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TORONTO ’07: “Encounters at the End of the World”,”I’m Not Here”,”The Visitor”

TORONTO '07: "Encounters at the End of the World","I'm Not Here","The Visitor"

Still catching my breath after Toronto. Here’s my thoughts on a few more films I caught at the fest.

Werner Herzog’s “Encounters at the End of the World”

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Herzog brings his unique, eccentric vision to the frozen continent Antarctica in this documentary which explores the few thousand people living at the bottom of the world. Whether they be scientists studying the science fiction-like life beneath the ice or the random odd linguist on a continent with no languages, Herzog’s pontifications and witty voiceover bring a charming oddness to what could have been a straightforward doc. The film has a feeling of wandering about the ice, as Herzog offer his humorous, biting, and metaphorical thoughts on whatever comes his way.

Todd Haynes “I’m Not Here”

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I don’t know a lot about Bob Dylan’s life and have yet to immerse myself in his music, but after seeing this film, a retification is in order, as Todd Haynes has created one of the must audacious, creative, visually gorgeous meditations on a musician that I’ve ever seen. No where near what composes a typical bio-pic, Haynes instead uses several different actors to capture various aspects of the complex character of Bob Dylan. This technique might sound pretentious but it isn’t in any way and offers a more ambitious attempt to grasp what composes a person. My general frustration with movies based on real life people is presenting them in a way that is beyond just finding an actor who can do a good impression. Regardless of your interest in Bob Dylan, any filmmaker should see “I’m Not Here” just to marvel at the mindboggling array of shots and visual techniques that Haynes uses to pull off what will surely be one of the most talked about films for some time.

Thomas McCarthy’s “The Visitor”

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McCarthy offers a very thoughtful, human story about a lonely, empty Connecticut economics professor who suddenly finds music in his life again when he discovers an illegal immigrant living in his Manhattan apartment. The film offers a great, subdued lead performance from Richard Jenkins (who played Nathaniel Fischer in “Six Feet Under”) and never condescends with a touching friendship forms between Jenkins and Tarek (played by Haaz Sleiman), an illegal immigrant from Syria.

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