September 11, 2011

TIFF Day Three

A heavy-duty day today of sex, power and money--with a little family dysfunction for a change of pace. If you're wondering why cute, unassuming indie comedies sometimes get oddly rapturous receptions at film festivals, wonder no more.

Not that I'm snarking; it was a strong day.

Beauty [South Africa, Oliver Hermanus, 4] Closeted Afrikaaner businessman's yearning for a old buddy's son sends him spinning out of control. Unflinching drama anchored by a pressure-cooker lead performance.

Trishna [UK, Michael Winterbottom, 4] Beautiful village girl (Freida Pinto) accepts a not entirely altruistic employment offer from an irresponsible Indo-British hotel heir. Modern, India- set Tess of the d'Ubervilles succeeds by fully transposing the premise to a new time and place, without seeking an analogue for every plot point of the original.

While waiting on University Ave for a screening at the Isabel Bader, a big revivalist parade blaring J-pop style hymns passes by. Behind the Noah's Ark float teens wear rented animal costumes. I never knew that Piglet and Big Bird were aboard the ark.

The washrooms at this sleekly modernist facility are so cruelly mis-designed that it might better be called the Isabel Vader Theatre.

House of Tolerance [France, Bertrand Bonello, 4] In Paris, 1900, women face the vicissitudes of sex work during a legalized, luxury brothel's final months.

Juxtaposes romantic visuals with an anti-romantic text.

The Good Son [Finland, Zaida Bergroth, 4] Young man whose actress mother's boundary-less dependence and history of bad boyfriends has turned him into her rage-filled protector overreacts when she lets a new man into her life. Taut, perceptively played drama.

Whore’s Glory [Austria, Michael Glawogger, 3.5] Documentary achieves remarkable access into the workaday lives of prostitutes working in Thailand, Bangladesh, and Mexico. Presents an impressionist portrait with arresting cinematography and cool music from acts like PJ Harvey and Antony and the Johnsons; could use a less forgiving edit from its 2 hr length.