me

Well, the treats from TIFF10 keep coming – months after giving up, the kind person that took the shot above finally sent me the photo below, taken just after the Twitter-oriented event that Mr. Ebert was conducting wrapped up. This was not my first introduction to the man – Since the late 90s, I’d fairly […]

Balada Triste

With an 11th day tacked onto the end of the fest, the last Midnight Madness screening no longer provides the same sense of closure. Instead, my final film of TIFF10 was this delightful, intense, batshit crazy clown film from Spain. Set in the late 30’s, a man in full clown garb is pulled from a […]

Submarine

SUBMARINE is a Welsh coming of age film involving a precocious 15-year old who’s trying simultaneously to keep his family together and lose his virginity to his pyromaniac love interest. From first time director Ayoade, the film mixes a cool soundtrack (there are a slew of Arctic Monkeys tracks littered throughout) with the same type […]

The Conspirator

If there’s an award at this year’s TIFF for the most strained allegorical film, THE CONSPIRATOR would take the cake. Ostensibly about the trial of the conspirators who committed the Lincoln Assassination, the work focuses on Mary Surratt (Robin Wright), the burdened mother of some of the key participants and former landlady to John Wilkes […]

The Debt

Madden crafts a throwback thriller, this one throwing the Mossad/Nazi Hunter genre on its head. Having two sets of cast play in the respective time periods, we follow as the stories of past glories are uncovered to be less than true, with deadly ramifications taking place. There’s a fabulous cast in THE DEBT occupying both […]

Fire of Conscience

Dante Lam closes this year’s Midnight Madness slate with a slick cop drama that owes much to the gloss and energy of Michael Mann’s HEAT. The convoluted plot involves a cop trying to battle the forces that are working to stain the name of his partner, and as he pieces the clues to solve a […]

Tracker

At the turn of the 20th century, as Kiwi troops return home form the Boer War, a Maori sailor (Temuera Morrison) witnesses a murder in a barn and must flee as he’s being framed for the violence. A Boer soldier (Ray Winstone) is enlisted to help track the sailor through the wilderness, making for a […]

Ron Hynes – The Man of a Thousand Songs

It’s telling that one of the more memorable moments of this doc is a pretty sordid joke told repeatedly over the course of it by the subject of the film, Newfie folky Ron Hynes. It’s one of those groaners, chuckle-funny at first, but sad and pathetic by the end. This sentiment fits the subject as […]

Boxing Gym

It’s convenient when the title of the film gives you the entirety of the summary of the film. Granted, knowing a bit about the works of Wiseman. While he dismisses the term as pretentious, the school of verité is at least a convenient short cut to describing his work. As he dismisses those notions as […]

You Are Here

Cockburn’s YOU ARE HERE is the most engaging type of so-called “avant garde” film – sure, it’s full of crazy ideas and bizarre set pieces, but at its core, under the layers of metaphysics and audience-required detective work, it remains a lot of fun. The work is a thought experiment writ large, with strange and […]

Stake Land

Yes, yet another take on the Vampire genre, but STAKE LAND eschews the glitter and silliness that plagues TWILIGHT, and even the gothic lust of TRUE BLOOD, and instead borrows from the likes of Cormack McCarthy. Essentially an “Underground Railroad” trek, we’re thrown almost immediately into mayhem, as the entire family of our protagonist is […]

Beautiful Boy

Set in the same festival as RABBIT HOLE, this “other” film about grieving parents takes a very different tact. This film sets itself apart by setting up an enormous twist – the tragedy that has taken the life of this child was done at the hands of their child. Coming to terms with their own […]

Viva Riva!

TIFF has gone to great lengths over the years to bring us cinema from the African continent, much to its credit. We often get glimpses of rustic life, or touching and/or depressing documentaries about this or that plight, but rarely do we get films that on their face can be considered, well, good. With VIVA […]

Dao Jian Xiao (The Butcher, the Chef and the Swordsman)

Midnight Madness often showcases a number of crazy films originating in Asia, but BUTCHER… is somewhat unique in that it originates from Mainland China. This provides a unique aesthetic to the film, incorporating a number of elements that differ quite a bit even from ostensibly similar films coming out of Hong Kong. The story is […]

I Saw The Devil

Returning to TIFF after the gonzo fun that was THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE WEIRD, Ji-woon Kim brings us a creepy, stylish, extremely impressive take on the serial killer film. Casting the “good guy” from OLD BOY, Choi Min-sik, into a child-stealing psychopath is a small bit of genius, with his cherubic face all […]

Insidious

James Wan, last here for the 2004 Midnight Madness with the first of his SAW films, returns with what amounts to a classic haunted house film. When two young parents moves into their new house, their son gets into an accident and slips into a coma. The parents then feel they have to protect him […]

127 HOURS

I’ve been craving some neologism, some German word perhaps that best describes that work of art that by all rights should be just awful, yet, amazingly, beautifully, it succeeds against all odds. Whatever word we wish to employ, this latest film by Danny Boyle fits that sentiment exactly. Stories filtered throughout TIFF of viewers becoming […]

Red Nights

Often a failure at Midnight is a film that has such a slow build that it simply can’t sustain audience interest until the inevitable payoff. Certain films (this year’s excellent COLD FISH comes to mind) fit well within the purview of this audience, yet their pacing is so deliberate that it’d be a waste as […]

Tabloid

It’s not like I’ve never seen an Errol Morris film before, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a great many of his works over the years, including many at TIFF. And yet, each and everytime, his films suck me in ’till they get to that point when, BAM, you’ve been comfortably watching one movie, and […]

Jûsan-nin no shikaku (13 Assassins)

Miike has brought to TIFF some of the most flamboyantly disturbing films I’ve ever seen. To give a sense of his usual fair, the audience was handed commemorative barf bags during the 2001’s ICHI THE KILLER screening at the beloved uptown. With 13 ASSASSINS, Miike has created a far more restrained film, free from much […]

Rabbit Hole

John Cameron Mitchell absolutely knocks it out of the park with this remarkable work about coping with loss. Under the veneer of explicit sexuality and brash weirdness, it was nonetheless clear from the remarkable SHORT BUS that this was a director finely attuned to both fine performance and heart. This is a story about not […]

Chico & Rita

Spanning decades of Cuban history, CHICO & RITA is a riot of colour and sounds animated in a brisk, engaging style. A grand reminiscence, we’re shown the transition between the music of Cuba and its incorporation into the swinging Jazz scene of New York. The love story itself is fairly conventional, but the interwoven nature […]

Bunraku

BUNRAKU tries to be a madcap, genre bending bonzo Cowboys versus Samurai flick. There’s a slew of name actors in the film (from Woody Woody Harrelson to Demi Moore), a highly stylized look, and a large number of set and action pieces that should keep things ramblin’. Alas, even the more kinetic fights fall flat. […]

The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town

The drums clatter, the guitar strums, the organ swells and the piano hits a set of powerchords, as the E Street Band kicks into last chance overdrive. With BORN TO RUN, Springsteen becomes the Boss, and conquers the word. What comes next is the subject of this well produced documentary. With a protracted legal battle […]

Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Herzog, the mad genius narrative filmmaker/documentarian, sets his sights on a miraculous little part of the world. Southern France is famous for its paleolithic cave art, dating back 10s of thousands of years and visited by many. In the mid 90s, a unique cave was found, one that was basically sealed by a rock slide […]

Whistleblower

Rachel Weisz stars in the real life story of Kathryn Bolkovac, a small-town cop who joins a contractor in order to make some money, becoming part of the private peace keeping delegations in post-war Bosnia. While there, and after secondment to the UN, she uncovers a dark secret about corruption from both the citizenry and […]

The Ward

This is John Carpenter’s much anticipated throwback to “old school” horror, trading buckets of blood and shakycam for spooky mood and loud, ear-piercing noises that help you jump out of your seat (and, presumably, into the arms of your fellow pubescent partner). Amber Heard, last seen at TIFF in the truly awful ALL THE BOYS […]

I Am Slave

I AM SLAVE traces Malia journey, a young woman from the countryside of Sudan, as she’s she is sold into modern day slavery in London, kept as a housekeeper against her will by a brutalizing master. Trapped behind the gates of her home, Malia tries in vain to gain her independence, even escaping at one […]

Three

Tom Tykwer returns to TIFF with another clever, challenging work. While his RUN LOLA RUN will probably inevitably shape expectations of his work, THREE is just weird and playful enough to generate interest. A Berlin couple after years of marriage are finding themselves growing apart. Disinterested conversations permeate their discourse, they talk at cross purposes, […]

Barney’s Version

BARNEY’S VERSION is one of Modecai Richer’s later works, a beloved book tracing the love foibles of a man who falls for a women who’s attending his (second) marriage. Richler’s works have to date not faired well in the transition to screen, where the charm and dexterous use of language, and minute glimpses into his […]