September 09, 2011

TIFF Day One

Into the Abyss [US, Werner Herzog, 4] The imminent execution of a young Texan for a callous triple homicide prompts a discursive documentary portrait of his hometown, and the people touched in various ways by the crime. What seems at first like a standard inquiry into the death penalty unfolds into a surprising meditation on the richness, tragedy and strangeness of human lives.

Herzog was present at the screening, describing the gentle but sometimes oddball interviewing technique that impels his subjects to sudden emotional revelations. "They don't teach you that in film school!" His longtime editor explained that they jointly took up smoking for the first time during Grizzly Man and were driven back to it again for this one.

Play [Sweden, Ruben Östlund, 4] Pre-teen trio gets dragged across Gothenburg by bullying, older immigrant kids. Coolly upsetting crime docudrama takes a despairing look at Swedish race relations.