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Entries in Lou Ye (1)

Friday
Sep162011

TIFF: A Funny Man, Love and Bruises,... Anatolia

Amir, here, back with more coverage of new TIFF films. The Toronto International Film Festival is winding down but luckily I have a couple of big name movies still scheduled. Here's a few from the last two days.

ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
This Cannes grand prix winner is a slow-paced police procedural in which a doctor, a prosecutor and a group of other police agents drag an alleged murderer along with them in the rural Anatolia region of Turkey so he can show them where he’s hidden his victim’s body. More than half of this gorgeously shot film is spent during the night and I for one wished the morning never came. Gokhan Tiryaki’s impeccable lighting and the varied range of shots he creates in the limitless but monotonous locale of the film easily tops my personal list of best cinematography of the year. 

There’s more to the film than the actual nightly search as Ceylan gives us indications that we should question the nature of the crime. Supernatural observations, spirituality and religious themes of guilt and faith all play a part in this hypnotic film. At two and a half hours, Anatolia won't be for everyone, but if you’re willing to go along with Ceylan’s delicate look into the social structure of Turkey and his humanistic approach to this crime tale, the end result is incredibly rewarding.

The cast of "A Funny Man" (Nikolaj Lie Kaas in the center)

 

A FUNNY MAN (dir. Martin Peter Zandvliet) 
The director’s follow-up to Applause (for which Paprika Steen was a medalist right here in Nathaniel's film bitch awards) is a biopic about Dirch Passer (Nikolaj Lie Kaas), one of Denmark’s best known comedians. Once again, Zandvliet has given us an insightful look into the troubled life of an artist, one who’s always faced with the struggle of transitioning his successful comedic career into that of a serious dramatic actor. Much of the film is similar to what we often see in biopics that cover the bulk of the protagonist’s life, but don’t let that throw you off. A Funny Man is an emotional film that can make you laugh, cheer and cry at the same time and there are truly great performances in it. Nikolaj Lie Kaas (of Brothers and The Idiots fame) is a marvel as the late Passer and embodies both his comic genius and his dramatic talents to the same effect. Even better is Lars Ranthe as his partner Kjeld whose subtle turn in this demanding role is sensational. Both actors would have been easy gets for Oscar nominations had this film been in English. The film’s real champ for me, however, is Sune Martin, whose soothing, gentle score is even better than the eccentric work he did for Applause.  

 

LOVE & BRUISES (dir. Lou Ye)

This was the beginning of my most disappointing day at TIFF. I was excited to see this for Tahar Rahim (Un Prophete) but my enthusiasm died down just a few minutes into the film. Ye’s hollow and underdeveloped love story between Hua, a Chinese teacher (played by Corinne Yam) and Mathieu, a French construction worker (played by Rahim) who meet by accident on the street of Paris was anything but lovely. One-dimensional characters, a sexist and judgemental view of relationships and an inconceivable plot make it one of the weakest scripts of the year.

 

Rahim tries but the script gives him very little to work with. Worse still, the film gives us a whopping total of ZERO reasons to like Hua’s character who’s inexplicably adored by almost every man she meets. Though, I'd add that my reasons for disliking Hua all relate to how flatly written the character is which is entirely different from the misogynistic reasons the film itself seems to hate her. Lest you think sexism is the film’s only fault, its on-the-nose depiction of social class division is surprisingly even more distasteful. I’d give this film a straight "F", but I’d probably listen to Peyman Yazdanian’s score out of context, so a "D-" would be fair. 

 

CUT (Amir Naderi)

I’d like to say it was the after-effect of the previous screening that made me abandon this halfway through, but Cut was no masterpiece either. The film opens with a sequence that begs for our sympathy as a cinephile walks the street yelling “they’re killing pure cinema. Today’s films are only for entertainment” into a megaphone. Then, in a contrived turn of events, he becomes a human punching bag for inexplicably violent men in order to pay his deceased brother’s debts. The film’s subpar production values and mediocre acting weren’t helping its cause but I shouldn't express opinions on a film I haven’t watched in full. Perhaps a miracle of improvement happened after I left?  

 

>Final Weekend: back-to-back screenings of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis follow-up and Andrea Arnold’s Wuthering Heights which has just been picked up for distribution (albeit in 2012), actressy musicals and Joachim Trier still to come.