The first weekend of the Toronto International Film Festival, this is the most intense, packed fest I’ve ever been to. I won’t get to see Moneyball ‘til later and Ides of March not until I get back. I’m going in reverse alphabetical (TIFF Recap pt. 1) because somehow the later in the alphabet the better the movie has been.
50/50 – This is The Big C for dudes. I love Showtime’s lighthearted take on a woman dealing with cancer. 50/50 is the raunchy guy version. It’s not quite the cancer movie that Restless is but they go pretty edgy to find a bright side and I admire that. The film really takes off when Joseph Gordon-Levitt shaves his head for chemo. That’s when his banter with Seth Rogen really flows. It takes a little time to find that footing but the post-cancer dating scene is brilliant. Gordon-Levitt really commits. He even heaves his body when he mimics retching. Some critics may make jokes that the movie itself is 50/50, but I give it at leastt 70/30.
The Incident – This is a siege movie from the inside. Inmates overtake an institution for the criminally insane during a power outage, leaving the kitchen staff to fend for themselves. Despite the surefire premise and a few good kills, the movie just drags and it’s no fun. There’s no energy, no momentum and when the character crisis comes it’s just empty. The tone is miserable and there isn’t even the semblance of institutional accuracy. I know institutions are tough but I don’t believe they’d hire guards to scream at the patients. And they ask cooks to help out with security during the outage? That’s just stupid. There’s so much liability on all sides no one would ever suggest such a thing.
Rebellion – I used one of my allowance tickets to see the latest Mathieu Kassovitz French movie. It’s a lot more serious than The Crimson Rivers. The story of a French war travesty is as solid a historical portrayal as any Oliver Stone or Ed Zwick joint. There aren’t really battles or skirmishes. It’s more slow creeping military units, suspenseful encounters and mission progress. It’s good, confident filmmaking that could translate as long and slow. It does show that the French government is just as warmongering as Dick Cheney.
Trespass – I love me some crazy Nic Cage and Trespass is exactly what I wanted in a movie. It’s A-list actors in a sleazy grindhouse premise. Joel Schumacher is right in his element with a highly exploitable high concept home invasion thriller. Cage plays a loser businessman with a hint of a Peter Loew voice who freaks out in the situation. It’s Nicole Kidman’s best performance as far as I’m concerned. Who needs her mopey crap in The Hours and Cold Mountain, or dainty flirtations in Moulin Rouge or To Die For. She’s more convincing in screaming mad self-defense mode. This stammering patriarch Cage plays keeps escalating the tension with more answers and explanations for all of the burglars’ threats. The film teases some awesome threats and then wusses out, like a Hollywood movie, but it keeps the momentum up. Naturally I’m the only person at the entire festival who liked it. It’s a Fred movie.