Festival Watch 2006

Festival Watch 2006: Day Seven

A brief look at the some of the films and events happening at this year's Toronto International Film Festival.

There's something about the rain that makes you want to watch a movie. It's hard to find something better than sitting in a theatre, watching a film that makes you laugh and smile and cry, when the skies outside are cloudy and gray. Of course, with theaters being kept at a ridiculously cold temperature, running straight from being in the rain into a cold theatre is sure to make you sick. I think I'm getting sick already.

With day seven all wrapped up, you can tell there's a kind of blah-ness that's settling in at the festival, with people all tired and all out of energy. I'm sure the energy will pick right up when Friday rolls around.

And now for some movies:

A Few Days Later...
Niki Karimi, Iran
Niki Karimi's newest film is bold and courageous in a very understated way. The story of an Iranian woman who is engaged in a very emotional decision-making process, A Few Days Later... tracks Shahrzad through her everyday daily routines with a poetry that is inspiring. Karimi's bold move was to create a film that relies on repetition and slowness to tell its story rather than significant plot conflict.

The film is exhilaratingly slow, so it's not for viewing when you're extremely tired, but the beauty of the film comes from this intricate pacing. Adequately portraying the emotional struggle of relationship decisions, A Few Days Later... feels real to anyone that is dealing with indecision and urban malaise.

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane
Jonathan Levine, USA
My name is Sameer Vasta, I am a boy, and I love Mandy Lane. I really do. I love every part of Jonathan Levine's teenage slasher flick, which is not only the smartest murder-horror since Scream, but is also the most exciting as well. Predictable enough to fit the genre, but clever enough to make it unique, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is gory and gruesome, but also witty and funny.

As the resident geek in high school, I always had a vivid contempt for the popular kids in school. But Mandy Lane is different, and you can't help but love her charm, her looks (even though she is grossly underage), and her not-so-innocent naivetĂŠ. Played delightfully by relative newcomer Amanda Heard (who bears an uncanny resemblance to a young Scarlett Johansson), the title character is so endearing that you can fully understand why all the boys love her. I surely do.

Little Children
Todd Field, USA
How do you spell overrated? L-I-T-T-L-E C-H-I-L-D-R-E-N. Of course, Todd Field's newest film is not a bad one: in fact, it's pretty good. But it's definitely not worthy of the glowing praise and the best picture reviews that it is garnering. The themes of infidelity and social control are indeed interesting, but Little Children. feels too small to be dealing with big issues, despite the witty dialog and the excellent acting.

The Desperate Housewives-style narration is the first indication that Little Children would be better suited as a television mini-series than a long feature film. And long is definitely the operative word. Field would have done well to chop at least twenty minutes off this film to make it more effective. Overall, however, the film is a good one, but definitely not deserving of the over-applause that it has been getting.

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