Wednesday, September 12, 2012

To The Wonder, To The Wall

by Odienator
(click here for all TIFF pieces)

I think it was the great director Sidney Lumet who recounted the story of how Marlon Brando tested the directors for whom he worked. On the first day, Brando would give two separate takes that were, on the surface, practically identical. But in one of those takes, Brando would act from within, giving his internal “all”  to the performance. If the director printed this take, Brando gave his soul to the role. If the director chose the other take, Brando would cease giving a shit and do whatever he wanted. Brando’s rationale was “why bare my soul if you can’t recognize me showing it?”

As I watched To the Wonder, I thought of this story. Coming so quickly after Terrence Malick’s last film, To The Wonder aroused my suspicions. Malick is a director who takes his sweet time between features. Between Days of Heaven and The Thin Red Line, Malick’s sweet time lasted 20 years. To The Wonder is being released almost a year and a half after his last film, The Tree of Life. It even uses some footage from that film, as well as a few ideas. As I watched the 7 millionth shot of a woman spinning around and around, or the fifty-thousandth shot of Ben Affleck looking as if his ‘roids were acting up, I asked myself “Is Terrence Malick testing us? Is this his Brando moment? After listening to the Malick maniacs rant and rave of his flawless genius, has Malick decided to toss something sub-par (by his standards) together to see if it evokes the same rapturous response of his greater works?”

Of course, the reclusive Malick doesn’t care what audiences think of his movies. But I imagined my conspiracy because To The Wonder plays like a parody of Malick, much like The Departed plays as a parody of Scorsese. For every moment of sheer, Malickean joy (and there are many), there’s another that feels haphazard. Eventually the haphazards win out. I’m amused by the reviews I’ve read that jump through hoops to turn a **1/2 ruling into a **** review simply because it’s Malick. I won’t do that here: This is a **1/2 movie. Like the booing Venice audience, I am not fooled by Malick’s Brando take. Let the Malick maniacs who have been screaming bloody murder over the boos (and haven’t seen the movie—go figure!) call me names all they want. One critic, whom I won’t put on blast here, threatened on Twitter to beat up anyone who didn’t like this film. It takes true devotion to risk getting fucked up for a director who wouldn’t piss on your critical opinion if it were on fire. Fanboys are fanboys, no matter what the director’s pedigree is. This is some sad shit right here, and I’m way too old for it.

But I digress. Like all Malick, To The Wonder refuses to spell out the director’s true intentions. It exists as a series of images, edits, rhythm and narration. In fact, To the Wonder is mostly narration, some of it simple declarations of the onscreen obvious. (One subtitle “We fight.”) The declarative statements are  new for Malick, whose narration I’ve run hot and cold on; I think Days of Heaven’s is a thing of exquisite beauty and brilliance, but The Thin Red Line is ruined by its offscreen chatter. To the Wonder is narrated primarily by two people, a French woman in a failed relationship and a priest struggling with his loss of faith. The imagery is appropriate for each thread, but together they just don’t mesh. Even at his most abstract, Malick has managed to knit together dissonant visual ideas into a cohesive whole. These two strands clash sloppily, and while a non-linear take on one man’s interaction with something bigger than him is prime Malick territory, the same method is less successful in depicting relationships.

The New World tells a love story, but that love story is both more developed and also placed inside a much bigger wave of ideas both related and unrelated. To The Wonder is on a much smaller scope and even more abstract. It prompted me to ask what universal truths were I to glean from To The Wonder’s relationships, which are merely countless scenes of Ben Affleck looking uncomfortable and inexplicably fighting with a woman? This woman, whom he convinces to move from Paris with her daughter, is the main character of To the Wonder. She bears most of the narration, and I assume we are supposed to be viewing Affleck and the notion of romance through her eyes. Her arc may play better for romantics and people who are attracted to ciphers of men; I tried vainly to remain involved through my frustration. Standing alone outside of the bigger themes Malick usually tackles, one feels nothing for these romantic dissolutions. The French hottie (who is actually a Russian hottie) also spins around enough to turn into Lynda Carter’s incarnation of Wonder Woman 700 times. I keep bringing this up because it really does descend into ZAZ-level parody. “That bitch must be really dizzy,” the evil side of my brain remarked.

Rachel McAdams shows up to say “Hi.” As another woman Affleck falls for, her role registers like a fly on a windshield. Javier Bardem inspired the opposite reaction, as I was most interested in his character. Even when his narration threatened to become The Tree of Life-lite, I was drawn to his sad face and his pleadings with a God in which he is struggling to believe. My good  buddy, Mark Pfeiffer (who loved the film) described To the Wonder as Malick’s take on Hell, which is a very good analogy for this section. My favorite scene in the film is Bardem’s interaction with a Frederick Douglass-looking elderly Black man in front of a stained glass window. It’s a rare piece of straight dialogue in the film, but I loved the emotion and the words the old man uses. They were crazy, philosophical, and stayed in my head for days. Just like most of Malick’s films.

To the Wonder is certainly not boo-worthy, and there are moments of true beauty and delight. To the Wonder isn’t a bad film, but it’s a sloppy one. It feels lazy. Even when I’ve given a negative review to a Malick film (and for the record, until this film, the tally of negative reviews from me was ONE), it has left me with much to contemplate. Here I just didn’t care because I don’t think I was given enough to truly contemplate. They printed the bad take, and I felt like Marlon Brando.

Big Stars, Bigger Messes at TIFF

by Odienator
(click here for all TIFF pieces) 

Big stars were not immune to big messes here at TIFF. Several major stars appeared on screen and proceeded to make my hair look like Buckwheat’s. (Ed. Note: Odie’s normally nappy head is bald nowadays) Celebrities like Bill Murray and Tom Hanks made TIFF stand for Totally Incompetent Feature Failures. Let’s start with that gopher’s nemesis as the Reagan of the Democrats.

They must have paid Laura Linney beaucoup dollars to say the shit that passes for narration in Hyde Park on Hudson. This year’s My Week With Marilyn makes the same mistake that film did: It allows the least interesting character to control the story. Marilyn’s take would have been more interesting, as would FDR’s take on the visits of his fifth or sixth cousin once removed. When a larger-than-life figure is involved in the story, one should either let them do the talking or allow them to walk off with the picture despite the film’s gaze. Me and Orson Welles does the latter, with Christian McKay looming over the film even when he’s not onscreen. Hyde Park on Hudson has Bill Murray’s FDR, but I would have expected Laura Linney to carry the film on her own. She’s a fine actress and a welcome presence. Instead, Linney fails miserably, and it really isn’t her fault.

The screenplay, by Richard Nelson, reads like a failed writing workshop class project. The structure is clunky, and it has the misfortune to be populated with the same characters as Oscar winner, The King’s Speech. Here, Bertie is no Colin Firth, (though Samuel West gives it a game, respectable try) and this film’s Queen Elizabeth freaks out over a goddamn hot dog. In fact, a major plot point in Hyde Park on Hudson has to do with serving hot dogs at a picnic! There must be 15 minutes of dialogue, most of it arguments, about wieners. The plot itself is also about wieners, with FDR putting his every place except Mrs. Roosevelt cooter. Linney’s character, the appropriately named Margaret Suckley, is just the latest in a long line of trysts FDR conducted practically in plain sight. “Everyone has secrets,” narrates Linney dramatically before pausing for even more goofy effect, “FDR was mine!”

I can’t complain enough about the groan worthy dialogue. Wait’ll you hear the line Linney is forced to utter after, um, giving FDR a hand in the front seat of his car. Even worse, one feels sorry for the actors forced to utter it. Bill Murray, whom I’ve always adored, fares no better when trying to spit out these lumps of coal. He’s just not believable as FDR. Ralph Bellamy’s ghost can sleep easily—hell, Edward Herrman’s warm body can sleep just as easily. Granted, Anthony Hopkins looked nothing like Nixon in Ollie Stone’s biopic, but Hopkins evoked Nixon. Murray is FDR like I am Andrew Jackson. I didn’t buy him for a minute, and Roger Michell’s direction aims for high prestige when it should be aiming far, far lower. After all, this is a movie about a President’s mistress recounting her days fucking the President of the United States. And it’s a drab, hot dog-filled affair. I sure hope no one involved with this movie tackles the Monica Lewinsky story, Diddle In a Blue Dress.

 I don’t want to waste more than 300 words on Cloud Atlas. Easily the worst film I’ve seen at the Festival, Cloud Atlas turns an unfilmable novel into an unwatchable movie. I have not read the novel, so I’ve no idea how closely the cinematic version hews, but I am hoping no one sounds like hated Star Wars characters or has an accent as bad as most of Tom Hanks’ incarnations. Everyone involved plays multiple roles, and perhaps the only fun in Cloud Atlas comes at the end when the credits reveal who was who. Even that is tempered by bad ideas, as it made me a bit itchy seeing Caucasian actors in Asian makeup. The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer must have been channeling Charlie Chan serials from the 30’s or Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Hugo Weaving, who must owe the Wachowskis money, even shows up as a Nurse Ratched-style head of an old folks’ home, and his makeup would have gotten him run over by Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

In fact, the makeup is dreadful on everybody, but it’s no match for the plot and the acting. Everybody ranges from passable to outright embarrassing. Cloud Atlas also hops from story to story, and across timelines both past and future. Unlike other films of this ilk, none of the stories is any good. Usually, one can find a tale that holds one’s interest, and bide time until the filmmakers return to it. Here, it’s like watching 6 bad movies at once, each one more agonizing than the former. Since it feels edited with a roulette wheel, one never knows which tale will follow which scene. There’s no real logic to placement until the film’s climax, which is an unmitigated disaster with one bright spot. That spot is in the guise of Keith David, whose 70’s set interactions with Halle Berry provide Cloud Atlas with its rare moment of suspense.

Berry and Jim Broadbent probably fare best in the actor pool, with Berry almost making the absurd Jar-Jar Binks dialogue of her future story work. Paired with Tom Hanks in numerous story lines, she steps up her acting against the veteran. Unfortunately, Hanks steps down—waaaaay down—into the depths of Razzies territory. His acting is as bad as his hair in The Da Vinci Code, and when one of his characters is blown  up by a suitcase, I was happy Hanks was gone. Then I remembered that he was 7 other characters. Doona Bae from The Host seems to exist only to spout the film’s dreadful new-agey mythology, show her tits and play a Mexican who bashes one of Hugo Weaving’s characters' heads in with a pipe. There are also plotlines about slavery, homosexual composers and the world’s worst old folks home. Nothing works.

At 163 minutes, Cloud Atlas is a root canal of a movie, interminable and incredibly painful. I don’t know who directed what, and I really don’t care. I can assume that the Wachowskis directed the scene where Forrest Gump, now reimagined as a George Michael lookalike with the shittiest accent since the Lucky Charms leprechaun tosses a snooty critic off a building. The camera follows the critic down to the street, where he splatters in what passes for this film’s humor. This happens about 10 minutes into Cloud Atlas, earning its R rating. I felt envious of that guy. At least he didn’t have to sit through the other 153 minutes of this garbage. And I spent 593 words on this. Damn you, Cloud Atlas! Damn you to Hell!

Science, Faith and the Will To Survive

by Odienator
(click here for all TIFF pieces) 

Before the world premiere here in Toronto of his film, The Deep (Djúpið), director Baltasar Kormákur explained that he wanted to make a film that asked, and answered, what it meant to be from his home country, Iceland.  His main character, Gulli (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson), endures both a harrowing fight for survival and a constant series of  medical tests designed to answer why he survived at all. Shot on location, The Deep chronicles Gulli’s six hour ordeal in the frigid North Atlantic Ocean after his boat capsizes. The ocean is so cold that normal men would fatally succumb to confusion and hypothermia within minutes. Gulli lasts not only six hours, he also makes the correct decisions to ensure his survival. The TIFF guide calls The Deep a “modern-day everyman myth,” but there is truth to it: According to Kormákur, the real-life Gulli  is considered a hero and a freak by his countrymen.

Kormákur and his co-screenwriter Jón Atli Jónasson weave both subtle and blatant metaphor into their narrative. Gulli’s tale is one of resilience applied to a country that has survived economic collapse and a year-long volcanic eruption on one of its islands. The weather and the environment are depicted as exceptionally harsh, yet commonplace to Icelanders. Against this backdrop, people go about their days drinking, working and raising families. Religion is also part of daily life, with numerous prayers offered up to de Lawd. God is interwoven into the fabric of The Deep, with His presence felt most in a scene that cross-cuts between the prayers of the doomed sailors and those of their families at home.

The Deep introduces these doomed sailors, and the one who lives, at the local bar. Gulli is a fisherman who sails on the North Atlantic in treacherous conditions in order to make a living. In this bar, he meets his fishing boat’s new cook, with whom he gets into a quick bout of female trouble. (That is, there’s a fight over a woman.) These early scenes show the ruggedness of the location and its inhabitants. After the crew shoves off for the vastness of the North Atlantic and its daily catch, The Deep becomes Gulli’s tale of survival against nature. The sea is a harsh mistress, but as we’ll discover, land isn’t so forgiving either.

Kormákur told the TIFF audience that his film was done without CGI, which makes the entire ocean sequence truly harrowing. The actors are really out there being thrashed around by the cruel surf. Ólafsson is really in the North Atlantic for take after take. A wide shot of Gulli floating alone with nothing around him seemingly for miles evoked Lean’s shots of Lawrence of Arabia standing in the desert. That overhead shot in the water haunted me for days, as I drowned once and am horribly afraid of open water. Once the barefoot Gulli swims to land, he has to not only climb slippery rocks while being battered by the ocean, he also has to walk two miles on jagged volcanic rock. The ordeal ruined the real Gulli’s feet. This too gave me nightmares. Ólafsson and Kormákur turn the simple act of knocking on a door into something cathartic; when Gulli finally reaches a human being who can help him—and that human is on Gulli’s home island—I finally let go of my seat.

From here, The Deep explores science vs. faith. Why did Gulli fight so long in that ocean? Unlike his colleagues, he had no wife and kids to inspire his need to survive. Ólafsson, who is exceptionally good, has a fine monologue while floating at sea, intercut with descriptive footage, where he explains what he'd do if God grants him one more day. He is willing to accept death after this one extra day, a take I didn’t expect. In return, he is granted several more days—years even—but the earliest of those days is filled with doctors and scientists poking and prodding him looking for answers. The heavy-set Ólafsson looks miserable in these passages, and you do feel for him. He just wants to move on, yet he has to keep reliving his ordeal to satiate others’ thirst for answers. “He has seal fat,” one doctor explains after a test. Gulli’s mother represents the other side of the science-faith equation: “How does one explain a miracle?”

The Deep’s last scene is its most compelling commentary on the nature of Icelandic life. Gulli’s last official act before the closing credits isn’t meant to be heroic by any means. It’s just business as usual, representing a stoicism inherent in anyone who traverses the more dangerous paths in life. Kormákur never answers the questions of how and why. His footage of the real Gulli during the closing credits is enough to satisfy my curiosity.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Duo of Quartets

by Odienator
(click here for all TIFF pieces)

Monday at the Toronto Film Festival bore witness to the duel of the Quartet films. The similarities between this duo of Quartets was bound to cause some confusion. Both films have major stars in the titular roles, deal with classical music and feature past and present transgressions surfacing just before an important performance by the group. The first of the two, Quartet, is the directorial debut of Dustin Hoffman. Benjamin Braddock brings the Brit heavy hitters Dame Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Pauline Collins and the divinely randy Scotsman, Billy Connelly. The second film in this duet, A Late Quartet, stars Catherine Keener, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Mark Ivanir and Christopher Walken as members of a rapidly dissolving string quartet. One film is good, and the other is very good.

Let’s start with the good one. Dustin Hoffman’s comedy Quartet is based on a play by Ronald Harwood (who also adapted). Set in a British old folks home that caters to former classical musicians, Quartet deals with the secret arrival of the most famous member of a group known for its performance of Verdi’s Rigoletto Quartet. The arrival of Jean (Maggie Smith) yields a varying degree of response from the other three members already present at the home. The dotty Cissy (Pauline Collins), whose mind is quickly deteriorating, is happy to see her fellow female singer. Wilf (Billy Connolly) is too busy playing the dirty old man to register much of an opinion, but he’s worried about his pal, Reginald (Tom Courtenay). Reginald and Jean have a history so painful that Reginald freaks out when he learns of her arrival.

Meanwhile, the annual Beecham House fundraiser is underway. Celebrating Verdi’s birthday, the denizens put on a show for money. Hoffman surrounds his non-singing actors with a plethora of actual classical musicians and singers, each of whom had a major career in Britain when they were younger. Under the direction of Michael Gambon’s hilariously cranky musical director, these performers are granted a few moments for onscreen performances of their still formidable talents. But Quartet’s main interest is in whether the four original members will put aside their differences to perform the Rigoletto Quartet one more time. With the return of Jean, the most famous of the bunch, this will raise an ungodly sum of money and keep Beecham House open.

We’re dealing with a bunch of hams here, and I enjoyed watching them in this familiar story. Smith is in fine form—no one delivers a mean glance or a devastating putdown like she can. Connolly gets the brunt of the one-liners, all delivered in his gorgeously raunchy Scottish accent. Courtenay, no stranger to Harwood’s work (he got an Oscar nod for The Dresser), carries most of the dramatic scenes, lashing out in anger at Jean, his true love who cheated on him 9 hours after they were married. And Pauline Collins brings a comic realism to Cissy, whose moments of lucidity are becoming farther apart as time passes.

Though he allows the real musicians to shine, Hoffman wisely does NOT show us any of the actors doing Marni Nixon impressions; we know damn well they can’t sing opera. The newbie director pitches Quartet at a quick pace so we’ve little time to register and critique its clichés until long after it is over. The cin-tog by John de Borman is a standout, and while Quartet is no gem, it’s cute and diverting. I had  fun watching the actors go at it, especially Michael Gambon who, in one scene, is dressed eerily like Albus Dumbledore.

Covering similar ground in terms of relationship dynamics, A Late Quartet is far more dramatic than Quartet, though not without the former’s sense of humor at times. The pedigree of actors involved was enough to raise interest, so I was surprised at how many empty seats I saw at the theater during the film’s world premiere here in Toronto. Director and co-screenwriter Yaron Zilberman guides his cast through a number of issues en route to their potential last performance together, and his actors respond with consistently good work. Though each of the four leads are memorable, Christopher Walken rises above his colleagues; his performance is fantastic and the best one I’ve seen at the festival thus far. Like his character, Walken is the glue that holds this quartet together. Achingly vulnerable yet still the Walken we know and love, he delivers masterfully. His last scene is heartbreaking yet hopeful, and the actor is in full control of the situation.

Walken’s Peter Mitchell is the oldest member of the a string quartet about to celebrate its 25th anniversary together. The other members are two former students, Robert (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Daniel (Mark Ivanir) and the woman Peter and his wife took in and nurtured, Juliette. Juliette and Robert are married with one daughter, Alexandra, a violinist being taught by Daniel. Juliette plays the viola and Peter plays cello. Robert, the more passionate musician, is second violin; Daniel, the perfectionist, is first violin. For years, Robert has coveted the first violin chair but has remained silent for the good of the group. Daniel has coveted Alexandra, but has also kept his desires in check for the sake of the quartet.

The first blow to the quartet’s survival is Peter’s Parkinson’s disease diagnosis. This will eventually rob him of his cello-playing skills, a symptom that’s already starting to manifest, so Peter tells the group they need to find a replacement. If he’s well enough to do the 25th anniversary concert, he’ll do so and then announce his retirement. Sensing this as a moment of change, Robert suggests he and Daniel alternate on first and second chair. This registers as the second blow to the quartet’s survival. Toss in marital problems, mother-daughter relationship anguish and Alexandra’s realization that Daniel has a thing for her, and all hell breaks loose.

The cast avoids the more melodramatic pitfalls of this material (though melodrama is not a bad thing by my standards). Ivanir credibly balances his rigid compulsions with his sudden leap into the spontaneity of his doomed relationship with Alexandra. Keener is cold yet sympathetic as a wife whose marriage may or may not be one of convenience. Hoffman is the quartet’s id, proving the Biblical quote about pride going before destruction. (Check your Bible, it’s “pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before the fall.”) And Walken’s elder statesman conveys strength despite the double whammy of his prognosis and his opera singer wife Miriam’s recent demise. It’s almost comical that, for all the shit he’s going through, he still has to be the grown-up as the rest of his team crashes and burns. “Get out of my house!” he tells them at the height of their tumult, and Walken’s exasperation puts the viewer squarely in his corner.

Of the two, A Late Quartet is the better film. I was glad to have seen both on the same day, as they’d make a good double feature. On that day, I also saw Free Angela and All Political Prisoners, which I’ll talk about next time.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Affleck's Argo Is Shockingly Good

by Odienator
(click here all TIFF reviews)

Argo, Ben Affleck’s third feature film as director tells the now-declassified tale of the CIA’s successful attempt to save the six US Embassy workers not taken hostage in the Iran Hostage Crisis of 1979. These six people managed to escape just as the embassy was stormed by angry protestors demanding the return of the Shah of Iran. Hiding out in the Canadian ambassador’s house, they run the risk of discovery and capture daily. The danger increases as the fugitives’ identities are being pieced together from shredded documents retrieved from the Embassy after it was compromised. The CIA mission, led by Tony Mendez (Affleck) conjures up a tale stranger than fiction: The six will claim to be scouting locations for a movie called Argo and, with Mendez’s help, will secure the necessary papers to fly out of Iran.

Argo immediately evokes a 70’s movie feel, with the Warner Bros. logo reverting to its old white W on black circle. Affleck, both as performer and helmer, coasts on that vibe, using cin-togger Rodrigo Prieto, editor William Goldenberg and costume designer Jacqueline West as effective co-conspirators. Affleck’s Mendez has the Serpico look, and the film’s construction and design aim for the films of Alan J. Pakula. Affleck is no Pakula, but Argo is easily his best work both behind and in front of the camera. He successfully juggles the back and forth intercutting of events in Iran and Virginia, and the escape sequence is a superbly rendered example of near-excruciating suspense. To pull that off when the audience already knows the outcome takes skill, and Affleck deserves credit and praise for it.

Also worthy of praise are a bevy of actors relishing the dialogue assigned them by screenwriter Chris Terrio. Alan Arkin, John Goodman and Bryan Cranston snatch the picture from their director whenever they’re onscreen. Argo casts Goodman and Arkin as the Hollywood players responsible for creating the ruse that brings credibility to Mendez’s plan. Mendez enlists producer Lester Siegel (Arkin) and Planet of the Apes makeup man John Chambers (Goodman) to dupe Hollywood into thinking the Argo film is a real production. They select Argo’s screenplay because it’s science fiction and therefore requires a landscape that mimics a distant planet. Iran fits the bill perfectly. “If I’m going to make a fake movie, it’s going to be a fake hit,” Siegel tells Mendez, and thanks to Star Wars, everybody and their mother is making a knock-off of Lucas’ film.

At CIA headquarters, Cranston’s Jack O’Donnell brings a scary intensity and genuine comic timing to his role as Mendez’s boss. The roundtable meeting where the agents discuss potential plans of action (all of which Mendez casually shoots down) would be less hilarious if it weren’t so damn plausible. As crazy as the Argo plan is, it’s the best idea anyone can come up with in a short period of time. Cranston, looking like Walter White’s dad in his 70's get-up, is perfectly cast; he’s even able to sell the tired old cliché of pulling the agent off the job when something goes wrong.

The fugitives are not as memorable as the movie makers and the government shakers, but Argo gives them enough screen time to fully invest the audience in their plight. Each of the actors (Clea DuVall, Christopher Denham, Tate Donovan, Rory Cochrane, Kerry Bishé and Scoot McNairy) craft identities and have at least one very good scene of worry, woe or heroics. Victor Garber plays the Canadian ambassador who hides them and, after the mission is complete, reaps the benefit of all the praise for its success. The TIFF audience cheered when O’Donnell tells Mendez that, for the safety of the other hostages, Canada will receive full credit for the rescue. “If we wanted applause,” O’Donnell tells him, “we would have joined the circus.” “I thought this was the circus,” Mendez retorts.

The hostage crisis lasted 444 days, all of which I remember from my youth. Argo provides the requisite end-of-movie credits details about the outcome, as well as some words from former President Jimmy Carter. Argo also provides a great entertainment, one that should be a hit with regular audiences and quite possibly the Academy. I can see this winning the Audience award here, though I have never been successful at picking the correct movie. The third time’s the charm for director Affleck—this is a damn good movie.

(Ben Affleck was present at the screening, and gave his best film a very funny introduction.)

A Canadian Festival In King Odie's Court

by Odienator

Greetings from the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival!

Over the next several days, I’ll be chiming in with reviews of the movies I’ll be seeing here. I’ll post each one to this list, and on each review, I’ll have a link back here so you can browse the entries from one location.

This is my third Toronto Film Festival since my first visit in 2000, and I’ve always enjoyed the feeling that I’m watching movies with more than just the usual festival film snobs. The general public occupies a fair amount of seats at the regular screenings, and I’ve spoken to both diehard cinephiles and the occasional moviegoer curious enough to sample the festival’s wares.

Check back here every day for whatever deviltry I’m up to here in Ontario, eh?


Quartet and A Late Quartet
The Deep (Djúpið)
Hyde Park on Hudson and Cloud Atlas
To The Wonder 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Big Media Vandalism's Top 50 Sight and Sound List

by Odienator

Sorry I haven't been out here on this blog, but I have been busy over at our sister blog, Big Media Vandalism, tossing together our own Sight and Sound Top 50 list. I'm sure it'll cause trouble, so check it out!

Black History Mumf Sight and Sound List (50-41)
Black History Mumf Sight and Sound List (40-31)
Black History Mumf Sight and Sound List (30-21)
Black History Mumf Sight and Sound List (20-11)
Black History Mumf Sight and Sound List (10-1) 

I'll be back this weekend to start my coverage from the Toronto Film Festival.