September 06, 2014

TIFF Fri Sept 5: Maori monster, Spanish gothic, manga madness

It's that time of year again. Time for capsule reviews from the Toronto International Film Festival. We're hoping this won't have to be our last hurrah at the fest, and that some price relief will come next year after a 27% increase on our package this time. But enough with the behind the scenes stuff for the moment. Let's talk movies.

The Judge [US, David Dobkin, 2] Cynical hotshot defense attorney (Robert Downey Jr) takes on the case of his life when he must defend his uncompromising estranged father, (Robert Duvall) a small town judge, from a vehicular homicide charge. Magnetic actors fully commit to a sometime sharp, more often ridiculous script, packed with enough stock melodramatic situations to fill seven movies.
This belongs on a top 10 list of surprisingly watchable terrible films. Makes extensive use of courtroom gasping.
The lead actors, including Dax Shepherd and Vera Farmiga, were there to introduce the screening. Downey choked up while introducing Duvall. Vincent D'onofrio was already bald for his role as Kingpin in the upcoming "Daredevil" show.

This one will be in theaters in a few weeks. Unusually for us, we saw it as a Gala presentation, with the red carpet foofarah and stars in attendance, thanks to the miracle of comped tickets. We saw this on Thursday, if you're following along in your schedules at home and have become temporally confused.

The Dead Lands [New Zealand, Toa Fraser, 4] When the enemies who slaughtered his tribe take a shortcut through accursed territory, a novice warrior seeks the aid of its resident   flesh-eating monster. Thrilling pre-contact action movie redolent with Maori mythology.

In Maori with English subtitles.

Shrew's Nest [Spain, Juanfer Andrés & Esteban Roel, 4] Agoraphobic seamstress imprisons virile injured neighbor in the small flat she shares with the younger sister she abusively represses. Suspenseful gothic thriller balances pathos and gory black humor.

Produced by Alex de la Iglesias.

Eden [France, Mia Hansen-Løve, 3.5] DJ extends his adolescence into his thirties as the Parisian garage scene rises and falls. Impressionistic storytelling interested in recreating experience than heightening it into drama.
Fans of this music might bump it up a rating point or two.

Tokyo Tribe [Japan, Sion Sono, 4] All of Tokyo's cartoony gangs go to war when the lunatic evil ones lure the nice guy crew into a trap. Energetic insanity reigns in this martial arts manga adaptation hip hop musical.

This last one warrants entry in the Feng Shui 2 filmography, not least for its exemplary Scrappy Kid.