September 14, 2012

TIFF Day Nine

Night Across the Street [France/Chile, Raul Ruiz, 3] Aging shipping clerk recalls his childhood and waits to be assassinated. Adaptation of magic realist novel misses the transporting quality of the director's key works.

Burn It Up Djassa [Ivory Coast, Lonesome Solo, 3] A young man's plunge into street crime is seen both through the bravado of a neighborhood storyteller and the bitter reality of direct experience. Your basic naturalistic developing world crime drama.

It does not need to be said that, among directors with work appearing at this year’s festival, Lonesome Solo hands-down wins the award for best name.

Pieta [South Korea, Kim Ki-duk, 4] Brutal debt collector loses his psychopathic equilibrium when a woman shows up claiming to be the mother who abandoned him at birth. Kim recovers from a dry spell by returning to the ultra-nastiness of the films that first made his name on the festival circuit.

The Thieves [South Korea, Choi Dong-hoon, 4] Heisters from Korea and Hong Kong uneasily ally to steal a diamond from a Macao casino. Cracking entertainment presents a fresh take on the genre by focusing on plots and betrayals among the gang--then throws in killer action sequences and Simon Yam, to boot!

This is now South Korea's top box office grosser.

TIFF Day Eight

I know what you’re thinking. Only three movies today? Is Robin punking out? Know this: the last film of the day is actually a four-and-a-half hour TV miniseries.

Sightseers [UK, Ben Wheatley, 4] Put-upon new couple turn their caravan holiday into a killing spree. Character-driven black comedy plays like early Mike Leigh with grisly murders.

Caught in the Web [China, Chen Kaige, 4] Journalists make a national scandal of a young woman who refuses to give up her bus seat to an elderly man, unaware that she just received a fatal cancer diagnosis. Satirical ensemble drama serves up gloss, social critique and pathos.

Penance [Japan, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 4] A cruel promise, extracted by the mother of a murdered child from her four playmates, reverberates in all of their lives fifteen years later. Interlinked tales of fate, betrayal and murder unfold with cryptic power.