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Monday, September 19, 2011

Sean Kelly

TIFF11: Day 9-11 Round-Up

Q&A for i am a good person/i am a bad person and
Hidden Driveway
The final weekend of the Toronto International Film Festival is typically a slow one.  Most of the red carpet premieres are over, many of the guests have gone home, and all that is left is the films.

One of my favourite aspects of TIFF are the post-film Q&As, even though they are more scarce at this point of the festival.  Four of the seven films I saw this weekend had Q&As, however I had to sadly miss two of them because I had to travel to my next film. C'est la Vie.

Anyways, here is my final round-up.

Violet & Daisy
This film is a comedy about two teenage assassins (Saoirse Ronan and Alexis Bledel), who run into a bit moral dilemma when their latest target (James Gandolfini) seems to be a little too accepting of his fate.

The fact that the two assassins in the film are teenage girls adds a bit of a camp factor to the film.  There is loads of Tarantino-esque girl talk in the film and the main reason the girls take the job in the first place is so they can buy new dresses for themselves.

All in all, it was a quite enjoyable film.

8/10

The Descendants
A last minute addition to my TIFF11 line-up, this film is the latest film by Alexander Payne (Sideways) and it continues to director's knack of combining comedy with drama.

The film stars George Clooney as a lawyer named Matt King, who has a lot of things on his mind.  For starters, he is the trust-holder of a piece of land on Kauaʻi in the Hawaiian Islands, which has been in family for generations (hence the title of the film).  His family plans on selling the land to developers and the final decision will be made in a few days.  However, the more important matter for King is the fact that his wife is in a coma after a boat accident.  Not only that, but he finds out from his daughter that his wife has been having an affair.

The film is all about King coming to grips with this news, while also becoming closer with his children, who he never previously had the time for.  It was a touching film.

8/10

Tyrannosaur
In a disturbing scene in the first few couple minutes of this gritty British film, the lead character (played by Peter Mullan) violently kicks his dog to death, yet immediately feels remorse.  That pretty much sums up what this film is about.  The film actually a bit more touching film than I thought, as the lead character befriends a thift store proprietress and tries to protect her from her violent husband.

It was definitely an enthralling film.

8/10

Like Crazy
I have been hearing a lot of buzz about this film, so I was happy to get a chance to see it at the festival.  The film is romantic drama about about Jacob (Anton Yelchin) and Anna (Felicity Jones), two young people who meet and fall in love in college.  However, the relationship is put into jeopardy when Anna is deported back to England after violating her student visa and the main drama of the film involves the two trying to make the relationship work, despite living on opposite ends of the Atlantic.

Like Crazy is a heartbreaking, yet touching film.

8/10

i am a good person/i am a bad person
The new film by Canadian director Ingrid Veninger is most definitely a self-reflexive film, since it stars Veninger herself, as well as her daughter Hallie Switzer, in the lead roles.

The film is about a filmmaker going with her daughter to show a film at various festivals in Europe.  At one point, the two go their separate ways (one to Paris, the other to Berlin), at which point the film moves back and forth, contrasting each characters different stories of self-realization.

The film was definitely an intriguing character study.

8/10

The film was preceeded by a short called Hidden Driveway, which is fairly straight-forward story of two brothers having a conversion as a walk home.  It was a nice little film.

Death for Sale
I always take a bit of a risk when I see foreign language films, since if I don't enjoy it, I'll ending having to endure a film with subtitles for two hours.  However, I have to say that I quite lucked out with this film, which is quite intriguing.

The film tells the story of three young men in Morocco, who make a living through a life of crime.  One of the three, Malik, seems to having the greatest desire to turn his life around, especially went he falls in love with a prostitute.  The film is quite a gripping look at the lives of these three men and I ended up leaving satisfied, despite a bit of a downer of an ending.

8/10

Smuggler
This is a Japanese mob film, that showed as part of the Midnight Madness programme (though at the time of day I saw, it would be more appropriate to say that it was MidDAY Madness).  It's the story of a group of men, whose job it is to smuggle and dispose of bodies for the mob.  Their job becomes harder when they are hired to transport a notorious Chinese hitman - still alive.

The film features much dark humour throughout, as well as some sadistic violence (an extended torture scene comes to mind).  However, I do think that most fans of Asian cinema would end up enjoying this film as much as I did.

8/10

Rampart
If there is any film I saw at the festival that I am divided on, it is this one.  The film stars Woody Harrelson as a dirty LA cop, who has bent the law one too many times and is about to pay the price for it.  The film features a great supporting cast that includes the likes of Anne Heche, Sigourney Weaver, Robin Wright, Ned Beatty, Ice Cube, as well as all too brief appearance by Steve Buscemi.

Despite the cast, I thought that the story suffered somewhat and ran a little too long.  There was also some shoddy camera and editing work (i.e. a dizzying scene with a non-stop rotating camera, as well as a scene in a nightclub that started off making me think that the projector was broken).

This probably wasn't the best film for me to end my festival experience with, but I still made it through.

7/10

And that's it for the films I saw at TIFF11.  Later on, I'll post my wrap-up, which will include my favourite films of the festival ranked by programme.

Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).