TIFF Day Five
1) Bleak Street (Arturo Ripstein)
I started the day with Arturo Ripstein’s newest film, Bleak Street. This film is based on the true murder of a pair of twin dwarf luchadores. The whole film is shot in stark black and white, long takes and with a great sense of cruelty in all of the characters for each other. All the elements for a great film were unquestionably there and, yet, the final product was just lacking. This was not a bad film, but it also want very good either. Between the lagging plot, the too many endings syndrome and the sudden shifts between cold disconnect and warm affection, the film was both extremely okay and consistently okay.
2) Chevalier (Athina Rachel Tsangari)
Chevalier is the best representation of hypermasculinity since In the Company of Men. Out of boredom, seven men decide to partake in a game which involves a series of challenges chosen by the participants. However, they take it a step further by critiquing and grading every aspect of each others personalities. Once it becomes clear that no one is willing to admit any sort of weakness, the men start to turn on each other. Shot on a boat, the scenes contest between claustrophobic and wide open spaces, the actors all convey a perfect mix of insecure and ridiculous and the contests and accompanying dialogue are absurd and hilarious (the inevitable dick measuring contest being absolutely genius). The ending left me craving more, but overall, this is a great film.
3) Schneider vs Bax
Van Warmerdam pits two killers for hire against each other in a swamp through a convoluted premise (it is not important how it happens, just that it does). One is a traditional cold blooded killer with a family, while the other, portrayed by the director, is a drug addled marksman with a troubled relationship with his adult daughter. When the two meet, violence ensues. The genius of this film, however, is that it is a rather intelligent film disguised as a brainless action flick. The people are real and their problems are real, but it is delivered in a perfect Hollywood pastiche meets European arthouse style that tricks the viewer into watching something that they may not realize they wanted to watch. Alex van Warmerdam has done it again.