Sunday, 16 August 2009

Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2009 Day 2 - Saturday August 15, 2009


Day 2 was jam packed with features and shorts had me going in circles in and out of the theatre over and over for 4 straight screenings! Each had a feature and a short which were very well programmed matching up similar themed films to each other. The short Hirsute and feature Black were the big stand outs of the day. Another great moment was getting to see the filmmakers of Stigoi who landed in town for the Monday August 17, 2009 at 9:30pm screening - the film looks awesome and I'm jealous of my fellow festivallers got a chance to chat with them!

To hear and see about Day 2 check out my TADFF'09 Vlog for Day 2.

Under Pressure: A Story of Microscopic Stakes
Dir: Daniel Devita
Cast: Cody Shaw, Irene Karas, Mackenzie Gray, Robert Parent, Michelle Brezinski
Canada, 9 min

Accidental experimentation lead to Fantastic Voyage like scenario all the while embracing limitations by using bad effects for comedy.


The Dark Hour / La hora fría
Writer/Dir: Elio Quiroga (The Beckoning / No-Do)
Cast: Silke, Omar Muñoz, Pepo Oliva, Julio Perillán, Carola Manzanares, Jorge Casalduero, Sergio Villanueva, Pablo Scola, Nadia de Santiago

Bridging sci-fi and horror can be a tricky task. How many scares are enough? How real can you keep it while still feeling sci-fi? The Dark Hour treads these lines pretty closely but keeps the heart of the film centred on the relationships and social structure of a small group of people. I appreciated that the film didn't feel the need to overtly tell you what was going on, but enough to keep the world consistent and interesting. There is a running theme of documenting current events along with historical references, but in general we are dropped into a 'day in the life of' a cold, contained structure and the people who live there trying to do their best to go about their everyday life. Tension is consistently added and world expanded at a refreshing pace while still allowing for a lot of drama, action and scares along the way.

Writer/Director/Cast: A. J. Bond
Canada, 14 minutes

Fantastic short playing with the ideas of time travel, this film is an extremely polished result for a short with a water-tight story and strong performance from writer/director/actor A.J. Bond. A stand out film.

Eva Green in Franklyn

Writer/Dir: Gerald McMorrow
Cast: Ryan Phillipe, Eva Green, Sam Riley, Bernard Hill

If you like dramas with rich art direction and characters with depth, you will like Franklyn. There are themes of sci-fi the heart of the film lies in the characters and their journeys as opposed to the worlds created, although the worlds are rich, dark and compelling to explore. I enjoyed the storytelling style that unfolded slowly as it allowed us to strongly connect to each of the characters in the film, each of which is entrenched in emotion which is explored to a depth that is not often seen. Eva Green gives an stand out performance showing a unique co-existance of strength and weakness. Sam Riley was spot on throughout the film showcasing truly realistic reactions. Overall best scene without preconceived notions of genre types, but go in with an open heart & mind to explore the journey that is Franklyn.

Dirs: Ayelen Liberona and Joseph Johnson Camí
Cast: Jessica Keeling, Sanford Kong
Canada, 6 minutes

Beautiful movement based piece that integrates environment, sounds and dance in a unique way creating a rich and textured film that bends and blends boundaries and actions.


Dir: Pierre Laffargue
Cast: MC Jean Gab'1, Carole Karemera, François Levantal, Ibrahima Mbaye

All set for some action? Then get ready because Black is coming your way. A heist action flick that takes us from Paris to Senegal with the premise of the ultimate job takes the heist flick to a whole new level. MC Jean Gab'1 is a charismatic powerhouse as Black, our fearless hero that has a unique sense of style and opportunity. It is a very interesting choice to make a heist film where the main character has a fair range of emotional depth including remorse, this works very well in building unexpected sympathy for a character who is essentially a criminal. The fact that MC Jean Gab'1 exudes intense energy is what truly makes it work - you are always rooting for him no matter what is thrown at him which is anything and everything. Shot on location in Paris and Senegal we see a fantastic array of settings to explore and even with so many standards notes you hit in a heist film, there are so many twists and turns keeping us on our toes the entire time. It was also refreshing to see an action film that didn't play the stereotype for comedy game, but rather present and embrace strong characters of every variety. You certainly don't want to mess with any of them! The film truly has everything - action, totems, snakes, lions, diamonds, guns fights, car chases and the list goes on and on. A wild ride which I'd be happy to ride again.

See selections from the Q&A with Black director Pierre Laffargue and produce Lauranne Bourrachat here.

Black opens in Toronto at the AMC Yonge & Dundas on Friday August 28, 2009. See more upcoming releases here.

See also: Black DVD Review

Toronto After Dark Film Festival Director & Founder Adam Lopez with Black director Pierre Laffargue & producer Lauranne Bourrachat

The Killer Bra
Dir: Yakov Levi
Canada, 19 minutes

The title really says it all - a bra that kills. Felt like a excuse to shoot women with their shirts off.

José Mojica Marins as Coffin Joe in Embodiment of Evil

Embodiment of Evil / Encarnação do Demônio
Dir: José Mojica Marins
Cast: José Mojica Marins

This film revives the character Coffin Joe, whom is released from a long term in prison and goes about his quest for immortality by seeking a 'vessel' to bear his child, regardless of their will to do so. The introduction revealed that the gore we see on the film isn't fake, the people were recruited, interested and willing to be shot for these scenes which are extreme. I think this one doesn't blur but oversteps the line of entertainment, even if there is agreement I don't think it's appropriate to do, film or share. Also, most of these extreme moments had little or nothing to do with the plot so it felt like there was no reason for them in the film other than to show how far their could go. Add that a lot of footage was flashbacks via older footage so when you boil it down the film itself was pretty thin.

The Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2009 runs from August 14-21, 2009 at the Bloor Cinema, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


The Film Reel said...

My least favorite day of the fest, which got me a good natured tongue lashing from Adam Lopez himself! HAHA!

The ending of The Dark Hour gave the movie a bit more of a kick when you realize the participants of the war.
Black I found to be really boring and weird with a lead character who just ran and ducked alot.
Franklyn I enjoyed even if you can see it coming from a mile away and Embodiment of Evil didn't deliver on it's promise of violence since I'm such a fan of the uber gore.

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

The Saturday can be a challenge just for the fact that it's so long with the midnight screening - but the films were for different crowds.

I actually loved Black, I though MC Jean Gab'1 was fantastic and it was an interesting turn to see a bit of remorseful side of character.

Interesting I've heard that comment a few times on Embodiment of Evil - I'm not sure what more they could have done, and kept it real. It just didn't work for me.

spidey_zombie said...

I am going to try and keep my comments short as you do. I really liked The Dark Hour, liked the mood and lighting. It mixed sci-fi with horror so well and blended in great characters with a story that made you want to know more and more. I enjoyed how the story unfolded but they never gave away some of the burning questions that were just there behind the surface till the end.

Franklyn was visually quite stunning and I liked the story, I don’t think it will be everyone’s cup of tea. I look forward to the next film from this director to see what he learned from the experience of making a big movie. I think this movie showed real promise and between the cinematography and pace he may have a future making movies.

I didn’t care for Black, just couldn’t get into the story and thought it was not a great movie.

I was disappointed with Embodiment of Evil, just because I expected more and there really was a very weak story with nothing to back it up. It was almost like you knew the director had been sick for some time and was trying to finish a story quickly and turn the legacy over to someone else. It could have been so much better but that happens some times.

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