Monday, September 15, 2008

Lev Leaves Toronto. And Stays.

Our young festival-going correspondent Lev (pictured left) actually lives in Toronto. So, he's not going anywhere now that TIFF has wrapped. But post festival frenzy he has one last report to offer us. Here he is...
That's a wrap! Well, at least it was a few days ago. I realize I'm a little behind the times. Here are my final three movies:

The Brothers Bloom - Rian Johnson's (Brick) sophomore effort is a predictable and slight film. Johnson seems to be channeling Wes Anderson in everything from the quirky-cleverness to the family issues to Adrien Brody, and if Wes Anderson doing Wes Anderson is past its prime then another director doing him is even staler. Brody is much too mopey, Ruffalo is fun but he doesn't have much of a role, Weisz overplayed her character to the point of irritation, and Kikuchi doesn't really do anything at all besides having a clever name that's not all that clever. C
It doesn't surprise me at all to hear that Weisz may have erred on the side of overplaying. That's exactly how I felt about her turns in The Shape of Things and The Fountain. Well, she'll always have The Constant Gardener.
Me & Orson Welles - I really really hate HD. My viewing experience would've been enhanced ten-fold if Linklater had shot film. HD just looks like bad TV. This actually feels like a TV movie, and it would have felt less so if it was shot film. I still had fun. The first two acts are much stronger than the third. I got the feeling the writers didn't really have an ending, so they just let it go on. Still, Christian McKay (as Welles) is a hoot, and Zac Efron doesn't make you cringe, although he can never quite match the brilliance of that basketball song in the High School Musical 3 trailer (for those who haven't seen the trailer, you have to see it for it's comedic brilliance). B-

Che - A lot of unjust controversy over this one. It's not really all that difficult or dense. Yes, Soderbergh does omit numerous dramatic moments, but this is nothing new. Wasn't it Bunuel and his co-writer Jean-Claude Carrière who wanted The Phantom Of Liberty to be a series of thinly connected stories and then stop each story right before it got interesting? That's not to say that Che is uninteresting. Besides the second act of The Argentine, the film(s) are quite compelling, and Soderbergh shifts from action to humour to powerful drama effortlessly. Benicio Del Toro is, as he always is, brilliant. He probably won't get an oscar nomination; he has no showy moments or breakdowns but he brings motivation and humanity to a coldly written character. Soderbergh shot in HD with the brand new Red camera, and for the most part it looks pretty dingy. Unfortunate, because Soderbergh knows how to shoot scenes: never cutting too much, choosing his angles carefully. Don't let the running time scare you, Che is well worth seeing. A-/B+
No matter how many times I hear that I shouldn't worry about the running time... I still do! I'm seeing it shortly @ NYFF press screenings and perhaps I'll have to do some yoga during intermission to make it through. Back to Lev...
I can't compare this TIFF to previous fests, but I learned a lot in terms of choosing my films, and next year I'll do a lot more research. My order of preference for the 12 films I saw.

1. Synecdoche, New York
2. Four Nights With Anna
3. Che
4. The Wrestler
5. Gigantic
6. Me & Orson Welles
7. Linha De Passe
8. Sugar
9. The Brothers Bloom
10. The Burning Plain
11. Acolytes
12. Zift

Thanks for reading
No thank you, Lev, for sharing your festival with us here @ The Film Experience. Give him a round of applause in the comments, please. And if you missed any TIFF coverage just click the label below for all the posts.


gabrieloak said...

I just got back from Toronto where I attended 34 films at the festival. I only saw about 4 films I didn't like. My favorites in no particular order were Me and Orson Welles, Goodbye Solo, Patrick Age 1.5, Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist, L'heure d'ete, Il y a longtemps que je t'aime, Who Do You Love? Four Nights with Anna, Adoration, Easy Virtue, and Fifty Dead Men Walking. But I also liked The Wrestler, Nothing But the Truth, Genova, Is Anybody There, The Burning Plain, Management, Every Little Step, Dean Spanley, Inju, The Brothers Bloom, Three Blind Mice, The Secret of Mooaacre and parts of New York I Love You.

I'd say the disappointments for me were Universalove, Radio Love, and Gigantic. I also wasn't crazy about Linha de Passe though there wasn't anything bad about the film. It just didn't go anywhere surprising for me. I also expected The Other Man to be much better. Good was also not very good, though Viggo and Jason Isaacs are very good. And Un Conte de Noel, though well acted, was much too long and somewhat pretentious.

My favorite performance of the whole festival was Kristin Scott-Thomas in Il y longtemps que je t'aime. I don't know when the film is going to be released but if it does come out before the end of year, Scott-Thomas will be nominated for many acting awards. I was so moved by her performance, especially when you find out why she committed a crime.

I was so glad to watch these films without any reviews to taint my viewing.

Victor S said...

I have never tought about it, and dont even know why, but I really liked Rachel Weisz in "The Fountain".
Maybe my love for the movie, for Hugh Jackman's performance and for the score (ah, that score...) made me think she was good.
And you're right, she'll always have "The constant gardener"

gabrieloak said...

Lev. You are so lucky you live in Toronto. I wish I had a Canadian lover or relative so I could move there.

houseofmirthandmovies said...

I would love to go to Toronto sometime, I'm not that far (Montreal), but I've never found the time (or more importantly money). You've booste my excitement for a few, while putting a few on the backburner. I don't think I've seen any HD films, made professionally at least... but I've worked with it, and seen a few student films and I generally have to agree with you. It's not easy to handle at all, there is so much more variables involved than regular digital, and it never looks as good. It has a long way to go.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but if you think "Zodiac" looks like bad TV I feel sorry for your corneas.


anon --obviously zodiac is a high water mark for HD. Not all HD looks amazing. celluloid still beats anything else once you adjust to the median ;)

Lev said...

Wow. I didn't even know Zodiac was HD. Haven't seen it since its release, but I don't remember noticing anything. I'll give it a re-watch and see if it bugs me.

RJ said...

You're really the only person I've read who didn't much like The Brothers Bloom . . though, I really hadn't read too much. It certainly looks (I dunno) zany?

gabrieloak said...

The Brothers Bloom is entertaining because of the cast but the director tries much too hard to be clever and "original." The audience, however, at the screening I attended seemed to love it. I have to say I would like to see Rachel Weisz and Adrien Brody play lovers again.

Janice said...

//Johnson seems to be channeling Wes Anderson in everything from the quirky-cleverness to the family issues to Adrien Brody, and if Wes Anderson doing Wes Anderson is past its prime then another director doing him is even staler.//

Great comment Lev - so when are you getting your own blog up and running?

Thank you for the terrific and incisive reporting, Lev!

Lev said...

I'd love to do a blog, but I don't know how I'd get anyone to see it. It'd just feel like I'm writing to thin air.

Arkaan said...

I actually thought Zodiac wasn't all that, cinematographically (yes, that's a word). The color pallet was intriguing, but in terms of depth of field, shading, nuance, still lacking. Which, in all fairness, represents my opinion of the film itself.