September 09, 2012

TIFF Day Four

Something in the Air [France, Olivier Assayas, 4] High school student navigates the contradictions of art, politics, and love in the early 70s. Evocative autobiographical drama sticks to matter-of-fact approach, resisting the usual urges to either romanticize the era, or send it up.

The Last Supper [China, Lu Chuan, 4] Shaky memories and revised histories intermingle as the dying first Han emperor recalls the betrayals that allowed his rise from street rat status. Uses the resources of the historical epic to present a fragmented political allegory.

The Land of Hope [Japan, Sion Sono, 5] After Fukushima repeats itself at another nuke plant, a farm family on the literal edge of the evacuation zone struggles with the aftermath. Sweetly drawn--and therefore, all the more harrowing.

7 Boxes [Paraguay, Juan Carlos Maneglia & Tana Schembori, 4] Delivery kid's assignment to transport the titular containers in his wheelbarrow leads to pursuit, danger and death across a sprawling market. Sharp, fast-paced action thriller from an unexpected quarter.

Dust [Guatemala, Julio Hernandez Cordon, 4] Suicidal busker searches for the remains of his father, disappeared by the death squads, while pursuing a vendetta against the man who denounced him. Strikes an elusive tone mixing quotidian naturalism, incongruous humor, and blunted pathos.

Tiff Day Three

Out in the Dark [Israel, Michael Mayer, 4] The security fence between Ramallah and Tel Aviv becomes a barrier in the budding romance between an out Israeli lawyer and a Palestinian student for whom the closet is a matter of life and death. Taut political melodrama.

That Thing I Always Say: in the digital era, out-of-sync subtitles are the new film burning in the gate.

The End of Time [Canada, Peter Mettler, 4] Disorientingly beautiful images of the natural and man made worlds comprise a meditation on accelerated particles, island volcanism
and urban decay. Unlike many documentaries, this consciousness-altering essay piece demands to be seen on the big screen.

The Color of the Chameleon [Bulgaria, Emil Christov, 3.5] Oddball loner, fired from
his job as a student infiltrator, forms his own rogue secret police operation. Absurdist satire of the informant state would be even funnier if it picked up the pace a bit.

Everyday [UK, Michael Winterbottom, 4] A five-year sentence turns a man's (John Simm) relationship with his wife (Shirley Henderson) and four kids into a series of prison visits. The strength of this generous slice-of-life piece lies in the honesty of the script and performances.

The film was shot in segments over the course of five years, so you see the child actors age in the time frame the story covers.

The director, kid actors and Shirley Henderson were present to introduce the screening. She stood on tiptoes to reach the podium mic.

Tai Chi 0 [China, Stephen Fung, 3] One-horned martial arts prodigy seeks fighting secrets from insular village, placing him in the path of steampunk railway developers. As the numeral in the title implies, this knowing and hyper-stylized fu romp doesn't bother to stand on its own, but instead stops on a series-establishing cliffhanger.

With action direction by Sammo Hung, and a healthy dollop of Scott Pilgrim influence.