Toronto Wrapup: Senh, Jen And Tim's Raves And Rants From The Festival

by | September 25, 2006 | Comments

We saw some great movies, some of them big ("Babel") and some tiny ("The Patterns Trilogy"). We saw some interesting failures ("The Banquet") and some outright bombs ("All The King’s Men"). We caught glimpses of big stars (Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Reese Witherspoon, and Sean Penn, among others) and important directors (Brian De Palma, Paul Verhoeven, Darren Aronofsky, and John Waters). (Check the photo gallery for more.)

It’s been eight days since we returned from the Toronto International Film Festival, but the films we saw are still fresh in our minds. North America’s biggest film fest definitely lived up to its reputation, and we thought we’d cap our coverage with the movies that kept us talking.

Here are the movies that struck a chord with us, both positively and negatively. (Click on the highlighted quotes for full reviews.)

Senh’s Top Five:

1. "Still Life" – Set around the Yangtze River and the Three Gorges Dam in China, this is the most beautiful film I’ve seen this year. It’s also realistically acted and filmed and charmingly edited.
2. "Exiled" – Johnny To‘s film about a group of hitmen is well written, hip, cool, and just plain fun.
3. "Election" – Thrills with efficient plotting and pacing. One of the better Triad films in recent years from Hong Kong. It’s also directed by Johnny To. I’m a fan now.
4. "Pan’s Labyrinth" – I’ve never seen a more gory film starring a kid. The character designs are very unique.
5. "The Fall" – Tarsem‘s ("The Cell") film has narrative problems, but it probably has the most realistic and best acting by a little girl (Catinca Untaru) ever.

Senh’s Least Favorite:

1. "Dong" – This is a companion piece to Jia Zhang-Ke‘s "Still Life," but it’s probably the most boring and pointless documentary I’ve ever seen.
2. "Election 2" – What the original would have been if everything went wrong. I’m still a fan of Johnny To, but let’s hope he doesn’t make "Exiled 2."
3. "The Fountain" – Don’t listen to Tim.

Jen’s Top 5 From Toronto (overall somewhat disappointing):

1. "Deliver Us From Evil:" Gripping, emotional and devastating; a documentary on clergy abuse, with intimate access to victims and the offender himself.
2. "The Patterns Trilogy:" It’s visually rich, impeccably cute, and wholly mesmerizing. Jamie Travis’ stop motion-musical duet-pop meditation on obsessive love is surreal and stylish and wonderful.
3. "Catch A Fire:" Derek Luke is amazing, Tim Robbins is a little less psycho than he was in "War of the Worlds"…overall a great anti-Apartheid, anti-government paranoia story.
4. "The Dog Problem:" Scott Caan’s second directorial effort is a comic gem about social estrangement and loneliness and pets.
5. "This Filthy World:" Any John Waters fan must see this feature-length stand-up style show, if not for his hilarious anectodes, then for his insights into sex, politics, and filmmaking.

Screened elsewhere, but enjoyed more than the above: "Volver," "Borat," "Shortbus," "Paris, Je T’Aime"

Biggest Disappointments:

"Bobby" — A monumental divide between my hopes and the (admittedly unfinished) product, excepting the last 10 minutes. But you can’t fix too many thinly drawn characters and virtually no attempt at period detail in post.

"For Your Consideration" — Considering the cast and their past films, this should have/could have been so much better. The Fred WillardJane Lynch infotainment send-up is by far the best part, most everything else is composed of easy insider jokes.

Best Toronto Film Festival PartyThe "Shortbus" Queer Lounge 11pm-4am live music extravaganza!! Burlesque dancers? Great. Awesome bands like Kids on TV and The Hidden Cameras? Great. JCM singing "Hedwig" songs? Priceless.

Tim’s Top Five:

1. "Babel:" A work of remarkable craft, a masterpiece of sensorial and emotional intensity.
2. "Pan’s Labyrinth:" This awe-inspiring mix of fantasy, horror and drama achieves something rare: it’s equally resonant visually and emotionally.
3. "Rescue Dawn:" A thrilling movie, an old-fashioned tale of survival that may be the closest Werner Herzog has come to fashioning his obsession with the struggle between man and nature into a mainstream film.
4. "Little Children:" An adult film in the best sense; it creates three-dimensional characters, sets them loose to do what they will, and trusts that we will understand.
5. "The Page Turner:" A remarkable tale of shattered dreams and revenge, this French thriller in a minor key is tense and absorbing all the way through.

Screened elsewhere, and still awesome: "Borat," "Red Road," "Lights in the Dusk," "American Hardcore"

Biggest Disappointment: "All The King’s Men:" It’s is handsomely mounted. It features a stellar cast. And it’s a misfire from the opening frames.

A movie that I really wanted to like but just couldn’t: "Bobby"

Movies I liked better than my colleagues: "The Fountain," "For Your Consideration"

Best Avant Garde/Black Comedy/Romance/Musical/Short: "The Patterns Trilogy"

Movies I saw in the hotel room: "Executive Decision," "My Voyage to Italy," "Out of Sight," "Planes, Trains and Automobiles"

We’d like to extend greetings to some of the folks with whom we partied, conversed, and screened films: James Berardinelli, Erik Childress, James Rocchi, Kim Voynar, Scott Weinberg, and Paul Zimmerman. We’d also like to extend props to the many critics and bloggers we met in Toronto: Erica Abeel, Peter Debruge, Robert Denerstein, Michael Dwyer, Greg Elwood, Martha Fischer, Phoebe Flowers, Jonathan Hickman, Stephen Holt, Peter Howell, Geoff Pevere, David Poland, Alexia Prichard, Rene Rodriguez, Anne Thompson, Lawrence Toppman, and Sameer Vasta. We’d also like to acknowlge some of the filmmakers we met, including "Stormbreaker" writer Anthony Horowitz and the film’s star Alex Pettyfer (Check out Jen’s interview), Malcolm Ingram, Ash Christian, and Michael Tucker.

Check out our reviews, photos, blog entries, and all other related content from the Toronto International Film Festival.

Tag Cloud

TCA Winter 2020 BET Awards teaser animated sequels ghosts natural history latino Kids & Family Awards Amazon Studios LGBT MTV ESPN The Walking Dead Lifetime Christmas movies BBC One Tomatazos FX Horror Certified Fresh 2016 Photos Mystery festival cults discovery cats political drama nature festivals FX on Hulu indie crime Columbia Pictures Shondaland mission: impossible Turner Classic Movies politics Starz science fiction TCA Awards Fantasy Emmys singing competition Baby Yoda chucky slashers Rocketman CW Seed video Brie Larson casting obituary Logo nfl 21st Century Fox TV Writers Guild of America hispanic classics adaptation cartoon screenings dark batman Mary Poppins Returns El Rey Film Mary Tyler Moore DC Comics nbcuniversal Marvel Studios Universal VH1 a nightmare on elm street Premiere Dates south america YouTube rotten Western richard e. Grant ABC Spike Sony Pictures cancelled talk show superhero Trailer Pixar criterion Christmas Martial Arts Fox News cancelled TV series Comedy Television Academy Netflix Nat Geo Emmy Nominations Television Critics Association 71st Emmy Awards Lucasfilm Discovery Channel independent Disney+ Disney Plus Comics on TV CBS All Access robots Rom-Com 20th Century Fox docudrama foreign Valentine's Day FOX blockbuster Awards Tour children's TV psychological thriller sequel RT History canceled E3 Mudbound YouTube Premium name the review scorecard Pop TV Holidays werewolf vampires anime stoner medical drama Animation Captain marvel Superheroes Paramount Network FXX Superheroe X-Men WarnerMedia Pride Month Avengers Country emmy awards TIFF revenge video on demand game show strong female leads TLC sag awards jamie lee curtis biography Masterpiece Oscars APB Star Wars Turner YouTube Red Comedy Central Cosplay composers hollywood Academy Awards OWN OneApp adventure Family ratings Food Network Video Games social media MSNBC documentaries WGN versus war zombie Ovation venice Opinion justice league DGA unscripted directors 2015 RT21 Quiz First Look Vudu Heroines Sneak Peek E! History spain The Arrangement Crackle Showtime TV renewals Fall TV Sundance true crime best binge cancelled TV shows toronto TCA Crunchyroll Hear Us Out Women's History Month USA Action award winner Infographic remakes harry potter Tumblr concert Grammys kids DirecTV IFC The Purge Biopics YA Stephen King satire stand-up comedy Warner Bros. Disney laika die hard CBS CMT Election Nominations game of thrones CNN transformers Chernobyl New York Comic Con zombies book The Witch doctor who Classic Film comics TV Land Ghostbusters Pirates Epix documentary reviews Bravo Arrowverse Chilling Adventures of Sabrina movies HBO SundanceTV Travel Channel football universal monsters BBC America travel Pet Sematary spinoff 007 thriller movie reboot Cannes streaming period drama Podcast AMC MCU series cops franchise Amazon Prime Marathons ITV dramedy Adult Swim SXSW Character Guide worst Extras mutant boxoffice TBS space free movies BBC Esquire comedies child's play ABC Family GoT toy story comic Spring TV Trivia Disney Plus TruTV serial killer SDCC Paramount Comic Book Tarantino zero dark thirty See It Skip It VOD Syfy 4/20 Set visit christmas movies IFC Films Winter TV Hulu asian-american Apple dc TCM Year in Review canceled TV shows Pop Super Bowl Shudder Elton John worst movies spanish language 2018 dragons National Geographic hist screen actors guild based on movie PBS Apple TV+ halloween Interview romantic comedy Funimation mockumentary romance Drama VICE Marvel Television Teen PlayStation Disney Channel what to watch Music Toys spider-man Hallmark Christmas movies comiccon supernatural joker Reality Competition elevated horror Film Festival LGBTQ 24 frames DC Universe Netflix Christmas movies Rock facebook finale technology Winners Dark Horse Comics Sci-Fi sports parents miniseries 72 Emmy Awards fast and furious BAFTA Best and Worst First Reviews Marvel Mary poppins Anna Paquin 2017 tv talk BET Endgame crossover Polls and Games Creative Arts Emmys dceu historical drama Trophy Talk stop motion TNT Cartoon Network Mindy Kaling Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt films anthology breaking bad HBO Max Black Mirror Holiday Black History Month golden globes quibi Binge Guide Star Trek Lifetime Lionsgate 2020 cancelled television Peacock Watching Series Amazon Prime Video Calendar television renewed TV shows twilight Britbox rotten movies we love crime drama GLAAD NYCC Countdown The CW cinemax Freeform Amazon Summer Sundance TV Musical Schedule sitcom Sundance Now witnail Disney streaming service theme song Hallmark spy thriller Musicals aliens Acorn TV disaster cars Nickelodeon scary movies Reality dogs 2019 American Society of Cinematographers Walt Disney Pictures psycho President DC streaming service Red Carpet cooking Spectrum Originals Apple TV Plus blaxploitation NBC TCA 2017 Ellie Kemper A&E Box Office Song of Ice and Fire PaleyFest Tubi A24 green book 45 crime thriller police drama USA Network San Diego Comic-Con indiana jones news GIFs HBO Go Rocky diversity Thanksgiving critics all-time