TIFF Day 02: into up to my elbows!

The second day of my TIFF experience was a huge day with films coming a number of different genres and I was spoilt with each possessing their own unique qualities!

The first screening of the day, The Damned United (2009), UK, was perfect way to start the day with the true story behind Brian Clough (Michael Sheen), a truly driven and unique football manager of Derby County from the late 60's and 70's who tasted success and failures along his professional journey.  The story focused on his close relationship with coaching partner, Pete Taylor (Timothy Spall) and his obsession to outdo rival coach of Leeds United, Don Revie (Colmy Meaney).  The Damned United ticks all the right boxes when it comes to entertainment - dramatic, funny, touching, great characters and real life stuff.  The dialogue coming from Clough is incredibly funny and even for non soccer (football) fan this film is a must see for anyone who wants see a personally driven person who's hell bent on success.  The film is based on novel by David Peace, who I have become very familiar with over recent months, especially the Red Riding trilogy of books and films.

Under the Mountain (2009), NZ, the director, Jonathan King, returns to TIFF after his successful horror comedy, Black Sheep (TIFF 07).  King is playing in the same sand pit but this time the film is squarely aimed at a younger audience.  Under the Mountain is actually playing in the Sprockets Family Zone section of the festival.   It's fun film with creepy ushers, homes and creatures while using the dormant volcano's of Auckland to create some certain of fantasy mythology of what is being kept under the volcanos. Twins find themselves in the middle of a battle to save the planet with some very old gentlemen who seems to have been kicking around a couple of hundred years, Mr Jones (Sam Neil).  After the untimely death of the twin teenagers mother that get shipped off to their aunty and uncle's place located on one the volcano lakes in the heart of Auckland.  They soon find themselves knee deep in trouble with the creepy undertaker around the lake.  Their are elements that felt like they had been inspired by Phantasm series.  The film doesn't depict any violence but relies on the creepy nature of the house, creatures and location to scare audience.  There are plot holes a plenty and details that just don't tie this film together, which is probably the reason to place into the kids program (they'll probably not notice those details). King is competent director and his screenplay simply needed more work.  It's enjoyable film, but don't go looking to deep for answers.

Enter the Void (2009), France, Gasper Noe returns with another provocative film that will test audience on many different levels.  Noe's distinctive floating camera style returns. The first 20 minutes is shot from the perspective of Oscars, his point of view (POV) of the last twenty minutes of his life - including his drug trip, wandering through Tokyo while high and then his untimely death.  The film goes through a sequences of Oscar's life up to his moment of death.  The story revolves his sister joining him in Tokyo.  The sequence is shown with Oscar's head occupying the middle of the frame as he relives his life.  Then we go into his ghost like view as it journeys through the streets of Tokyo.  This film is a visual feast with the camera movements and transitions to each scene are incredible.  The reality is this film doesn't have a story and when you realize the film clocks in at 155 minutes long you do go over the same territory a number of times, but the imaginary is incredible.  Enter the Void is experimental in the traditional sense, but will become a cult film unfortunately mainstream audience will find the film very jarring due to it's style.  The films strength are also it's weakness.   The film contains graphic sex, violence and drug use but what else would be one expecting from Noe.

Solomon Kane (2009), UK, delivered a health punch of action and fantasy it felt like a cross between The Mummy, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Conan the Barbarian and fantasy film which seem to be all the rage lately.  Solomon Kane is an evil character who finds himself bring summoned to hell after the reaper comes to collect his soul.  Kane decides that he is not quite ready to go so he escapes and sets about reinventing himself but like a lot things in life a leopard never charges spots but this time he has a purpose.  Michael J. Bassett delivers a visual feast and non stop action that makes this film a roller coaster ride that should impress that young, young at heart and everyone.  The film has impressive CGI effects throughout the film and certainly stands up there with recent special effects film but the budget would be far below what Hollywood would have cost to make a comparative film. Solomon Kane has the potential to become a fantastic franchise - the only thing is timing!

The best way to finish a day of films is with Daybreakers (2009), AUS, a vampire film that not only restores class to the genre but breaths life into the genre with this futuristic epic about the vampires ruling planet earth and humans relegated to being a food source.  Spierig Brothers have delivered a visual and compelling film that moves along with action and gore. Everything you want from a vampire film and more with fantastic cast Ethan Hawke and William Dafoe who both left this from B grade film to A Grade entertainment judging from the crowd reaction at the midnight screening this film is a real crowd pleaser.  Spierig Brothers debut film The Undead over five years certainly made people sit up and take notice while this officially puts the brothers on the radar of people to keep an eye on!  Daybreakers was shot on the Gold Coast in Australia and certainly proves that Australia can make genre films with international appeal - hopefully this makes a big splash at the box office to encourage more genre filmmaking in Australia.