TIFF 2011: Day 2

TIFF 2011: Day 2

Day 2 of the Toronto International Film Festival I see The Artist which seems to be getting a lot of buzz right now. I also saw The Hunter starring Willem Dafoe, the North American Premiere of Melancholia which Kirsten Dunst won Best Actress at Cannes. Lastly, I went to a Special presentation screening of Drive. Here are my first impressions and mini reviews of the films.

The Artist

People are going to love this film. People who love film are going to LOVE this film. An ode to Hollywood of the yester years. Terrific performances, amazing black and white cinematography, laughter aplenty. This film is a blast. Telling the story of a silent film actor in Hollywood at the genesis of talkies. The main character George is full of too much pride to realize the change in technology. He soon begins to suffer as his love interest’s fame starts to sky rocket. Together him and his very well trained pooch try to figure out a way to stay in the pictures. It all comes together in a dazzling final 20 minutes. Audiences will chew this one up.

RATING: 8/10
The Hunter

A slow burning Australian film about an American Mercenary (Willem Dafoe) hired by a mysterious European Bio Tech corporation to find the last of the Tasmanian Tigers. A brooding thriller that becomes more about protecting a widow and her children than the hunt itself. Dafoe turns in a good performance as always, the movie itself didn’t really speak to me. It was a little slow in parts and the plot of the film wasn’t that interesting to me. Of course I had Melancholia and Drive to follow, so my mind was kind of elsewhere.

RATING: 6/10
Melancholia

I have only seen one Lars Von Trier film prior to this, his extremely tough to sit through Antichrist (which I actually quite liked). The opening sequence of Melancholia is utterly spectacular. Shots of Kirsten Dunst with electricity coming out of her hands and being stuck in tangled black webs coming from the earth are all shot in a very arty way by Trier. He finishes off the opening sequence with the planet Melancholia crushing Earth and it is as beautiful a shot from any science fiction film I’ve ever seen. If you can see this in a theater I would highly recommend it. The sound system of the Ryerson theater was spectacular. The movie concerns a woman just newly wed at her reception with her absolutely insane family. The second half the film is concentrated on her sister and how she deals with the depression and despair the planet Melancholia brings. The final 20 minutes are brilliant, scary and beautiful all at once. One of the best films I’ve seen so far.

RATING: 8/10
Drive

I was looking forward to Drive probably the second most out of any film at TIFF this year. Nicolas Windig Refn got up before the movie and introduced the cast and talked a little about the movie. The dude is seriously funny as hell. Drive disappointed me. It’s a good movie, but it’s not a great one. It has so much going for it. An incredible style courtesy of Refn, a soundtrack that works very well with the material. Some terrific turns from Bryan Cranston and Albert Brooks. Also, the violence is extremely grisly and well executed. I’m not one to LOVE violence in movie, but when a movie has a good mean streak I to appreciate it. My problems with Drive are these. For starters, the movie starts out with a great story between a lonely shy man and his neighbor who he confides in while her husband is in prison. All of that is built well and all, but once the movie kicks into gear, it feels like the film ditches all those great emotions it created and just goes with pure brutality. And I like said earlier I don’t mind extreme violence but you gotta back that up with some feelings. I felt like Drive didn’t earn them. The second thing I didn’t like about the film was that it kinda wrapped itself up early. The movie could’ve easily added another 15 minutes and would’ve been perfect. Drive was going pretty well until it hit autopilot. It was like the movie realized it was ending soon and just wrapped up it’s plot. Terrific style, terrific score and performances. Just wish it didn’t ditch the heart it was building in the first half and ditch out on what could’ve been a great ending.

RATING: 6/10

Author: Blake Ginithan

Blake Ginithan is a lifelong film lover, loves to write about film and will defend any film he loves to the death.

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