TIFF Capsules — Day 1
FUGITIVE PIECES, Jeremy Podeswa, Canada — 4
Not a terrible movie; just rote, predictable and uninspired. Once you realize the film’s premise — a jumbled-chronology memory piece about a boy rescued from the Holocaust who emigrates to Canada –you basically have the movie. And it just lies there. May work better for you if you’ve never seen a “burden of memory” film where the characters say things like “I long for the loss of memory” and “To live with ghosts requires solitude” (I wanted to say “oh, come off it” every five minutes at the lead character). Here’s the other problem with this movie: film tends to makes things literal, and that kind of self-conscious prose comes across as affected in a movie, at least one that looks naturalistic. And symbology that might work on a page — oranges, in this movie, e.g. — comes across as too crudely “on-the-nose” in a plain-styled film. And one more thing — if a director wants to kill of a character at his peak moment of happiness, in an Existential acte-gratuit on the part of the auteur-god, he’d better have made THE WAGES OF FEAR or THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING to that point.
THE BRAVE ONE, Neil Jordan, USA — 6
This film, a much-better-acted update of DEATH WISH, left me asking is: is that a Good Thing? Do we want Jodie Foster in a Charles Bronson role, though there is no question she is a far superior actor? Unlike Jeremy Podeswa, she can “sell” (or rather her character has a plausible reason for saying) lugubrious lines about the role of memory in constituting a city. The script is far more plausible than DEATH WISH, as she becomes accustomed to acts of vigilanteism that become increasingly morally problematic and calculated. Regardless of Foster’s appropriateness, I want to see Terrence Howard in every role that requires a Y-chromosome. The man has apparently limitless screen presence, charisma and realness — here, the first and the third used mostly in the figure of the police detective who kinda knows what he doesn’t want to believe. His cat-and-mouse-game scenes with Foster are clinics. Also Scott Tobias is wrong; this movie is about as pro-vigilantism as anything short of JOE could be. Foster’s character arc is accepting the new person she has become; and [SPOILER] the narrative arc begins with the “my city was gone” lament and ends with the vigilante walking free.
THE MOTHER OF TEARS, Dario Argento, Italy — 3
I’m afraid I’m just not the gorehound I thought I was. The coldly baroque, elegant style — the garishly stylized color, the wind, the music — that made Argento’s SUSPIRIA one of the greatest horror movies ever is scarcely present here. Instead there’s a lot of creative ways to draw blood — my favorite [sic] was having a woman impaled through her whatsit and then have the lengthy spear come out through her mouth. Plot is pretty silly (Scooby-Doo quality … trying to find the right priest with the right spell, basically) and the central conflict doesn’t even really get cooking until the last reel. Daughter Asia Argento can’t act. Just a mess in every way. Still, I will go to my grave with the fond memory of hearing the whole Ryerson Theater opening-night Midnight Madness crowd singing “Happy Birthday to You” to Argento, who turned 67 at midnight.
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