September 10, 2014

TIFF Tues Sept 9: Hardboiled Hyper-Violence, Adorable in Tokyo, Wartime Horror Revisited and Aubrey Plaza in Lingerie

Today is a day of fave directors delivering the goods, plus a new star rises in a film by a first time director.

World of Kanako [Japan, Tetsuya Nakashima, 4.5] Deranged, brutal ex-cop (Koji Yakusho) searches for his missing daughter. Assaultive, megaviolent neo-noir furiously upends the genre's moral expectations.

Ned Rifle [US, Hal Hartley, 4] On his 18th birthday a young man, aided by a fetching literary stalker (Aubrey Plaza), sets out to find and kill his father, who got his mother imprisoned for life on terrorism charges. Completes the decade-spanning trilogy that started with Henry Fool and Fay Grim with Hartley's trademark witty dialogue and underplayed delivery.

Where the first one was novelistic in scope, the second paced like a screwball comedy, this one is spare and stripped down.

If you have a screen crush on Aubrey Plaza this film will do nothing to disabuse of it.

Tokyo Fiancee [Belgium, Stefan Liberski, 4] Young Belgian woman who wants to be Japanese moves to Tokyo and falls in love with a guy she's tutoring in French. Sweet, melancholy romance powered by the incredible charm of soulful, adorable lead actress Pauline Etienne.

Fires on the Plain [Japan, Shinya Tsukamoto, 5] in the dying days of WWII, Japanese soldiers stuck on the island of Leyte go to desperate lengths to survive. Tsukamoto turns his career-long obsession with mental disintegration and brutal body transformation away from genre freak-out to the ultimate real world horror.

The source novel was also adapted in 1959 by master director Kon Ichikawa. It is a masterpiece of the classic Japanese studio era, just as this version is a masterwork of the Japanese extreme cinema tradition.