My SHORT reviews from the 2002 Toronto International Film Festival

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by David Ely, Sep 10, 2002.

  1. David Ely

    David Ely Supporting Actor

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    Here's some very quick reviews of the films I've currently seen at the Toronto Film Festival.
    Thursday
    5:30pm - 7:51pm: Nowhere in Africa (Varsity 8)
    Outstanding! This is probably the one movie that EVERYONE is talking aobut at the festival. It follows a German-Jewish family who fleas to Africa during World War 2. I don't think that I can find anything negative to say about it. It has a terrific script and the cast is perfect for their roles. This is one to watch for!
    Friday
    4:00pm - 5:45pm: Les Diables (Uptown 3)
    This is a wonderful 'coming of age' story from France. It's quite an emotional film with great performances from its two lead actors.
    Saturday
    12:00pm - 1:37pm: Heaven (Elgin)
    I wasn't quite sure what to expect with this film. The trailer makes it look like standard 'Hollywood' trash. Luckily it isn't. This is a terrific film, with an opening sequence which is extremely difficult to watch. The film is a little off from what would be considered 'mainstream', so I'm not sure how well it will do during its commercial release. I really hope it does well. This film deserves to be seen by a large audience.
    3:00pm - 4:29pm: Lost in La Mancha (Varsity 8)
    How can a movie production go so horribly wrong? I feel so bad for Terry Gilliam after watching this documentary. It really needs to be seen to be believed. This documentary is first-rate. It shows ever step of Gilliam's production until the unfortunate end (but he said that he will try to make the film again). Oh, did I mention that I met Gilliam and got my Brazil DVD signed? [​IMG]
    Sunday
    9:00am - 10:43am: Bowling for Columbine (Varsity 8)
    We truly need more people like Michael Moore in this world. He's put together a wonderful documentary about guns. One moment you will be on the floor laughing, the next you will be crying like a small child. Michael shows the cafeteria security video from the Columbine incident, and it's probably the hardest thing I've ever had to watch. A warning to fans of Charlton Heston, you will loose all respect for the man by the end of the documentary. I met Michael after the screening and must say he's a terrific guy!
    12:00pm - 1:43pm: Gerry (Varsity 8)
    Oh boy ... what to say about Gerry? I guess it can be summed up in two words ... nice try. I would only recommend Gerry to film students or people truly interested in what I call 'art cinema'. Gus Van Sant is basically imitating great film makers such as Andrei Tarkovsky. Most of the film is long shots of the main characters walking. I have no problem with this, except that the shots seem to only be long 'because they can be'. I'm glad I saw Gerry, but I won't be watching it again. BTW, got my copy of Good Will Hunting signed [​IMG]
    2:45pm - 4:20pm: Warriors (Varsity 4)
    This war film from Spain brings absolutely nothing new to the genre. It actually plays out more like a Hollywood action film than a serious war film. Very disappointed with this one.
    Monday
    9:30am - 11:35am: The Four Feathers (Uptown 1)
    Oh boy ... here's a stinker. I only picked this film to fill a gap in my schedule. I really thought it was terrible, although others in the audience seemed to enjoy it. There is one positive aspect of this film though, and that is Kate Hudson. She is stunning in this film and gives quite a good performance.
    1:00pm - 3:05pm: Spirited Away (Uptown 3)
    Oh my!!! I'm still excited about this film a day after seeing it. I love this movie!!! Hayao Miyazaki has really given us something special with this film. While it's not completely up to par with Princess Mononoke, I'm willing to say it's one of the best films I've seen all year. Run to your local theater on Sept. 20th to see it!
    3:30pm - 5:02pm: Bubba Ho-Tep (Cumberland 3)
    Elvis, a black JFK and a mummy. How could you not enjoy this movie? This is great fun, and was a nice break from the general seriousness of the films at the festival. The croud at the screening seemed to really enjoy it was well. Don Coscarelli said that they are currently in negotiation for a distribution deal for the film. Hopefully we'll get a nice DVD release someday.
    Tuesday
    12:00pm - 1:38pm: Spider (Uptown 2)
    This is David Cronenberg at his best. I've been a Cronenberg fan for years. While this isn't the type of film you'd expect from him, he does a terrific job. Ralph Fiennes is remarkable in his role of Spider. This is a much better film about schizophrenia than the awful (IMHO) 'A Beautiful Mind' could ever hope to be.
    2:15pm - 3:40pm: The Way Home (Cumberland 3)
    This is an extremely heartfelt film about the love between a grandmother and her grandson. The relationship between the two characters is played out with extreme care. If I remember correctly, this film is being distributed by Paramount Classics. Hopefully it will be brought around North America as I believe it can do very well here. It apparently did extremely during its Korean release.
    That's all for now. If anyone has any specific questions about any of these films, just ask. I will post small reviews of the following films later this week.
    Phone Booth
    Shottas
    Fuehrer Ex
    Promised Land
    11'09"01
    8 Femmes
    Hukkle
    Alive
    Shadow Kill
    Volcano High
    Punch-Drunk Love
    The Quiet American
     
  2. Jon Strong

    Jon Strong Agent

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    Can't wait till your Punchdrunk Love review.
     
  3. Rob Willey

    Rob Willey Screenwriter

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    Great work, David. I've heard a lot about 11'09"01. I look forward to your mini-review.

    Rob
     
  4. MichaelPe

    MichaelPe Screenwriter

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    Wow, David... I'm so incredibly jealous!! [​IMG]
    Looking forward to reading your next reviews...
     
  5. David Ely

    David Ely Supporting Actor

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    Here's the latest update. I would just like to add that the screening of Sprited Away that I saw earlier in the week was with original language track.
    Wednesday
    11:30am - 12:50pm: Phone Booth (Uptown 1)
    Give Joel Schumacher $100million and you get a crappy movie such as Batman and Robin. Give him only $1.5million and he makes a great film. That's right, the budget for Phone Booth was only $1.5million (This information comes straight from Joel himself). This is a really terrific film with outstanding performances from its cast. The movie grabs you from the start and doesn't let go for 84min. It seemed that most people in the audience were also quite impressed with it.
    1:30pm - 3:03pm: Shottas (Cumberland 3)
    What I expected to be a serious film about gang violence in Jamaica turns out to be a John Woo style action film. As an action film it is slightly entertaining, but I'd recommend many other action films before this one. There was a large Jamaican presence in the audience and they seemed to love every second of it. Unfortunately, the ‘culture barrier’ stopped the American audience from understanding most of the jokes used in the film.
    4:15pm - 6:00pm: Fuehrer Ex (Cumberland 1)
    This is a terrific film about Nazi influence on teenagers in Germany. It follows two friends and shows how Nazi influence in jail effects their lives. It is a brutal story that is filmed with great care to be as realistic as possible. There are no gun fights with unlimited bullets, and the characters all seem like 'real people' which makes the film that much more effective.
    Thursday
    9:30am - 11:10am: Promised Land (Varsity 4)
    Wow ... I'm completely speechless. This is the first screening I've ever been to at the film festival where there was no applause at the end. I don't think it's due to people not liking the film, it was more due to the fact that no one in the audience was sure what we just watched.
    The movie follows a man from London, England as he returns to the place where he grew up in South Africa. Once there, he is disturbed to find a heavy Nazi influence. What's strange is that the movie is played out like a thriller or horror film, while the script was quite serious in nature. That makes for a very uneven and VERY weird film. I would recommend that others see it just so I can hear their reaction to it [​IMG]
    12:00pm - 2:15pm: 11'09"01 (Elgin)
    11'09"01 is a collection of 11 films from filmmakers around the world. They were given a task to produce a film that is 11min 9sec and 1 frame in length. No other restrictions were given to the filmmakers other than to reflect on the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001. The end result is a very emotional group of films.
    One film in particular (which I believe was directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu) brought most of the audience (including myself) to tears. I will not spoil it here as it definitely stands out from the other 10 films. I just would like to warn people that this is not an easy collection of films to sit through, but as Ron would say, it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
    3:00pm - 4:48pm: 8 Femmes (Uptown 1)
    I was really looking forward to 8 Femmes. Let's see, a French comedy with a great cast ... oh wait, it's also a musical. Unfortunately, this film falls flat on its face. There were way too many serious moments that make it nearly impossible to tell what's a joke and what isn't. The songs are just plain terrible. So many people in the theater would sigh when it was time for another musical number (each character sings one song). And the ending ... oh my. I promise not to spoil anything, but the ending is just not appropriate.
     
  6. Pascal A

    Pascal A Second Unit

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    Thanks for posting your comments on the films, David. I was looking forward to Ozon's 8 Femmes as well. Ozon has a great visual style and sense of "mood", but some of his earlier films have left me a bit tepid. I did however, really like Under the Sand so I'm still interested in seeing the film to see how much his style has matured. It's not playing on the smaller scale, NYFF later this month though. [​IMG]
     
  7. Rob Willey

    Rob Willey Screenwriter

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  8. Bill McA

    Bill McA Producer

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  9. David Ely

    David Ely Supporting Actor

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    Here is my last group of films I saw during the festival.

    Friday

    10:00am - 11:15am: Hukkle (Varsity 6)

    A modern day silent film. Hukkle is a terrific film that leads us through a mystery in a small town, all without having the characters speak. The execution is quite remarkable. Hopefully this film will find an American distributor so it can be seen by a wider audience.

    12:30pm - 2:29pm: Alive (Cumberland 2)

    Alive is brought to us by Ryuhei Kitamura who is well know for his previous film, Versus. Alive gives us the story of a prisoner who survives his electrocution. He is then locked in a room with another prisoner and used for an unknown experiment. The film half of the film is quite a good drama, but the last half is a pretty disappointing action film. The second film I've been to at the festival that got no applause.

    3:00pm - 4:31pm: Shadow Kill (Uptown 2)

    Shadow Kill is a moving story about capital punishment in India during the 1940's. It tells the story of a hangman and shows the effect of his job on himself and his family. The screenplay is borderline brilliant, and the cinematography is quite remarkable. There aren't many directors who could make a tree play such an important part in a film (you'll have to see the film to understand this comment).

    Saturday

    11:15am - 12:54pm: Volcano High (Varsity 2 or 3)

    What a great way to start the final day at the festival! Volcano High is an extremely entreating action film. This film is basically Harry Potter vs. The Matrix. You can forget about plot, as what plot there is doesn't matter much. What is important are the terrific action sequences that are sure to keep any action fan happy.

    2:15pm - 3:46pm: Punch-Drunk Love (Elgin)

    This is easily the most pretentious film I've seen in years. I truly want my 90min back! Punch-Drunk Love is a major exercise in style over substance. I'm absolutely shocked at how well this movie did at Cannes. While a portion of the crowd I saw the film with seemed to enjoy it, the majority didn't. I will go as far as to say this is on my top 10 worst films of the year.

    4:30pm - 6:11pm: The Quiet American (Elgin)

    Simply incredible! It's really scary how this film about a journalist for the Vietnam War tells us so much about the current political and world issues. Beautifully shot and executed, with extremely strong performances across the board. Everyone will definitely be hearing about this film when the Oscars come around next year!
     
  10. Nick Sievers

    Nick Sievers Producer

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    Thanks for your reviews David. [​IMG]
     
  11. Marc Colella

    Marc Colella Cinematographer

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    Well there were those who stated that Magnolia was pretentious, and I loved it. So I'm looking forward to PDL.
    Ebert did a quick little write up on PDL:
    "Punch-Drunk Love," written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, is notable for being the first Adam Sandler film I've admired, although "Little Nicky" came close. You'd think Sandler ("Big Daddy") and Anderson ("Magnolia") would be an unlikely match, but Anderson essentially deconstructs the Sandler screen persona, revealing the madness and anger that seem to lurk just below the surface. The comedian stars as a strange, mannered auto shop owner, bullied by seven sisters, who falls in love with Emily Watson and manages to charm her despite his peculiarities, in a plot involving phone-sex crooks in Utah and an unexpected beach idyll in Hawaii. Unsettling, how his sweetness and his violent outbursts coexist beneath the passive-aggressive facade.
     
  12. Vickie_M

    Vickie_M Producer

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    Thank you David for all those write-ups. They're very interesting and helpful. You've made me add a few more to my list of MUST and WANT To Sees.
    Isn't there something in there about him trying to get frequent-flyer miles with pudding? Er, something like that? Maybe not. Maybe I'm thinking of a different movie.
     
  13. Thi Them

    Thi Them Producer

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  14. Eric Howell

    Eric Howell Stunt Coordinator

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    Here’s what I ended up seeing, in approximate order of preference(ratings and ranking subject to change upon additional viewings). I added a few comments to some of these, but don’t have the time to do micro reviews of them all. If you are interesting in hearing more about these, let me know and I’ll give it a shot. [​IMG]
    Bowling for Columbine (Moore USA 2002 8-Sep Varsity 8) 9/10: Oh sure, it isn’t exactly a fair look at the subject, but it is from the heart. Like Roger and Me, it is both tragic and hysterical.
    Punch Drunk Love (Anderson USA 2002 14-Sep Elgin) 8/10: PT Anderson used Sandler surprisingly well here. Of course, I also liked The Wedding Singer despite Sandler, so I suppose all you anti-Sandlerites should continue to stay away from this.
    Sweatbox(Styler/Davidson UK 2002 13-Sep Isabel) 8/10: A great Documentary following the making of Disney’s Emperor’s New Groove. If you get a chance to see this one at a festival, take it, because the chances of Disney letting this thing get released is slim to none. This will probably end up being the last time a 3rd party documentarian will be allowed this close to the Disney filmmaking process.
    Spirited Away (Miyazaki Japan/USA 2002 9-Sep Uptown 3) 8/10 (Saw it with the original language track, but the credits for what I assume will be the dubbed version rolled at the end)
    Lost in La Mancha (Fulton/Pepe USA/UK 2001 10-Sep Uptown 2) 8/10: I want more films from Gilliam, damn it. I hope he can find some more German dentists to give him $$ to complete this film, cause I get the feeling Gilliam is gonna keep trying to make this movie until it kills him.
    Volcano High (Taekyun South Korea 2002 13-Sep Uptown 2) 8/10 Big Korean Party! Everybody Kung-foo Fighting! Good time had by all!
    Les Rossy (Alleyn Canada 12-Sep ROM) 8/10: A short documentary about the Husband/Wife owners of a chain of Walmart-Like stores in Canada.
    Sweet Sixteen (Loach UK/Germany/Spain 2002 7-Sep Elgin) 7+/10
    A Peck on the Cheek (Ratman India 2002 11-Sep Varsity 3) 7+/10
    All or Nothing (Leigh UK 2001 9-Sep Uptown 2) 7+/10
    Bubba Ho-tep (Coscareli USA 2002 7-Sep Uptown 1) 7+/10: What a terrific set of Heroes for a B-movie. [​IMG]
    Badass Cinema (Jullian USA/UK 2002 6-Sep ROM) 7+/10
    Dirty Deeds (Caeser Australia 2002 12-Sep Varsity 8) 7+/10
    One Night the Moon (Perkins Australia 2001 6-Sep ROM) 7+/10
    Shalin Soccer (Chow Hong Kong/China 2001 8-Sep Varsity 8) 7/10
    Heaven (Tykwer Germany/france/USA 2002 7-Sep Elgin) 7/10: Somewhat disappointed after first viewing, will watch again when it gets released in the States.
    Dirty Pretty Things (Frears UK 2002 13-Sep Uptown 1) 7/10
    My Little Eye (Evans UK 2002 10-Sep Uptown 1) 7/10
    Try Seventeen (Porter USA 2002 10-Sep Uptown 2) 7/10
    Femme Fatale (de Palma USA/France 2002 14-Sep Uptown 1) 7/10
    Folk (Feldman Canada 12-Sep ROM) 7/10
    Man Without a Past (Caurismaki Finland/Germany/France 2002 11-Sep Varsity 8) 7-/10
    Horns and Halos (Hawley/jliansky USA 2002 11-Sep ROM) 7-/10
    The Eye (Pang/Pang Hong Konk/Tiland/UK 2002 9-Sep Uptown 1) 7-/10
    Jet Lag (Thompson France 2002 8-Sep Uptown 2) 6+/10
    8 Mile (Hanson USA 2002 8-Sep Elgin) 6+/10
    11'9"01 (France 2002 12-Sep Uptown 2) 6+/10: Iran, France, and USA segmest were my favorites. Only one bad segment(the Japan one). My main problem with this collection of 11 shorts is that since they were made independently they don’t work well as a group(only individually).
    Alive (Katamura Japan 2002 12-Sep Uptown 1) 6/10
    Cabin Fever (Roth USA 2002 14-Sep Uptown 1) 6/10
    Respirio (Crialese France 2002 6-Sep Uptown 3) 6/10
    Sympathy for Mr Vengence (Chan-Wook South Korea 2002 13-Sep Varsity 2) 6/10: This movie had me hooked from the start, and about half way though it I was beginning to think it would be contending for the top spot on my 2002 film list. Unfortunately, it took a quick nose-dive into mediocrity. Grrrr!!
    Spider (Cronenberg Canada/UK/France 2002 10-Sep Uptown 2) 6/10
    Prom Fight (Peloso Canada 12-Sep ROM) 6/10
    Welcome to Collinwood (Russo/Russo USA 2002 7-Sep Uptown 1) 6/10
    Spun (Akerlund USA 2002 6-Sep Uptown 1) 6/10
    Champion (Kyung-teak SouthKorea 2002 9-Sep Cumberland 2) 6/10
    Max (Meyjes Canada/Germany/USA 2002 10-Sep Elgin) 6/10
    Hukkle (Palfi Hungry 2002 12-Sep Varsity 2) 6-/10: A poor man’s Thin Red Line. Would have been much better had it used its gimmick to fully develop the story rather than the Thin Red Line like Nature interludes.
    Ararat (Egoyan Canada 2002 5-Sep Uptown 1) 6-/10: Was Disapointed that Atom couldn’t muster up a better way of presenting this story.
    The Last Great Wilderness (MackenzieUK 2002 7-Sep Cumberland 2) 6-/10
    Ginostra (Pradal France 2002 13-Sep Varsity 8) 5/10
    The Best of Times (Tso-Chi Taiwan 2002 14-Sep Cumberland 2) 5/10
    I'm the Father (Levy Germany 2002 5-Sep Varsity 3) 5/10
    Le Neg (Morin Canada 2002 11-Sep Cumberland 2) 5/10
    Japon (Reygadas Mexico/Spain 2002 8-Sep Isabel) 1/10: Ugg, boring movie. I think this was one of those, lets make a bad movie as an experiment to see how many in the audience will actually stay for the whole movie.
     
  15. Eric Howell

    Eric Howell Stunt Coordinator

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    Oh, and in an informal poll of people we met in lines or inside the theaters, we got a lot of "Buzz"(everyone's favorite film fest word)about these:

    City of God
    Spellbound
    Dolls
    Rabit Proof Fence
    Trials of henry kissinger

    Did anyone here at the HTF get to see these?
     
  16. Bill McA

    Bill McA Producer

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  17. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    Eric,

    Rabbit-Proof Fence and City Of God were both in Boston as well; I liked both quite a bit. City Of God will definitely be on my top 10 list at the end of the year and is currently my pick for the Foreign-Language Film Oscar. Rabbit-Proof Fence isn't quite as outstanding, but it's good to see Phillip Noyce do something so good after spending the 90s churning out studio "product".

    More in-depth reviews in the alternative/indie thread.
     
  18. Scott McGillivray

    Scott McGillivray Supporting Actor

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    David,
    I am wondering if you had a chance to see some clips of a movie that is in post-production but was being shown to a few people at the festival.

    It is called "Queen City Blowout" and was written and directed by Steven Rumbelow.

    Would love to hear your comments on it if you had seen any of it.
     
  19. David Ely

    David Ely Supporting Actor

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  20. Scott McGillivray

    Scott McGillivray Supporting Actor

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