TIFF reviews: Barney's Version, Let Me In, Lapland Odyssey, Passion Play, The King's Speech, What I Most Want, Deep in the Woods, Easy Money, Erotic Man
We're into day 3 at TIFF and we've got nine more films to report back on. Like our initial round-up, we've grouped these into those we highly recommend, recommend or suggest avoiding.
The much anticipated Robert Lantos-produced film adaptation of Mordecai Richler's celebrated novel doesn't disappoint. Dustin Hoffman and Paul Giamatti give excellent performances in the roles of Izzy and Barry Panofsky but the real eye opener is Rosamund Pike in the role of Barney's third wife Miriam. The story is well crafted, deftly weaving between flashbacks and modern day with scenes shot on location in Montreal and in Italy. Like any book adaptation there's less material in this two hour plus film but fans of the original still shouldn't leave the theatre disappointed. Need more convincing? Looks the Italians loved in at its world premiere screening at the Venice Film festival last night. (TS)
Let Me In
Good, really good vampire movies are a rare breed. And original, truly original vampire films even more so. That's why the 2008 art house child vamp flick Let the Right One In, crept into our critical and fang-loving souls. This new American remake is set in 1980s New Mexico and comes from Cloverfield helmer Matt Reeves. A must-see for anyone who hasn't seen the Swedish original and a not-so-fresh but apt rehash for anyone who has.
Lapland Odyssey is one of those "hidden gems" you stumble into when you have a 50-ticket pass. An unemployed and generally unreliable guy is given an ultimatum to come up with a digital TV box by dawn, or else his longtime girlfriend will leave... and so begins a buddies-on-a-wacky-all-night-adventure comedy, set in Lapland in northern Finland.
The King's Speech
Colin Firth is dreamy. And sometimes he can act pretty well too, like in Tom Hooper (The Damned United)'s latest. Firth shows off his chops as a British prince who undergoes all kinds of bizarre treatments to cure a bad case of stuttering. Meanwhile, his brother abdicates and it looks like he's about to become King George VI. Lucky for him, an unorthodox speech therapist played by Geoffrey Rush comes to the rescue! The King's Speech may not sound like an exciting concept for a movie, but it comes together quite nicely, with a compelling storyline, classic cinematography, and solid performances by Firth, Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, and Guy Pierce.
What I Most Want
A welcome addition to the rise of Argentinean cinema, What I Most Want is a beautiful, simple film about two young woman struggling to accept the new realities that face their lives. Editor turned director, Delfina Castagnino, comprises this film of long, uncut scenes that are some of the most real and honest scenes i've seen in a while. It's as if you are eavesdropping in on these girls "vacation" but even the long silences are never boring -- and even say more than the improvised dialogue. While it was shorter than I would have liked, it never lost my full attention and quickly created two female leads who the whole audience had no problem following for from the first scene. (PF)
My guess going into this world premiere screening last night was that this movie would either totally suck or hit it out of the park. It actually does neither. Mickey Rourke and Megan Fox live up to their end of the bargain in this fantasy/thriller/drama of a film but the script and cinematography let them down from time to time. Still, a film worth seeing and one that gets better as the plot progresses including an ending that just might blow your mind. Bill Murray, cast in a supporting role, sadly doesn't really bring much to the film and his talent largely goes to waste here. (TS)
Deep in the Woods
Festival circuit veteran BenoĂŽt Jacquot (The School of Flesh, Sade) returns with a hobo love story set in the 19th century south of France. Either crazy, hypnotized, or having an unfortunate crush, a young girl runs away from the safe comforts of home to camp, steal and hate fuck a vagabond in the countryside. Call me conventional, but I prefer it when love stories don't start with a rape scene.
New to the city, a young man works his way through business school by driving a cab. After meeting a hot rich girl, he decides to earn more money by leaping into a high stakes drug smuggling operation. Soon enough, he is in over his head with business partners that are, almost to his surprise, really bad guys. Easy Money (though I prefer the original Swedish title, Snabba Cash) teeters from a perils-of-ambition drama to an action crime flick, but doesn't do either all that well.
Danish filmaker Jorgen Leth (The Five Obstructionists) takes a stroll down memory lane in an attemted to poetically recreate tender moments shared with lovers. In the process of making the film - basically just clips of his casting sessions and close ups of young women naked in hotel rooms and showers - he finds a new batch of women that capture his sexual curiosity. Leth was unapologetic in a post-screening q&a when an audience member accused him of exploiting the actresses as this all takes place in Brazil, Haiti, Senegal and the Philippines.
With contributions from Pat Fairbairn (PF) and Tim Shore (TS).
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