Friday, 18 September 2009
TIFF'09 Day 7 - Wednesday September 16, 2009
Heading north on Yonge to the AMC, with the Elgin on the right
Day 7 one of the few days I've trekked directed from Scotiabank to AMC, which is strange that it's taken this long considering how they are the 2 theatres with the most public screenings. It also feels like it marks how we are definitely in the second half of the festival with only 1 of the 4 screenings attending having the filmmakers in attendance. Safe journeys to those one their way home!
To see and hear all about Day 7 check out my TIFF'09 Vlog for Day 7.
Mao's Last Dancer music Christopher Gordon (l) and writer Jan Sardi (r)
Mao's Last Dancer
Dir: Bruce Beresford (Evelyn, Black Robe, Crimes of the Heart)
Cast: Chi Cao, Bruce Greenwood, Kyle MacLachlan, Joan Chen, Amanda Schull
Based on the memoir of the same title by Li Cunxin, this film follows a ballet dancer trained from a very early age in China through to travelling in the States in the early 80's. It's a truly compelling story and the dancing by Chi Cao is spectacular. Bruce Greenwoods performance is spot on here as well. From the Q&A after the film they revealed that everything presented actually happened which is an amazing feat to not change for the sake of the film, but more so that Li Cunxin's story is an extraordinary one. The packed audience was very enthusiastic throughout and it was the first film of the festival to bring me to tears. Heartbreaking and heartwarming all in one.
See selections from Mao's Last Dancer Introduction and Q&A with Jan Sardi
Dir: Peter Stebbings
Cast: Woody Harrelson, Elias Koteas, Kat Dennings, Sandra Oh, Michael Kelly
Canadian superhero movie is what sold me on Defendor and early on I was charmed over by the whimsical and creative superhero nature of the main character. But, after a while it's clear that our hero has what they refer to as questionable intellectual capacity and the film is a comedy. I'm not that comfortable with those two going hand in hand. It is also set in Hamilton, although there are very few references to the city at all as media and public figures all have generic non location names. Being pitched as a Canadian film, it felt like it it wanted to be vague enough to appear to folks south of the boarder as well. But, the audience was enthusiastic, laughing and noting references along the way.
See selections from Defendor Introduction and Q&A with Peter Stebbings
Toad's Oil / Gama no Abura
Dir: Koji Yakusho
Cast: Koji Yakusho, Eita, Toru Masuoka, Satomi Kobayashi, Junichi Sawayashiki, Fumi Nikaido
Wow, Toad's Oil totally threw me for a loop. It's likely the happiest saddest movie I've seen not only at the festival but anywhere. The humour is quirky and the story becomes increasing more complicated as the film wears on as we embark on unlikely journey after unlikely journey. It was refreshing to see Koji Yakusho in a often comical role, albeit that took some getting used to but it was great to have the opportunity to laugh a little here and there even in a film that deals with pretty heavy subjects. I'm curious as to how accessible it was to the audience, I know there were a few references that I wasn't aware of although everything is explained. Amazing to see the combination of sweetness, sentimentality and comedy all rolled into one.
The Ape / Apan
Dir: Jesper Ganslandt
Cast: Olle Sarri, Francois Joyce, Sean Pietrulewicz, Niclas Gillis, Eva Rexed
This film was being strongly referenced as it is best to go into it not knowing what it's about. That totally hooked me, but unfortunately raised my expectations way to high and gave the impression that it was plot based or had lots of twists and turns. The Ape is all about atmosphere, and with that being the case the plot seemed like it wasn't suppose to matter at all but it still was what hinged everything together. The creation on tension is fantastic and the performance by Olle Sarri is spectacular as the pained protagonist. But, I was stuck in between feeling like I shouldn't care about what happens at all and wanting to know what happens and I don't think that was the right place to be, or at least it wasn't a pleasant place to be. The theatre itself was, save for the Midnight Madness screening I could certainly tell that in this audience I was amongst my peers. It was too bad there was no Q&A at the screening though, that would have been interesting to see!
Castaway on the Moon / Kim Ssi Pyo Ryu Gi
Dir: Lee Huy-jun
Cast: Jung Jae-young, Jung Rye-won
Absolutely beautiful South Korean comedy about unlikely scenarios and how people deal with them. Quirky, funny and creative this film shows bizarre sides of human nature in strange situations. It took a bit of time to win me over but once it had it was smooth sailing into the realms of the unexpected and oddly about determination, choice and capability. It has it's share of darkness as well , but brings it all together so well that you can't help but cheer along. There was a few unexpected gross out moments that the audience viscerally reacted to, but it's feels that it's best to treat those as absurdest to plough through to all the joys the film holds.
The Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 10 - 19, 2009 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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