TIFF 2011 – my highs and lows

TIFF 2011 – my highs and lows

Sep 21, 2011
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Well, viagra 60mg the Toronto International Film Festival has wrapped up for another year. First off, herbal I need to say, treatment TIFF is truly a world-class event. Just had to throw that out there. Now, on with my musings from what I was able to take in this year.

With well over 300 films and some showing only once or twice, it’s impossible to see it all. Then there’s the line ups and quickly sold-out favourites like Sarah Polley’s, Take this Waltz and U2’s rockumentary From The Sky Down, which, sadly, I missed. So, I enjoyed a selection of movies that were a little less known, but still seemed interesting to me. I’ll attempt to touch on a handful and outline the highs and lows.

Tuesday night featured the highly anticipated double-bill (at least, I was highly anticipating it), Hard Core Logo and Hard Core Logo II. The original film, 15 years old now, was shown first to a less-than-large crowd. “Boooo” to Toronto’s movie fans. How could you NOT come to see the original masterpiece but then pack the house for the sequel??? Anyway, I digress. The original was even better than I remembered. Bruce McDonald does an incredible job balancing humour, heart through a steady stream of tough realism while taking us on a truly Canadian road trip.

So, coming away from this great piece of Canadian cinema, I was pumped to follow it up with the soon-to-be-released Hard Core Logo II. Bruce McDonald was at the helm again, so I figured, “what could go wrong?” How about, everything. Seriously? Seriously. This sequel is not a sequel. It is a whole new story with a very loose connection to the original, both literally and artistically. As far as filmmaking goes, Hard Core Logo II is about as opposite from it’s original as you can imagine. It feels contrived and scripted. There’s no road trip. McDonald narrates ad nauseum throughout, which I believe is a cardinal sin, especially for mockumentaries. Sadly, this film is confused, uninspired and demonstrates incredibly lazy filmmaking.

Let’s see…what else was a big, fat disappointment? Oh yes, the Columbian film, Porfirio. I knew very little about this film going into it, other than that it was based on a true story about a man who was paralyzed from a cop’s stray bullet and seeks revenge on the system by trying to hijack a plane. Cool, right? Ummm…no…not really. This film is 106 minutes of minutiae from this poor man’s everyday life. His son washes him, he takes a dump, he has sex with his girlfriend, he sleeps, he eats, his son washes him, he takes a dump…you get the picture. We don’t even experience the hijacking! When it ended I felt like the last 106 minutes of my life was hijacked. That said, after the film, I read some more about it and was surprised to learn that all the characters were the real people playing themselves; Porfirio was played by Porfirio. After realizing this film was blurring the lines between documentary and feature filmmaking I did have more respect for what I had just experienced. That said, I still wanted my 106 minutes back.

"The Incident"One of the last films shown at the festival was, The Incident.  This bloody horror movie, directed by famed music video director, Alexandre Courtes, was horribly scripted and poorly acted. That said, this slasher flick does have some pretty sweet moments. Courtes is brilliant at creating mood and knowing how to get the audience jumping out of their seats. But the writing is stilted and the actors, who have a hard time covering up their accents (the film is supposed to take place in the US, but the bulk of the cast seem to be British) can’t pull the writing out of the muck. The ending was especially bothersome as it was obvious the makers wanted to mess with our minds. But they left it so wide open and unclear that there was nothing to get excited about. A disappointing feature overall, but exciting to see the promise of up-and-coming filmmaker, Alexandre Courtes.

"Countdown"But the best thing I saw this year at TIFF was the Korean thriller, Countdown. Let me start by saying that I absolutely love how the Koreans do movies. There is a refreshing spirit and brutal honesty that comes from many of the great Korean directors and newcomer, Huh Jong-ho, is no exception. He creates a multi-genred film that feels cohesive, compelling and clever from beginning to end. What seems to be a conventional action-thriller on the outset slowly unfolds to be a layered tale of sin, regret and reconciliation. All the while humour abounds, action sequences thrill and the main characters captivate. The writing is smart, hilarious and eventually draws us to a conclusion that is surprisingly moving. So for me, Countdown was the highlight of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.

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Craig the Critic

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