Sunday, September 17, 2006

TIFF 2006 #12: Celebrity Doppelgangers and The Wonders of a Full Night’s Sleep

Last night, and for the entire day beforehand, I was felled by PFS. Sore throat, fatigue, general malaise. Blah.

Then I got home yesterday, took a pile of vitamins and had ten hours of sleep.

This morning, PFS is history! Who knew? Sore throat’s gone, energy’s up and (knock on wood) I believe my PFS has departed PDQ. :-D

Going back to yesterday’s films…

I’m pleased to report that it was another fairly decent final day of TIFF for me, movie-wise. It’s always a huge bummer if your last day’s movies suck, but (thankfully) that wasn’t the case for me.

I began with the somewhat curious Day on Fire (6/8), which I didn’t fully understand yet still found totally interesting. Written and directed by Jay Anania, it isn’t so much a film in the standard-narrative sense, but more of a cinematic meditation (if you just gagged or rolled your eyes, I understand) that blends music, images and character…which is to say, it’s kind of weird and trippy. The film, which is visually spectacular, tracks the interactions between five different characters, whose lives intersect briefly and randomly multiple times before a tragic event. The most compelling of these characters, and the ones on whom much of the film’s success relies, are Najia (Carmen Chaplin) and Shira (Alyssa Sutherland), two strangers who strike up a life-changing friendship in a matter of hours. As I watched, I wished that Anania had chosen to focus solely on these two, since I found myself distracted and losing interest whenever any of the other three characters were getting screen time. Again, there was plenty about the film that I didn’t get – like what exactly was up with Martin Donovan’s character whom, for a while, I thought was supposed to be God or the Angel of Death (he’s neither, btw) – but it’s haunting.

And holy hell but is Carmen Chaplin (left) ever brilliant! I’d never heard of her before (and, yes, she comes from that Chaplin lineage), but she’s apparently prolific in French indie cinema. She was riveting – a feat given the film’s rather sparse dialogue. And, is just me, or does she bear a striking resemblance to one of my other film faves, Lena Headey (right)? It was a little uncanny and I remember thinking that they could very easily play sisters.

Next up was Margarethe von Trotta’s I Am the Other Woman (5/8), which was also a little confusing (coulda been my aforementioned fatigue, though). It follows the exploits of a lawyer (Katja Riemann), who’s leading a double life (possibly, a triple life) as a result of multiple-personality disorder. By day, strait-laced professional. At night, saucy sexpot who drops trou in half-a-second. Now, that sounds great and all, but the resulting film didn’t quite measure up to my expectations. I found my mind wandering and my eyelids getting droopy over and over again and, based on the twitters of “what? that’s it?” when the closing credits abruptly started, I wasn’t the only one who was left a tad unfulfilled by film’s end. von Trotta was slated to arrive for a post-film Q&A, but I opted to leave. Perhaps if I’d stayed I would have been able to better grasp whatever it was she was trying to say with the movie.

Movie #3 was the British slasher comedy Severance (6/8), which was being billed as The Office meets Deliverance. Not sure if I agree with that assessment, but the film is nonetheless outrageous and fun. The story centers on a group of arms-company employees (including Danny Dyer, Laura Harris and Toby Stephens) on a “team-building” jaunt to eastern Europe. Problems, and severed body parts, arise when they wind up stranded at a remote lodge where they’re promptly targeted for grisly deaths by…let’s just say some scary people. Unapologetically bloody and hugely entertaining, the film garnered a nice amount of audience participation and cheers, especially for Harris’ (literally) ass-kicking performance.

Last on the docket was Outsourced (6/8), a great little culture-clash comedy about a Seattle call-center manager (Josh Hamilton), whose department is outsourced to India and who must subsequently travel to a small Indian town to train the local replacement staff. While the core of the story – a fish out of water gradually learns to understand, accept and appreciate a vastly different environment – may not be new to movie audiences, the backdrop for the action (filmed on location) is, and the undeniable charm of the cast made the film a super way to close the door on TIFF 2006 for me. I left smiling and feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. One woman, who clearly LURRRRRRRVED the movie, stood up to congratulate the director and vowed to tell everyone she knew to go see it. Sadly, the flick doesn’t have a distributor yet, so if it pops up at a film fest near you, by all means check it out!

And then…TIFF 2006 was over. That’s it. The end.

Later today (or tomorrow), I’ll post all my final thoughts, award winners, random questions about this year’s fest and wishes for TIFF 2007.

Celebrity Sightings: Not a chance.

Crappiest Crap I Consumed Today: My day was shameful. Crap from morning until night. Crappiest crap, though, was lunch – a bag of Garden Salsa SunChips + a root beer. Shameful!

Line Buzz: Variations on “I’m tired,” “I’m exhausted,” “this is my last movie” and the like. Most folks could barely remember what they’d seen over the past 10 days, let alone whether any of it was any good.


the_voice said...

I think we ended up seeing 4 or 5 films at the same times.

This day I saw Severance and ended with Outsourced as well. I'm surprised Outsourced didn't have a distribution deal considering the word of mouth and the fact that it screened 3 times. I've attended films that start a screening without a deal and by the time the credits rolled, a deal was signed.

Vickie said...

To me, Outsourced has a distinct Fox Searchlight or Warner Independent vibe. Its title may give the impression that it's a doc, but I'm sure it'll be picked up soon enough, given the good buzz.