September 12, 2011

TIFF Day Four

Today the festival replaced its usual pre-movie bumpers with a featurette remembering its shellshocked reaction to 9/11.

Chicken With Plums [France, Marjane Satrapi & Vincent Paronnaud, 4] In fifties Tehran, a temperamental violinist (Mathieu Almaric) takes to his bed, willing himself to die, after he gets swindled trying to buy a Stradivarius. Sad stories told in a funny way, through (mostly) live action sequences in a comics-influenced style.

Like Water For Chocolate comes to mind as a reference point. The sequence in Chicken With Plums depicting Americans as fat, vulgar grotesques might make it tough to replicate the older film's US art house success.

God Bless America [US, Bobcat Goldthwait, 3.5] Middle-aged office worker with nothing to lose bonds with disaffected teen girl as they conduct a nationwide killing spree targeting exemplars of meanness and vulgarization. Gleefully nasty satire is what you might get if Paddy Chayevsky were still around to rewrite Natural Born Killers.

I wouldn't be surprised to see a couple of longish dialogue scenes trimmed before release, which would up my rating a notch.

Bunohan [Malaysia, Dain Said, 3] Three estranged brothers--a kickboxer, a killer, and a shady businessman--return to their home village and come into conflict over the family land. Languidly paced rural noir punctuated by sudden bursts of brutal violence.

J’aime Regardez les Filles [France, Frederic Louf, 4] Callow florist's son party-crashes his way into an ultra-wealthy social circle. Engaging coming of age comedy drama to which Whit Stillman comparisons are inevitable if not 100% on point.

The Sword Identity [China, Haofeng Xu, 4] Martial artist battles an outpost full of soldiers for the right to add an innovative sword design to the list of officially approved weapons. Sly exercise in formalist minimalism that, unlike most art takes on the martial arts film, doesn't cheat the fight choreography.