September 09, 2006

My TIFF So Far

Seems we're all a little constipated right now but rest assured reviews are on the way; here's a quick rundown of TIFFpix screened thus far by yours truly.

BABEL (d. Alejandro González Iñárritu)
It coheres better than 21 Grams, but Iñárritu and screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga are really spinning their wheels at this point. A few funny extratextual lessons are imparted: never take a Fanning to Mexico (Elle has almost as harrowing an adventure there as sister Dakota does in Man on Fire); and never trust a director who includes a post-script dedication to his children. As with 21 Grams, though, Babel doesn't make room for any intentional levity, eventually desensitizing you to all the calculated anguish. *½/****

HALF MOON (Niwemung) (d. Bahman Ghobadi)
Ghobadi has really honed his craft since the dire A Time for Drunken Horses; his use of 'scope here--thinking of the opening cockfight, or a tableau of exiled Iraqi women serenading a band of Kurdish musicians as they leave town--is particularly cinematic. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't find its "Waiting for Godot"-isms a little draining. **½/****

THE HOST (Gue-mool) (d. Bong Joon-ho)
I'm no scholar of the Man in Suit genre, but I feel pretty confident in saying that this is the pinnacle of giant-monster cinema. A Spielberg movie that doesn't wuss out (and that traffics in the kind of black humour that used to be his métier), The Host has a shot at becoming South Korea's first real crossover hit--so long as its American distributor doesn't do something stupid like remake it instead. ***½/****

EVERYTHING'S GONE GREEN (d. Paul Fox)
Rather than grow with the demographic that helped make "Generation X" part of the vernacular, Douglas Coupland is like Matthew McConaughey in Dazed and Confused, still courting the slackers because even though he gets older, they, with their disposable income and impressionable minds, stay the same age. A disingenuous sermon to the choir on the cul-de-sac of working a cubicle job that has the gall to hate money and Vancouver's film industry. */****


Click here for capsule reviews of Torn Apart (La Coupure), The Page Turner (La Tourneuse de pages), and After the Wedding (Efter brylluppet).

20 comments:

Vikram said...

Looks like you have had the chance to see some interesting movies, Bill.

I can't wait to see The Host - isn't it already on the slate for a remake?

Max B. said...

I couldn't agree more about Babel - as someone who actually quite liked 21 Grams, I found Babel to be a vicious little thing - the child endangerment moves from harrowing to bludgening to sheer numbness over the waaaay-too-long proceedings.

By the end of the film, that dedication rivals Stephen Sommers' "To The Memory of my Father" at the end VAN HELSING for the most laughably inappropriate dedications in film history.

Bill C said...

Let's not forget The War Zone's "For My Father" after ninety-odd minutes of a dad raping his children.

Gotta get cracking on capsules, but thought I'd chime in that Pan's Labyrinth is a must-see, and maybe a masterpiece. It's the movie del Toro's always promised but never quite delivered.

Dave said...

I'd chime in that Pan's Labyrinth is a must-see, and maybe a masterpiece

That's great to hear. I not a big fan of del Toro's work so far, but I always thought that The Devil's Backbone had some greatness in it. After the lukewarm review at Slant and the usual hyperbole from the CHUD guys I was already expecting another disappointment...

jer fairall said...

Looks like Pan's Labyrinth is currently sold out on the day I'm gonna be in town (Wednesday). I'll keep trying for last minute tickets, though. In the meantime, Hal Hartley's Fay Grim is a definite, for me, and Tsai Ming-liang's I Don't Want to Sleep Alone (Hei Yan Quan) a maybe.

tmhoover said...

Rest assured that the Tsai is a keeper: it's not for newcomers to the director, but it's full of juicy stuff for his fans (plus the fascinating effect of Kuala Lumpur being substituted for Taipei). One of the better flicks at the festival...

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jared said...

I want to hear about BORAT!

And why does everybody hate Babel so bad? I liked Amores Perros and 21 Grams quite a bit, is this one shot by Rodrigo Prieto like those two were? He's one of my favorite cinematographers working today.

Bill C said...

To see Babel is to dislike Babel, really. It's a tony Crash; will capsule-review it soon.

tmhoover said...

I concur with Bill: Babel is a complete waste of time that makes no useful points and just leaves you emotionally beaten up. Go see Monkey Warfare or I Don't Want to Sleep Alone or EMPz 4 Life instead.

Alex Jackson said...

To see Babel is to dislike Babel, really. It's a tony Crash; will capsule-review it soon.

I actually hope I don't like it.

Alex Jackson said...

Aw shit! The new Diane Arbus movie looks like the fucking Hours.

Max B. said...

Yeah, Babel isn't any good; however, I think even it's worst detractor would be forced to agree that an extended sequence in a park, then discoteque in Tokyo is one of the most incredible sequences of pure cinema seen in theaters in some time.

And, Alex, the new Diane Arbus movie? It's incredible. It's Lynch crossed with Sirk; a gloriously, unabashedly strange, deeply moving and beautiful melodrama. It's riveting, powerful stuff. Seriously - I was expecting to really dislike it, too, but it's more along the lines of a Burton-esque fairy tale at it's most magical, yet infinitely more mature, than anything designed for Oscar-bait. It's great

Alex Jackson said...

And, Alex, the new Diane Arbus movie? It's incredible. It's Lynch crossed with Sirk; a gloriously, unabashedly strange, deeply moving and beautiful melodrama. It's riveting, powerful stuff. Seriously - I was expecting to really dislike it, too, but it's more along the lines of a Burton-esque fairy tale at it's most magical, yet infinitely more mature, than anything designed for Oscar-bait.

Glad to hear it! I like Nicole Kidman, I like Robert Downey Jr., I liked Secretary, and I love love love Diane Arbus; but yeah that trailer definitely made it look like Hours-esqe "male society stifles creative women and turns them into freaks" bullshit, a gross disservice to its endlessly enigmatic subject. But I have better faith in your judgment Max than whoever cut the trailer. You're giving me hope.

Bill C said...

Agree, Max, that the Japanese nightlife sequence is a pretty great piece of filmmaking, but I thought a lot of its credibility went out the window with that "mute" gimmick; that's not what being deaf is like, and in fact a lot of deaf people love discotheques because it's one of the few places they can hear, thanks to the vibrations produced by the subwoofers. I mean, that's why Beethoven composed music with his head against the piano, no? I thought they should've taken the Private Ryan approach: instead of dropping the audio altogether, make it sound like the music is 'submerged,' as though we're underwater. To be honest, I'm not even sure what they were trying to say with that silence--like the rest of the flick, felt jejune.

Adam N said...

Larry Fessenden's latest is amazing...pass it on.

Bill C said...

P.S.: The new Hartley and the new Verhoeven are both kinda disappointing. Will have a capsule review of a TRULY awful film up later 2nite.

jer fairall said...

I wasn't able to get enough time off work to make the trip to Toronto valuable, unfortunately, but a shame about the new Hartley nonetheless. I was about 85% excited/15% suspicious though, seeing as how his more recent work didn't live up to the best of his 90's stuff, for me. Were you a fan of Henry Fool, though?

Bill C said...

I was a big fan of Henry Fool, Jer. One of the only movies that made my Top 10 of that year that would make a revised list.

Max B. said...

Huh - I had no idea. It makes sense now that I know it; but at the time, it seemed intuitive the way the scene worked.

I think the movie was "about" inability to communicate, and, beyond that, an inability to understand how others experience the world, and despite the film's overall failure to say anything really interesting on the subject, I think that one scene works in getting that idea across at the same time it adds to the development of the only character who one could say even develops at all in the film. Beyond any kind of defense of the scene on an intellectual level, because the film isn't defensible, really, the scene is just an incredibly vibrant piece of filmmaking. In an entire movie that's incredibly dour, grim, and bloudgening with it's pouring on of dread, the scene is an expression of ecstasy in an extended sequence of pure cinema. If it were cut out of Babel and treated as a short film, standing alone, it would be better than just about any movie this year. It's a shame it's a part of a film that's otherwise objectionable when it's not disposable.