Monday, September 06, 2004

Toronto Day one

So now we change gears and leave politics behind and start thinking about movies. But we can't for the most part as my poll addiction has yet to abate. I first caught this year's case in the spring during the primaries, the Canadian election helped it along (Them Canadians are fickle) and then there's the fun and games over the summer. Kerry seems to have been making a comeback of sorts and is back to being either even or slightly behind...but be that as it may...

The Toronto film festival begins on Wednesday and there are pre-screenings tomorrow, and for all intents and purposes is going to start then. I've seen a few films already, and most of them are rather good. If it weren't for the Republican invasion of the last week, I'd have already started to post reviews and such, but scheduling conflicts are the spice of life usually. Here are a couple:


Written and Directed
by Dylan Kidd

Louise Harrington (Laura Linney) is the admissions officer for the Columbia University art department. Her life isn’t that bad, pretty much the same as any sitcom achedemic you’d care to come across. She’s got a decent relationship with her ex husband Peter(Gabriel Byrne) her mother Lois Smith) and her old high school pal Missy (Marcia Gay Harden), who lives in California with her husband and two kids. Whom she doesn’t have all that great a relationship is with her brother Sammy(Paul Rudd) who’s gone from being a drug addict to a 12-step guru.

But this isn’t really about him. It’s about a recent BFA named F. Scott Feinstadt (Topher Grace), who’s sent an application for the Master’s program at Columbia.

Louise gets his application the last day that they’re due and suddenly remembers that this fellow has the exact same name as her and Missy’s old boyfriend who had died tragically over twenty years before. She calls him back and tells him he forgot to send in slides of his artwork and sets up an appointment. He shows up the late and is a spitting image of Long Dead Boyfriend. She takes him home to bed. Is there a lawsuit in the offing?


But there is some of the funniest dialogue to hit the silver screen in quite a while.
That’s what saves this film. The words that come out of the people’s mouths range from the merely witty to downright hilarious, and when Linney and Grace are sitting next to each other blathering away this is as good as it gets, HOWEVER….

The sideplots are rather tedious. Peter’s confession as part of "Step 9" of the 12 step process is kind of dumb. The thing with Sammy is completely useless and detracts from the budding romance. Harden comes in as a human deus ex machina, arriving out of nowhere to get into bed with Scott, just to make sure that the guy hasn’t come back from the dead or anything.

This film is like the little girl with the curl, when it’s good it’s very yery good, and when it’s bad it’s horrid. Fortunately, it’s the former for most of the time.

Silver City

Directed, Written and
Edited by John Sayles

In the many years he’s been making films, auteur John Sayles has made dozens of films. Some have been great and others merely very good. He’s never done a bad one in his life.

I bet you thought I was gonna say "Until now." Fooled ya!!!

No. His winning streak goes on, and this is one of the better ones. This is what people like Michael Moore and Robert Greenwald WISH they could do.

GW Bush-clone 'Dickie' Pilager(Chris Cooper) is running for Governor of Colorado and he and his manager/Svengali Chuck Raven (Richard Dreyfuss) are shooting a commercial by a lake, when our hero casts his fishing pole and snags a dead body.

Dickie is innocent, but Raven thinks that someone might have dumped the body in the lake in order to sabotage the campaign, So he goes over to the office of a private investigator(Mary Kay Place) who’s worked for him before, and she send out her top assistant, one Danny O'Brien (Danny Huston), to go to these people and tell them that they’re being watched.

Now Danny used to be an investigative reporter, and he still has a nose for news. Who killed the poor fellow Dickie found in the lake? Ah, that is the question!

We follow Danny as he questions the suspects he’s been given: Is it the right wing nutcase radio talk show pundit(Miguel Ferrer)? The retired environmental activist(Ralph Waite), Dickie’s libertine Olympic-wannabe sister Madeleine (Daryl Hannah)? Or might it be someone we haven’t thought about, like mysterious indnustrialist and Piager backer Wes Benteen (Kris Kristofferson) or someone sneaking in illegal aliens into the country?

It’s all sorted out in the end, but along the way there are dozen of cameos which have little or nothing to do with the plot, but are interesting none the less.

On the other hand we don’t get much character development. Just who IS Dickie anyway? When the threads binding him and the corpse begin to break, why does Raven suddenly appear to change sides?

What does the relationship between Danny’s ex-girlfriend Nora(Maria Bello) and her current fiancĂ©(Billy Zane) have to do with any of this? Sal Lopez is great as a chef who briefly doubles as Danny’s assistant, but he’d not in there long enough. Michael Murphy, as Dickie’s Senator father has a brief two minute cameo and why does he get any billing at all? Same with Tim Roth, who should be getting more work.

The propagandistic value of this film is understandable and the acting is great throughout. It’s worth a matinee at least.

1 comment:

rs6471 said...

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