Sunday, August 17, 2008

Tropic Thunder, Mirrors and more festival picks

Saw Tropic Thunder Friday night and it was....good, I guess. No, it was actually pretty hilarious, and I'll repeat my comment from Pineapple Express regarding bloody viscera and its growing importance in improv-heavy ironic comedies of the day. I suppose what resistance I have to giving the movie an all-out rave is my basic issue with Ben Stiller, namely that his inside-Hollywood self-reference always seems to lend his projects an uncomfortable air of nudge-nudge chumminess that I find really offputting. On the other hand, Stiller seems to only play two kinds of characters these days: on one hand there's the schlemiel whose relationships devolve into Kafka-esque hells (Along Came Polly, Meet The Parents), on the other there's the over-the-top caricature who seems to exist in a separate plane of reality but seems vaguely plausible within the context of the narrative (Dodgeball, Zoolander, Mystery Men). Personally, when he's doing the latter I tend to find him a lot more interesting; Tugg Speedman falls firmly into the this camp, but the returns are shrinking. As for the other much talked-about performances, Downey Jr. is as brilliant as always, and I think would be a shoo-in for a best supporting actor nod if the role wasn't freighted with such political overtones. Tom onscreen for about three times as long as he should be for his role to be at all effective; as it plays, he's boring and irritatingly profane for no discernable reason.

Also saw Mirrors in a virtually empty AMC 24 theatre and I was mostly impressed. Though I've kind of cooled on Asian horror of late, I'm always game for a solid remake, and Alexadre Aja delivered in ways that the makers of One Missed Call and Shutter utterly failed to do. I was stunned at just how extreme the violence was, and how it pushed so many of my nightmare buttons.

Anyway, back to the TIFF. More announcements this week, including Genova which is a Special Presentation after all so I won't be going to the premiere screening. I called the festival office to inquire about pricing for the subsequent screenings and was told they hadn't gotten all the details yet. Assuming that the second and maybe third screenings of Genova will be in theatres other than the Elgin I'll still add it to my choices. Discovery, Vanguard and Visions programs were also announced, with several maybes: Gigantic, Lymelife and Afterwards are high on the possibles list.

Two days til the whole film list goes live

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