Saturday, September 06, 2008

More TIFF Reviews

Edison And Leo

George Toles is known as Guy Maddin's partner in crime. If you've ever seen a Maddin film, you know how unique an experience it is. Toles has helped write most of them. Edison and Leo was meant to be yet another Toles/Maddin film, live action and undoubtedly odd.

But the story had so much to it, that it would cost millions. I'm not sure Guy would know what to do with a budget that big.

It fell to Neil Burns to direct, and he does stop-motion animation. Oddly enough, with its rich history of short animated films, this is the first feature-length stop-motion film produced in Canada.

George T. Edison has invented a lot of things, but he considers his son Leo his greatest invention. George "collects" items from all over the world. It's just that the people he collects them from didn't exactly give them up willingly. Revenge leads to a cross-country search for help, which leads to more collecting and more revenge. His wife and son pay the price...

Personally, I think I'd rather have seen Maddin's take. The film isn't bad, but it isn't great either. The animation is decent, if not Henry Selick quality. The voice acting (by Powers Boothe and the delicious Carly Pope) is, overall, pretty solid. My problem lies with the story. There are more than a few "what the fuck?" moments where you wonder what possible motivation there is for certain events. An act by George leaves him fairly unredeemable for the remainder of the film. His other son, Faraday is totally unlikeable.

However, it is somewhat redeemed by the fact it's not for kids. There's one decidedly "adult" scene, and a fair bit of violence and death. Unfortunately, they forgot to adjust the dialogue to a similar maturity level.

So on the whole, I didn't regret seeing it, but I can't disagree with the ratings of 2-3 stars.


This was a second choice film for me. They canceled the screening of New York, I Love You that I wanted and gave me this. I'm incredibly happy they did.

Bruce McDonald, of Hard Core Logo and The Tracy Fragments fame has another point on his scorecard. Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie) is a shock jock who's been fired and finds himself in the small town of Pontypool, Ontario. One snowy winter morning he heads into work - the local radio station in a church basement, and this is where all the action takes place.

This is essentially a one-set movie that deals with, for lack of a better term, a zombie epidemic, from the viewpoint of a talk radio host.

Strange things are happening, calls are coming in, reports are increasingly odd, and nobody's confirming a thing. In fact, the three people in the studio seem to be the only ones who are providing information. Frantic on-air calls, seemingly unconnected events, and a brief hijacking of their airwaves all come together. Something about the isolated viewpoint of the entire thing really works, and McHattie does a fantastic Imus-like character in the middle of a crisis.

The whole thing seemed very Romero-like, with commentary on media, and military. There's even a reference to Norman Mailer. Another Romero-like quality is that the word "zombie" is never used.

The reason behind the outbreak is decidedly unique... so much so that my level 2 suspension of disbelief kicked in immediately to accept it, and put it aside to figure out later. I've decided it's somehow brilliant.

If it does well, there'll be two more parts released, and I can't wait for them. Honestly one of the most unique takes on the genre I've seen, and a fantastic film. My favourite so far this fest.

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