Sunday, September 14, 2008

TIFF Day 9

The first film was It Might Get Loud, by Davis Guggenheim. This film follows Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), The Edge (U2), and Jack White (The White Stripes) around while finding out about their influences and experiences. Interspersed with the interviews are sequences where the three talk together and jam.

Where do I start? Listening to the three talk about why they started playing music is fascinating. Watching Jack White make a guitar from nails, wire and a coke bottle (in under 5 minutes) is amazing. Seeing Jimmy Page play air guitar to Link Wray's "Rumble" is illuminating. If I had any criticism of the film, I would have to say that the time the three spend together is too short. All in all, a wonderful film.

The last film of the festival (literally) was Chocolate, by Prachya Pinkaew. The film deals with the story of an ex-mob member's autistic daughter, who picks up a subconscious knowledge of martial arts from watching tv and playing video games. When her mother becomes ill, she and a friend track down old debts in order to pay for medicine.

Great fun, the film makes you ache in sympathy for all the people getting their butts kicked by the lead, especially since she is quite a petite woman (5'2'' or so). The set-piece fights have a great energy to them that never flags, even though some of them last over 10 minutes.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

TIFF Day 8

First off was Hooked, by Adrian Sitaru. Hooked is the story of a couple's day in the country that is changed when they accidentally hit a prostitute. When they find out (while trying to dump the body!) that she is not dead, the situation becomes even more complicated than it already was.

The film has a good script, with some great dialogue and ideas. The actors do a good job as well, especially the actress playing the prostitute. However, the film's gimmick is that it is all shot on handicam from the POV of whoever isn't talking in the scene. This leads to some quick pans as "the camera" turns its head this way and that. While I'm not against using handicam-style shots, this time it got very annoying and tiresome, taking focus away from the film itself and concentrating it on the shaky and wildly swinging camera.

The second film was American Swing, by Matthew Kaufman and John Hart. A documentary about Plato's Retreat, the notorious sex club in NYC, the film features reminiscences by patrons and friends of the owner, Larry Levenson. The anecdotes are refreshingly frank, and along with period footage, tell and show just what went on in the club. Very well done, and very funny.

Tomorrow (last day!): It Might Get Loud and Chocolate

Thursday, September 11, 2008

TIFF Day 7

Today's film: The Burrowers, by J T Petty. Set in the Dakota territories in 1879, this film follows the search for people who have been abducted, supposedly by Indians. As the group of searchers get farther along in their tracking, however, it becomes clear that it might not be Indians that have abducted the people.

This film mixes two usually separate genres-westerns and monster movies-and does a good job of it. The open expanses of the plains and foothills are a good backdrop for the creepy goings on. The sense of paranoia that builds as the hunters become the hunted is well-managed by some nice camera work.

Two films tomorrow: Hooked and American Swing

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

TIFF Day 6

Today I saw Ashes of Time Redux, by Wong Kar Wai. The story concerns a mercenary and his unrequited love for his brother's wife.

This film was a cleaned up, recut, and remixed version of Wai's 1994 film. Having not seen the original, I can only say the following: the photography was beautiful, the score was stunning, and the story was needlessly complex. One of the highlights however, were the fight scenes. Choreographed by Sammo Hung, they had an almost abstract quality not usually seen in wuxia films.

Tomorrow: The Burrowers

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

TIFF Day 5

The first film for today was Not Quite Hollywood, by Mark Hartley. A documentary about the Australian "genre" film from the early 70's until the early 90's, the film intersperses film clips with current day interviews from the stars, directors, and producers. Critics and fans are also represented with comments by Australian film critics and contemporary directors.

A great romp through the "Ozploitation" flicks, the film never really takes itself too seriously (unlike some of the critics), and as such, is very entertaining to watch. It is fascinating to hear behind the scenes stories from such a wide variety of actors and filmmakers, as well as current filmmakers talking about the films and their effect on their own work.

The second film was The Dungeon Masters, by Keven McAlester. Another documentary, this one deals with three people from different parts of the USA who all have one thing in common: they all play Dungeons & Dragons.

The film follows the three subjects for approximately 18 months and is notable for the fact that it never makes fun of its subjects. To be sure, there is no small amount of tragedy among the three, but they are the ones who bring up their problems and the filmmaker is truly just an observer. Very satisfying.

Tomorrow: Ahes of Time Redux

TIFF Day 4

Today's film was Acolytes, by Jon Hewitt. Set in Brisbane, Australia, the film follows what happens when three teens find a body in the woods. After attempting to use the discovery to their advantage, they soon find themselves in far over their heads.

Shot in a gritty, grainy style, the film has some good stylistic moments. Good use of locations is also apparent, with many shots in a decidely creepy wooded area. Overall, an entertaining, scary, and satisfying film

Sunday, September 7, 2008

TIFF Day 3

Today's film (just one!) was Real Time, by Randall Cole. This film deals with the last hour and a half of a ne'er do well gambler as he attempts to get everything in order before being killed because of outstanding debts.

While the film is shot in what is more or less real time, it never feels forced, when the time comes for the final confrontation with the hit man, you are almost surprised that that much time has gone by. Alternately funny and suspenseful, the film shows what can be done with a small budget (approx $1 million), and shows it well. Good performances from Jay Baruchel, Randy Quaid, and Jayne Eastwood make this a very entertaining film to watch.

Tomorrow: Acolytes