TIFF 2012: Thanks for Sharing and Everyday Review (Paolo Kagaoan)

Photo from http://www.tiff.net

Thanks for Sharing (2012)

Directed by Stuart Blumberg

Starring Mark Ruffalo, Gwyneth Paltrow, Josh Gad, Alecia ‘Pink’ Moore, Carol Kane, Tim Robbins, Joely Richardson and Patrick Fugit

Thanks for Sharing’s opening sequence has a shot of Mark Ruffalo praying, and these shots are digital, crisp and clean. This kind of visual cleanliness is ironic because the city it depicts, New York City, as well as the characters in it are dirr-ty! Ruffalo walks the streets of Manhattan full of lingerie ads. 2012 lingerie ads, if you’re getting my implications. It’s either the movie shows the dated aspects in writer-director Stuart Blumberg’s concept of overwhelmed sexual stimuli or Ruffalo’s character is just into barely legal anorexics. There’s lots of proof within the movie to back up both readings of it.

Ruffalo’s Adam, named after the original, primordial man, is in a Sex Addicts Anonymous 12 step program. There’s Mike (Tim Robbins), the papa bear of the group. Neil (Josh Gad), a doctor, is the kind of guy who humps people on the subways, fakes his sobriety day count and videotapes up his boss’s skirt. Peggy A. Schnizter costumed this movie and is apparently terrible at it. Anyway, the fourth member of the group is Dede (Alecia ‘Pink’ Moore), a foul-mouthed perfectly cast manic pixie dream girl who becomes Neil’s platonic BFF. These characters have love interests (Gwyneth Paltrow, who shares great chemistry with Ruffalo), wives (Joely Richardson), sons (Patrick Fugit, who is finally a man) and mothers (Carol Kane) who also deal with the main characters’ addictions as well as their own issues

The movie raises thoughts about sex addiction, proving sex addiction’s veracity as a disease and on a case to case basis and incorporating our own personal experiences to the disease. It’s mostly humourous, although there’s a shot where the gag takes place in the background and not the foreground. The last half hour would have been your typical rom-com conflict driven dénouement, but Mike’s wife’s comment, triggering most of the characters to go out of control, is jarringly cruel and refreshingly disturbing. It’s that one thing thrown into the mix that makes this movie less than conventional.

Photo from http://www.tiff.net

EVERYDAY (2012)

Directed by Michael Winterbottom

Starring Shirley Henderson, John Simm, Shaun Kirk, Katrina Kirk, Stephanie Kirk, Robert Kirk

Michael Nyman scores this new Michael Winterbottom movie about a working class woman named Karen (Shirley Henderson). It’s a beautiful score that would be successful with or without the movie for which it is composed. The title, EVERYDAY, implies what we’re going to see for the next ninety minutes or so. It portrays five years of her and her kids preparing for the day, taking lots of public transportation – do cabs count – to school or her two jobs as well as to her husband (John Simm), who is incarcerated for most of the movie’s running time.

Winterbottom has filmed his actors for the same five years of Karen’s husband’s prison time. It’s a more realistic depiction of change, an experiment as to whether familial relationships can withstand a half decade of distance. He also doesn’t rely on aging make-up or wigs, and fortunately Henderson isn’t given the same cartoony roles that she has been reduced to in the past. Their kids have their naughty moments that almost make us worry. Despite that, Winterbottom thankfully doesn’t exclusively prove whether they turn up as bad kids or good ones. But the characters’ physical constancy reflects their interior static nature, making their lives almost mundane. Again, why watch a movie where nothing really happens? And if Karen is decidedly naturalistic and bare, so is her husband depicted unclearly. Simm makes his character good of a husband and father without exploring why he ended up in jail or excusing his behaviour. If anything, the child actors carry this movie, their young unsculpted faces and voices surprisingly capable of engendering the yearning for the father they barely see. This is especially true with Shaun (Shaun Kirk) draws out the way he tells his dad that he misses the latter, more haunting than Henderson, as great as she is here.

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TIFF 2012 – Top 10 Directors You May Miss, But Shouldn’t (Paolo Kagaoan)

How am I just knowing about this director’s new movie at TIFF? You are all FIRED! Ok, to be honest I’m not really mad. The most buzzed directors in this year’s festival include Paul Thomas Anderson, who gets better with every movie he does; Jacques Audiard, a director finally emerging with his fifth feature film; and Lee Daniels, a troll. So I understand that with those names and many others like it, there’s not going to be room in the headlines for all the directors. Even some Galas get sidelined. So here are ten movies from five filmmakers that you may have missed, because I almost did. And I’m trying to fit all of them in my schedule.

Bernardo Bertolucci’s Me and You: Bertolucci filmed “The Conformist,” helped Marlon Brando and Debra Winger into career-best performances, won an Oscar, hasn’t made a movie since “The Dreamers” and wants to put Jennifer Lawrence in a movie. But here he works with relative newcomers Jacopo Olmo Antinori and Tea Falco who play half-siblings within a family with a complex history.

Billy Bob Thornton’s Jayne Mansfield’s Car: No jokes about Thornton’s connection to Winterbottom, please. Thornton has acted in both comedies and dramas but his directing work is more broody stuff. The title feels irreverently cheeky despite portraying a story about death. His usual Southern backdrop now has a mix of British characters (including John Hurt), bringing home a woman who is also the matriarch of a wealthy family in 1969 Alabama.

Margarethe von Trotta’s Hanna Arendt: The fact that I heard that she made one about medieval curiosity Hildegard von Bingen, who I briefly studied in Art History, means that she has my utmost respect. I was also dissuaded me to choose this movie about Adolf Eichmann’s that stars Janet McTeer and Barbara Sukowa and was told to watch a sex comedy…shiver instead. I need better friends.

Olivier Assayas’ Something in the Air:  Assayas’ “Carlos” was the toast of the town in 2010 so it’s strange that we’re having a less than bombastic response to his return to this city. Like the miniseries, he brings us to Paris in the early 1970’s, an era that seems further away but I’ll assume that the political and social upheaval that Assayas portrays can be relatable to our present-day volatility.

Francois Ozon’s In the House: I was having a conversation over the phone with friend Corey Atad who has already seen this movie with Kristin Scott Thomas and a kid (Ernst Unhauer) who is writing about her and his fictionalized story becomes true. I like KST’s francophilia but I miss her, bitchy character or otherwise, in good English-language movies. He omitted the part that the quirky Ozon directed it – nobody’s fault. This sounds heavier than most of Ozon’s fare but I am so in for this.

Michael Winterbottom’s Everyday:  Winterbottom’s name conjures up Steve Coogan comedies but he also has a dedication to interpreting Thomas Hardy novels for the big screen and has also made gritty movies – those latter two are what he started with. “Trishna,” based on Hardy’s “Tess of the D’Ubervilles,” had a lukewarm reception and I hope he bounces back with “Everyday,” a five-year journey in the lives of Karen (Shirley Henderson) and her jailed husband (John Simm).

Takeshi Kitano’s Outrage Beyond: Kitano’s “Zatoichi” takes us to the past but I’m hoping he expands his horizons and shows us what he can tap into regarding contemporary life. Well, at least the life within the Yakuza subgenre. Japanese movies are loud and emotionally impactful to me, just as they have been in the past, and I can’t wait to find out what the audiences will think of this one.

Manoel de Oliveira’s Gebo and the Shadow: De Oliveira’s has had films here like “The Eccentricities of a Blond-Haired” and “The Strange Case of Angelica,” the former having a run at the old Cinematheque Ontario. This year he unites great actresses like Jeanne Moreau and Claudia Cardinale in a movie where the latter deals with the return of her prodigal son.

Raul Ruiz’ Night across the Street: TIFF’s Masters Programme is a great way to discover great directors and see movies of an acquired but rewarding taste. After last year’s “Mysteries of Lisbon,” thankfully we have his new offering that explores his childhood memories in what he believes are the last moments of his life.

Kim Ki-Duk’s Pieta: Kim has once brought us “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring,” something that most recent Film Studies majors encounter in their private cinephile binges. Here he combines art, sadism and love when a loan shark employee meets a woman who claims to be his mother.

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The Trip Review (Matt Hodgson) – Movies I Missed

The Trip (2011)

Starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon

Directed by Michael Winterbottom

How? How did I miss this one? Back in late 2011 I was sitting in my apartment, the entire night ahead of me and I was considering leaving my warm living room to brave the cold streets in order to check out The Trip at a local Rep cinema. Well, the warm apartment won out and it’s taken me this long to actually see the film; I’m kicking myself. First a brief synopsis and then I’ll explain why I’m in love with The Trip.

The Trip follows Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, who play themselves, as they embark on a road trip in England in which they will be stopping at fine restaurants and sleeping in cozy inns. This entire trip is completely free of charge as Coogan has been asked by The Observer to write about his experience. Coogan was supposed to bring his young and attractive girlfriend, but she has backed out at the last minute. After trying a multitude of people he settles on inviting Brydon, who accepts. This turns out to be an unwise choice for Coogan as Brydon fills most of the silence in between courses with a plethora of impressions. Behind his annoyance with Brydon lies more serious problems for Coogan, he’s getting older and hasn’t settled down; the family oriented Brydon seems like his complete opposite.

The subject matter of The Trip is not the most dramatic and certainly not the most serious. In fact, as a narrative The Trip is not very strong at all, but the narrative (mostly improvisation from what I understand) is not why I enjoyed The Trip so immensely. Depending on our interests we all have real life individuals that we would love to listen to in an everyday context, when the lights, cameras, or whatever are not focused on them. I’m not saying that I’m a lifelong fan of Coogan or Brydon, but I do have a huge interest in film, and it was amazing to feel like an unnoticed third member at their dinner table as they joked, bickered, and spoke to each other with candor. On top of that, the film is filled with impressions by the two stars, many of which are quite good, but even the bad ones are hysterical to witness.

If the conversations between Coogan and Brydon were played out in front of a large audience, The Trip would feel empty. It’s the intimate locations at dinner tables across the beautiful English countryside that makes the viewer feel like they have a VIP ticket for a meal with two incredibly funny actors. If you require a dramatic storyline or a fast moving film, look elsewhere. On the other hand, if you would like to witness something very different and incredibly entertaining for what it is, under no circumstances should you miss The Trip.

 

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