Archive for September, 2013

h1

TIFF 2013: Stranger by the Lake

September 16, 2013

directed by Alain Guiraudie, 2013

Stanger by the Lake

Having already won the Queer Palm earlier in the year at Cannes, French director Alain Guiraudie’s Stranger by the Lake should easily endure as a confident and bold entry in the gay cinema canon. While it operates as a rigorously challenging experience, what Guiraudie has accomplished is nothing short of mesmerizing. The film carefully blends noir trappings with a suffocating milieu of harsh silences and muted glares. While the emotions on display are shifting and evolving, Stranger by the Lake manages to transcend even its own environment by becoming universal in its display of misguided passion and love.

Read full review at Sound on Sight

h1

TIFF 2013: Bastards

September 14, 2013

directed by Claire Denis, 2013

bastards

Every detail matters in the films of Claire Denis. Her latest and unquestionably her darkest film yet, Bastards, contains a wealth of information in its first few shots: a man on the verge of what we learn to be a suicide, pacing about his office with the rain crashing down outside, a naked girl, wearing only heels, slowly inching her way down a darkly lit street. We re-visit the latter of these shots later in the film, but under a completely different and disturbing context. Denis is back working in full L’Intrus mode, and while Bastards isn’t nearly as impenetrable as the aforementioned 2004 film, it’s an elliptically charged work that challenges and seduces with its wide gamut of unsettling images and sounds.

Read full review at Sound on Sight

h1

TIFF 2013: Joe

September 12, 2013

directed by David Gordon Green, 2013

Joe

David Gordon Green’s return to the South in Joe represents the director’s oddest and most violent yarn to date. Teaming with Nicholas Cage and the supremely young and talented Tye Sheridan (MudThe Tree of Life), Gordon Green crafts a thorny and vile tale of fathers, sons, friendship, and redemption. Mostly functioning as a spiritual relative to the director’s 2004 film UndertowJoe finds its director backtracking through coming-of-age tropes and jarring portraits of violence. Though it’s at times tonally scattered, Joe manages to leave a lasting mark despite registering as a middling retread in Gordon Green’s filmography.

Read full review at Sound on Sight

h1

TIFF 2013: Under the Skin

September 10, 2013

directed by Jonathan Glazer, 2013

Under the Skin

It’s about time that people start getting excited about Jonathan Glazer and his uniquely transcendent contributions to cinema. Under the Skin represents the director’s third film, a rabbit hole masterwork of baffling beauty and seduction spearheaded by a career best performance from Scarlett Johansson. Glazer returns after a nine-year hiatus, his last film – 2004’s Birth, mostly fell on deaf ears as a divisive dramatic/thriller. While Birth was in fact a nice sophomore success, Glazer drastically steps his game up with Under the Skin, an often troubling and beautiful film that should baffle and surprise in equal measure.

Read full review at Sound on Sight

h1

TIFF 2013: Man of Tai Chi

September 10, 2013

directed by Keanu Reeves, 2013

Man of Tai Chi

Now far removed from the Matrix franchise, actor-director Keanu Reeves makes his directorial debut with Man of Tai Chi, a surprisingly spry and swift B-movie that never quite gets beyond its core concept to become more than the sum of its parts. As a battle between the traditional and the modern, Man of Tai Chi is part Fight Club, part Truman Show, a dim culture critique steeped in an unwavering brutality that is shown but never truly felt. While Reeves exhibits natural talent behind the camera, his debut carries an austere coldness that shuts out any semblance of diverting pleasure.

Read full review at Movie Mezzanine

h1

TIFF 2013: Manakamana

September 5, 2013

directed by Pacho Velez and Stephanie Spray, 2013

manakamana

The creative folks working over at the Harvard Sensory Ethnography Laboratory have outdone themselves once again. After last year’s Leviathan and 2009’s Sweetgrass, Pacho Velez and Stephanie Spray introduce Manakamana, another eye-opening documentary that flirts with brilliance. A real-time journey of personal interactions, Manakamana is also steeped in heavy silences and spiritual reverie. The documentary achieves a transcendental state of being as its figures also communicate with the landscape and the remnants of the past that surround them. An intimate portrait of people coming and going, Manakamana exists as a stunning blend of life’s grand and monotonous movements.

Read full review at Movie Mezzanine

h1

Touchy Feely

September 3, 2013

directed by Lynn Shelton, 2013

Touchy Feely

Lynn Shelton’s latest film Touchy Feely is a complete mess, albeit, an interesting mess at times. It’s the kind of film that lays out a very routine idea of its world and its characters, only to completely come up short in regards to thorough characterization and motivation. Shelton wants so badly to communicate something to us about desire and connection, but her way of expression here is tied down and locked up. By default, Touchy Feely is a flat and hollow experiment, one which comes up short in furthering Shelton as a name to watch out for on the indie front.

Read full review at Movie Mezzanine