Rightwing Film Geek

Gratuitous lists-1

First of all … I have finished below the Day 8 capsules with CLOUD 9 and I will do the Day 9 and 10 capsules over the next few days, though frankly there’s no “holy crap, dude” films in that mix (only two as high as 7 and none higher … though now that I think, CHOCOLATE actually IS a “holy crap, dude” film, albeit in a more literal sense than the sense of a great film).

So here’s the best films I saw over the fest, the 9s and 8s, ranked in order of preference.

  1. HUNGER (Steve McQueen, Britain) — 9
  2. REVANCHE (Gotz Spielmann, Austria) — 9
  3. THE SILENCE OF LORNA (the Dardenne brothers, Belgium) — 9
  4. DETROIT METAL CITY (Toshio Lee, Japan) — 9
  5. HAPPY GO-LUCKY (Mike Leigh, Britain) — 8
  6. GOODBYE SOLO (Ramin Bahrani, USA) — 8
  7. STILL WALKING (Hirokazu Kore-eda, Japan) — 8
  8. A CHRISTMAS TALE (Arnaud Desplechin, France) — 8
  9. LAST STOP 174 (Bruno Barreto, Brazil) — 8
  10. SOUL POWER (Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, USA) — 8

So I saw 10 “definite keeper” films this year, though some of the 7s are also quite excellent and better than the 8s in some ways but had flaws too great to overlook — THE BROTHERS BLOOM, ASHES OF TIME, e.g.. That 10 was down from last year’s 13, but still quite impressive compared to the low expectations that the year’s earlier festivals had produced. (Though it was made quite clear to me by Noel, Mike and others that I may be alone in thinking DETROIT METAL CITY is a great movie.)

What’s also encouraging is that four of the top six films are by directors new to my popped-out eyeballs. The top two are clearly by great directors, in command of the medium and it’s only McQueen’s first film (it’s also Lee’s first film, though I wouldn’t credit him so much). Bahrani and Spielmann also have some body of work behind them — at least Bahrani’s two previous films have been spoken well of, and Spielmann has a substantial credit list at the IMDb, though I don’t know how much of it is significant (Herr Huber?).

September 18, 2008 - Posted by | TIFF 2008


  1. Victor,

    Two questions, one of which could be a possible post and other of which would definitely require a post.

    1.) On those occasions when you re-watch a film and revise your grade, do you find that it typically goes up or goes down? And if there is a trend in one direction do you have a theory for why?

    2.) In re: “The top two are clearly by great directors, in command of the medium”. What exactly makes a great director? Incredibly broad I know. But I guess I am curious about what film geeks consider to be the evidence of a great director given the higher number of variables that go into making a movie. Script, casting/acting, editing, and scoring all seem so important. A director may or may not be involved in any of these right?

    The matter of the script is especially interesting to me. Is a great director somehow able to overcome or transcend a sub-par script? Or are the good directors those who can read a script and tell whether or not the words will translate into good cinema?

    Can you tell from how an actor performs in one film compared to another the effect of the director on the performance?

    And do you think an editor, in a sense, follows the lead of the director?


    Okay, that was way more than two questions, but you get my point.

    Comment by Mark Adams | September 19, 2008 | Reply

  2. Victor, regarding Hunger, what do you make of Variety’s criticism of the “trite” symbolism in its third-act? Did they miss the boat there? Do you have a different reading of it?

    Comment by Jim | September 19, 2008 | Reply

  3. Götz Spielmann is a filmmaker who has consistently grown in my opinion (which, however, is based on much hearsay, since I’ve only seen 2 of his pre-2000 films. Legend has it that among the early works Erwin und Julia is quite special). Still, it also seems received opinion in Austria where he has been considered a talent who never quite made the jump to greatness, for the longest time (actually, up to the new film, that is)
    Anyway, for me Götz’ previous film, Antares marks the leap in progress (with Revanche being even a tad better, possibly). You should definitely seek that one out, Die Fremde also has its virtues, but I buy only about 2/3rds of it.

    Comment by Christoph Huber | September 20, 2008 | Reply

  4. Mark:

    On question (1), a re-view is more likely (I’m guessing) to cause a film to go up than down for the unexciting empirical reason that I’m most often checking out a great film to see how well it stands up to (or even improves upon) repeated viewing and gets bumped from 9 to 10. Or I’m just in the mood to be secure and see an all-time favorite.

    I recently downgraded THE ARISTOCRATS from 9 to 8 because it has simply grown less funny over four viewings (though not less wise as a piece of comedy criticism). But that’s rare. ASHES OF TIME I was expecting more or at least better coherence and had the “gee, this IS as good as it gets” reaction, though I’d still recommend it to anyone serious about movies.

    Comment by vjmorton | September 22, 2008 | Reply

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