Over the past week we’ve taken in our now-usual five festival films. They were a dark lot this year, and about as festival-y as it gets (in that most will likely never see wide release).
Miss Violence (tiff): we’d never seen a film in the City to City programme before, but this one caught our eye. It was certainly one of the more disturbing movies I’ve ever seen. Put it this way: it starts off with an 11-year-old girl committing suicide, and goes downhill from there. So…yeah. Incredibly acted, though, and it took a day of reflection to recognize the skill with which the layers were peeled off to reveal a rotten core. Unfortunately, it was marred by what must be the worst set of audience questions ever foisted on such a brave director. 8/10, though I could probably never recommend it to anyone.
How I Live Now (tiff): I’d hoped this would be a little deeper and darker than it turned out. Apparently it was based on a YA novel, and there was a lack of depth in the film that really held it back. Saoirse Ronan was very good (though for the love of Pete, would someone should just let her speak in her normal voice? Embrace the Irishness, producers of the world!) and tiny Harley Bird pulled off the amazing feat of playing an adorable kid that didn’t become grating or saccharine. But still…could have been so much more. 5/10.
Afflicted (tiff): this was a Midnight Madness film playing for the second time (and hence, not at midnight) and in front of a mixed crowd: half of whom knew it was MM and therefore what to expect, the other half of whom seemed unaware of what they were in for. I think they figured it out after the 4th or 5th gushing fountain of blood. No masterpiece this, but any time you can take a trope as well-worn as this (I don’t want to reveal the basic plot) and a device as overused as ‘found footage’, and somehow pull off an interesting and exciting version of it for, like, $350k…bravo. If you’re a horror genre fan at all, or want to be impressed with how skill and imagination can overcome a low special effects budget, watch this. 7/10. Side note: apparently the film made someone pass out at the debut screening at the Ryerson, but Afflicted was actually pretty tame by MM standards. Unlike…
Why Don’t You Play In Hell? (tiff): our first and only true MM screening of the festival, and on Friday the 13th no less. I’ll admit that after an early morning, a long day at work, and then a very heavy meal, we both struggled to stay awake for this one. No fault of the film, it was all us. We’re old, you know. Anyway, this turned out to be an incredibly fun, savage, bizarre, clever, bloody, sweet film that is nearly impossible to describe. It slapped my weary, fevered brain around, much to my brain’s enjoyment. 9/10.
iNumber Number (tiff): what a bad-ass way to wrap up the festival: full-on, straight-up South African cops & robber action. Nothing complicated, just tortured good guys, corrupt officials, scary bad guys, a killer location that practically becomes a character in the film, and terrific performances all around. We saw the final screening in a pretty large theatre, after it showed Thursday and Friday nights in even bigger theatres, so this one had some attention. This, for me, was out sleeper pick. 8/10.
So that’s a wrap on TIFF13. Next year: ten films, at least.
Photo by Ping Foo, used under Creative Commons license