Readers from last year may have remembered my disdain for the Canadian short films featured at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival. This year, out of a wide array of great shorts preceding each feature, the programming won me back.
Toronto After Dark
The Lure (DIR. Agnieszka Smoczynska) Often, a film that has a convoluted plot is trying to hide the fact that it has nothing else going for it. Thus, it is absolutely understandable if someone were to question whether or not to see a Polish horror-musical about a pair of human-eating mermaid sisters who work in a cabaret show, partially based on the original Hans Christian Andersen version of “The Little Mermaid”. Thankfully, Agnieszka Smoczynska’s The Lure is…
The Master Cleanse (DIR. Bobby Miller) The Master Cleanse is such a small film, it’s easy to see why it would slip under someone’s radar. It’s 79 minutes long, contains a seemingly underdeveloped plot, and the film doesn’t seem to provide much in way of cultural presence. This is why Bobby Miller’s movie was such a pleasant surprise – it was so endearing.
Antibirth (DIR. Danny Perez) Antibirth is the feature film debut of Danny Perez, someone who has – until now – worked exclusively in music videos, and it shows. The film has a chaotic punk rock aesthetic and beautiful imagery, but not much else going for it. Just like a music video, Antibirth is all about getting from one image to the next, only this time with several minutes of dead air between each visual. The film follows Lou (Natasha…
As the Gods Will (DIR. Takashi Miike) Takashi Miike has two modes of filmmaking: a deadly serious style that’s evident in films like Audition, and a goofy, over-the-top style visible in films like Ichi the Killer. In As the Gods Will, it takes the viewer mere minutes to figure out which category Miike’s latest falls into (for me, it was the moment when a student gets decapitated and bleeds red marbles).
Shorts After Dark – a program of carefully selected international short films – returned to the Toronto After Dark Film Festival on Saturday, October 15. In the past, these shorts usually run the gamut of subgenres, as well as the gamut of quality, with the spectrum ranging from brilliance to downright horrendous. This year’s selection was solid. Even in comparison to past showcases, this year’s worst short was still better than former duds that have made the cut.
Blood Father (DIR. Jean-François Richet) Mel Gibson was once one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. Now, he is staging a comeback which includes a few directorial efforts. Preceding those is his starring role in Jean-Francois Richet’s Blood Father, a film which could be cynically viewed as an attempt to get Gibson back on the public’s radar and nothing more, if only it was not so entertaining and memorable.
Bed of the Dead (DIR. Jeff Maher) It’d be easy to call Bed of the Dead wooden, but that would only be a cheap dig. It is, however, hollow and unbelievably convoluted for a film that should be simple. It’s a killer bed, for crying out loud.
Train to Busan (DIR. Yeon Sang-ho) Sometimes, a film fails at everything – an abject failure. Sometimes, a film fails at the majority of its goals while succeeding in some, earning a designation of mediocrity. Then, there are the rare cases of films failing in a majority of ways with a few successes, wherein those successes manage to outshine the failure. Yeon Sang-ho’s Train to Busan fits into that final example, a film that comes…
Now, this is more like it! Let Her Out is the type of movie I want to see from Canadian filmmaker Cody Calahan.