September 14, 2011

TIFF Day Seven

Rebellion [France, Mathieu Kassovitz, 4] Negotiator from the gendarmerie (Kassovitz) sent to defuse a hostage taking by insurgents in New Caledonia, discovers that the real obstacles to peace are the electioneering politicians back in Paris. Gripping examination of the steps that turned a 1988 colonial crisis into an atrocity.

Like Bloody Sunday or Night of the Pencils, this belongs to a genre that might be termed the anti-procedural. Instead of a look at a problem being solved, you get the moment by moment breakdown of a spiraling disaster.

Life Without Principle [HK, Johnnie To, 4] As global markets melt down, the robbery of a loan shark ripples through the lives of a disparate but interconnected group. Coolly controlled ensemble drama of fate and finance.

A Simple Life [HK, Ann Hui, 5] Film producer (Andy Lau) sees to the care of the elderly family maid who helped raise him. Beautifully observed drama driven by a conflict so delicate as to be nearly imperceptible.

Nuit #1 [Canada, Anne Emond, 2] Man and woman exchange self-lacerating confessions after a one-night stand. Stylized language and behavior might be easier to buy into on stage, free of a visual realism that calls its credibility into question.

TIFF Day Six

Your Sister’s Sister [US, Lynn Shelton, 4] Woman (Emily Blunt) with unacknowledged feelings for her dead ex's brother (Mark Duplass) sends him on a head-clearing retreat to her family cottage, where he gets unexpectedly close with her sister (Rosemarie Dewitt.) Witty, truthful comedy-drama of romantic manners keeps the stakes high without extreme characters or phony behavior.

My Worst Nightmare [France, Anne Fontaine, 3.5] Boorish tradesman defrosts demanding gallerist (Isabelle Huppert.) Use the fluffy dessert metaphor of your choice to describe this class-conscious romantic comedy.

If you're looking for the movie from my TIFF 2011 list to watch with your mom, My Worst Nightmare is probably the one. I mean, not that I know your mom.

Alps [Greece, Giorgios Lanthimos, 3.5] Secretive group consisting of two hospital workers, a gymnast, and her abusive coach aid the grieving by acting out scripted scenarios in which they substitute for the deceased. Variation on the director's previous film, Dogtooth, that isn't as resonant or mind-blowing.

Himizu [Japan, Sion Sono, 5] Junior high student with toxic parents who lives in the zone struck by the March tsunami and subsequent Fukushima disaster struggles to find an outlet for his existential fury. Epic, ambitious grapple with despair.