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CARTUNA REPORTING - TIFF DAY TWO Okay, kids... Day Two of TIFF, the first full day, is now complete. Things got a bit hairy making my way across town in time for Creation. I ended up the farthest back in a TIFF line-up I've ever been, or hope to be (around TWO city-block corners from the entrance), but still ended up with a reasonably good seat. I need to invest in some caffiene pills or something - this is only day two and I spent FAR too much of my final film pulling jaw-breaking yawns. Anyway, far more good than bad on Day Two. Here they are:

HAPPIEST GIRL IN THE WORLD directed by Radu Jude The short version: I liked it, but I may have been in the minority. The long version: Delia, a teenage girl who has won a car in a Fruit Drink "send-in-the-label" giveaway, is obligated to spend a hot summer day shooting a commercial for the drink in order to claim her prize. In the course of the snafu-ridden shoot, she suffers many indignities, (including cramps, and an impromptu makeover or two) but the worst is that her parents have found a buyer for the prize car, and are continually trying to get her to sign the papers that will authorize the sale. The commercial, naturally, requires her to appear quite happy. The title of the film, as you may imagine, is IRONIC. I liked it. It kept me engaged all the way through. I laughed throughout and was interested to see how things would conclude. But the general reaction during the movie and an extremely weak smattering of applause at the end gave me the impression that not many other fest-goers enjoyed the experience very much. Key to this may have been misconceptions about the film going in - in the lineup, I was speaking to someone who said she expected the film would be "a lot of fun." It was funny, but I wouldn't say it was fun. It was about a miserable person having a shitty day, and kinda reveling in being miserable. That's not likely to be all that much fun to watch, (Curb Your Enthusiasm notwithstanding). However, regardless of preconceptions, Delia is the ultimate inarticulate, sulking teenager. As much as I felt for her need to actually win something of her very own, I can definitely understand people wanting to throttle her for being so archetypically sixteen, and as a result, fairly painful to be around. Not a perfect film, but one that I enjoyed seeing.

SHAMELESS directed by Jan Hrebejk The short version: Funny, but I doubt I will remember it in a year's time. The long version: A man cheats on his wife with their au-pair, and is sent packing. He then has a relationship with an aging torch singer, which makes him (as the younger man) into a bit of a pseudo-celebrity for a while. His wife, meanwhile, finds a nice man, with whom she is maybe better off. That's about it. Not a lot of conflict to the thing. It's more about following some characters around and seeing what happens to them. Not a whole lot, as it turns out. It never really lives up to its title in any way. Sure, the dude doesn't feel any guilt for any of his misdeeds, but I was expecting some comedic depravity. The movie is much quieter than that - it's not a John Waters-style fetish-fest or anything like that, which is probably for the best. It IS funny, and the characters are appealing and well-drawn. I particularly liked the man's parents, who really don't have a lot of use for him, though they deeply adore their daughter-in-law. It got a pretty strong reaction from the crowd, who really responded to the humor, but in spite of this, it doesn't feel like a movie that will stay with me.

CREATION directed by - Jon Amiel The short version: Pretty good for a bio-pic, with an interesting subject, but have we maybe tread this ground before? The long version: Ah, the biopic... They're, all of them, extremely cloying and manipulative, aren't they? The best ones can't help but be overwrought and melodramatic, and this one is no different. All-in-all, I enjoyed myself, and it's not as though I expected it to re-invent the biographical film, so what more could I have asked for? Charles Darwin has spent many years ruminating on his Theory, and the basics of it have long-since become common knowledge among his peers who are adamant that he publish his ideas and findings as the final, decisive strike of science against the unreasoning masses. But love and loyalty for his very religious wife, and severe guilt and depression over the loss of his eldest child have kept him from writing. Said child now appears to him as he works, and leads him to continue on in his work. There is so much in Darwin's life that is fantastically interesting that it's a bit surprising that when it is finally adapted to film, the concentration is on such a melancholy and house-bound period. There are little asides in the film to other moments, but we are mostly here to witness the painful birth of "On the Origin of Species" and a man and his wife coming to grips with the tragic loss that has formed a gulf between them. Leaving the theatre, I overheard more than one person comment on the unfortunate and unavoidable spectre that will haunt this film (and I don't mean the "controversy" over Darwin's theories): Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly, in a biopic about a genius who struggles with his theories, but is ultimately supported by a sometimes frustrating imaginary friend... Wasn't that movie called "A Beautiful Mind?" Regardless, the movie is interesting and affecting. Everyone does good work in it. And YES, I did tear up a little - I'm not made of stone, for chrissake!

PERRIER'S BOUNTY directed by - Ian FitzGibbon The short version: Awesome. Funny and hard-nosed crime film. Film I've enjoyed most of the fest so far. The long version: It's not something we've never seen before - Michael McCrea owes a loan-shark money that he can't possibly pay back before the bone-breaking deadline comes due. As a result, he goes on the run, hoping to somehow dig up the cash before the loan-sharks minions catch up with him. We've seen it before, but that doesn't mean it can't be made into something original and interesting, and that's exactly what's happened here. This one's all about the characters, and they're all awesome. Funny and hard-nosed and unique. The performances are uniformly fantastic, with Jim Broadbent standing out as McCrea's estranged father, who is utterly loopy with sleep deprivation, because he believes he was visited by the grim reaper, who informed him he will die the next time he goes to sleep. (No, that's not the plot to Crank 3) I had a great time, as did the audience, and look forward to seeing this one again.

THE APE directed by - Jesper Ganslandt The short version: A couple of great GASP! moments, buried in amongst a lot of meandering. The long version: I really can't say very much about this movie without spoiling the reveals that are the its only compelling attributes. A man wakes up on his bathroom floor covered in blood that doesn't belong to him. He doesn't seem to remember how this came to pass, but he cleans himself off, and tries to go about his day as if nothing at all unusual had occurred. This proves to be impossible, and we see his life basically fall apart around him. I REALLY wanted to like this movie. It was introduced as "probably the most 'wicked' film you'll see at the festival," which is always a good sign. After the mysterious opening, the film lulls the audience into a sense of complacency with the events of a fairly ordinary, if somewhat ominous day. When it comes to its first big reveal, it DOES come as a shock, and there was an audible gasp from the room. Though we knew something was up, the something that is up is still pretty hard to process. The lead himself is also in a kind of shock, and as a result, he seems to wander aimlessly around trying to figure out what to do with himself, and I really didn't find much of this to be very compelling at all, unfortunately. There are a few dark moments, that lead you to believe the film is about to become far more intriguing, but for the most part, they play out pretty quickly, and leave you wanting (not wanting more). Wish I could recommend it, but beyond those few moments, it left me kinda cold. So, there we are. Five more on the docket for today. Wish me >YAWN!< luck.

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