2006 TIFF Archives (12 posts)

Mon Meilleur Ami (2006)

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Mon Meilleur Ami (2006), directed by Patrice Leconte.

Mon Meilleur Ami (My Best Friend) was my last film at TIFF and my favourite. It’s a French comedy that is actually funny! Daniel Auteuil (Caché) and Dany Boon star.

Auteil plays an arrogant antique dealer that realizes he doesn’t have a single friend in the world. He makes a bet with a colleague that he can produce his ‘best friend’ before the end of the month.

His search to find this best friend is pathetic and quite funny. Without being too corny and over the top the film plays itself out nicely. To say much more would spoil it if you intend to watch Mon Meilleur Ami. It was the perfect way for me to end the festival.***½

Films are rated from 1 to 4 stars.

Posted in 2006 TIFF and Movie Reviews at 3:33 PM

Mon Colonel (2006)

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Mon Colonel (2006), directed by Laurent Herbiet who introduced the film at the morning screening along with screenwriter, Jean-Claude Grumberg.

Mon Colonel is another French film that deals with the Algerian War in the 1950s. Most of the story is told through a series of black and white flashbacks. A 23-year-old French officer is sent to Algeria under the command of a brutal colonel who will do anything to win a losing war.

The French were in a guerilla war that neither side could win. It was a complete disaster trying to fight terrorists on their own turf. The same thing is happening in Iraq right now. History repeats itself.

I don’t want to give away too much but if you’ve ever watched The Battle of Algiers (1966) then you’re sure to enjoy this film.***

Films are rated from 1 to 4 stars.

Posted in 2006 TIFF and Movie Reviews at 2:46 PM

CÅ“urs (2006)

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CÅ“urs (2006), directed by the legendary Alain Resnais.

I had high hopes for this film but it turned out to be a huge disappointment. It’s based on a stage play that to me, just doesn’t work. I knew within the first five minutes that I wasn’t going to enjoy this film.

Parts of it were almost funny—the type of funny where women in their 70s chuckle apprehensively and 3 people (out of 1,300 in the Elgin Theatre) laugh hysterically at everything.

The best thing about CÅ“urs was the performance by Lambert Wilson. He was the villain with the fabulous French accent in The Matrix Reloaded (2003).

Okay, I’ve got nothin’. Sorry Monsieur Resnais but your movie blows.*½

Films are rated from 1 to 4 stars.

Posted in 2006 TIFF and Movie Reviews at 11:46 PM

Indigènes (2006)

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Indigènes (2006), directed by Rachid Bouchareb, is the first of four French films I’m screening at TIFF.

Indigènes is one part Glory, one part Saving Private Ryan and one part Band of Brothers. Instead of
African American soldiers in a civil war, we have North African soldiers fighting for France during World War II.

The film chronicles the struggle of four African ‘brothers’ as they serve in the First French Army. They are referred to as indigènes or natives. When France was occupied by the Nazi’s during the war, 130,000 North Africans enlisted to fight for their colonizer.

Instead of respect and gratitude, the French military treat the North African recruits with disdain. Aside from fighting the Nazi’s, the indigènes have to fight the bigotry, and racism of the French. To this day, France has withheld pensions from the North Africans that graciously served in World War II. Incredible! Typical.

I hate to criticize Indigènes because the direction and performances are terrific. But every now and again I felt like I was watching a scene from Band of Brothers or Saving Private Ryan. C’est la vie.

Artistically, there are some really nice aerial views that transition into a scene when the story moves to a new location. See this one on the big screen.**½

Films are rated from 1 to 4 stars.

Posted in 2006 TIFF and Movie Reviews at 10:45 PM

Rescue Dawn (2006)

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Rescue Dawn (2006) is a film from director, Werner Herzog. It stars Christian Bale, Steve Zahn and Jeremy Davies (who hosted a Q&A after the film).

Rescue Dawn is a true story about US fighter pilot, Dieter Dengler. During the Vietnam war his plane was shot down. He was captured and spent some time in a POW until he was rescued.

In 1997, Herzog made a documentary film about Dengler called Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1997) which will be on my list of films to watch.

It would be easy dismiss Rescue Dawn as ‘another Viet Nam movie’ but in the hands of Herzog it is a solid film. It is beautifully filmed—saturated colours and lots of film grain and incredible landscape shots. I hate to sound like a broken record but the sound mix is spot on. In many scenes, you feel like you’re in the jungle with Dengler.

As Jeremy Davies said in his Q&A, Christian Bale, the star of the film, is one of the most underrated actors working today. His performance in Rescue Dawn is intense and very convincing. It was also nice to see funny man, Steve Zahn in a serious role, as a POW.***

Films are rated from 1 to 4 stars.

Posted in 2006 TIFF and Movie Reviews at 3:27 PM

The Killer Within (2006)

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The Killer Within (2006) looks like a great documentary film on paper.

Bob Bechtel is a psychology professor in his early 70s. He’s kept a secret from his family and colleagues for 50 years. In 1955 he went on a shooting rampage and killed a classmate in his sleep. He claimed temporary insanity, spent five years in a hospital and was then released.

Director Macky Alston was there when Bechtel decided to tell his daugters, his colleagues and his friends. It had the potential to be another Capturing the Friedman’s but it falls completely flat.

The direction is weak, the editing is weaker still and the cinematography is, well, weak. The story never seems to go anywhere. Poor Bob seems confused throughout the film as they revisit the past. He’s also unrepentant which ads to the mystery.

Before you know it, the film is over, the credits are rolling and you wonder if there is going to be a sequel. I can’t believe that TIFF selected such a sloppy film for the festival. *

Films are rated from 1 to 4 stars.

Posted in 2006 TIFF and Movie Reviews at 10:16 PM

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

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This afternoon I saw Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) at the Elgin Theatre. Director Guillermo del Toro and the star, 12 year-old Ivana Baquero introduced the film.

Pan’s Labyrinth is a fabulous mix of horror, drama and fantasy. It takes place in 1944, just after the Spanish civil war. Ofélia (Ivana Baquero) and her pregnant mother go to live with the evil Captain Vidal, Ofélia’s new stepfather. Captain Vidal is only interested in his unborn son and destroying the remaining rebel forces.

Ofélia can’t stand her new stepfather and retreats into a world of fantasy and what a world it is! Guillermo del Toro has a dark and creative mind that comes to life in a frightening way on film.

The monster in the picture above might not look like much but wait until you see this film. I’ll be having nightmares tonight. I haven’t been that creeped out since I saw Nosferatu (1922) as a kid.

Guillermo del Toro is the guy that directed Blade II and Hellboy so I knew there would be some gore. During his introduction he was apologizing for the violence in the film, blaming it on a messed up childhood. If he didn’t do such an amazing job of directing he would probably be in an asylum somewhere.

His writing and direction is excellent. Everything comes together perfectly to create a highly entertaining film. The sound mix is absolutely chilling and completes the film. There are also some really nice transitions from one scene to another. This is one to see on the big screen. ***

On the way out of the theatre, I noticed this short guy with blonde hair. Vincent, Hellboy, Ron Perlman was beside me and he’s tiny! He’s going to be filming Hellboy 2 with Guillermo del Toro.

Films are rated from 1 to 4 stars.

Posted in 2006 TIFF and Movie Reviews at 9:15 PM

Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show (2006)

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Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days & 30 Nights-Hollywood to the Heartland (2006) was the ‘event film’ that I hoped it would be. Whenever the entire cast and the director shows up, you can’t go wrong.

Vince Vaughn introduced the film—a documentary about Vaughn and 4 other comics that perform 30 standup shows in 30 days. They travel across the US in a couple of buses from Los Angeles to Chicago.

At first I was worried that Vaughn would be the entire film but it’s really about comedians Bret Ernst, Ahmed Ahmed, Sebastian Maniscalco and John Caparulo. Each of them has a style of comedy that is unique and very funny. You’ll bust a gut when you watch this.

Aside from the performances there are some wonderful personal stories behind each comic. We get to meet their parents and find out where they’re coming from. We also gain a little insight into what drives a lot of their routines.

There are a few rough spots in the film that just feel awkward. They don’t fit. They’re nice moments (visiting hurricane Katrina victims) but they disrupt the overall rhythm.

I watched this film at Ryerson which looked fabulous in high definition using a Christie HD projector. The sound was also excellent.

Vince Vaughn and the entire cast did a Q&A after the film that was the icing on the cake—entertaining and informative. With a documentary film like this, you always want to know what happens to the main characters after filming. It was nice to hear that each of them is pursuing their dream of performing standup comedy and not waiting on tables. Once this film hits theatres, their job should be a little easier.**½

Films are rated from 1 to 4 stars.

Posted in 2006 TIFF and Movie Reviews at 2:46 PM

Lights in the Dusk (2006)

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Lights in the Dusk (2006) is the third film in a trilogy directed by Aki Kaurismäki. A few weeks ago I rented the second film in this trilogy, The Man Without A Past (2002)—a charming film about an outcast that deals with loneliness, love and amnesia.

Lights in the Dusk also focuses on an outcast named Koistinen—a lonely security guard who works nights in Helsinki. Koistinen doesn’t have any friends or family that we know of. He isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer and he’ll do anything for a woman that shows an interest in him.

Koistinen’s is naive, kind-hearted, innocent, a loser. He’s easily duped by a beautiful blonde and set up for a robbery. He’s beaten up several times. His life is a miserable series of injustices.

As depressing as all of this sounds, Kaurismäki has crafted a touching film that retains his trademark style of quirky characters, retro props, vintage cars and live music. ***½

Films are rated from 1 to 4 stars.

Posted in 2006 TIFF and Movie Reviews at 5:31 PM

Borat at TIFF!


This image sums up the excitement and craziness at the premiere for Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. I got to pretend I was part of the paparazzi last night.

Borat came riding in on a cart which was pulled by some women from Kazakhstan. The crowd went nuts as he ran around giving ‘high-fives’ to the crowds around him.

Michael Moore spent about 45 minutes on the red carpet talking to the press about his new hair style. I snapped a photo of who I believe to be director, Sir Ridley Scott talking on a cellphone.

More photos of the evening can be viewed at Bombippy Photos.

Posted in 2006 TIFF at 4:56 PM

Luck of the draw

You hope for the best when you submit your film list for the Toronto International Film Festival. Sometimes disaster strikes.

Out of 9 films, I received tickets for 3! I had to line up for almost 4 hours and scramble through the TIFF program guide to find 6 new films.

Both screenings of Borat? Sold out. Manufactured Landscapes. Sold out. Panic!

Fortunately there are a lot of great films to choose from (at least I hope they will be great). Here is my revised and final list of films that I will see this year. (Film titles link to the TIFF website).


12:30 PM / Lights in the Dusk (Finland / Aki Kaurismäki)
9:00 PM / Vince Vaughan’s Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days & 30 Nights – Hollywood to the Heartland (USA / A. Sandel)


3:00 PM / Pan’s Labyrinth (Spain / Guillermo del Toro)
6:15 PM / The Killer Within (USA / Macky Alston)


10:15 AM / Rescue Dawn (USA / Werner Herzog)


11:15 AM / Indigènes (France / Rachid Bouchareb)
3:00 PM / CÅ“urs (France / Alain Resnais


9:15 AM / Mon Colonel (France / Laurent Herbiet)
12:00 PM / Mon Meilleur Ami (France / Patrice Leconte)

I’m going through a French film phase right now. My last four films are all from France. The great thing about TIFF is that you can see films that may take a year or two to arrive in theatres or on DVD. Then again, some of these films may never get released in North America, which makes the festival a film fanatic’s dream.

I’ll be posting reviews of each film as I did last year. If you’re looking for more festival reviews then be sure to check in with consolationchamps.

Posted in 2006 TIFF at 12:04 AM

Early Picks for 2006 TIFF

Next week is the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival. I’m going to be seeing 9 films this year. Here are my preliminary picks.


11:59 PM / Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (USA / Larry Charles)


9:00 PM / Vince Vaughan’s Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days & 30 Nights – Hollywood to the Heartland (USA / A. Sandel)


3:00 PM / Manufactured Landscapes (Canada / Jennifer Baichwal)
6:15 PM / Indigènes (France / Rachid Bouchareb)


3:00 PM / Paris Je T’aime (France / 18 directors including the Coehn Brothers, Gérard Depardieu, Walter Salles and Gus Van Sant)


3:00 PM / Coeurs (France / Alain Resnais)
7:00 PM / Renaissance (France, Luxembourg, UK / Christian Volckman)


12:00 PM / Mon Meilleur Ami (France / Patrice Leconte)
9:30 PM / The Hottest State (USA / Ethan Hawke)

On Monday morning I find out if I have tickets to all of these films. If not, I have to choose some alternates, line up and hope that my second choices aren’t sold out. The joys of TIFF.

Half of the films I’ve picked this year are French. Indigènes and Paris Je T’aime both received good reviews in Now magazine. I’m also looking forward to the documentary film about photographer, Edward Burtynsky called Manufactured Landscapes.

Posted in 2006 TIFF at 11:44 AM