TIFF Day One
1) Taxi (Jafar Panahi)
I started my festival with probably my most anticipated film of the year. Panahi continues to try to find his place both within this world and the world between fact and fiction, a world which hasn’t really made sense to him for closer to a decade. Panahi drives through the city and picks up strangers who have elaborate backstories and predetermined dialogue. A dying man gets in his taxi and he’s the only one who knows that he didn’t die. People ignore the cameras in the car or they point them out. This film could have been a carbon copy of Ten, but instead, with the removal of any pretense, the film becomes unlike anything else.
2) Dheepan (Jacques Audiard)
From one festival winner to another, the latest film from Audiard shows why his films are always so exciting. The film starts in a village in Sri Lanka and ends in a suburb of France and it all (mostly) makes sense. One again, Audiard deals with trauma within urban society, this time breaking away to also look at this trauma’s place in urban warfare. Of course, just because we start here, it doesn’t mean we end here. The ending, reminiscent of a dozen Hollywood films, comes out of nowhere and yet makes complete sense. The only issue is the epilogue which may leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth.
3) Every Thing Will Be Fine (Wim Wenders)
Every thing will not in fact be fine. Let me start by saying that the film is gorgeous, especially Wenders’ attention to detail in the 3D process, Charlotte Gainesbourg and Marie-Josee Croze are brilliant as always and the second act really builds things up well. Other than that, the film is a complete failure. Even if you view it as a Sirkian drama, the plotline makes little sense and the main characters are loathsome. Furthermore, Rachel McAdams should stop trying to make that fake Franco accent happen and James Franco should just disappear. One big reason the film failed is the fact that Franco is so loathsome and yet, everything revolves around him. When Franco isn’t around, all the other characters essentially ask “where’s Franco?” Perhaps it would have worked if Franco was louder, angrier and had access to a time machine.
4) Collective Invention (Kwon Oh-Kwang)
This film about a fishman is a one joke film. It begins with the face of the fishman. He looks hilarious. 45 minutes later, he’s much less hilarious and you realize that the film has nothing else to offer. An hour in, I fell asleep without any feeling of remorse. When I awoke, I hadn’t missed anything!
5) The Chickening (Davy Force and Nick DenBoer)
What the cluck? (I’m so so sorry) This is a five minute remix of the Shining where chickens take on greater importance, showing up anywhere, alongside a street smart Tony, a bearded Danny, a green Scatman Crothers and a strangely normal Jack Nicholson. Nothing that I can say about this film can do it justice. This is basically everything you expect crossed with the unexpected. Some nerd in line was trying to disparage this film by claiming that it’s just a YouTube video. What is so wrong with that? When did we as a society unanimously decide that stupid YouTube videos weren’t art?
6) Green Room (Jeremy Saulnier)
Hot punk rock meets cold blooded murder in this great film from the sane director as the pretty horrendous Blue Ruin. A band playing a right wing skinhead bar see something that they shouldn’t and become victims to a bunch of Nazis headed by Patrick Stewart. This is a film that works so well because it occupies a space directly in between taking itself too seriously and compete self parody. Add to this a killer soundtrack, likeable characters (for once, I didn’t want them to die) and some awesome kills and you have an incredibly fun film. One final observation: the cool kills were reserved for the antags and neutrals. The protags die really pointless deaths, not allowing the viewer to appreciate them.