TIFF - Louise's Documentaries, & Festival Stinkers Part Two

Published 03, Oct, 2011

This year I saw nineteen films at TIFF and generally had a good experience


This year I saw nineteen films at TIFF and generally had a good experience .


My favourite documentary was The Last Dogs of Winter, the story of a man named Ladoon who is running a programme to save the last 400 wild Husky dogs in Churchill, Manitoba. In 1995, there were 2500 Huskies but the government killed most of them in order to stop Innu people from being nomadic in nature. It was “successful”, destroying further the traditional lifestyle of these people.

This courageous man has only two people helping him to feed these animals, to provide them medical care, and to use them to breed further such animals around the world. He has very little funding and little support from the townspeople for his work, out of fear of these dogs and the polar bears they attract. He is also helping to save the polar bears by keeping them away from the town and the possibility o being shot by townspeople. The story is compelling, heart warming and uplifting.

Pearl Jam Twenty and From the Sky Down about the histories of Pearl Jam and U2 were fine, somehow to me like being invited to watch the visual equivalent of an inside joke. This is for musicians and diehard fans . I like U2 especially but didn’t really feel engaged by the film. Pearl Jam was at least more “out there” and fun to watch with all of their antics.

The last documentary was The Fatherland, an Argentine film shot in the Recoleta cemetery in Buenos Aires , where Evita is buried. The director has different unknown and unnamed people reading at the gravesides of different also unknown( to me at least) historical figures from letters or poetry they wrote. I was asleep in no time. Sound concept but poor execution( so to speak).

The Lady

The Lady is the personal side of the story of Sang Sui Khi who is being kept as a political prisoner in Burma and was under house arrest for many years. She was also the winner of the Nobel prize but was not able to collect it because she would not have been permitted to return to Burma if she left. Michelle Yoen does a creditable job in the title role and Tom Wilkinson puts in a good performance as her long suffering and supportive English professor husband. While I enjoyed the film as I was watching, I realized after I left that it left me quickly and didn’t satisfy my desire to admire and be inspired by this living legend. Her struggle should have touched me more but it didn’t. Perhaps it lacked enough feeling in the character to feel her suffering- she was a bit too stoic for me to connect with her. See for yourself. There is no question that she is an important political figure of our time.


Peace, Love and Misunderstanding- What is there to misunderstand in this stinker?

What was Jane Fonda thinking ? She surely cannot want to be remembered for this retro stinker. Hippy grandmother living in Woodstock, N.Y. has visit from uptight, judgmental lawyer doctor from NYC and her two pubescent teenage children. How many times do we need to see this theme of learning to accept our dysfunctional little family as it is? Not this time, that’s for certain. Just awful, predictable, boring and embarrassing for Jane Fonda and her fans. Jane,tip from a fan : please remake Klute if you must act and can’t think of anything original to say.

The Woman on the Fifth- Fifth What ?

What were Ethan Hawke and Kristin Scott Thomas thinking ? Are they that hard up for money ? If you have insomnia . see this one. You’ll be cured.

Dark Horse- Biggest disappointment of the Festival

What was Todd Solondz thinking? He has been my hero- maker of edgy, dark, difficult and interesting films including Happiness and Life During Wartime. Suddenly he wimps out and makes this half-baked piece about an obese, nerdy boy-man looking for love in all the wrong places , actually anywhere at all. Such a waste of Mia Farrow and Christopher Walken’s considerable talents. Even they cannot save this boring middle of the road unfunny comedy. Another good insomnia medication.

Americano- Snore

Another dog that had no reason to be made. Sorry, another “chien” since it’s a French dog. A garbled meandering tale of love gone wrong. Or something, I regretted the waste of Selma Hayek and Geraldine Chaplin. Boring, pointless, lengthy. Avoid at all costs.

Heleno- Who cares ?

Another waste of time and cute boys, Heleno tells the tale of the rise and fall of famed Brazilian football player ( soccer to me) Heleno de Freitas. I’m sure his life was more interesting than it appears in this film. Even the eye candy provided by Rodrigo Santoro in the title role is not enough to redeem this boring film- 116 minutes of my life I will never get back. Don’t let this happen to you and those you love or at least lust after.

Restless- I got that way after 15 minutes of this film

I adore Gus Van Sant- Elephant was brilliant, MILK wonderful. So what happened here ? Another snore fest . Why, Gus, why ? This film had no reason to be. And I had no reason to have to be subjected to it. Warning to all who enter here : this way boredom lies , 95 long minutes of it.