Sunday, 18 September 2011

TIFF Day 9 - Friday September 16, 2011

As the festival nears the end the schedule gets fuller and fuller of RUSH stickers.

Day 9 at the festival was my last day of seeing films, even though the screenings keep going strong for 11 Days the final weekend can be a bit of a madhouse and the last Sunday still feels too new to me, (I wonder how many years it will take until that wears off), and it doesn't really feel like it can be a day at the festival without a Midnight Madness screening. I actually started the day off a sneaking a non-festival screening of the festival film Drive which just opened and then stayed at Scotiabank to catch the afternoon screening of nail biting thriller The Incident which garnered the infamous honour of having not 1 but 2 fainters during it's midnight screening earlier in the week. Then it was off to meet my sister Jamie who joined me for an evening at The Elgin for a double bill of UK goodness with the formidable Tyrannosaur & then moody Wuthering Heights which may have been the most obvious date-night pick of the evening, and the festival.

Rather watch than read? Check out my Day 9 Vlog.

The Incident / 2011 Incident at Sans Asylum
Dir: Alexandre Courtes
Cast: Rupert Evans, Kenny Doughty, Joseph Kennedy, Dave Legeno, Marcus Garvey, Richard Brake

I went to The Incident knowing 2 things: premise of inmates taking over an asylum & the fact that people fainted at the midnight screening. I thought that would have me prepared for the film itself, but I didn't. It was pretty freaking brutal from a violence & gore perspective and I'm curious as to when the fainters fainted as there are lots of over-the-edge moments. The story actually centres itself around the kitchen staff who work together and play together, in a rock band which puts it lovingly set in the late 80's full on with long hair and handlebar moustaches. The shocks and gore weren't the only surprizes, because I was also taken aback that it's a French film but in English and I also felt the characters overly clearly depicted, they felt quite telecasted as to who was which 'type' in general even though there were rumblings below the surfaces. I loved that the name of the asylum was Sans Asylum, and how it's a play on words with 'sans' meaning 'without' in French. It's clever moments and choices like that that made me feel like I must be missing something during moments of confusion of the film. Overall it was pretty freaking brutal on the violence, gore and mayhem which is tied back to the inmates being crazy for reasoning, but it felt like a pretty light tie in unless I missed something. As it was a screening near the end of the festival I was sad to see that there was no Q&A, I would have loved to hear more about the film and some of the choices that might clear up a few confusions I have over the story and characters. If you are into cinema of the extreme, The Incident is definitely one to see as it's disturbingly bone chilling and crunching.

Writer/Dir: Paddy Considine - feature film directorial debut
Cast: Peter Mullan, Olivia Colman, Eddie Marsan, Paul Popplewell, Ned Dennehy

I knew I wanted to see Tyrannosaur from the sheer fact that Peter Mullan was in it, I've loved seeing him in film since True North from TIFF a few years back and always try to see everything he is in from Boy A to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 and he delivers time and time again. Add that Eddie Marsan is in this film and it's Paddy Considine's feature film directorial debut and I couldn't get tickets fast enough. I didn't know much about the film going in other than the ominous title and drowning the sorrows image above, and the introduction by Cameron Bailey and writer/director Paddy Considine forewarned a hard ride ahead but I'm actually glad I didn't look too hard at the description and subject matters as I might have given a film this harsh a miss, but it ended up being hands-down one of the best films I saw at the festival this year. The film has lots of harshness in it, from violence to abuse which are subjects that are rather low on my consideration scale when selecting films, but in Tyrannosaur we see them through very human eyes and from an often empathetic perspective which makes it complicated and hard to watch but somehow the harshness is balanced by the films earnest portray and humble characters. There is also a strong sense of disempowerment through the use of violence, which I've rarely seen and was a perspective I strongly appreciated. The performance really drive home the emotional chords at the heart of the film and I was impressed by everyone involved here including both Peter Mullan and Eddie Marsan. I was also impressed by Olivia Colman, who I didn't realized I had even seen before (she plays the female cop in Hot Fuzz) and she is extraordinary here as a religious shopkeeper who reaches out to volatile local (Peter Mullan). Extraordinary. I'd highly recommend Tyrannosaur, it's not always easy to watch but it is worth every minute of the journey. And I'm not the only one that thought so, it was the only film I saw this year at the festival that garnered a well-deserved standing ovation for writer/director Paddy Considine - an amazing feat for his feature film directorial debut. Truly brilliant.

Tyrannosaur writer/director Paddy Considine at the Elgin

Wuthering Heights
Dir: Andrea Arnold (Red Road, Fish Tank)
Cast: Jonny Powell, Simone Jackson, James Howson, Kaya Scodelario, Steve Evets, James Northcote

Wuthering Heights was another film that I knew I wanted to see at the festival, in part because I didn't know if it would get picked up (it has) and also because I actually really didn't enjoy reading the book last year and was looking forward to seeing Andrea Arnold's perspective on the story. The film is beautiful, vast and sparse. The huge landscapes and numerous nature shots give a strong survivalist and cycle of life feel to the film, often pairing images with themes in the story. I enjoyed that take on it and how it used those images often to convey the feelings, emotions and conflicts taking place under the surface. I also was very impressed by the performances of Jonny Powell & Simone Jackson who play the young Heathcliff & Catherine in the film. But, I do feel pretty conflicted on the film so several reason. First off, this really is the story of Heathcliff and not the story of Catherine & Heathcliff, and that choice suprized me especially coming from such a femme-centric director. I can see the allure of his character and wanting to be with him for so long but the odd thing this does is makes the character of Catherine less prominent. I'm still sitting with that one and still putting it to an interesting choice, but an unexpected one. But one choice I can't quite get behind is the choice to have Heathcliff & Catherine played by 2 sets of actors, a younger set for the majority of the film and then an older set as well. I really didn't understand this especially as the younger set do a great job in all aspects (including having great chemistry), and many of the other characters that would age are played by the same actors regardless of the time. I did find I understood that character of Heathcliff a lot better from watching the film, but I didn't always feel like I could follow Catherine's journey - perhaps that's intentional and perhaps we are suppose to feel confusion from the perspective of Heathcliff, and if so I certainly did. Overall, I loved the languid visuals and the chemistry between the young paid and I certainly feel like I understand the story better after seeing this version, but I'm still mystified at some of the choices and the general love for the heart wrenching, difficult love story.

The outside & in of the The Elgin.

The Toronto International Film Festival 2011 runs from September 8 - 18, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

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