Archive for the ‘TIFF 2011’ Category

  • Review: The Raid: Redemption

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    This review initially appeared as part of our Toronto International Film Festival coverage and is based on the original version of The Raid that was shown during the TIFF Midnight Madness program. Though there are several changes to the film for its U.S. release (musical score, the odd appendage to its title and some “tweaking”), the film remains a full-on fight-filled action flick, so we’re re-publishing the previous review with a few minor alterations (removing TIFF-specific references).

     

    Drawn in by the people and city of Jakarta, director Gareth Evans made a decision several years ago to continue filmmaking in Indonesia. This major career turning point happened after doing a short film there and being fascinated with the style of martial arts (called Pencak Silat) he saw which he felt would work well in feature length action films. And boy was he right – without a doubt The Raid (his second feature length action film which World Premiered at TIFF’s Midnight Madness last September) contains some of the most brutal, teeth-gritting and sustained fight scenes I’ve ever seen.

    The story is somewhat nominal. A SWAT team attack an apartment complex that houses a dangerous drug lord and his cronies. As they move up floor by floor, they wipe out gang members and slowly secure the building. Until they are discovered and the gang fights back. That’s pretty much all there is to it. The set up is handled within 5-10 minutes and the shooting, stabbing and foot-to-face combat begins. Of course, there’s a few of the cops with specific characteristics (scared rookie, hardened veteran, soon-to-be first time father, etc.), but it really doesn’t matter. Even though the drug kingpin manages to get off a few good lines and crazy-eyed stares, this is not the kind of movie that has fans scrambling for early versions of the script on the Internet or that pulls you through a character arc. It’s all about the visceral thrill of watching people beat the living crap out of each other in very unique as well as old-fashioned ways. And it delivers what it set out to do.

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  • Review: Cafe De Flore

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    With Jean-Marc Vallee’s latest film Cafe De Flore starting a wider release today (in Toronto followed by Ottawa and Vancouver in the coming weeks), we’re re-publishing our review from this year’s TIFF.

     

    I was somewhat shaken walking out of Jean-Marc Vallee’s latest film and needed to actually catch my breath off to the side of the cell-phone checking hordes. It was partially due to several very personal reactions to a few moments and characters, but mostly because the film was absolutely magnificent in just about every respect. I’ve found my “I can’t imagine seeing a better film this year” film.

    Vallee’s Young Victoria didn’t exactly win any converts in major production house circles, but anyone who saw C.R.A.Z.Y. has probably already given him a lifetime pass. As great as that film was (and if you haven’t seen it, please track it down via any legal means possible and also give a listen to the Movie Club Podcast episode specifically on that film), Cafe de Flore has just surpassed any reasonable expectation of what this filmmaker could do. Possibly even all the unreasonable expectations too. It shows a command of thematic content across multiple stories, an inate feeling of putting music to images and an almost perfect sense of flow. He knows when to ask his actors to be subtle, to bring forward some emotion and when to go BIG. He knows when to keep a scene going, when to stay with a take and when to cut across stories and time periods. That’s what I’m left with as I consider my reaction to the film – everything seemed dead on perfect.

    » Read the rest of the entry..

  • TIFF & AFI Fest 2011 Review: Oslo, August 31st

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    Though I don’t completely subscribe to the “Auteur” theory in all its finer points, I do tend to look at films as having directorial stamps on them – not just from common stylistic points of view or as vehicles that cover similar themes, but as works that have a certain quality about them. For example, when I see a movie like Joachim Trier’s debut film Reprise, I take note of the name of the helmer because there’s a certain something about the film that appeals to me and an attention to detail that shows the person “in charge” cares about the entirety of the work. So when I noticed that Trier’s second film Oslo, August 31st was to screen at this year’s TIFF, it immediately made my short list. It’s a very different film than its predecessor as it was shot quickly, for little money and eschews the many flourishes and stylistic touches of his first film. However, it still fits nicely next to Reprise because there is not only a deft touch with its characters and a strong sense of place, but also an overall confidence about its story.

    Based loosely on the French novel “Le Feu Follet” (which Louis Malle turned into the 1963 film of the same name – better known to English speakers as The Fire Within), the film shows a day in the life of one particular troubled person, but it also illuminates an entire city at the same time. The very beginning of the film shows home movies of a still smallish Oslo, but in the present day the city seems to be growing quite nicely as many cranes litter the streets signifying new construction. As Anders wanders from friend to job interview to his family’s old house, we get to see a large chunk of a lovely, restful city – a stark contrast to Anders himself. You know that friend you have that just can’t seem to get it together? While everyone has their ups and downs, this one particular person always seems to be in the worst shape (or at least that’s what they tell you)? That’s Anders. He can’t pull himself together and has already tried to kill himself once while in rehab. “I’ve always thought happy people must be morons” is one of Anders philosophies and gives a good indication where most conversations with him will likely lead.

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  • Rowthree Presents: Massive TIFF11 Summary

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    Boy the festival has gotten easier to do with friends since the advent of smart phones and social media! This is our 4th annual mega-size wrap-up of the Toronto International Film Festival from Row Three. TIFF11 was 11 days of cinema, viral infection, joy, madness and everything in between. From podcasting on street corners and in-the-line video segments, to the non-stop chitter-chatter and social libation, and of course, the films. This year We have Mike Rot, Bob, Kurt and both Matts (B. and P.) together to offer a quick summary and a tag [BEST], [LOVED], [LIKED], [DISLIKED], [DISAPPOINTED], [WALKED OUT], [HATED] and [WORST] for each of the films we watched. And we watched a lot. Quick thoughts for all 100 (or so) films are organized below to give you as much of a snapshot as possible for what to expect and to look forward to over the next 18 months as these films will – some quicker than others – move into the increasingly varied forms of distribution; some may appear on the big screen, but it is getting more and more likely that for the oddball gems and foreign dramas, it will mean importing a DVD or checking your TV and internet VOD listings.

    The SHORT version:

    The Best: Cafe De Flore (Bob), Take Shelter (Matt B.), The Story of Film – An Odyssey (Matt P.), Kotoko (Kurt) and Take This Waltz (Mike Rot)

    The Worst: Americano (Bob), The Moth Diaries (Kurt & Matt P.), Hick (Matt B.) and Last Winter (Mike Rot)

    But to really get to the heart of the festival, check out our MASSIVE summary which is tucked under the seat.

    All of our FULL REVIEWS during this years festival can be found by clicking the big white banner, below.

    » Read the rest of the entry..

  • Trailer for Norwegian gem Headhunters

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    Norwegian thriller Headhunters (Kurt’s Review) is one of those great genre-gems from abroad that gets into the American re-make pipeline well before the original has a chance to find an audience; and that is the case here, as Summit is developing an English language right at this moment. Magnolia has had the rights to the film for some time, when they picked it up at the European Film Market months ago, but on their website there is no mention of either the film or a release date, although the film has already started to roll out in Europe. Here is hoping people get the chance to see this one on the big screen (Hey Magnolia, here is a free marketing hook: One of the key characters is played by Nikolaj Cster-Waldau, A Game of Thrones’ Jaime Lannister) it is a lot of fun and full of surprises.

    Headhunters is an action thriller which introduces the charming douche-bag Roger Brown, a man who seems to have it all: he is Norway’s most successful headhunter, married to the beautiful gallery owner Diana, owns a magnificent house – and is living well beyond his means. Meanwhile, he is playing at the dangerous game of art theft. Headhunters is a story about deceit, faithfulness and revenge.

    The subtitled trailer is tucked under the seat.

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  • Survey: Bobcat Goldthwait

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    Although I should have brought this up on the Netflix segment for recent episode of the Cinecast, alas, I did not notice it until late last night: Bobcat Goldthwait‘s 1991 directorial debut, Shakes the Clown, popped up on the Canadian version of the streaming site this week. Goldthwait, as an onscreen performer peaked somewhere in the mid 1980s – most people probably know him as the weird, dirty (literally, not figuratively) Cop from the Police Academy sequels, but the cool kids probably fondly remember One Crazy Summer. he more or less disappeared after Shakes failed to take off beyond a weird cult curio. For about a decade he was MIA before returning as a director in the early 2000s for cable TV programs (Crank Yankers, Chapelle’s Show, The Man Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live) and eventually moving into smart, subversive indie features. With the quite fun, and rather timely, debut of the writer/director/comedian’s latest film, God Bless America (Kurt’s Review) and the fondness for his rather auteur-ish three-word-title laden C.V. (Windy City Heat, Sleeping Dogs Lie, World’s Greatest Dad, God Bless America.) Regular listeners of the Cinecast, know that Matt Gamble raves about World’s Greatest Dad often, and at length.

    Want an overview? Lots video clippings are tucked under the seat.
    » Read the rest of the entry..

  • Tyrannosaur Poster & Trailer

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    Tyrannosaur, the Grand Slam first film for writer-director Paddy Considine set TIFF ablaze last week, eliciting a standing ovation at its premiere and creating a bit of a circus in my twitter feed. Best known for his acting credits, including In America and the cocky detective in Hot Fuzz, Paddy Considine elevates the British social drama into something more than your average miserable affair, tapping into the grandeur of Western archetypes as Joseph (I am sure there is a biblical parable in there somewhere as well) tries to do one right thing in a maddening world. Peter Mullan as Joseph is, well, Peter Mullan, no better praise than that. Olivia Colman plays Hannah, Joseph’s cross to bear in the frontiers of skid row, and nearly runs away with the film. One of my favorite films at TIFF, and one that has stuck with me long after the film ended. Catch it when it comes around.

    The trailer gives an idea of what you are in for, including the use of The Leisure Society’s song, We Were Wasted, which the film makes its own.

    The Trailer is tucked under the seat.
    » Read the rest of the entry..

  • TIFF Review: Cafe De Flore

    8

    I was somewhat shaken walking out of Jean-Marc Vallee’s latest film and needed to actually catch my breath off to the side of the cell-phone checking hordes. It was partially due to several very personal reactions to a few moments and characters, but mostly because the film was absolutely magnificent in just about every respect. I’ve found my “I can’t imagine seeing a better film this year” film.

    Vallee’s Young Victoria didn’t exactly win any converts in major production house circles, but anyone who saw C.R.A.Z.Y. has probably already given him a lifetime pass. As great as that film was (and if you haven’t seen it, please track it down via any legal means possible and also give a listen to the Movie Club Podcast episode specifically on that film), Cafe de Flore has just surpassed any reasonable expectation of what this filmmaker could do. Possibly even all the unreasonable expectations too. It shows a command of thematic content across multiple stories, an inate feeling of putting music to images and an almost perfect sense of flow. He knows when to ask his actors to be subtle, to bring forward some emotion and when to go BIG. He knows when to keep a scene going, when to stay with a take and when to cut across stories and time periods. That’s what I’m left with as I consider my reaction to the film – everything seemed dead on perfect.

    » Read the rest of the entry..

  • Mamo #220: TIFFing the Dream

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    We close out the Toronto International Film Festival 2011 with talk of Mark Cousins’ The Story of Film, and how our story of film has changed as 2011 TIFFgoers.

    To download this episode, use this URL: http://rowthree.com/audio/mamo/mamo220.mp3

  • TIFF Review: Kotoko

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    As this years edition of TIFF winds down with only repeat screenings for the locals, in my particular film journey through the program, a small theme has emerged. That would be parental anxieties manifesting as delusional horror; both the fear for the safety of their children, as the shame of the potential exposure as bad parents. Nowhere is that more apparent than in what is possibly the best film I caught at the festival, Shinya Tsukamoto’s Kotoko. After the tepid reviews for Tetsuo III, and having exhausted genre possibilities in the Nightmare Detective franchise, it is nice to see the Japanese DIY master back at play in the headier, artier fare of Vital and A Snake of June.

    Kotoko is a woman with some mental issues. She often sees double, not a mirrored image or blurred vision, but rather two versions of the same person; one of them is real, the other is a menacing doppelganger. On the streets in her neighborhood it is often difficult to tell the difference until the evil hallucination attacks her. This causes enough stress that Kotoko has harboured a longstanding wrist-cutting habit. It is not so much that she is suicidal – she completely wants to live – merely that she compulsively tests her bodies ability to take some punishment. This would make a compelling story in its own right, but that Kotoko has a young child, Daijiro, in her care significantly ups the stakes. The protection of her toddler is paramount, and often causes Kotoko and Daijiro to have to move around a lot when she attacks the wrong double (stabbing with a fork seems to be the preferred method) in defense of her baby. Like many parents with young children, Kotoko often takes her eyes of the little boy to get things done around the apartment. In her frantic, often hallucinatory panic to find Daijiro, Tsukamoto employs his signature manic camera style, a shaky forward rush, not really focused on anything but moving at significant speed, to the best effect in his entire filmography. As a personal litmus, I have had the exact same experience as a parent on more than one occasion, and this is what it feels like.

    » Read the rest of the entry..

  • Mamo #219: In-fourth-li-TIFF

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    Less than 24 hours later, we’re back at it with more coverage of the Toronto International Film Festival 2011. We talk some more about Take Shelter, along with Tyrannosaur, Habemus Papam, The Day, This Is Not A Film, and more!

    To download this episode, use this URL: http://rowthree.com/audio/mamo/mamo219.mp3

  • Kurt Talks Midnight Madness for The Substream

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    It’s been one hell of a week in Toronto, Ontario but one thing that will keep the demons at bay is most certainly the electricity of the audience at a Midnight Madness screening. Our own Kurt Halfyard grabs the mic this particular evening before a screening of Lovely, Molly (director Eduardo Sánchez, The Blair Witch Project) to get the man on the street memories of The Blair Witch craze of the late nineties. Then a quick flash forward to get reactions about the new movie, Lovely, Molly.

    Take a look…

     

     

    A couple of Other Episodes featuring Kurt and the Mamo Matts are tucked under the seat.
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