Sunday, September 9, 2012

#TIFF12 movie reactions - End of Watch, Cloud Atlas, Men At Lunch, etc.

Day three (Saturday!) was the first day I didn't have to go into work, which meant I could focus entirely on films. I dove right in, seeing five movies, all of which I enjoyed to at least some degree.

Far Out Isn't Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story:

Don't even ask me about this movie - I will gush so hard you will make fun of me or accuse me of hyperbole. If you get a chance to see this inventive and delightful documentary, do not miss it. I will post a longer review at some point, once I have finally picked my jaw up off the floor 'cause holy shit.

All That Matters Is Past

Love me some Norwegian films, y'all. This wasn't necessarily the best one I've ever seen, but it was certainly worthy of a viewing. Star crossed lovers since birth, Janne and William, reunite after a long period of separation, only to find that the demons haunting them in the past are very much real and very much present. I enjoyed the disjointed narrative structure that revealed key motivations slowly, maximizing intrigue and character development. There were a number of highly disturbing, graphic images. Which were no doubt necessary/symbolic, but still, whoa. Lots of grimacing on my part. Again, totally worth seeing.

Men At Lunch

You know that famous photo of the eight construction workers eating lunch on a beam high above Manhattan, from the late 20's? Did you ever want to know more about that photo? If so, look no further than this documentary, Irish-made (which makes more sense when you consider the men were all Irish immigrants) and narrated by Fionnula Flanagan. I am glad I saw this, if for my love of NYC history and all the shots of Rockefeller center today, which is very near my office. But I also kind of felt like I was watching what would be the product of a high school senior's History final paper, but set to film, and produced by PBS or something. The film spent 20-30 minutes hammering home poetic comparisons about the city's immigrant past, when I'm sure everyone got the point after about 60 seconds. I imagine a much tighter, more effective and ultimately engaging film would have been made if they'd brought it in at about 30-40 minutes instead of a full-length documentary feature.

Cloud Atlas

I don't see too many big-budgut, action/epic/adventure/time travel/sci-fi stuff and though I did like The Matrix (the first one) I would not call my self a Wachowski fangirl. Actually, Cloud Atlas wasn't even on my list of vaguely interesting films intil I read the New Yorker profile of the Wachowskis and the trajectory of making this film, at which point I became a lot more curious about how it ended up. Still, I probably would have been content to wait til theaters, were I not a total sucker for seeing buzzed movies early in order to be part of the conversation.

But what can I add to the dialogue here, I guess, really? I'm not sure I am the film's target audience - although actually now that I think about it, who is the films target audience? That said, I really enjoyed it. The reason I point out that I don't often see movies like this is because I'm not convinced that I could actually know the difference between good and bad with a film of its scale. All I can tell you is that I bought it all, and I was captivated/invested throughout.

I was most surprised by how well Tom Hank's familiar face pulled off all the different roles - stuff we've never seen him do before. I would have expected to roll my eyes.

It was pretty cool how versatile the different roles were that each actor played. Hugo Weaving as a militant nurse? Almost unrecognizable. Actually no - totally unrecognizable.

I'm super curious to see how this one does. I wonder if audiences will even know what to do with it.

End of Watch

Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena are both great actors, but I wasn't too psyched about this movie ahead of time 'cause I'd read some average to below average Twitter reviews of the thing. I suppose it helped to go in with low expectations because I ended up being surprised that it didn't suck at all. I'm not sure it changed my life in any meaningful way, but it held my attention, and was pretty decently acted.

I can't remember the last time I saw suuuuuch a pro-police film, though, which was totally confirmed in the Q&A when the director started out by saying "We approach our military professionals all the time and thank them for their service - why don't we ever do that to cops?" Huh. Interesting dialogue I guess.

The Q&A was mercifully awful. To the point where I wish TIFF would do something about it. I don't know what could be done, I suppose. Maybe say something about how people should keep their questions centered on the film, and should make sure they're actually asking a question, not just jockeying for the ear of a celebrity. At any rate - unbearable, guys.

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