TIFF reviews: No One Lives, Much Ado About Nothing, I Declare War

And thus endeth this year’s sprint: three films in 18 hours. I understand that’s not much of a sprint compared to some TIFF schedules — or even our own from past years — but in a year where we only see five films, it’s about as sprinty as it gets.

1. No One Lives

We began our festival (if you don’t count the Jason Reitman live read of American Beauty) with a Midnight Madness screening: No One Lives (tiff). As with many films in the MM programme, it was insanely, almost comically violent. The plot was…well, basically, it did what it said on the tin. It killed a lot of people without a whole lot of backstory, and provided the kind of over-the-top kill methods and lazy dialogue you expect from a genre film.

6.5/10

2. Much Ado About Nothing

Since we didn’t get home until 2AM and didn’t get to sleep until after 3, we were a little tired this morning when we rolled out of bed 9AM. Still, there was nothing keeping Nellie from a screening of a Joss Whedon film. Personally I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to see this one — Much Ado About Nothing (tiff) is far from a favourite Shakespeare play — but since the premiere was only yesterday there was still a chance Whedon would stick around to attend today’s screening and answer some questions, I had to go along with including this in this year’s picks. When we arrived an hour before showtime we found a long line disproportionately populated with Serenity t-shirts.

So, the film itself was fine. Like I said, I’m not particularly in love with that play, and Whedon didn’t adapt any of the language, but he did a good job of adding to it with little bits of physicality — fist bumps, a girlish lounging pose, a long tumbling scene, Nathan Fillion (full stop) — that cracked the audience up. The black and white looked great too, though I admit the sameness numbed me a little and I drifted off for a few moments through the middle.

Happily for Nellie, Joss Whedon was indeed there. He said a few words before the film, and returned at the end, both times to standing ovations. Also, a surprise: many of the cast members were in attendance. They answered questions, told funny anecdotes, and were probably delighted that the Whedonverse references to kept to a minimum (only one guy made reference to another show/film, leading into his question by stating “Browncoats forever”). We also learned more about how this was filmed: just after finishing The Avengers he invited the cast to film this in his home; they did so, over twelve days (afternoons, really; he edited The Avengers during the mornings) just two and a half weeks after he approached the actors. That’s not much time to get ready for a Shakespeare play set in someone’s house. And, apparently Clark Gregg was a last minute fill-in (after initially declining) and had only a day to prepare. I’m glad we got to hear those stories and learn a little more about the film and how it was made.

All in all, while I can say that I didn’t love it, I certainly didn’t dislike it either. For sheer effort of getting it made, I’d give it a 7.5/10.

3. I Declare War

I Declare War (tiff) was a film populated entirely by kids. No adults, just kids. And, sadly, it wasn’t quite what Nellie or I were expecting: there was more fantasy and less actual escalation than we expected. It was decent, but not great.

6/10

.:.

Photo by Thalita Carvalho, used under Creative Commons license

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