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Sep 12, 2012
02:05 PMTalk about Arts
TIFF 2012: More from Days 2 and 3
Day 2 was frantic and busy, but ended strong, and Day 3 proved spending hours in a darkened movie theater was smarter than watching the Bills game. Let's get to it, shall we?
• Byzantium: Neil Jordan's return to the vampire genre is garnering a mixed response, but I found it stylish, involving, and quite epic, a well-acted (especially by Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan) treat that may find an audience if IFC releases it widely. White I wouldn't call it a reinvention of the vampire film, it is a solid effort, and Jordan's best work in years. 7/10
• Imogene: Kristen Wiig. If that does not grab you, Imogene won't, since the Bridesmaids star is far and away the best thing in this sitcom-y study of a wannabe playright and her dysnfunctional family. The cast—Annette Bening, Matt Dillon, Glee star Darren Criss—is uniformly good, and there are many laughs to be had. But it doesn't linger in the memory. But Wiig makes it worth watching. 6/10
• Amour: Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon is one of my favorite films of recent years. This film, like Ribbon, won the Palme d'Or at Cannes, and watching it at TIFF made it easy to see why. This is a staggering achievement, an unflinching look at the realities of aging, and quite possibly the finest film about the process of caring for someone you love at the end ever made. Stars Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva could both earn Oscar nods, and I espect the film to garner several others. Several days later, I'm still pondering its mysteries. 10/10
• Something in the Air: I was profoundly disappointed in Olivier Assayas's look at teens living in the time of rebellion in 70s France. The actors are mostly emotionless, the film doesn't really go anywhere, and it's often simply boring. And yet ... perhaps that was the director's intent. It certainly looks and sounds great, and I love the time period. But it didn't work pour moi. 4/10
• Much Ado About Nothing: Joss Whedon's black-and-white, modern-day Shakespeare adaptation is an utter delight. The cast of Whedon vets all congregated in the director's home over twelve days, in relative secrecy, making this a surprise TIFF addition. The result, I think, is Whedon's finest big-screen work. You'll love hanging out with this crew. 9/10
• Room 237: Hands down for me the most exhilarating film of TIFF 2012. This documentary, about various fan theories on Kubrick's The Shining, is one of the smartest, most clever studies of the power of cinema ever made. Yes, it helps to be a Kubrick fan, and a cinephile. But I defy even a casual viewer not to become enraptured. I can't wait to see it again. 10/10
• Passion: Damn. I'm a big Brian De Palma fan, and I went into this with very high expectations, but I have to be honest ...It's a disaster. Noomi Rapace gives one of 2012's most hysterically over the top performances, the ending is absurd, and much of it verges on (if not crosses into) self-parody. A real disappointment, and yet, it's so nutty, that I'd recommend watching it. 3/10
• The Impossible: J. A. Bayona's tsunami epic is an emotional stunner, a disaster film that can be accused of audience manipulation, but is never cloying. It's based on a true story, which combats the manipulation accusation, although its focus on one white European family is another issue. Still, that should not detract from what is a moving, well-made film. I'm feeling this one may not seem quite as strong over time—I've already lowered my score slightly—but it's hard not to find it extremely powerful. 8/10
What's next: We're actually heading back to TO next weekend for one more film, Terrence Malick's already controversial To the Wonder. And Jared is going on Saturday, too, for three more intriguing selections: the big, bold Cloud Atlas, Oscar favorite Argo, and the great Room 237.
Since I was able to place my thoughts on Day 2 in our previous post, let's just get right into a Day 3 that included four more films and a lovely interview with the charming Annemarie Jacir, writer/director of When I Saw You. Now I have five days of rest (review writing) before heading back Saturday.
• Silver Linings Playbook: David O. Russell follows up his Oscar nominated film The Fighter with this gem of a dramedy that infuses the rather eccentric sense of humor we had come to know and love from the director. A true crowdpleaser that should be mention come awards season. 9/10
• The Company We Keep: Robert Redford's political thriller about the Weather Underground and three of its members coming out of hiding in order to reconcile the guilt they now see every time they look into the eyes of their children. Thematically similar to the director's last film The Conspirator, it's a well-acted, solid piece of cinema. 7/10
• Passion: A total mess, this film goes from boring to intriguing to downright stupid. Over-the-top, confusing, and so much less than its potential, at least we didn't have to watch the Bills game. 4/10
• The Impossible: Hampered only by its perfect storm (no pun intended) of mainstream, true life drama, this emotive disaster flick gets everything right. A eulogy for the innocents who died and the heroes who prevailed, it is infinitely better than I could have ever expected it to be. 8/10