DAILY FILM DOSE: A Daily Film Appreciation and Review Blog: TIFF Report #18: "LOOSE ENDS"

Sunday 14 September 2008

TIFF Report #18: "LOOSE ENDS"

After 10 days of exhaustion, here are the 'leftovers' I just didn't have a chance to do full review for.

Martyrs (2008) dir. Pascal Laugier
Starring: Morjana Alaoui, Mylène Jampanoï, Catherine Begin, Robert Toupin


Another extreme French horror film (can I be the first to coin the term F-Horror?). This exercise in shock-value tells the story of a particularly nasty group of scientists who torture innocent girls in hopes of discovering a passageway to ‘the other side’. Gore and shocks trumps true horror and suspense. The final third of the film is intended to be the most grotesque act of torture and mutilation ever put to screen. Without the fundamentals of suspense all the money spend on false arms and fake cadavers is wasted.

The Paranoids (2008) dir. Gabriel Medina
Starring: Daniel Hendler, Jazmín Stuart, Walter Jakob, Martín Feldman, Miguel Dedovich


A Spanish drama about a young writer without the confidence to make a career break, nor confess his love to the woman he truly loves. A love triangle is set up and allowed to grow moss thanks to it’s snails pace in plotting. It’s also billed as a comedy, but without the comedy. The final thoroughly satisfying ten minutes saves the film from complete misery.

The Narrows (2008) dir. Francois A. Velle
Starring: Kevin Zegers, Vincent D'Onofrio, Sophia Bush, Eddie Cahill, Titus Welliver, Monica Keena


How this film got into TIFF and beat out other superior films is a complete mystery. “The Narrows” is a b-grade Sopranos knock off anchored but appalling mafia clichés. Kevin Zegers plays a young mob driver who yearns to go to school for photography but struggles to separate himself from his gangster connections. Velle’s lame homages to Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas” (bad blues cover songs, and pathetic stylistic imitations) makes the film just pathetic.

Birdsong (2008) dir. Albert Serra
Starring: Lluís Carbó, Lluís Serrat Batlle, Lluís Serrat Masanellas, Montse Triola, Mark Peranson

* 1/2

This absurd Spanish comedy is shot in black and white using exclusively long static takes. Some may find the exercise brilliant stylistically, but for others like me, it’s excruciatingly dull and boring. Imagine Bela Tarr, without the tracking shots.

Pr-Ra-Da (2008) dir. Marco Pontecorvo
Starring: Jalil Jespert, Evita Ciri, Gabriel Rauta, Patrice Juiff, Robert Valeanu


A noble, socially conscious true story about a young idealist from Paris who travels to Bucharest in the early 90’s to help a group of homeless kids get off the street. Told with the familiar language of social realism, Pontecorvo shows adequate storytelling skills, but the film lacks the cinematic a spark to really score with audiences.

The Stoning of Soraya M (2008) dir. Cyrus Nowrasteh
Starring: Shohreh Aghdashloo, Mozhan Marnò, Jim Caviezel, Navid Negahban, Ali Pourtash


Another culturally important film, this time a true story of a Iranian woman who was falsely accused of adultery, but because of the male-centric Muslim laws was unable to stop the men in her village from convicting her to death. Though the story and lessons learned from this black period in Iran’s history are important, Nowrasteh dramatizes the film with the subtlety of a blunt hammer. The lead up to and filming of the brutal stoning death is shown to us without restrain, echoing Mel Gibson’s treatment of the Crucifixion in “Passion of the Christ”, but without the textured imagery and any evidence of cinematic flare or skill.

The Miracle of St. Anna (2008) dir. Spike Lee
Starring: Derek Luke, Michael Ealy, Laz Alonso, Omar Benson Miller,


Spike Lee just went all wrong with this film. Lee attempts to mix humour and sentiment with gritty war realism, which results in a messy oil and water concoction. His political agenda is so in the audience faces, it makes Lee look antiquated.

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