Sunday, March 4, 2012

Summary: 2011 Films

I just notice that I forgot to put my summary on the website so here it is. You can also download a PDF version if you like. I have some more editing to do on this. Sorry for the rough copy.

• Twelve (10) possible screeners.

• Six (6) not bad.
• Eighteen (18) unsuitable.
• Six (6) will open or have opened wide.

Films that would be good for the Gallery

Afghan Luke: Canadian film about the Afghanistan situation.
Guilt: Canadian film (in French) about a couple of young men who get into trouble and deal with it in different ways. Shades of Crime and Punishment ... great use of winter weather in Canada.
Starbuck: Canadian film (in French) about a sperm donor whose progeny want to meet him. It's actually quite funny and more about fatherhood than sperm donating. Hollywood remake opens November 22, 2013.
Boy: New Zealand film with an excellent young lead about young boy growing up with no adult role models and those that appear are more child-like than adult. Good story.
Colour of the Ocean: German/Spanish film about African refugees seeking asylum in Spain. Excellent cast and story ... though not necessarily a happy one.
I'm Carolyn Parker - The Good, the Mad, and the Beautiful: Jonathan Demme documentary about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Six years in the life of a survivor. (Would be good as part of the film festival.)
Superclassico: Danish film about a man and son go to Buenes Aires to reconnect with wife/mother who ran off with Argentinian footballer. Hilarious. Surprising plot twists. Incredible cast - both Argentinian & Danish. Great music. Great culture. (Not everyone will agree since the story has a few plot twists a bit overly co-incidental but it's silly and funny nonetheless.)
Death of a Superhero: Irish film with a great lead actor and interesting other characters. Story about a boy with cancer and how he deals with it. Better than Gus Van Sant's Restless.
Headhunters: One of my favorite movies by one of my favorite Norwegian authors but it's been picked up by Hollywood who will remake it so this version may never be released in North America. OK. You have to suspend your disbelief. But it is an action thriller. Lots of fun. Great story. There are more twists in this film than the usual and a few coincidences that might be a bit much but it's fun anyway and it keeps you guessing. This is a movie made in grand Hollywood style with lots of action.
Goon: This is a great Canadian film, even though the main character is an American bouncer, played wonderfully by Seann William Scott. Most of the action takes place in Canada and the scenes on the rink are action-packed. Excellent supporting cast includes Jay Baruchel, Kim Coates, Allison Pill, Eugene Levy, Marc-André Grondin, Liev Schreiber and many more. Anyone who loves hockey will love the action, noise, and behind the scenes shenanigans. Anyone who doesn't love hockey will be taken in by the simple story of a simple man trying to find acceptance. Just don't overthink the violence in our national sport too much. Co-written by Jay Baruchel.
Films I wouldn’t put at the top of my list
Albert Nobbs: A bit ponderous but an interesting story with Glenn Close as a nineteenth-century Irishwoman who disguises herself as a man and works as a butler for twenty years.
2. Kid with a Bike: French film with an excellent young actor in the lead role about a boy who won't believe his father abandoned him ... and so he looks for acceptance in all the wrong places and with the wrong people and in the wrong ways.
3. Into the Abyss: A Werner Herzog documentary, this one looking at capital punishment. In this one he follows the story of a triple homicide by talking to the victims' family, the people who solved the crime, and the men in prison who committed the murders. Worth seeing but it's difficult to tell what he was trying to prove. It's obvious he's against capital punishment but his interviews were all over the place.
4. 11 Flowers: Chinese movie. Although the kids are great actors, the story is a bit dense and not many people will identify.
5. From Up on Poppy Hill: Japanese anime animated story taking place in Tokyo as it prepares for the 1964 Olympic games. What part of the city will be renewed? What part of the city will stay? Actually quite a fun movie with a simple story that had a sweet ending.
6. Restless: Gus Van Sant movie on the themes of coping with death and dying. Starring Mia Wasikowska & Dennis Hopper's son, Henry Hopper. Excellent chemistry between the leads. Music track a bit too obvious. Gus Van Sant has done better.
Films unsuitable for one reason or another
1. Romeo Onze: Very slow movie with a not very interesting character and depressing story.
2. Donovan's Echo: Rambling story with a fabricated plot about a man who seems to be seeing the future.
3. God Bless America: Even though this was one of my favorite movies at TIFF it would not go over well in Owen Sound. Totally improper and offensive but oh, so funny. Not all will agree. But I would not have missed it for anything. About our image & celebrity worshipping culture.
4. The Woman in the Fifth: Ethan Hawke as an American writer moves to Paris to be closer to his daughter who finds himself falling immediately on hard times. Especially since his wife doesn't want him anywhere near. I'm not sure Ethan Hawke even know what was happening in the plot. Kristin Scott Thomas is wasted as a "ghost' -- or is she. By the end we don't really know and we don't really care.
5. Lovely Molly: This won't show up on any of your lists, thank goodness. By the director of The Blair Witch Project with more money but less story.
6. The Student: Ponderous film about student politics and the academic system in Argentina. "You had to be there." But who would want to be?
7. Life Without Principle: Hong Kong movie with complicated plot and interweaving storylines about the money system. Flashbacks are hard to follow.
8. Guilty: French film about the judicial system in France making a mistake. The decision to re-create the experiences of Alain for this movie doesn't do much to satisfy our interest in the story. Yes, being in jail is hell. Yes, he was innocent. Yes, the system is at fault. But what is going on in the rest of the world to bring about the final judgement? We're not let into that. Not fun.
9. Killer Joe: Funny movie that will be too gory and harsh for most people. Lots of blood and lots of uncomfortable situations.
10. Death for Sale: Belgian/French/Morrocan movie about three young men growing up in Morocco and their encounters with the seamy side of life. A bit too gory and in the end not much more than a depressing story.
11. Twixt: Using every device at his disposal, Francis Ford Coppola makes a dismal and dreary film with no discernible plot. Val Kilmer wanders through the 3-D portions which are a waste of our time. Totally forgettable.
12. Miss Bala: In Spanish. Dreary, depressing movie about drug and gun culture in Baja California, Mexico.
13. Take this Waltz: Sarah Polley's second movie. This time she wrote it too. (Too bad for us.) Toronto has never looked better. The cinematography was excellent. And the art direction was over the top. But the story had no focus so I would not recommend this movie at all. Others thought it was good so ...
14. The Cat Vanishes: Simplistic story has the audience not caring much for the main character who is completely unsympathetic. The "surprise" ending is not so much of a surprise. Was supposed to be an attempt at a movie in the "thriller" genre. Not very convincing.
15. Summer Games: Dreary, dark, and dysfunctional film. Dysfunctional families are not much fun to watch. The sadism practiced by the children was a bit over-the-top. The director searched far and wide to find the kids (non-actors) who appeared in the film and apparently, according to him, the children were protected from what was seen on film by being told it was a "game" they were taking part in. Not sure I'd want my kids to be taking part in this game.
16. Beauty: South African movie about a repressed homosexual who stalks a younger man. I found the premise a bit dreary. This was more a film about a stalker. Change the sex of the love object to a young woman and it would have been more obvious. Very violent and very angry and not at all satisfying as a film. The director said in the Q & A that the violent rape of the young man would in all probability never be reported. This was the first of many dark, dreary, and depressing films I saw at the festival.
17. Lost in Paradise: Vietnamese film about hustlers and prostitutes and the people who love them. Charismatic actors. A story of people. "You don't pick your sexual persuasion but you do choose how to live your life." Excellent cinematography shows off the new Saigon. But not a subject for everyone. Main characters are a prostitute and a male hustler.
18. Lena: Fat girl has relationships with father and son … along with many other guys on the side. Amateur actor(s). Not very interesting plot.
Films that open wide — All worth seeing
1. Drive: Ryan Gosling's good movie as opposed to Ides of March which is his simplistic and boring movie.
2. Moneyball: Brad Pitt's baseball movie.
3. Machine Gun Preacher: Gerard Butler plays a motorcycle guy who goes to Africa to help kids. He uses a gun to do the work. A bit over the top but it is a true story and you can get caught up in it by the end if you let yourself.
4. Peace, Love and Misunderstanding: Jane Fonda as an aging hippy still living in Woodstock when her daughter comes to visit with her kids. Great story and acting. Will go over well with older crowd and lots of fun for younger audience.
5. The Oranges: Great story, great cast. American movie about an older man falling for a younger neighbour. Well told, though it might be a bit risque for some.
6. Rampart: Woody Harrelson as a dirty cop, balancing a home life with two ex-wives as he becomes embroiled in a scandal. Mixed responses to this movie. In the end, I found it a bit heavy-handed and Woody's acting a bit over the top. Others think Woody should get an Oscar.

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