originally published September 9, 2006
Seems we're all a little constipated right now but rest assured reviews are on the way; here's a quick rundown of TIFFpix screened thus far by yours truly.
BABEL (d. Alejandro González Iñárritu)
It coheres better than 21 Grams, but Iñárritu and screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga are really spinning their wheels at this point. A few funny extratextual lessons are imparted: never take a Fanning to Mexico (Elle has almost as harrowing an adventure there as sister Dakota does in Man on Fire); and never trust a director who includes a post-script dedication to his children. As with 21 Grams, though, Babel doesn't make room for any intentional levity, eventually desensitizing you to all the calculated anguish. *½/****
HALF MOON (Niwemung) (d. Bahman Ghobadi)
Ghobadi has really honed his craft since the dire A Time for Drunken Horses; his use of 'scope here--thinking of the opening cockfight, or a tableau of exiled Iraqi women serenading a band of Kurdish musicians as they leave town--is particularly cinematic. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't find its "Waiting for Godot"-isms a little draining. **½/****
THE HOST (Gue-mool) (d. Bong Joon-ho)
I'm no scholar of the Man in Suit genre, but I feel pretty confident in saying that this is the pinnacle of giant-monster cinema. A Spielberg movie that doesn't wuss out (and that traffics in the kind of black humour that used to be his métier), The Host has a shot at becoming South Korea's first real crossover hit--so long as its American distributor doesn't do something stupid like remake it instead. ***½/****
EVERYTHING'S GONE GREEN (d. Paul Fox)
Rather than grow with the demographic that helped make "Generation X" part of the vernacular, Douglas Coupland is like Matthew McConaughey in Dazed and Confused, still courting the slackers because even though he gets older, they, with their disposable income and impressionable minds, stay the same age. A disingenuous sermon to the choir on the cul-de-sac of working a cubicle job that has the gall to hate money and Vancouver's film industry. */****
Click here for capsule reviews of Torn Apart (La Coupure), The Page Turner (La Tourneuse de pages), and After the Wedding (Efter brylluppet).