September 14, 2006

The TIFFing Point

Two more days until I turn back into a pumpkin (or something like that), probably for the good of not only my health, but also that of FILM FREAK CENTRAL. Anyway, some more stopgap coverage for you...

FAY GRIM (d. Hal Hartley)
As far as this unlikely sequel to the brilliant Henry Fool is concerned, those hoping for a Before Sunset should brace themselves for a Texasville. The movie feels like it came out of Hartley sideways (or, conversely, all too painlessly), and it never really catches fire until Thomas Jay Ryan makes his long-delayed cameo as Henry Fool. By then, it's too little too late. **/****

BLACK SHEEP (d. Jonathan King)
A thoroughly superfluous mutant-sheep splatter flick that nevertheless hums along nicely. Due homage is paid to old-school Peter Jackson, Aliens, and the werewolf and zombie canons, but it's a lot better paced than the similarly-derivative Undead. **/****

BLACKBOOK (Zwartboek) (d. Paul Verhoeven)
Returning to Holland for the first time in over twenty years, Paul Verhoeven proves that while you can take him out of Hollywood, you can't take Hollywood out of him. It was kind of a relief to see a movie-movie after a string of homely indieprods, but I wonder how many more variations on the Anne Frank and Mata Hari stories I can sit through before I stop flinching in Pavlovian disgust at Gestapo iconography. (There's an unfortunately fine line between ensuring we "Never Forget" and desensitizing us.) If there's at least a flimsy rationale behind the homage to Basic Instinct, a "Three's Company"-style contrivance late in the game is merely indefensible. **/****

Keep an eye on the mothersite for more capsules as well as Walter's review of The Black Dahlia.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Did anyone catch a screening of 2:37 at the TIFF? Thoughts?

Norm Wilner said...

Meh. It's just an Australian version of "Elephant", really, stealing Van Sant's aesthetic without his artistry, and throwing in a twist ending so the director can show off his own assumed brilliance.

I don't doubt that people will respond to it because of the subject matter, and there's something to be said for any movie that tries to convey the constant emotional pressure of adolescence ... but the characters are so poorly drawn, and that twist ending renders the entire film so pointless, that I can't even respect the effort.

Still, it's better than "Cashback".

Adam N said...

Bill,
glad to see you stick up for The Last Winter, even if I liked it more than you did -- don't know if that makes me "intellectual." But I found it terrifically odd and tremendously moving -- clumsy and assured, transparent and inscrutable all at once, like an American Kyoshi Kurosawa movie. And surely you must have thought of Pulse towards the end (and, um, Alone in the Dark?)
Anyway, let's hope it gets seen again somewhere else -- so many people hated it, and the commercial gloss you describe doesn't make it any more commercially viable.
I did a great interview with Fessenden, incidentally -- he's very humble and articulate, both about the film's themes and his plight in having perhaps intellectually priced himself out of the genre-nut market even as he strains to be an honest, straightforward horor-movie maker.

Kirk said...

Dang. I was looking forward to Fay Grim. I'll still probably catch it if it comes my way. All hail Netflix.
I can't wait for The Host, either!!

Bill C said...

Have to admit, Adam, my mind has drifted back to The Last Winter more than it has to any other movie I saw at the TIFF. Walter and I have both actually shared a couple of e-mail exchanges with Mr. Fessenden and he's indeed a class act. (He even contributed a blurb to our Annual.) I dread the thought of him packing it in; in a world of Saw sequels, we need him now more than ever.

Out of curiosity, when you say "stick up for"--does that mean it's been getting trounced? I'm really out of the loop, and I think a fear of encountering that kind of nonsense is the reason why.

Adam N said...

well, actually, a lot of critics I know and like enjoyed it -- the East Coast cultural mafia, if you will (and one West Coast dude who's pretty hip). My colleague ADT liked it a lot, too. Yours is the only reputable published review of it at this point, and it's obviously positive.
But most people -- ticket-buying people, or Fessenden newcomers -- have hated it. Two women I met told me -- unsolicited, mind you -- that it was the worst film they saw at TIFF, and there were walkouts and boos at the press screening.
My mind drifts back to The Last Winter a lot (more than any film at TIFF except maybe Colossal Youth).

Hollow Man Stuffed Man said...

Alex:

The Adventures of the American Rabbit is worse than moralistic--it's carelessly moralistic. You could say that it's too dumb to be square.

That sentence reminds me of Crash

I'm forced to acknowledge that I can be as easily manipulated as a lump of Play-Doh

That sentence reminds me of your review of Crash


Just playin', man...