TIFF 2017 Movie Review: THE DAY AFTER (South Korea 2017) ***

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2017. Go to TIFF 2017 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

The Day After Poster
The married Bongwan leaves home in the dark morning and sets off to work. The memories of the woman who left weigh down on him. That day Bongwan’s wife finds a love note, bursts into the office, and mistakes Areum for the woman who left.

Director:

Sang-soo Hong

Writer:

Sang-soo Hong

Stars:

Yunhee ChoKi JoabangMin-hee Kim

Hong Sangsoo is a Korean director that makes small films on a little budget. Films like his, will never get seen aside outside festivals. Like HILL OF FREEDOM that was also screened a few years back at TIFF, Hong’s THE DAY AFTER is a comedy of errors with lots of dialogue, confused identities and missed meetings.

The protagonist of the story is Kim Bongwan (Kwon Haehyo), the manager of a small, independent publishing company, recovering from his recent affair with Lee Changsook (Kim Saebyuk), his young, attractive, and now former, employee. All the said information is revealed over conversations of the characters.

Song Areum (Kim Minhee) takes over Changsook’s position, unaware of what has transpired and unprepared for the misguided wrath of Bongwan’s furious wife (Cho Yunhee) who suddenly appears at her husband’s office and accuses her of being his lover.

While Kim is initially on display as a deceiver with no redeeming qualities, director Hong reverses that notion by the end of the film. Hong also composed the original music for his film – a quiet entertaining piece.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jv0QPchaINk
 

THE DAY AFTER

TIFF 2017 Movie Review: EUPHORIA (Sweden/Germany 2017)

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2017. Go to TIFF 2017 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

Euphoria Poster
Sisters in conflict travelling through Europe toward a mystery destination.

Director:

Lisa Langseth

Writer:

Lisa Langseth

Stars:

Alicia VikanderEva GreenCharles Dance

When sisters Ines (Alicia Vikander) and Emile (Eva Green) are greeted at an institution (for the dying) with the standing figure of Charlotte Rampling wearing an overall, one can immediately tell what will happen is not going to be good. Ines is about to die of cancer and she wants to find closure with her sister as to the past.

EUPHORIA marks the English-language debut of Sweden’s Lisa Langseth and it is simply terrible. This is new age stuff that many will just gawk at.

The written dialogue is also plain awful. The kind of words Emile uses, the swearing and all is also used by Ines’ character. The words or ideas of different characters should be distinct. The film could do with a bit of humour – as dealing with death is a topic ripe for some black humour. Whenever Ines coerces Emile to talk about an incident in the past, she will later use that against her and lose it.

If Emile could not see this coming, the audience certainly can, for the script is too predictably cliched. Charles Dance puts a bit of life into the film as a dying man who organizes his own farewell party. The film turns out to be a muddled look on death mortality.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMX3Dw-GjIA

TIFF 2017 Movie Review: APRIL’S DAUGHTER (LAS HIJAS DE ABRIL)(Mexico 2017) ***

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2017. Go to TIFF 2017 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

April's Daughter Poster
Valeria is 17 and pregnant. She lives in Puerto Vallarta with Clara, her half sister. Valeria has not wanted her long-absent mother, April, to find out about her pregnancy.

Director:

Michel Franco

Writer:

Michel Franco

Stars:

Emma SuárezAna Valeria BecerrilEnrique Arrizon

Emma Suarez (Almodovar’s JULIETA) plays a crazy mother, one that appears warm and caring at first glance but turns out to be calculating and ruthless. April, mother of a pregnant teen re-enters her daughter’s, Valeria (Ana Valeria Becerril) life, her energetic, take-charge attitude taking on considerably more disturbing hues once the child is born.

She eventually kidnaps the baby and horrors, as if that is not enough, sleeps with Valeria’s boyfriend, the child’s father, Mateo (Enrique Arrizon).

Mateo is good-looking enough to temp both mother and daughter but is a character with no backbone. Director Franco shows what happens when maternal instincts are taken to the extreme – and it is not nice!

The rest go the film follows Valeria as she searches for her kidnapped daughter. One wishes for a more upbeat ending given the film’s theme as the ending is a bit of a letdown. Excellent performance by Emma Suarez! A good female film from a male director.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEVp4rvpD7I
 

aprils_daughter

TIFF 2017 Movie Review: DOWNRANGE (USA 2017)

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2017. Go to TIFF 2017 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

Downrange Poster
Stranded at the side of the road after a tire blowout, a group of friends become targets for an enigmatic sniper.

Director:

Ryûhei Kitamura

Stars:

Kelly ConnaireStephanie PearsonRod Hernandez

DOWNRANGE is a horror Midnight Madness movie with all the gore, blood and violence expected from any film in the series. The simple plot involves a van with assorted male and female youth stranded on an unknown highway, after an unseen sniper shoots out one of the tires. They become the sniper’s targets one after another.

If blood and gore is all that is needed to satisfy, then a complicated plot is not really needed, but a film with a plot this simple runs into trouble soon. For one, there is hardly any opportunity for new horror set-ups, and the film grows tiresome soon, despite different bloodied body parts getting shot up.

The lazy script does not even offer a hint of explanation who the sniper is or what his reason for doing all the damage might be. A welcome diversion involved another car that comes along the highway after an hour or so, with some spectacular blow ups.

Director Kitamura (VERSUS) appears over-confident when he introduced his movie at the festival.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBf0xLj7FhU
 

DOWNRANGE

TIFF 2017 Movie Review: SWEET COUNTRY (Australia 2017) ****

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2017. Go to TIFF 2017 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

Sweet Country Poster
A period western set on the Northern Territory frontier where justice itself is put on trial.

Director:

Warwick Thornton

Stars:

Bryan BrownMatt DayTremayne Doolan

An Australian outback western and a very good one at that. Based on true events that occurred in 1929, SWEET COUNTRY tracks the killing, search and trial of Aboriginal Sam Kelly (Hamilton Morris).

Aboriginal stockman Sam works the land of a kind preacher, Fred Smith (Sam Neill), living and labouring in a respectful, if diffident, harmony.

But when a bitter and often-drunk war veteran named Harry March (Ewen Leslie) returns to town, trouble escalates and Sam is forced to kill in self-defence. Shocked, afraid, and with a deep distrust in the impartiality of settler authority, Sam and his wife, Lizzie (Natassia Gorey-Furber), go on the run.

They are immediately pursued by a posse led by Sergeant Fletcher (Bryan Brown) and Aboriginal tracker Archie (Gibson John), expert bushman Sam must ultimately decide which of several looming unknowns to face.

The whites are shown as racist pigs while the abused Aborigines are not that angelic either. If there is any redemption for the white man, there is the good Fred Smith and more important and the change of heart of Fletcher (subtly shown).

A very absorbing film with almost perfect storyboarded set-ups from atmosphere to performances.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYKBG1znk4A

SWEET COUNTRY

TIFF 2017 Movie Review: WINTER BROTHERS (VINTERBRODEN) (Denmark/Iceland 2017) ***

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2017. Go to TIFF 2017 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

Winter Brothers Poster
Clip

A brother odyssey set in a worker environment during a cold winter. We follow two brothers, their routines, habits, rituals and a violent feud that erupts between them and another family.

Director:

Hlynur Palmason

Stars:

Michael BrostrupAnders HoveElliott Crosset Hove

The WINTER BROTHERS of the title are Johan and his younger brother Emil, two miners whose routines, habits, and rituals are ruptured by a violent feud with a neighbouring family.

Emil (Elliott Crosset Hove) is an odd character who when not whipping out his dick for no reason, would charm the local girl in the area. But more important than the action of the film are the lives of the miners on display.

Amidst the bleak, white and barren landscape of the mines and worse the black of the inside of the mines, the miners try to etch up a decent living. Director Pálmason contrasts both the bright light of the snow and deep darkness of the mines.

The film is really slow but what is on display here is the reality of the setting. Even the fight over a girl between two men was shot in all its ferocity (with one of the men in the total nude).

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkHG7cXVJoU

WINTER BROTHERS

TIFF 2017 Movie Review: GUTLAND (Luxembourg/Germany/Belgium) ***

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2017. Go to TIFF 2017 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

Gutland Poster

Writers:

Razvan Radulescu (script doctor), Govinda Van Maele

Stars:

Frederick LauVicky KriepsPit Bukowski

A very surreal thriller noir set in a farming Luxembourg community, a rarity that makes GUTLAND a very intriguing film. It begins with the arrival of an outsider in the agricultural community of Schandelsmillen. Harvest season is already well underway, but Jens (Frederick Lau), a German drifter, is looking for work.

He is taken on as a farmhand — and also to bed by Lucy (Vicky Krieps), a single mother who picks him up at the village beer hall. He is visited by the town mayor who warns him never to sleep with the folk’s married women.

It turns out that Jens is not an innocent outsider but a robber with a past to hide. But the townsfolk are not that innocent either. The mayor’s band with Jens as a new recruit makes good irony.

The film is quite confusing and I had to sit back and ponder the plot and put the pieces after the closing credits. But that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sif439KtxWM

GUTLAND