Thursday, 19 August 2010

Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2010 Day 6 - Wednesday August 18, 2010

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It was a double bill of UK features at day 6 of the Toronto After Dark Film Festival, so much so that Noel Clarke was in both of the films tonight (along with Doghouse from Day 2). Both films had their own kinds of brutality but also posed interesting questions. Centurion was my most anticipated film of the festival, but I find that it's Heartless that I can't get my mind of off. Also with the feature films we also saw some Canadian shorts, list evenings were the creepy and curious Sock Tease along with the formidable Chloe & Attie which I saw previously at the Worldwide Short Film Festival.

Rather listen than read? Check out my Day 6 Vlog!

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Centurion
Writer/Dir: Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, The Descent, Doomsday)
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Olga Kyrylenko, Dominic West, Liam Cunningham, Noel Clarke, Ulrich Thomsen, Imogen Poots
UK

I was so thrilled to hear that Centurion was going to be at this years Toronto After Dark Film Festival, after all it made my Most Anticipated Films of the Year list even though it didn't have a release date. It's an epic sword and ... as there aren't sandals we can go with sword & snow tale, it stars Michael Fassbender (Hunger) as Quintus Dias, a Roman soldier whom is amongst the ranks fighting against a long and deadlocked struggle against the Picts. Olga Kyrylenko (The Quantum of Solace) stars as Etain, a fierce tracker and hunter that's a real force to be reckoned with and I have to say she was extremely impressive, skillful and strong. The film takes a step outside the comfort zone of the epic formula by choosing to focus on a fairly contained time period and surrounding incidents, giving an epic style slice of life of a centurion where you really don't know what is going to happen. I have to give it kudos for going with something different, but, I did that left me wondering why tell *this* story? That question along with not being entirely sure who I wanted to cheer for, left me a little off kilter. In this set up I'd usually be cheering for the Picts, who are led by Ulrich Thomsen (Fear Me Not / Den du frygter) but they are so brutal that I couldn't cheer for them. I was also a little leery with the intermittent voice overs, which I cringe at in epics as they tend to be used to help the audience make sure we know where we are but I found here it was clear enough by the story they were showing us and therefore a little too much. But, the films is gorgeous to watch from a visual perspective, with many a sweeping overhead shots along with bloody and brutal battles along the way. The acting is strong overall and the casting was great. I although I found the Picts to be brutal , I did love the looks & feel of their ferociousness as well as the fact that they had several women warriors amongst them.

See also: Centurion DVD Review

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Heartless
Writer/Dir: Philip Ridley
Cast: Jim Sturgess, Clémence Poésy, Noel Clarke, Luke Treadaway, Joseph Mawle, Timothy Spall, Eddie Marsan, Justin Salinger, Ruth Sheen
UK

I literally have not stopped thinking about Heartless from seeing last night. It's a challenging film to review from the perspective the fact that it's so interpretive that I'm not entirely sure what I can say about it that is the truth. I can confidently say that it explores and contemplates darkness, and the darker side of human nature along with the struggles and challenges that darkness can bring. Although there was so much in the film that I disagreed on a fundamental level (I'm a look on the brighter side of things person), the film is a masterpiece. The themes are expertly and subtly explored, the world created edges brilliantly around reality and the most formidable thing is that there are so many different, yet possible, interpretations of what we are seeing but there is never a moment that feels like inconsistent, out of place or unbelievable. And believe me, an any other film there was stuff that you'd never be able to pull off, but here it works. The biggest treat for me was getting to see a fantastic pool of actors who did such a fantastic job. Jim Sturgess is fantastic as our protagonist, in a role that is so varied and diverse that he brings to life in such a way that I wouldn't think possible giving the bizarre, complex character he portrays. And it's always great to see Eddie Marsan (The Disappearance of Alice Creed), and here he yet again brings us an intense and compelling performance. The film knows and explores darkness extremely well, and it's got me thinking more than any other film at the festival and I know I'll be thinking about it well into the future.

The Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2010 runs from August 13 - 20, 2010 at the Bloor Cinema, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

4 comments:

Suzie Ridler said...

Oh dear, that brutality does sound a little tough to take! And I love the sound of Heartless and am now totally curious about it Shannon!

blake said...

Hey! You liked Heartless as much as I did.

Totally jealous of your festival goings. Keep up the coverage!

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

Heartless really was the best film of the festival, although it was so very, very dark - I'm going to have to track down other works by the director.

I'm glad you enjoyed the coverage Blake! I love covering film festivals.

Kurt Halfyard said...

My favourite film from Toronto After Dark. Still thinking about it myself. Between Heartless and Rubber, the festival maintains a flair for picking tricky genre films and give them a wider audience!

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