Sunday, 20 September 2009

TIFF'09 Day 8 - Thursday September 17, 2009

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Crazy packed house for The Damned United

Day 8 was all Scotiabank, all the time! Overall I spent a lot of time at that theatre this year, but this was the only day I spent the entire time there. Luckily at one point I had a huge break between films so I escaped for lunch over at Cora's otherwise I may have left the premise at all. I also got to hang out with my buddy Rob as we have 3 of the same films that day, yay! Retrospectively, Day 8 could be renamed 'unknown' day as most of the films I was walking in almost completely blank with little idea on what the film was about, which always makes for an interesting, or surprizing, experience.

To hear all about Day 8 check out my TIFF'09 Vlog for Day 8.

The Damned United
Dir: Tom Hooper (Red Dust)
Cast: Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall, Colm Meaney, Jim Broadbent
UK

A fantastic sport film set in late 60's / early 70's following the life of football manager Brian Clough (played by Michael Sheen) and his obsession and involvement with the United Team. I wasn't aware of the history, so it was great to watch it unfold having no idea how things would end up. With the focus strongly set to Brian Clough along with assistant manager Peter Taylor (played by Timothy Spall), the amount of football shown isn't as much as I would have expected but what they work in works really well. In fact, it feels very refreshing take for a sport film as they can often be very formulaic but The Damned United shakes things up. It was a treat to see Timothy Spall play a nice guy character for a change, he really shone in the film. Highly enjoyable and beautiful acted it shares a touching personal journey which makes it a great film for sport and non-sport fans alike.

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Kamui poster

Kamui / Kamui Gaiden
Dir: Yoichi Sai (All Under the Moon, Doing Time, Blood and Bones)
Cast: Kenichi Matsuyama, Koyuki, Hideaki Ito, Kaoru Kobayashi, Koichi Sato
Japan

I picked Kamui as a screening selection from the program book image, which is similar to the poster above, along with reading the description only up until I saw the word "ninja" and then put it on the list. After seeing it I am a little stumped for words. Even while taking notes I had to re-write some of my thoughts as things appeared to change a lot during the film and it got to the point I stopped keeping track. The audience was rather sedate and quiet, I found myself stifling laughter at some of the more bizarre moments. It is a pretty twisted journey that feels like it goes all over the place but not anywhere at all at the same time. All that being said it was pretty entertaining overall.

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Solomon Kane
Dir: Michael J. Bassett (Deathwatch, Wilderness)
Cast: James Purefoy, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Pete Postlethwaite, Jason Flemyng, Max von Sydow
UK/Czech Republic/France

I took one look at the program book picture and saw the words "creator of Conan" and instantly put Solomon Kane on my Must See list. I was completely unfamiliar with the character therefore I didn't realize it would be set in a time where witchcraft and sorcery were considered evil. Considering I'm not a huge fan of those time periods, so it really had to work of win me over and it did. A compelling personal journey is always a great place to star and James Purefoy did a fantastic job embodying Solomon Kane through the journey and beyond. The film has great action sequences with impressive fighting and fantastic overall visual style. It was a lot of fun and had one of the best Q&A's of the fest to boot!

Bizarre side note: I understand the Witch Hunter class in Warhammer a lot better now!

See selections from Solomon Kane Introduction and Q&A with Michael J. Bassett and James Purefoy

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Solomon Kane writer/director Michael J. Bassett and actor James Purefoy

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Solomon Kane writer/director Michael J. Bassett and actor James Purefoy

Deliver Us From Evil / Fri os fra det onde
Dir: Ole Bornedal (I Am Dina, Just Another Love Story)
Cast: Lasse Rimmer, Lene Nystrom, Jens Andersen, Pernille Valentin, Mogens Pedersen
Denmark/Sweden/Norway

Picked purely for 'most interesting in timeslot available' I had done almost no research on this film before viewing, but it was getting tons of buzz throughout the festival. Visually stunning with a washed out look fits the tone of the film well, it seems determined to scrub through surfaces to get to the real ugly places underneath. Not only does it go to ugly places and a few isms, the film primarily explores the capacity for humans to be evil. A well told story, or lesson, but not a film for me as I don't need to be reminded that evil is bad, but I realized this relatively early on in the film so I could appreciate the brilliant moments and specular acting from Jens Andersen and Lasse Rimmer while trying to stay unaffected by the violence and hate. The harsh edge and message kept it out of my personal viewing tastes but I know many people who loved it and others that will appreciate it.

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The Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 10 - 19, 2009 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

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