Whilst the FrightFest boys went in search of the next party I caught up on some blogging chores, then made it down to the Ryerson in time for Midnight Madness. French director Xavier Gens was on hand to introduce the world premiere of his debut film Frontiere(s) which he described as, "Grabbing you by the balls and then squeezing tight!" He's not wrong; this is one of the most brutal films I've seen all year, with a number of sustained outbreaks of violence that left me slack-jawed. Borrowing ideas liberally from its contemporaries such as Sheitan, Haute Tension and Them, it's a tale of four youths who end up in a B&B run by a family of Nazis. It's an unrelenting ride, with no light relief to break the mood, and really raises the bar with its copious bloodletting. It's going to be too dark for some tastes, but personally it's up there with The Orphanage as the best horror flick of the year so far - it really is that good. It also marks Xavier Gens as an exciting new talent to watch and it will be interesting to see how he fares with his Hollywood debut Hitman which be be released here soon.
Saturday, September 08, 2007
TIFF Day 2 (Friday)
Can it really be 7am again so soon? I'm now battling tiredness and my unrelenting cold but no matter, there are more new films to be watched. Gavin Hood's follow up to Tsotsi is scheduled for the ridiculously early time of 8:45am so I get myself together and head over to the Varsity. Rendition is a solid political thriller featuring an all-star cast of Reese Witherspoon, Jake Gyllenhaal, Meryl Streep and Peter Sarsgard. It does its job well enough and makes good use of flashback sequences, but isn't something I'd be in a hurry to watch again. Could be a contender come Award season though, just a hunch.
From one screening to another as I hooked up with Ant and we got in line for No Country For Old Men, the new Coen Brothers movie. Based on the Cormac McCarthy novel it's a faithful adaptation telling the story of a guy (Josh Brolin) who stumbles across a suitcase full of money which he unwisely decides to keep for himself. It's not long before an unstoppable mercenary (Javier Bardem) is on his tail armed with a deadly bolt gun. Throw in a local law enforcement officer (Tommy Lee Jones) and a rival hitman (Woody Harrelson) and what you've got is the best Coen's movie since The Big Lebowski. It's a dark film that doesn't pander to Hollywood sensibilities, and all the better for it - just a shame that we'll have to wait until February 2008 to see it in the UK.
There was just time to grab a quick bite to eat then it was back inside to see Chrysalis with Ian. Julien Leclercq's film is a stylish sci-fi thriller centring around a piece of equipment that will allow the user to copy or delete memories. It opens strongly but the dense narrative soon gets muddled as the film tries to balance a standard cop thriller with a plot strand concerning a girl who's receiving treatment after a near-fatal car accident. Eventually the two story elements reveal their connection but there are far too many loose ends left unexplained.
After Chrysalis we took a well deserved break and met up with Paul and Johanna at one of the nearby cafes. They'd just come back from a private screening of Rec, a new horror film from Paco Plaza, the director of Romasanta. According to Paul it's like 28 Weeks Later meets The Blair Witch Project, and both he and Johanna were singing its praises to everyone who'd listen. I've subsequently overheard that there's to be a second screening next week so I may well attempt to blag my way into that one to see what the fuss is all about. While the others went off to see the rescheduled screening of They Wait (I'll try and catch a later screening next week) I went to see Pen-Ek Ratanaruang's Ploy. The Thai director has always been a favourite of mine - his Invisible Waves opened BKKIFF last year - and his latest film is another quality addition to his cannon of work. Not to all tastes, it's a dreamlike moody piece contrasting the seven year marriage of a middle aged couple whose relationship comes under strain by the appearance of an 18 year old waif, with the illicit liason between a barman and a maid - all taking place in a Bangkok hotel in the early hours of the morning.