Saturday, September 15, 2007

Catching Up

Whew. After spending 5 days in Toronto in what I like to call “festival time”, my travels have finally caught up with me. I’m now finding time to catch up on all the things I didn’t get to do while away, such as adding my reviews to the blog, working, and of course, sleeping. It’s always sad when the festival is over, but the films will go on, and it will be exciting to track their progress as many will find homes at local cinemas.

I’ll start by gradually posting a few brief synopses of some of the films I took in at TIFF07. These will be sporadic, so anticipate more to come as I recover from my fest-lag…


It’s the tale of a Texas man who steels 2 million from a drug sale gone bad, the psychopath who hunts him, and the police chief who contemplates his future in the violent land. The Cohen brothers go back to their dark BLOOD SIMPLE / FARGO roots, but instead of North Dakota, this time it’s the Texan desert where their quiet, languid pace is perfectly at home. The tension is also perfectly crafted, the performances are all around solid, but Javier Bardem steels the show, transforming himself into a monster more frightening than those found in slasher films. I left the Visa Screening Room ready to see it again.



Gone are the subtleties of the metaphors found in his previous efforts, and instead we now find Romero’s social messages repeatedly hammered into our heads, just as the many bullets and arrows find their way into the heads of zombies. These messages come in the form of a voiceover, shot from the first person perspective of an amateur film crew as they discover the dead have come back to life. It’s also found in the campy dialogue between the stilted and amateur performances, as the actors do their best to document the zombie uprising on two cameras and various forms of “new media”. Romero attempts to have his say on many issues such as the Katrina disaster, his lack of trust in the government, immigration, as well as the overriding message/vehicle of how information is spread and shared in the age of web 2.0.
Since this was a Midnight Madness selection, it’s hard to rate a film solely on its content, when the overall experience of watching it is so different when you’re at the Ryerson at midnight. The streets themselves were lined with fest-goers in zombie make-up, Romero and Dario Argento are present, and most importantly, the audience was pumped. So, while the film may have faltered, the experience did not. Every time a zombie was blown to bits (which happened quite frequently, a showcase for some standout FX such as when acid is poured onto a zombie’s head and it proceeds to melt convincingly into nothing within seconds), the audience erupted into cheers. Every time a line of bad dialogue was spoken, the audience erupted once more. In the end, there were a lot of noisy moments, but that’s what makes Midnight Madness so great.

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