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2007 TIFF Capsule Reviews
By KEVIN WILLIAMSON, LIZ BRAUN, JANE STEVENSON, JIM SLOTEK, BRUCE KIRKLAND - Sun Media


ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE

FROM: UK

DIRECTOR: Shekhar Kapur

STARS: Cate Blanchett, Clive Owen, Geoffrey Rush, Samantha Morton

PROGRAM: Gala

Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett reprises her role as the Virgin Queen who is again torn by duty as she must defend England from a Spanish threat — as well as cope with her feelings for adventurer Sir Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen). Director Shekhar Kapur, as he did with the original, has made a royal period piece that is steeped in danger and deception and bathed in brilliant, vivid spectacle. To some it will be thrilling, romantic and visually ravishing. For others, it will be repetitive and overbaked. No one can argue, though, that Blanchett again captivates in the part that made her a star.

THE TRACEY FRAGMENTS

FROM: Canada

DIRECTOR: Bruce McDonald

STARS: Ellen Page, Aari Cohen, Max McCabe-Lokos

PROGRAM: Visions

SCREENINGS:

Today, 9:45 p.m., Scotiabank

Sept. 14, 12:45 p.m., Cumberland

Intense reminder of teenage angst, times a thousand. Bruce McDonald uses a sort of whirlwind of split screen activity to illustrate the chaotic life of Tracey (Ellen Page), a child/woman distraught over the disappearance of her little brother. She wanders around Winnipeg, encountering various dark souls, alone and lonely. And then there are those meetings with her shrink. Hmn ... It’s a quick, intense and somewhat depressing outing.

I’M NOT THERE

FROM: USA

DIRECTOR: Todd Haynes

STARS: Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Richard Gere, Bruce Greenwood

PROGRAM: Special Presentation

SCREENINGS:

Today, 8:30 p.m., Ryerson Theatre

Sept. 14, 12:30 p.m., Ryerson Theatre

Dylan devotees with an irreverent sense of humour won’t be able to get enough of Todd Haynes’ sprawling, smart, funny and non-linear film that was “inspired by the music and many lives of Bob Dylan.” Comprising interweaving stories from various time periods in Dylan’s life and career, I’m Not There features seven different actors playing Dylan-like characters, with the movie’s outstanding performance delivered by Cate Blanchett (the Venice Film Festival winner for best actress). Also good is Canadian Bruce Greenwood as both a British TV interviewer and Pat Garrett. But be warned — the more you know about Dylan, the more you will appreciate the film. I’m Not There marks the first time Dylan has agreed to the use of his music in a dramatic film about his life.

CASSANDRA’S DREAM

FROM: UK

DIRECTOR: Woody Allen

STARS: Ewan McGregor, Colin Farrell, Tom Wilkinson

PROGRAM: Gala

SCREENINGS:

Today. 11 a.m. Elgin

All but completely trading away comedy for tragedy, Woody Allen’s tale of two equally misdirected brothers — one a dreamer (McGregor), the other a gambler (Farrell) — who take on a dark errand to secure their dreams, is as ultimately grim as anything he’s done. Farrell and McGregor are actually a fairly natural fit as brothers (though the Irish and Scottish actors have been mocked by the British press for their East London accents). And the moody score by Philip Glass is very non-Woody. An interesting but less-than-involving little tragedy. Still, if you’re one of the chorus who’ve been bemoaning the Woodman’s gloomy decline, this won’t change your mind.

RUN, FAT BOY, RUN

FROM: UK

DIRECTOR: David Schwimmer

STARS: Simon Pegg, Thandie Newton, Hank Azaria

PROGRAM: Contemporary World Cinema

SCREENINGS:

Today. 3:15 p.m. Scotiabank Theatre

Star Simon Pegg (Shaun Of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) had a hand in scripting this lightweight but pleasant little redemption tale, giving it an odd mix of dry Brit humour and sitcom pacing — the latter courtesy of David Schwimmer in his first stab at non-TV directing. Pegg plays Dennis, an aimless schlub who agonizes daily over having left the love of his life (Thandie Newton, who’d frankly be the love of anyone’s life) pregnant at the altar. His life-crisis is brought to a head when she becomes engaged to a seemingly perfect rich American (Hank Azaria) with a passion for running. A marathon along the Thames (with about $10 million worth of Nike product placement) thus becomes Dennis’ redemptive battleground.

TRUMBO

FROM: USA

DIRECTOR: Peter Askin

STARS: Dalton Trumbo, Christopher Trumbo, Donald Sutherland, David Strathairn

PROGRAM: Real to Reel

SCREENINGS:

Today, 9:45 a.m.,

Cumberland 3

Sept. 15, 9:15 a.m., Varsity 8

The McCarthy witchhunt scandal of the late 1940s and 1950s is fading in memory. That is why we need films such as this enlightened documentary, especially now when America is again using national security fear-mongering to abuse human rights. Peter Askin’s loving and lively portrait of the late screenwriter Dalton Trumbo — one of the infamous Hollywood 10 who were blacklisted and imprisoned in a wave of paranoia — shows how a stubborn man of ethics could be railroaded in America for simply speaking (and writing) his mind. Askin juxtaposes interviews with Trumbo associates with provocative readings of Trumbo’s own words to bring him back to life.

DAYS OF DARKNESS

FROM: Canada

DIRECTOR: Denys Arcand

STARS: Marc Labreche, Diane Kruger, Sylvie Leonard

PROGRAM: Gala

SCREENINGS:

Today, 6:30 p.m., Roy Thomson Hall

Sept. 13, 3 p.m., Elgin Theatre

Because it is from Denys Arcand, a true Canadian master, you expect the best from L’Age des Tenebres. Because he positioned this as the end of a trilogy following The Decline of the American Empire and the Oscar-honoured Barbarian Invasions, your senses are sharpened. But that just made this sprawling satire of near-future Quebec more disappointing. There are great sequences, but also flabby, uneven passages, too, such as the Renaissance fantasy. Despite it all, his star Marc Labreche keeps us interested with a melancholic performance.

SHORTS CANADA:PROGRAMME 3

FROM: Canada

DIRECTOR: Various Directors

STARS: Various Stars

PROGRAM: Short Cuts Canada

SCREENINGS:

Today, 9:45 p.m., Cumberland 3

Sept. 13, 12 Noon, Cumberland 3

A highlight in this eight-film compilation comes from Ottawa’s Ramses Madina. With painstaking precision, using an 80-year-old camera with discontinued film stock, Madina crafted nine minutes of B&W footage of old farm buildings, documenting a dying way of life. Married with testimony from Victor McGregor, an elderly farmer who since died, the stunning film is a lyrical, poetic homage. It sits in stark contrast to the marvellously twisted whimsy of Troy Nixey’s Latchkey’s Lament or the profoundly disturbing, yet funny human insights in Dev Khana’s sex-guilt drama, Terry Southern’s Plums and Prunes.

SHORTS CANADA:PROGRAMME 3

FROM: Canada

DIRECTOR: Various Directors

STARS: Various Stars

PROGRAM: Short Cuts Canada

SCREENINGS:

Today, 3:45 p.m.,

Cumberland 3

Off the beaten track, with refined sensibilities, former Canadian Film Centre student Cassandra Nicolaou offers a story about love just before the dying of the light. It tells the story of an aged couple, one the caretaker, the other in dementia. This 15-minute film is a treasure. With subtle nuances of storytelling, it offers more than many features that are five times as long and it could easily have been a feature itself. Six other films are included in this compilation.



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