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Tag Archives: Over Your Dead Body

TIFF roundup time. Here’s everything I saw, in alphabetical order, with a sentence or two of commentary. Links below are all to trailers or clips of the films, unless one was not available. I saw around 25 films and didn’t see anything that I really disliked this year, so I’m not going to rank the films in any kind of order.

Although I will say that Crime Wave, The Duke of Burgundy, The Guest, Luna and Ned Rifle were my best experiences, and Alleluia, which I didn’t technically watch at TIFF, rounds out my “top six”.

The Duke of Burgundy was a definite fave

The Duke of Burgundy: a fave

1001 Grams – The story itself was quite simple, but the fact that it was set in the strange world of international weights and measures really charmed me. Where is Canada’s prototype of the kilogram held, I wonder?

Alleluia – Technically I did not see this at TIFF. I saw it in Cannes, but it remains one of my faves of the year so I’m including it anyway! Based on the same source material as The Honeymoon Killers, this is one of the most gorgeous films of the year.

Big Game – The craving deep in my soul that can only be satisfied with Amblin Entertainment-style kid adventure films was fed a substantial meal by Big Game. Unapologetically silly and kid-friendly action. Anyone who thinks this isn’t one of the best and least phoned-in Samuel Jackson performances in a while is nuts.

Cart – A simple but affecting story (based on real events) about the plight of South Korean temporary and contract workers (who make up 60% of the population and make 50% of their full time counterparts’ wages) and their attempts to unionize or at least force the supermarket that unfairly dismissed them to hire them back.

Corbo – Really powerful Quebecois film about the early FLQ movement. Great lesson in recent Canadian history, and a good piece of cinema too.

Crime Wave – I’ve said enough, right?

Cub – A straight-up fun horror movie. Just the meat and potatoes of scary movies, where a pack of cub scouts gets it from a psycho-killer and a feral child. Sometimes, it’s satisfying to go back to basics.

The Duke of Burgundy – One of my faves of the festival. Gorgeous, stylish, original, funny as hell. The strange story of a relationship between two women that you think you understand, until you realize it’s something else entirely. Plus, I learned a lot about mole crickets.

The Editor – If you’ve ever enjoyed a Giallo film, then the loving parody/homage of The Editor is for you. If you enjoyed Father’s Day or Manborg or just like funny jokes, then The Editor is probably also for you.

Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films – Mark Hartley is the champion of documentaries about the “wild, untold stories” of cinema, and while this one was less of a “to watch” list than Not Quite Hollywood (because I’ve already seen way more Cannon films than Ozploitation films) there were still a few that I will definitely be watching post-TIFF. Like all the Ninja films.

Goodnight Mommy – This film starts out as a drama about a woman recovering from recent facial plastic surgery while trying to keep her rowdy twin sons in check at their country house. And then it becomes something far more dark and disturbing. Great film, intense viewing experience.

The Guest – Ah, the uninvited guest film, the Terminator-esque dangerous android film, the “fun American action” film, that old chestnut! Thanks for making a brand new chestnut, Barrett/Wingard. The Guest is already out in the US and opens in Toronto soon. Go fucking see it!

Luna – One of the most beautiful and moving relationship dramas I’ve seen in a long time, by Dave McKean, the visual genius behind all those Sandman covers, and Arkham Asylum, and lots of other great stuff. Perfect blend of illustration, animation, real feeling, and magic realism.

Maps to the Stars – A bit too hysterical (and I don’t mean that as a synonym for funny) for me, but filled to the brim with a lot of very good performances. What was the point, though? That Hollywood is a horrible place full of depraved monsters? I expect better, less obvious points from Cronenberg.

Ned Rifle – Hal Hartley’s best since Henry Fool, for sure. And a great end to the trilogy that Henry Fool and Fay Grim round out. Featured a cameo by every Hartley actor in the stable, which was nice to see. Truly “one for the fans”.

Over Your Dead Body – Leave it to Takashi Miike to make me squirm and feel vaguely nauseous while looking at something incredibly striking and beautiful. Gorgeous story about a group of actors rehearsing a play (the story of which echoes their real lives). Some of the best production design I’ve seen all year.

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence – is it “reflecting on” or “contemplating”? The programme said one but the subtitles on the film said the other. Anyway. Great film. Bonus fact: all the backgrounds are matte paintings, and they are very impressive.

Spring – I’ll try to resist the “X” meets “Y” description that this film has been getting a lot of, but let me just say this: Spring is a very beautifully made and smart romance, lightly tinted with supernatural elements. Don’t go in expecting a “horror movie” but do go in expecting a “very good movie”.

Sunshine Superman – Great doc about the adorable nerd who invented base jumping. First time I’ve ever seen a visually impressive documentary about an inspiring subject that did not make me want to participate in the thing that it was about. There isn’t enough money in the world to convince me to jump off a cliff, ever.

Tokyo Tribe – Japanese hip hop musical about warring gangs battling for control of Tokyo. The rapping isn’t mindblowing, but y’know what? That’s kind of not the point. I saw someone on Twitter complain that the film was about rape gangs, and I feel like I saw an entirely different film, which isn’t about that, at all.

Two Days, One Night – Marion Cotillard, the undisputed queen of looking ugly-beautiful in films that are uplifting downers, is really good in this at-times-hard-to-watch drama about a woman who spends an arduous weekend fighting to get her job back after being laid off. Watching this film made me realize that I’ve hardly seen any of the Dardenne brothers’ films. I will rectify this post-TIFF, when I make my ambitious list of “films and filmmakers to catch up on this fall”.

What We Do in the Shadows – Funniest movie of TIFF or funniest movie of the year? Probably both. This unexpectedly touching and totally hilarious Christopher-Guest-style mock doc about a group of vampire roommates in New Zealand hit pretty much all the right notes.

Wet Bum – A solid story about a gawky teenage girl who has few friends, works part time at a retirement home (where her mom works), and maybe has a crush on her swimming instructor.  Although I  was a little disappointed with the familiar track the relationship with the swimming instructor took, it was great to see a film about a teenage girl that wasn’t rife with clichés.

X + Y – I liked this movie about an awkward, mildly Autistic math-whiz who finds himself in an unusual situation when he finally gets to compete in the international math olympiad. Suddenly, he’s no longer the only weird one, or (perhaps more disturbingly, to him) the only smart one. Very touching hi jinx ensue.

I’m sorry to have missed many people’s faves, films like Force Majeure, Wild Tales, Phoenix and The Tribe, as well as a few of my own hotly anticipated titles, like Danis “Oscar for No Man’s Land” Tanovic’s latest, Tigers. Hopefully they’ll all be back in theatres soon. Or maybe I’ll have to bring some of them back myself, at The Royal.

Thursday September 11, 2014

I’ve been attending TIFF for almost 20 years, a fact that I can’t fully reconcile myself or my deeply wrinkled and chronologically-unhinged sense of the passage of time. For the past four or five, I’ve been going with an industry pass, and it has changed the experience for me dramatically. One of the key differences, which begins to rear its head just before the final weekend, is the way I deal with festival fatigue.

If I’d paid somewhere between $20 and $24 per ticket for the TIFF experience, there’s no way in hell I would be missing any screenings – not just out of a desire to not throw money out the window, but because a hard ticket is a commitment. It is a firm plan, written if not in stone then at least wet concrete. With the pass, everything becomes malleable and I start thinking “ehhhh, I don’t have to go to that film I was really looking forward to five days ago, because I’d rather take a nap or just sit in a chair staring at the wall for 30 minutes because my brain is no longer capable of processing images.”

Over Your Dead Body

Over Your Dead Body

It’s a sad form of defeat, for which I always blame my own inability to plan and persevere, and I try to avoid it every year. This is why it was especially great to have a good old fashioned hard ticket to a public screening of Over Your Dead Body, the new Takashi Miike film. I started my day with an industry screening of Wet Bum (which I quite liked – keep on making those mostly cliché-free films about teenage girls, Canadian women! See also: Picture Day). If I didn’t have that hard ticket to the Miike film, I might have just gone back to the hotel and fallen asleep for four or five hours. In fact, I almost certainly would have. The sleep might have done me some good, but seeing a really beautiful Japanese film did me better.

The film is about the relationships of a troupe of actors rehearsing a play, but their rehearsals (in full costume and on elaborate and gorgeous sets like the one pictured above) are also shown – and, of course, the story of the play (a period piece about a heartless samurai who betrays his wife) echoes what’s happening in the actors’ lives, at least somewhat. The production design, especially of the theatrical sets, but also the “real world” was so beautiful, I’m not sure the film was able to live up to its own visual promise. It was good. But it looked brilliant.

Colin with the Editor crew

Colin with the Editor crew

The evening was all about The Editor, the new giallo comedy/loving-parody/homage by Astron-6 members Matthew Kennedy and Adam Brooks (actor Conor Sweeney also came in for the fest), all of whom I really enjoyed meeting. We had dinner, drinks, and went to the movie in high spirits. Everyone was lovely, and I especially enjoyed talking with Brooks, who is smart, gracious, and modest in the way really good artists usually are. Plus, he’s a Crime Wave fan, so obviously a top notch dude. Fact you may or may not know about Brooks: he’s a really good painter. Dude should definitely be selling prints of his work to the legions of Astron-6 fans out there. If the reception their film got is any indication, he’d do well for himself.

"Ever heard of an Adam Brooks?" by Adam Brooks

“Ever heard of an Adam Brooks?” by Adam Brooks

And for the record, I loved The Editor. I haven’t seen nearly as many Giallo films as these guys have, but I’ve seen enough to know that every joke lands perfectly, every zoom and dubbed line is just right, and every wild and barely-sensible plot twist is exactly as it should be. The film is really well done. Team Kennedy/Brooks is the real deal.