TIFF 2012: Clip and Picture Day Reviews (Kirk Haviland)

Photo from http://www.tiff.net

Clip (2012)

Starring Isidora Simijonovic, Vukašin Jasnic, Sanja Mikitišin, Jovo Makisc and Monja Savic

Written and Directed by Maja Milos

Jasna (Simijonovic) is a teenage girl living in the poor suburbs in the south of Belgrade, Serbia. She, like many girls her age, likes to record everything around her using a mobile phone camera. She is making videos of herself, her school friends, family and Djole (Jasnic), the boy of her dreams. Her family life is a mess, her father is terminally ill and mother is barely coping. Jasna cannot figure out how to cope with this and it leads her further down the wrong path, leading to more and more time hanging out with her school friends, partying and drinking. At one of the parties, she finally starts a conversation with Djole and later they develop an intense sexual relationship. When he realizes that she will do anything to be close to him, Djole starts using her as a sexual object. Jasna starts experimenting heavily with drugs and her life starts spinning out of control and who knows if she’ll ever find a way out.

Photo from http://www.tiff.net

Director Milos pulls no punches in her portrayal of entitled children who bury themselves in drugs and alcohol without any thought of consequence from their actions. Simijonovic does a decent job in her acting debut, in fact most of the cast was on their first film set and sadly it shows. The plot meanders and the story of the family is simply there to try and explain Jasna actions, but is never elevated enough to have an impact on the story for the viewer. In fact the story is dropped for periods at a time and is never brought to a conclusion. Jasnic’s performance as Djole works more than it doesn’t, but also shows all the earmarks of an inexperienced actor. Milos shows she has done a lot of research and has a good eye for staging and a steady hand behind the camera, she is someone to keep an eye on, but the uneven results leave the film wanting. Clip is a mild non-recommend.

Photo from http://www.tiff.net

Picture Day (2012)

Starring Tatiana Maslany, Spencer Van Wyck, Steven McCarthy, Susan Coyne, Fiona Highet and Mark DeBonis

Written and Directed by Kate Melville

Claire Paxton (Maslany) is a teenage girl who is forced to repeat her last year of high school due to bad grades and absenteeism. Claire still prefers to cut class whenever feasible and spends her nights clubbing, living on the fringes of the adult world she’s almost part of. Two men enter Claire’s life and shake things up enough to confuse her idea of what she wants out of life. James (McCarthy), the singer in a popular Toronto faux-funk band, is intrigued enough by Claire that the reveal of her age does not sway his pursuit. Claire is also the enamored object of another’s affection, her former babysitting charge Henry (Van Wyck), a shy, geeky science whiz who keeps shoe boxes full of mementos, most of them relating to Claire. After a chance meeting and a shared blunt, Claire is determined to help Henry get noticed at school, hardly difficult since she’s already infamous.

Photo from http://www.tiff.net

Picture Day is a small intimate story that relies on the chemistry and like ability of its two main leads Maslany and Van Wyck. Maslany is our main focus overall, she’s in almost every scene, and proves that she’s more than capable of the pressure. She is fantastic in the role and has the audience falling for her character despite her sexually freewheeling ways and path to self-destruction. Van Wyck is charming enough to stay involved for the viewer and to follow his story, but this is Maslany’s film from the get go. Writer/Director Melville crafts a smart script with a real character as its lead. Maslany’s Claire is multi-layered and complex, with a tough exterior that has been hardened by disappointment, but a clear vulnerable center. The setting is excellent and the City of Toronto easily becomes another character in the film as Melville imbues it with personality and charm. Picture Day is a solid recommend.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

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TIFF 2012: Artifact Review (Paolo Kagaoan)

Photo from http://www.tiff.net

Artifact (2012)

Starring Jared Leto, Shannon Leto, Flood and Tomo Milecevic

Directed by Bartholomew Cubbins

Who is this bearded man who looks like he’s wearing $50 pairs of pyjamas that he dares to wear outside his expensive white-walled Hollywood home? Why is he stroking his cat – not a euphemism – before packing a carry-on and traveling the world with his band? That’s Jared Leto, a person who had an acting career before forsaking it to make music with his band 30 Seconds to Mars. I have had no need for rock of any genre since I cried to Coldplay’s second album. I am obviously an old person whose idea of crying music has nothing to do with angry young white men screaming through my speakers. I will make a terrible parent who will have no tolerance for my children’s shitty taste in music.

What this documentary inadvertently does is legitimize Leto as a multifaceted artist­. We see him on the piano, discussing compositions and structure with his drummer/ brother Shannon, drawing either on paper or on the sands of Miami beach. Instead of looking affected, which docs like this never make their subjects do, there’s a tenderness in these sequences. Besides, his band was formed in 1998, before Fight Club came out, so this is more of his baby than his movies are. There’s also time devoted to spotlight the other band members. There’s recovering delinquent Shannon who switches from bearded man to a coiffed Angeleno. There’s also Tomo, the Michelle Williams to Jared and Shannon’s Beyonce and Kelly, whose bravado actually seems adorable.

Photo from http://www.tiff.net

Their legitimacy, as well as a section devoted to what could have been an indulgent section about the universality and ineffable effects of music, comes in hand when tackling the real reason for this documentary. This movie explains the reason for the lack of relative ubiquity for the past half-decade. 30 Seconds to Mars tried to exit their contract with EMI in 2008, and in return the record label, under the UK equity company Terra Firma, sued them for $30 million. The following two hours of footage portrays the time after the lawsuit. And during this time they juggle phone calls with lawyers and recording studio time, doing both while the antagonistic absence of a powerful record label aren’t there to back them.

I don’t know how old my readers are from or where they’re from or what kind of access they have to music journalism. But I’ll assume that a lot of us have heard Alan Cross’ program or, on a separate note, read the Mad Magazines issue on what’s wrong with the music industry. Not to take away from Cross but Artifact further explores the way record labels screw with their own acquired artists. The relationship between the labels and their talents are as bad as it was in the 1950’s when they wouldn’t pay the artists a cent. Despite the shocking natures of exposes, Cubbins’ directorial debut is informative and engaging in portraying the band’s optimism and search for a new business model for an industry benefiting from archaism.

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