Someone already responded to my last blog about the People’s Choice award, and it seems that ballots may have only been available at the public screenings, not the Press & Industry ones. Are we perceived as so jaded and cynical that we can’t give a fair assessment of our favorite film of the festival? If that’s the case that would be an interesting position for the festival to take.
Toronto’s such a nice, clean city (at least where we are centered during the festival), that even a bit of grafitti can make one do a doubletake. Sitting in the back row of the Varsity 6 and glancing at the wall to my left, I noticed the following complaint scrawled in black marker: “Lower prices for movies – $14 Give me a Break” Now there’s an unhappy patron, and at those prices who can blame him?
Quick Takes: AWAY FROM HER (4-Stars) – A well-made golden-year drama skillfully directed by actress Sarah Polley in her feature debut. A still-lovely Julie Christie is sublime in this touching story of a woman moved to an assisted living facility due to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, and the emotional strain it takes on her husband (an equally good Gordon Pinsent) as he reflects on their life together and adjusts to his new situation. Olympia Dukakis co-stars in this Lionsgate pickup scheduled for Spring 2007. THE KILLER WITHIN (3-Stars) – An esteemed psychology professor and family man decides to suddenly tell his grown daughters, his colleagues, and his students about murdering his college roommate at Swarthmore fifty years ago. Great idea for a doc, fascinating in places, but lacks the mindblowing conclusion the subject matter demands and still leaves some questions unanswered. The latest from Macky Alston, whose fine FAMILY NAME played the Florida Film Festival back in 1997. BLACK SHEEP (4-Stars) – Almost perfect Midnight fare from New Zealand. Clever, funny, bloody, and gross, this horror-comedy about genetically altered killer sheep features good special effects and delivers on all fronts. This film had surprising buzz considering the subject matter, and will surely get US distribution if the right company is smart enough. Sheep and goats always kind of creep me out anyway–it’s that thing with the eyes. TRAPPED ASHES (2-Stars) – Marginally minor horror fun here in this omnibus featuring the collected talents of Joe Dante, Ken Russell, Monte Hellman, Sean Cunningham, and John Gaeta (visual effects guy for THE MATRIX), not to mention the B-movie acting talents of John Saxon, Henry Gibson, and Dick Miller. The Tales From the Crypt-like stories feature vampire tits (!), all kinds of ghosts, a six-foot tapeworm, and lots of cheesy T&A and animation. Kind of like OK late night TV fare. RENAISSANCE (3-Stars) – A cop investigates the disappearance of a scientist in the Paris of the future in this stunning-looking (almost exclusively) black and white scope animated sci-fi feature. Comic book geeks should eat this up,and the voice talents of actors like Daniel Craig, Ian Holm, and Jonathan Pryce add to its pedigree, but the overall effect (and narrative) seem less edgy and compelling than SIN CITY. VINCE VAUGHN’S WILD WEST COMEDY SHOW: 30 DAYS & 30 NIGHTS – HOLLYWOOD TO THE HEARTLAND (4-Stars) – Ari Sandel (director of the great dueling falafel stand musical, WEST BANK STORY, from FFF 2005), hits the road with VInce Vaughn and four unknown but talented comedians for a month of performances and tourbus and backstage shenanigans. A little improv (Jon Favreau, Justin Long, and Peter Billingsley show up here and there), a little music (Dwight Yoakam and Buck Owens make appearances), and a surprisingly moving and hilarious look at these performers and their art makes this one a definite winner. The bit about the Ross For Less store was so funny it was painful.