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Showing posts from September, 2011

TIFF 11: My Top Ten Faves!

Still dealing with a cold, but thankfully it's winding down. I finally feel well enough to post my Top Ten TIFF Faves as well as the list of what I saw this year at the 36th annual Toronto International Film Festival. How was your TIFF?

MY TOP TEN (alpha order)
THE TURIN HORSE-Hungary (Béla Tarr) (My #1 Absolute Favourite!)
See Review

Coriolanus-UK (Ralph Fiennes) i am a good person/i am a bad person-Canada (Ingrid Veninger)

TIE: This may seem a strange coupling since Ralph Fiennes is an internationally known actor/director, and Ingrid Veninger is Canadian filmmaker who may be known only by those who love Canadian film and make a point of watching them. Despite the range of budget and styles the sense of the personal permeates every frame of these films. Despite the fact that Coriolanus looms large with weighty performances from Fiennes, Vanessa Redgrave, Gerard Butler, and Brian Cox,i am a good person equally invades the soul with performances by Veninger and her real life daughter Ha…


So TIFF 11 has come to an end, and, of course, I have to invite my film friends to join me on The More the Merrier for a discussion of this year's festival. My in studio guests for the hour were Kirk Cooper (Film Market Access), blogger Heidy M (hyemusings, alternavox) and cinefile, Moen Mohamed. Before our discussion got started, Ngardy Conteh joined me via telephone to talk about winning TIFF's Pitch This! competition. Conteh and her co-director, Allan Tong's film, Leone Stars is the first documentary to win the prize in TIFF's Pitch This! eleven year history. Visit find out more about this inspiring work in progress.

Heidy M's Top 5 TIFF FAVES
2.Las Acacias
3.Sleepless Night
5.The Raid

To read why these are Heidy's faves click here.

I always look forward to seeing Moen Mohamed's list of films. This is vacation time for Moen, who chooses his selections based on his attendance at other film festivals, a…

TIFF 11: The Good Son and The Education of Auma Obama

For the last week-end of TIFF many films have gone RUSH, but if you have the patience to stand in line for a ticket check out these films:

In this nuanced Finnish film, Leila, a lead actress and divorced mother of two (Elina Knihtilä), takes off for the country to lie low after bad mouthing her latest film release. There she is joined by a few of her friends and begins a romance with one of their acquaintances. Her eldest son, Ilmari, played with maturity and depth by actor Samuli Niittymäki, is used to being the man of the house, taking care of his self-focused mother and his younger brother. When it appears that Ilmari's position will be usurped by the newcomer in his mother's life, Ilmari takes protecting his mother to the extreme. Leila's behaviour and abusive relationships in the past has marked both her sons: the elder son is a keg of resentment and protectiveness and the younger is constantly left on his own, where he finds solace and comfort in nature (r…


I always try and see at least one film in the DISCOVERY programme at TIFF. This section is reserved for "up-and-coming directors from around the world". AVALON was born out of writer/director, Alex Petersén's familiarity with the world of aging boomers and the city of Båstad, which used to be a place where Swedish tennis legends like Bjorn Borg once played. Infused with the language and tone of his Aunt, Leonore Ekstrand (who plays Jackie in the film) and the adults around him while he was growing up, Petersén's has created a world in which his characters live without regard for others around them. Petersén's understated script successfully reveals the disconnect between lead character, Janne (Johannes Brost), a promoter whose heyday seems to be on the brink of returning with the opening of his nightclub (Avalon) and his best mate, Klas (Peter Carlberg) and the much younger workers whom they have hired to launch the club. At one point, one of the workers ad…

TIFF 11: My I Recommend...Death of a Superhero

Why should you see a film about a teenage boy with cancer? Because it's not all gloom and doom! Without making light of the serious topic of disease, director, Ian FitzGibbon (A Film With Me In It) has managed to create a film that is neither depressing nor condescending. I haven't read Anthony McCarten's book, but his adaptation of his work for the screen will have me hunting it down after the festival. Whatever the collaboration between, FitzGibbon and McCarten, the end result is a movie that has all the usual elements of a teen flick (insecurities, school, parents, love, alcohol) with great comic book style animation, humour and most importantly, a fantastic cast.

Thomas Brodie-Sangster, the kid from Love, Actually, has grown into a skinny teen, and he still has the same screen chemistry that makes you fall in love with him and protect him from the world. His acting range is incredible, which is mandatory in a film that demands a chiaroscuro of emotions from his charact…

TIFF 11: Shoes, Dogs and Polar Bears, Oh My! (Beloved, The Last Dogs of Winter)

Is it only Tuesday? Seems like I have been in festival heaven for much longer:-) As usual I always have great plans to keep in touch with you all on this blog, but films and life interrupt. Yep, I have to give in to sleep sometimes when I am loathe to do so, but gotta fuel the body to keep going during these 10 days in September.

Since my last posting, I have seen BELOVED, the Catherine Deneuve film which also stars her daughter, Chiara Mastoianni. Deneuve's character Madeleine was lured into a life of part-time prostitution by a pair of delectable shoes. Madeleine the elder as played by Deneuve is a little selfish, a little bawdy, and very pragmatic; Madeleine the younger is devilishly played by Ludivigne Sagnier. Like her mother, Vera (Deneuve's real life daughter, Chiara) is also very laissez-faire about sex and life, and her love life is just as complicated--neither mother nor daughter have been able to have successful relationships. To paraphrase a few words of one of the …

TIFF 11: Yo! Bro! (Doppelgänger Paul)

Doppelgänger Paul
Co-directors Dylan Akio Smith and Kris Elgstrand

This film is part of the VANGUARD programme at TIFF which is made up of "films that defy convention; twisting genres, styles and narrative structures to tell fresh and provocative stories that challenge our social and cultural assumptions" I couldn't think of a better place for Doppelgänger Paul. It's a buddy comedy in the sense that the two men, Karl (Tygh Runyan) and Paul (Brad Dryborough) have formed a relationship of sorts. Their bond is tentatively based on things they have in common such as writing and gazing at women they are interested in but are too socially inhibited to approach. Their alliance is the equivalent of wearing a new dress shirt and feeling an elusive pin pricking your skin continually. When they discover that the book that Karl gave to Paul to read has been published by two other buddies, Karl and Paul go on a road trip to investigate. You can watch this comedy for its surface…

TIFF 11: Rum Zombies and Wine (Juan of the Dead and Superclasio)

Juan of the Dead (Juan de los Muertos)
Alejandro Brugués's take on the zombie genre is made fresh through Caribbean eyes and a distinct Cuban flavour. Much like the British, Shaun of the Dead with its British cultural references, Juan of the Dead is a distinctly Cuban film set in Havana and reflective of Cuban customs and sensibilities. In Cuba you make the most of your chances, so when zombies start popping up (there is a reference to bad drugs from a public clinic) in his neighbourhood, Juan (Alexis Días de Villegas), his best friend Lazaro (Jorge Molina) and an assortment of family and neighbours become entrepreneurs in the zombie extermination business: "Juan of the Dead, we kill your beloved ones, how can I help you?"Only in socialist Cuba would zombies be referred to as "dissidents" with the media blaming their rise on US machinations! Economic and social conditions, rum and socialism pepper Brugués' script grounding this horror comedy in an ersatz…

TIFF 11: The Flying Machine and Miss Bala

I usually loathe 3-D films, but I was lured into seeing this one by the mix of live action and animation. Even with glasses on top of glasses, I managed to appreciate the animated effects, however, I did find some of the details superfluous--do I really need flower petals floating toward my eyes?

Directors Martin Clapp, Geoff Lindsey and Dorota Kobielaand their vast team have put a lot of work into this feature, and it shows. Like any film, it's the story that matters and this film within a film is a good one for children. Set in London, the live action part of the film involves a workaholic single mom (Heather Graham) and her two children, Jane (Kizzy Mee) and Fred (Jamie Munns). The trio attend a Chopin recital by pianist Lang Lang (who plays himself) where they view a stop motion animated short about a young girl, her separation from her father, and a magical flying machine made up of a grand piano, a harp and other spare parts. This part of the film is free …

TIFF 11: I Triple Dog Dare You!

Up for a challenge? Then I triple dog dare you to go and see these two films: Julia Loktev's The Loneliest Planet and Béla Tarr's The Turin Horse. As I always say, you take yourself to the movies, so how you react to any film will be coloured by your experiences and your personality. If you think you can handle two very beautiful films that are not fast-paced, where you have to fill in the silences yourself, and where you have to watch how the director stages scenes and positions the actors within those frames, then take a chance on these.

A couple (Gael García Bernal and Hani Furstenberg) take a tour of Georgia with their guide (Bidzina Gujabidze). There is a lot of walking and talking, a lot of greenery (breathtaking mountains and valleys) and minimal action. The sound design and music captivates as well as it enhances the vistas, filling silences with emotions that complement the unfolding story. Along the journey, we get to know more about the lives of t…

TIFF 11: May I Recommend/Skip It

Single tickets went on sale September 3rd and many of my friends and listeners stood in line, waited on line, and called TIFF to buy tickets. While they were doing that, I was busy with TmTm, interviewing Kirk Cooper of Film Market Access (FMA) and one of his interns, Victoria Clowater. Victoria is one of 8 film students/filmmakers that will be exploring the industry side of TIFF courtesy of FMA's Toronto Program: 5 in the Internship and 3 in Networking (FMA also has a Cannes Program.) Victoria had first heard about FMA when she caught a TmTm broadcast while driving back to school (UNB) last year. Also joining me on the show was the director of Patch Town, Craig Goodwill and the cast: Julian Richings, Toya Alexis, and Rob Ramsay. Patch Town screens in Program 1 of Short Cuts Canada, the strongest of the shorts section in this 6 program section.

With the long week-end upon me, I didn't get a chance to post any thoughts about some of the films that I have had a chance to screen b…