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TIFF 2014 Days 1-3

Tokyo Tribe

Japanese gansta rap film about the warring gangs of Tokyo.  A couple of girls get trapped in the territory of a brutal and ruthless warlord and the one good gang tries to get them out.  Girls, chop socky, and Japanese hip hop, what’s not to like?  Plenty actually.  The novelty factor is high, but wears thin after about 20 minutes.  Most of the singers were non-professional and it showed.  I liked the long takes, but the constant steadicam motion made me nauseous (and I wasn’t the only one).  The plot is very thin, and most of the film is comprised of songs about how tough the neigbourhoods are.  The one actor I really like was Ryohei Suzuki in the role of Mera.  Give this one a pass 4/10

Director Shion Sono

Director Shion Sono

Big Game

A 13 year old boy is sent into the woods as a rite of manhood, and the game that he returns with is a measure of his worth.  Worried about his own deficient hunting abilities, the biggest game of all drops into his lap.  A small ‘a’ action film with limited budget, director Jalmari Helander (Rare Exports) was able to do remarkable things with it.  Although Samual Jackson has got top billing, young Onni Tommila is the real star.  There is incredible chemistry between the two actors and each has their own share of scene stealing.  Story, acting, action, cinematography all come together to make a film you shouldn’t miss.  The story is a little less original than Rare Exports, but it’s got all the charm.  9/10

Sam Jackson’s video address is here

Director Jalmari Helander and Onni Tommila

Director Jalmari Helander and Onni Tommila

Tusk

A shock jock podcaster (read: dick) travels to Canada to interview weird people.  What he gets is more than a bargained for.  I can’t reveal any more without giving the film away, but it does involve walruses (walrii?).

Let me make this clear, I am not a fan of Kevin Smith.  I find that he overuses exposition by dialog rather than visual exposition (this is film after all, and not a radio show), and that his characters are not larger-than-life, i.e. they are too ordinary.  Even though this film is still dialog heavy, it is not overly so, and I do not have issues with my latter point at all.  This is Kevin Smith’s best film to date.  He has matured as a filmmaker, and I like it.

The film is the most fucked up thing I’ve seen in years.  The plot is a little light, but Smith nails the characters.  It’s shocking, it’s disturbing, it’s funny.  Is it a horror movie?  Comedy?   Kevin Smith says it’s a love story.  Sure, I’ll go with that.   Michael Parks is excellent, and look for Johnny Depp in a mis-credited role.  Bonus points for using the Fleetwood Mac song.  Warning to Canadians: the Canadians depicted in this film are as Americans view them.  Take that as you may.  8/10

Mini trailer on Kevin Smith’s facebook page

Lost in a sea of walrii

Lost in a sea of walrii

Writer and director Kevin Smith

Writer and director Kevin Smith

IMO, the official trailer gives away too much, don’t watch it if you can help it.

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