- There are two excellent, memorable short films in Short Cuts Programme 5, outstanding for their professional acting, production values and stories.
- The first is Aruba, directed by Academy Award nominee Hubert Davis. The gentle, lyrical pacing and soundscape are at odds with the events of the story. A boy is beaten at school during the opening sequence. Later, he walks in on the man of the house, choking his twitchy, drug-addled mother. The neighborhood he lives in is so dangerous, that the nice lady he buys food from, relocates her corner store. The climax is triggered when the boy is caught with a handgun at school. When the police come to call, the man is caught with drugs and arrested. These are the bare facts of the story. What fascinates is the the boy's vision and yearning.
- Screening, directed by Anthony Green, looks and feels like a big budget drama. In the space of 15 minutes, he has us second guessing prejudices we have developed in the paranoia of post-911. Anti-racist propoganda, if you will, but handled with such finesse that I look forward to seeing more from this director.
- El Laberinto del Fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth) is a film of rich textures and colours, grit and viscosity. The models and sets in this piece are a welcome relief from the bland surfaces of cheap CGI, and in brief moments where animation is used, it is extremely subtle. The dark, organic menagerie of Guillermo del Toro’s underworld is a slippery, crunchy, horrifying treat.
- Living a nightmare fairytale inside the real nightmare of Franco-occupied Spain, Ophélia and her very-pregnant mother come to live with the sadistic Captain (Sergi López). This is the real world where rebel forces oppose the Captain and his men. From her vantage, at the intersection of real and fantastic worlds, Ophélia must accomplish three tasks, with ramifications both over and under the ground.
- The faun, an enormous, evil-looking creature, leads dauntless Ophélia to her rightful place as the lost princess of the underworld, but at a price.
- I recommend this film highly, but not for the faint-of-stomach. This is the first non-action flick in which I have seen a man sew up his own wound. I had to look away, which does not mean the acting is exaggerated. One of the best things about this film is the realistic, sensitive portrayals of characters, trapped in Del Toro’s deadly maze.
- What can I add to what has already been written about Todd Haynes' Velvet Goldmine? As producer Christine Vachon said when she introduced it: This one is fun. The music is glam rock grinding and guitar fabulous. The costumes, David Bowie's wet dream. But what this movie is really about is beautiful, terrible boys. These fellows wear eyeliner with intent so look out -- They're going to take over the world.
Labels: Music, TIFF Toronto International Film Festival