The Place Beyond The Pines kind of felt like was watching three films, instead of one. Not in a bad way, just that there were three completely different stories each with their own climax and denouement. It was long, but in my TIFF-dehydrated state it was doable.
Note: maybe Derek Cianfrance can talk to Peter Jackson about how to pack multiple stories into one feature. Not hating, just not thrilled about The Hobbit being broken into three now.
Tangent. Gosling looks totally jacked, and once again turns in a performance that has you immersed in the story from the jump. His Handsome Luke is sort of a cross between his characters from Drive and Half Nelson – once again he plays a man who has trouble with his instinct for self-destruction.
The real pleasant surprise for me here was Bradley Cooper as Avery Cross. He manages to show us he conflict and ultimate resigned acceptance with his life choices maintaining that mask of camera-ready attractiveness. Of all the characters his is the one that is the easiest to identify with in the beginning of his story, and yet at times he is the most enigmatic and frustrating.
Some great naturalistic moments between the characters in each of the stories remind us that this is the guy that brought us Blue Valentine. I hope he keeps bringing his stories to the festival.
I had so many questions that I didn’t ask in the Much Ado About Nothing Q&A. “Who worked on the stunt choreography for some of the pratfalls because they looked pretty dangerous?” or “the lighting and photography in the comedic scenes seemed a bit sharper than some of the more dramatic or romantic moments, was that a deliberate choice, or just a by-product of the environment?” or “Mr. Whedon, do you like the Wonder Woman t-shirt my friend made for me?”
Alas I did not ask any of these as I was too busy freaking the frak out after seeing one of the most hilarious and – in my humble opinion as a former English major – entertaining adaptations of one of Shakespeare’s work for film.
One of the things that surprised me the most was that my favourite performance was that of Clark Gregg, who is a newcomer to the Whedonverse. His Leonato stole every single scene he was in – and his ability to shift from Polonius-esque comic relief to full on rage and recrimination was truly impressive. I always felt something about his character, regardless of what was happening in the moment.
In terms of tone this was like the opposite of Coriolanus, not just because of the subject matter, but also because of the cinematography, the obvious charisma of the cast and the intimate space. By using his home as the backdrop, not only did he likely save a crap ton of money, but you could feel the ease in the performances and the way they interacted with their environment.
Once again he rocked it #likeajoss.
I love seeing at least one or two animated movies during TIFF. For one thing while an indie that has yet to secure North American distribution may not have had a final theatre-friendly cut to take the running time down to 100 minutes or less, most animated movies fall within a fairly comfortable running time for the knees and the bladder. The director tends not to spend too much time in scenes where a character is merely pondering or taking a moment, as that is hundreds and thousands of additional hours of drawing.
From Up On Poppy Hill did not disappoint in this area. The pacing of the story was excellent, but you did have time to get to know the characters. Umi, the female lead is introduced to us through her daily duties at home. Throughout the entire film the theme of duty keeps returning and we see how that affects Umi, and Shun the male lead.
The way Goro Miyazaki uses the animation of wind so keep a sense of movement in scenes where the characters may be standing still is fantastic. The contrast in the colour palette in the school clubhouse compared to Umi’s house really makes us feel as if she is taking a step into another world as she starts to interact with Shun and his friends.
The story for Up On Poppy Hill is based on a manga geared towards teenage girls, so there is an element of the melodramatic, but it is nice to have an animated film with a female lead. This was a great first film for me to start off TIFF11.
If you enjoyed Nicholas Winding Refn’s Valhalla Rising because of the minimalist script, intense close up shots of the delicious male lead and the sudden and vicious bursts of violence then you may love Drive. From the first time you see Gosling behind the wheel you know that Refn is taking you somewhere entirely different. Carey Mulligan plays the perfect gamine with a taste for bad boys-her face kind of reminds me of Michelle Williams without the emotional miles on her. The main cast is round out by Albert Brooks who is at times lovable and terrifying; Ron Perlman who gets out from behind prosthetics and gets to chew a little scenery, and Bryan Cranston, an adorable man in real life who has cornered the market on playing busted and beleaguered.
The story is much like a q&a session with Refn-entertaining but not entirely expected. Go see it.
Trigger was on my pre-post-it-flag list for the festival, but it didn’t make the cut. While it had a couple of things going for it that I look for in a festival movie – a good picture in the book and an actor (Molly Parker) and director (Bruce McDonald) that I enjoy I’m afraid at some point in the past few years I have become more and more likely to not pick movies from Canada.
It’s not because I’m anti-Canada, I’m Canadian. I live in Toronto. The older I get the more I love it here. I’m writing this in winter so I really mean it.
However I’ve been spoiled by the volume and quality of movies available at TIFF every year. I have become lazy in programming my personal festival experience and when in doubt movies selected by Jane or Thom or Colin will always trump anything else.
Trigger was a reminder that I need to take a step back and take the odd risk. If I had seen it this year, I don’t think it would have been in my top five, but there was something about it that stayed with me long after the film was over. It was set in Toronto, and unlike Scott Pilgrim that lit and showcased Toronto in a way that made it seem somewhat more suited to it’s graphic novel origins, Trigger showed how beautiful Toronto can be when it’s not pretending to be some other place. Kind of like going back and looking at picture of Pamela Anderson when she was still dating Scott Baio.
The story reminded me of a book, The Friend Who Got Away. The movie follows the uncomfortable attempts of two formerly close friends to reconnect. Their meandering journey around the city as they talk around the issues that separated them so many years ago is a thoughtful and sweet post-mortem of a relationship.
Found this in an old journal – if you’re looking for something to rent this winter there are some good suggestions.
Original title – Must have been the immaculate infection
The title of this entry is one of the best lines in Little Athens (re: the passing of an STD from skanky girlfriend to angry boyfriend), one of the top ten movies out of the 30 or so I saw at the festival last week. In no particular order here are some of the other films I enjoyed, and some of my thoughts. I wasn’t planning to write this tonight, but tomorrow I go back to the bad place, and my week of fantasy and festival funk will officially be over. Also, do not get excited at the idea of festival funk. I am not referring to some sort of urban soiree, but rather the smell of the Paramount theatre…and the guy that sat next to me in the Dave Chappelle movie, and to be honest, me at the end of any 4 or 5 movie day.
Other good movies – La vie avec mon père – the last and best French movie we saw. The other two will not be named, as they were French from France and sucked ass. This one was French from Canada and made me not hate the sound of the language again. David Le Haye is fantastic.
SPL Kung Fu fun. The ‘professional’ reviewer that sat next to me didn’t like it, but it finished with a great knife fight and an even better hand-to-hand scene that looked like something out of WWF. It was so good I didn’t even recognize one of the lead characters from a way crappier film I saw earlier in the week.
Banlieue 13 Apparently the opening foot-chase scene that goes through, around and over an entire neighbourhood is already available for viewing on the internet. Great stuff. And I guess when I think about it, this was the other good French movie, but the action was so good, I forgot it was French when I spent the better part of the week cursing their country and the programmer of the other two dramatic pieces (of crap).
Neverwas Britney Murphy was not annoying. And the story was very, very sweet.
One last thing… Most likely to make you cry like a little bitch award goes to this movie. I laughed. I cried. Lather, rinse, repeat.
The last hangman Was really educational, if you want to know how the English used to go about hanging people. I really learned a lot about the specifics of hanging. Not recommended for the depressed. A little information can be a dangerous thing.
The Proposition Ultraviolent Australian western. Not for the faint of heart. I was a little queasy, and I usually giggle at the bit in Reservoir Dogs when Mr. Blonde starts dancing. Fantastic costumes.
Thumbsucker Keanu Reeves was really funny. I don’t know if he was trying to be funny, but he was.
Romance and Cigarettes Worth it just to see James Gandolfini burst into a song-and-dance number.
The two movies I enjoyed the most, and will pay money to see again in the theatre are actually a couple of movies that sold for the most here in the T-dot. Thank you for Smoking and Dave Chappelle’s Block Party. I will have to see them both again because there were moments in both when I was laughing so hard I missed the next joke. Both of these films were fantastic. I loved all the music at the Block Party. I want to give these films my money again so people will make more movies like this. And sadly money is the only thing some of these fools understand.
If Jeff Bridges hadn’t already won an Oscar last year for Crazy Heart I would say he should get one this year for this performance as the antihero with grit. There were moments where he got dangerously close to being over the top as the whiskey-soaked Marshall, and the performance in less controlled hands might have just been comical. The heroic turn the character has to take in the third act, after being portrayed for most of the movie as a trigger-happy drunk who would shoot a man in the back is believable because of Bridges.
The other performances from names you would recognize were great as well (Damon, Brolin) but I would have to give best performance of the film to Hailee Steinfeld. She plays one of the most single-minded and determined characters I have seen onscreen since Javier Bardem’s performance as Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men. Her portrayal of Mattie Ross makes me believe that this 14 year old girl with a score to settle will get satisfaction, one way or another.
Overall the pacing of the story was close to perfect – I did not notice time passing and wanted more when it was over. The violence was satisfying, and the landscape was a beautiful counterpoint to a rough ride towards retribution. Another excellent piece from the brothers Coen. Good times.
So this is a little late this year. Wanted to get this in before I head to to the Box o Light this Friday to see Batman Returns and the Burton Exhibit.
Best Musical Find – Punks by I Heart Hiroshima- thanks to Jucy.
Best Flexing by a Male Performer – Donnie Yen in Legend of the Fist.
Best movie that stayed with me and made me want to spoil it by telling people everything that happened – Wasted on the Young.
Most charming director in a Q&A and also when I drunkenly accosted them in person later at Gabbys – Richard Ayoade, director of Submarine.
Best inspirational story that made me weep openly in public – The First Grader.
Best movie that will make me complain obnoxiously when it is remade in North America with Zac Efron about how I saw the foreign made original at the festival and it was sooooo much better – Easy Money.
Best movie that made me doubt I had a soul because I enjoyed it a bit too much - I Saw the Devil. Seriously, this shit was bananas.
Best moment – meeting Jane Schoettle and telling (begging, perhaps being mildly threatening) her to never ever get another job because she picks the best movies.
This is a two hour samurai movie directed by Takashi Miike. That would normally be enough information for most people who like this type of film to pick this movie. Miike does not take his audience for granted and gives us a entertaining characters, beautiful sets and costumes, lush exteriors and a decent motive for the massively bloody and violent last act.
Kôji Yakusho has the perfect demeanor for the old master recruiting a group of samurai to take out a corrupt leader. He is charismatic and strong, and yet while we know his character does long for the days of battle we do not see that he takes the matter of taking a life lightly. What I love about his performance here-much like his turn as the depressed accountant in Shall We Dance-is the way he can watch others and use his face and reactions to set the emotional tone for the audience.
If you don’t care about performance or story just watch the last 45 minutes for the awesome fiery and bloody showdown. And remember if you lose your sword, use a stick. If you lose your stick, use a rock. Or you can blow stuff up.