Today I got into the really weird stuff.
The Day – This Midnight Madness movie is not good but Ashley Bell is great in it. After contorting her body in The Last Exorcism, she plays a post-apocalyptic survivor badass. Bell totally owns her physicality, and I hope The Day is the worst movie she has to elevate. She should be doing Salt. Otherwise, this is a very slow movie about survivors holing up in a house and discussing how bad the apocalypse is. There are a few spurts of action and some bold taboos addressed, but the angsty in-fighting is weak and empty. They have a procedure, they wonder about people they used to know, but it’s all talk. The muted color scheme is old hat but the sound design is particularly terrible, cluttering the movie with somber music devoid of personality, and high pitched tones that punish your ears more than they set any kind of tone.
Generation P – This Russian drug trip social commentary movie totally lost me. I was up for it, I wanted the experience, but man, I could not keep up. The Russians in the audience loved it. Toronto really is an international Film Festival. The visual effects make the trippy visuals photoreal. The main character designs ad campaigns that become satires of ‘90s culture. To the Russians, this must be their Mad Men. To me, I didn’t think they were as clever as the Dudley Moore comedy Crazy People. I mean, explosive Tic Tacs are funny but they’re not laugh out loud funny. That feeling of everyone laughing but you is really uncomfortable.
Himizu – This Japanese drama is based on a Manga, so even a coming of age story is as messed up in distinctly Japanese cinematic ways. Keiko is a sweet teenager with a schoolgirl crush on Sumida, stranded without his family after the tsunami. They have a whimsical courtship, but also slap each other. The film deals with universal concepts like abuse, debt, poverty, self-esteem with things you’d only see in a Japanese film. Keiko’s mom is building a hangman gallows she plans to use on her daughter. A friendly homeless man gets involved in a neo-Nazi heist. There’s overt violence and also some artful images. Himizu is sprawling and long, and maybe overbearing with all it unloads on you, but that’s what the audience expects so it’s comparable for the genre.
The Sword Identity– It’s so nice to see some martial arts here in Toronto. In this film, a practitioner of a Japanese sword must prove his style worthy to open a school. The movie analyzes martial arts theory, then executes it. The fights are brief and direct. Sometimes they cut away from the action for effect, but there’s plenty on screen. Every movement counts. This is a world I’d stay in forever, so maybe the casual martial arts fan wouldn’t appreciate the subtler take on it. I loved it and I hope they do The Sword Supremacy and The Sword Ultimatum.