This year’s Toronto International Film Festival ended like what, three months ago exactly, and I’ve written reviews for Entertainment Maven, and I still haven’t linked it in my spaces yet? Well I Facebooked and Tweeted them. And yes, I’m still trying to recover from it while adding more local festivals and more movies to include in my backlog. Jesus. I should make my job easier and link my profile within the Entertainment Maven space, which I’m doing right now, but I’ll write two more paragraphs although I haven’t slept, my mind can’t articulate shit anymore and my laptop is whizzing like a motherfucker. Put the fan close to the…no, laptop close to the fan.
There’s one movie that encapsulates the festival’s line-up and that is Dial M For Murder, still playing at the Lightbox. It’s an envelope-pushing movie about a dysfunctional romance. But I didn’t end up seeing that because I saw it twice already, once in 3D. So I had to ‘settle’ with two movies from the Cinematheque line-up that encompasses as least one of two of what Dial M’s stands for in this fest. Chris Marker’s Sans Soleil is the envelope pusher, Roman Polanski’s Tess is the visually crystalline dysfunctional romance. Sometimes I’m cynical about the movies I’ve seen, my schedule only allowing me to watch slim pickings but sometimes those are the ones with the most surprising merit.
You know what, sometimes both intersect for me. Rust and Bone‘s realist-styled frayed frames is reminiscent of Brakhage while depicting a romance between a boxer (Matthias Schoenaerts) and a whale trainer (Marion Cotillard). That one was my favourite of the fest. Joe Wright goes Baz to show the choreographed nature of the contemptible white Russian society in Anna Karenina, where Keira Knightley plays the titular role and actors like Domhall Gleeson and Alicia Vikander idealize each other. The approachable Like Someone in Love is a triangle between a Tokyo-area prostitute (Rin Takanashi), her client and her boyfriend and just like Abbas Kiarostami’s movies, it mostly takes place in a car. Michael Winterbottom, however, has a more expansive canvas in depicting five years of a life of a prisoner (John Simm) and his family (including Shirley Henderson) in…Everyday…by actually taking five years to film the movie.
Sometimes, I only see one theme or the other. Like Sans Soleil, differently Molussia warps the world that we have and exposes its emptiness, but instead Nicolas Rey (not to be confused with the Rebel director) chooses 16mm reels that should be shown in random order. Ernest and Celestine, a story about a mouse and a bear, is a bit scary but nothing a child couldn’t handle, an animated movie that balances itself out by bringing the pastel-y synesthede in all of us. And then we’re back in the adult world Berberian Sound Studio, its neons intentionally reminiscent of the Giallo era. It’s visuals are as sharp as the knives slashing up produce for foley effects. Sound is equally important in Kazik Radwanski’s Tower, a locally made movie that is 90% a close-up of the protagonist Derek’s face, this relying on sound to convey the myopic claustrophobia within his experiences. Speaking of experiences, Apitchatpong Weerasethakul’s Mekong Hotel presents a relaxed and impressionistic perspective of humanity but that’s until he fragments them, casting doubt on Western ideas of personhood by reminding us of Buddhist reincarnations.
There are movies that show Polanski’s verdant visuals in Tess as they tell stories of love, nature and self preservation. The digitally shot Bwakaw has an elder person (Eddie Garcia), only having a dog with the same name as the title to comfort him. The bleached or washed colours around him change as he (re)discovers (new) friends. Fly with the Crane, again, has an elderly person in the bucolic Chinese countryside, the childlike vibrancy around him countering the tensions between his traditionalism and the next generation’s government bureaucracy. Billy Bob Thornton’s Jayne Mansfield’s Car has two families (with Robert Duvall in its head) ironing out decades of disagreements in arid, mustard-like Alabama. But there are movies that focus less on its visuals and concentrate on telling a story like A Few Hours of Spring, which is about an ex-con, his girlfriend (Emmanuelle Seigner aka. Mrs. Roman Polanski) and his ailing mother (Helene Vincent). Edward Burns’ The Fitzgerald Family Christmas takes the same ethos, finding the balance of telling the story between one torubled sibling from another during the holidays.
And TIFF doesn’t end. Like, half of the movies I saw after the festival wrapped are selections from it, and so will it be until…August even. I started out with Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, which does its best to sustain its tone as a glistening 1950’s love song, it subject Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) drifting in and out of sanity. Also, watch out for my reviews for Argo, Therese Desqueyroux, Post Tenebras Lux, and Hannah Arendt, which I’ll write when I feel like it. Leave me alone.
- TIFF 2012: Sans Soleil and Tess Reviews (Paolo Kagaoan) (entertainmentmaven.com)
- TIFF 2012: differently, Molussia Review (Paolo Kagaoan) (entertainmentmaven.com)
- TIFF 2012 – Jayne Mansfield’s Car Review (Paolo Kagaoan) (entertainmentmaven.com)
- TIFF 2012: Anna Karenina and The Brass Teapot Reviews (Paolo Kagaoan) (entertainmentmaven.com)
Simple misunderstandings can ruin already precarious relationships between coworkers or neighbours. Roman Polanski has made a movie about that called The Tenant. He plays the titular tenant, a Polish immigrant named Trelkolvsky who lives in the same building as Shelley Winters‘ concierge character and some senior citizens. They, by the way, want to uphold the quietness of their building by keeping families out and not reporting to the police during robberies. It’s also the kind of building that has old plumbing but the landlord Monsieur Zy (Melvyn Douglas) audaciously asks for 5000 francs a month. And they think that he’s a playboy because he had one party in his apartment with his very coarse coworkers.
The apartment’s original tenant is Simone Schoul, who has left the apartment furnished. Even the walls have their own identity as she has apparently left some of her teeth behind a wooden wardrobe. The movie shows this urban condition when people live, sit and meet the same people others have. We inhabit spaces with histories like hearsay but that littleness doesn’t make it insignificant. We think of ourselves as ‘individual’ but individuality, after all is only marked by how we differ from the other and it is more difficult to assert our identities when the other multiply around us, surrounds us and makes us claustrophobic.
At the same time Polanski is weary of asserting individualism as he presents a coworker/best friend character as the Trelkovsky’s foil. The latter is a man who would be rude when his neighbours complain about him. Trelkovsky doesn’t want to become that person but he gets lumped with his best friend because of ageist prejudices and other reasons. But that’s the same way that first or bad impressions last in others’ and in our own eyes.
I wasn’t sure about Polanski’s performance while watching the movie but I’m starting to like it more and more. He hugs and almost juggles the trash he has produced with his first and only party, taking it down the stairs. He becomes the frazzled man with his screech-y voice eventually snapping at people equally for the smallest reasons and it’s funnier watching that anger coming out from a man with a childlike face. The movie feels sleepy after the forty-five minute mark, going into a cycle of Trelkovsky meeting his girlfriend Stella (Isabelle Adjani), the neighbours complaining and him moping. All of that while waiting for him to come out in drag which…
- Oscar Horrors: Roman Polanski’s Chalky Undertaste (thefilmexperience.net)
Every blogger, website and their grandmothers have already written about the trailer for Roman Polanski’s Carnage. Twitch has uploaded it on Vimeo but the few YouTube versions of it only have less than 2000 hits combined, which needs to be corrected. I like the art direction, blocking and of course, the cast. Christoph Waltz’ sincerity while telling Jodie Foster that his character Alan’s son didn’t disfigure the latter’s, or Foster making us laugh with just one line. As a fan of Kate Winslet, I’m a tad worried about her hamming it up although she gets most of the headlines written about the trailer so far. I’m also glad that Yasmin Reza, who wrote the original play in French, adapted the material herself, making it more vernacular. Which means that English interpreter Christopher Hampton has no hand in this at all. Enjoy!
Well the links lead from me to me. Let me begin with the new character posters for Steven Soderbergh‘s Contagion, which I talked about for Nathaniel R’s The Film Experience. Blythe Danner has seen her daughter’s poster, apparently. The comments went beautifully, as people remembered the Gwyneth and Winona frenemy situation and surprisingly, Matt Damon‘s poster is competing to be the second favourite along with Laurence Fishburne‘s.
Speaking of Kate Winslet movies, she’s playing the role of She-Hulk in Roman Polanski‘s new film Carnage, a movie I won’t shut up about until its release. I didn’t like the poster, but it’s a surprise hit for the commenters at Anomalous Material, where I’ve also been busy writing news and reviews. I think that John C. Reilly has the best colouring here, while I’m not into Jodie Foster and Christoph Waltz‘ orange so much although yes, there are loathsome orange people out there.
I also reviewed Crazy, Stupid Love at YourKloset, a website that I write for when movies and fashion collide, which thankfully happens often enough for me.
Repulsion‘s first few minutes might be mistaken for a Godard film. A young Belgian woman named Carole (Catherine Deneuve) works as a manicurist. After work, her effortlessly chic self walks the streets of London to softly energetic non-diagetic jazz music, guys both working class and skinny tie-wearers (Jon Fraser) hit on her. She often looks like she’s daydreaming, her voice evinces little excitement. Instead of Carole’s politics, director Roman Polanski‘s more interested in the psychological conflict, which, in Carole’s case, is barely seen by the other characters until it’s too late.
Polanski doesn’t explain Carole’s building insanity in ways others have – relationship complexes, haunted histories, addictions. Instead, she notices a crack on a kitchen wall. Her sister’s (Yvonne Furneax) boyfriend Michael (Ian Hendry) calling her ‘the beautiful younger sister,’ a throwaway comment that Carole interprets as a menacing sexual come-on. A night after he stays over for sex, she sees him shirtless and her sister asks her how she slept the morning after. She then takes those little things and associate them with nightmares, as I imagine most people in a state like hers do.
It’s easy to say that instead of being silent, Carole should say how she feels. However, the film’s shows how words are inadequate since the other characters are reductive towards her. A customer tells Carole she’s in love – all problems are male related. Her boyfriend’s friends call her a tease. Also, her little acts of verbal resistance against her sister aren’t heeded. Her sister’s dismissal won’t help her talk about the terrible things she dreams about. I can’t settle on her real problem – fear of men, an idle mind, wanting to be alone. In other words, the other characters often think of a quick word or solution for her, and these quick solutions don’t help her slowly progressing dementia.
At first underwhelmed by Deneuve’s deadpan line delivery, easily enough an aspect of her character. She then thrills her audience as she responds to the walls of her apartment, or attacking men as if she’s a sleepwalker, using candlesticks and books like I’ve never imagined anyone doing. It’s hard to understand her in the first scenes of the film, but she perfectly fleshes out a new breed of character in horror film. She’s a monster within the victim in a genre that mostly shows the monster as external and separate from the victim. Deneuve’s Carole is groundbreaking in this and many other aspects, an integral part of Polanski’s vision of the macabre.
- Black Swans double vision (theglobeandmail.com)
Can I just say that Roman Polanski is a weird guy. After all these years, he’s kept his absurdist humour from “Rosemary’s Baby” alive within his new effort, “The Ghost Writer.” Little idiosyncrasies like a bulky security guard following bitter ex-politician’s wife Ruth Lang (Olivia Williams) and her husband’s ghost writer (Ewan McGregor), Ruth’s husband ex-Prime Minister Adam Lang’s (Pierce Brosnan) highly anticipated best-selling 600 plus page memoir that begins with a mind numbing multi-generational family history, half of what Amelia Bly (Kim Catrall) says. A lot of the movie was weird enough to twist my face a hundred times. The Ghost putting himself into his situation makes him just like every other man and woman in Polanski films who get themselves into inescapable situations.
“The Ghost Writer,” while convoluted, is still a text that deserves erudition. Typical of Polanski’s movies, technology, transportation and social institutions both help and hinder the main character and is well incorporated with Polanksi’s unique humour. The film opens with an empty car found in a ferry and later showing a body washed ashore, the ferry being a good way to trap oneself to death. The Ghostwriter’s predecessor’s manuscript and USB key has been locked in some advanced security system, getting injured when he tries to break into it. He uses Google to find links about a conspiracy his boss is a part of. Instead of an SUV, he rides a bike to investigate the death of the Ghost’s predecessor, only for the bike to have a rough start in his boss’s gravel path. He eventually uses a GPS equipped BMW (this movie is product placement heavy, by the way) whose instructions unexpectedly lead him to another secretive co-conspirator, Professor Paul Emmett (Tom Wilkinson).
The characters in Polanski’s former movies, however, have this need to hang to dear life. The ones in “The Ghost Writer” doesn’t. Sure, the Ghost finds out Lang’s secrets, therefore putting his life in danger. I can’t pinpoint yet why the urgency in the other movies is absent in this one. Maybe the secret was too big, especially since there were too many people involved in it. Maybe that the Ghost got himself into his situation was because of money, making him unsympathetic. Still not sure.
Nevermind that I saw this at the AMC, but there’s also this glossy digital look to the film, especially at the seaside motel scene, where the red lighting was just so stylized. Must have had to do with the constructed sets since he can’t access the real thing.
I don’t want to talk about the humour again, but it’s what makes me treasure the movie after the fact even if I didn’t fully enjoy it while I was watching it. I would have enjoyed it more if I didn’t feel like I stayed in the playground too long. Just like Polanski.
P.s. It’s been floating around forever that Polanski’s gonna direct God of Carnage. I read the play a while ago. The play has a part when a woman pukes. Of course Polanski’s gonna direct.