The prestigious and fun Toronto International Film Festival (Check out TIFF Day 5) is still going strong and our own Fred Topel has your first looks at the new films everyone's going to be talking about.
Bunohan – This Malaysian film about Thai boxing offers a different sort of portrait on the martial art than we’re used to seeing from Tony Jaa’s crew. With simple, effective punches and kicks, and just a few elbows and knees, Thai boxing looks more like a sport. This is essentially a sports movie with a few early bouts, some training and then the big fight. It feels good to experience a different culture through their emerging cinema. Malaysian film is still new and they have a long way to go before they are as distinct as Hong Kong, Korea or Japan, but it feels like you are experiencing the growth while you watch.
The Forgiveness of Blood – Joshua Marston’s second feature is not as relatable as Maria Full of Grace, but you can see the same sort of suspense built into a unique cultural tradition. In Albania, when two families feud, apparently one family has to stay locked in their home to appease the other. The film builds from simply trying to keep busy in isolation to cabin fever and always reminds you that it’s deadly. The feud escalates and illustrates an insane tradition the only cultivates more violence and entitlement. We see it in politics all the time, so this illuminates it in a less common culture. Not quite as linear as the plight of drug mules but a solid follow-up in the same voice.
Like Crazy – My favorite movie of Sundance premiered at TIFF today and I’m still thinking about it. This raw, brutal, honest drama is not the cliché Hollywood fakery that’s such a turnoff. Anna (Felicity Jones) is my dream girl. She and Jacob (Anton Yelchin) are passionate and natural together. So when a foreign visa issue keeps them legally apart, it’s really painful to see them apart, and awkwardly back together in spurts. The characters address and deal with their issues, which is not something most romances do. It’s as powerful as The Notebook and perhaps more relatable to a young, indie minded audience.
Moneyball – You don’t have to follow baseball to appreciate this story of the business of sports, and the frustration of loyalty versus money. Baseball talk becomes character building and the dialogue is typically fascinating Aaron Sorkin, full of non sequitur comments that hilariously inform character (from both Jonah Hill and Brad Pitt). Billy Beane (Pitt)’s bad pep talks are a nice change of pace from sports clichés too. He gets a little desk pounding melodrama in there too. There is some good sports footage too, also accessible as a function of the plot if not an in depth analysis of the game.