TIFF 2017: Creatura Dada

Cinema Axis

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It almost feels folly to describe Caroline Monnet’s Creatura Dada with any kind of sincerity. I could certainly do it, but it will take you more time to read my blurby review than to actually watch the film. I watched it four times in preparation, and each time I noticed something different.

At a scant four minutes long, you’d think there couldn’t possibly be much going on. But, there’s a lot of content in those four minutes. Ostensibly, Creatura Dada seems to be a bridal shower or even a women’s-only rehearsal dinner. The women, all of indigenous descent, consume a luxurious seafood meal in many courses, bordering between the gluttonous and the celebratory. At one point, it becomes clear that the meal is being shown in reverse – sort of. At another, the women dance or sway to the music while staring straight to camera, organized in generations.

Monnet means…

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“It” is Potent Storytelling Spoiled by Commercialized Horror

It appears to be one of the most crowd-pleasing horror films in recent memory. But a crowd-pleasing horror film is something of a contradiction in terms. If everyone finds it to their liking, then how unnerving, scary, or boundary-pushing can it possibly be? I’m not saying that every horror film has to have people throwing up in the theaters like The Exorcist or scared out of their wits, but there is something wrong with a horror film feeling so conventional and comfortable.

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TIFF 2017: The Tesla World Light

Cinema Axis

tesla_05The Tesla World Light is a strange stop-motion animation short film. Robert Vilar plays Nikola Tesla in the latter days of his life, fantasizing about a system of free energy for all nations while a lightning-spouting pigeon terrorizes him around his room.

So, it’s something of an art film.

The animation technique is obviously stop-motion, especially for the pigeon, but that’s part of the charm. The rest of the animation is a technique called light animation, which involves moving a bright light in frame, resulting in light rays. In practice, it looks kind of like the trailing lights of a sparkler. It’s a pretty cool effect, and it definitely suits the subject of Tesla and his penchant for electricity experiments.

Story-wise, there is not much going on, and it gets a little abstract and crazy. But that’s kind of the point, it’s an expression of the manic genius of Tesla…

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TIFF 2017: Tulipani: Love, Honour, and a Bicycle

Cinema Axis

tulipani_love_honourandabicycle_01Tulipani: Love, Honour, and a Bicycle is a Dutch romance film that perfectly balances its whimsical outlook on life with heartfelt drama. Set in Puglia, Italy, the film tells the story of a Dutch man named Gauke starting a new life after a devastating flood in his home town. The overall result is a brilliant comedy with affecting characters, gorgeous visuals, and powerful themes.

Tulipani opens with a confounding shot of a redheaded woman named Anna (Ksenia Solo) hanging out of a Piaggio Ape, backside scraped or burned, hysterically laughing. After arriving at a local hospital, a police investigator confronts the girl about a Zippo lighter he found at a crime scene. Once she admits that it is hers, he charges Anna with murder. Anna’s friend, Piero and his Mother, loudly protest, explaining that there is a story that explains everything – a story 30 years in the making! Anna…

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TIFF 2017: What Will People Say

Cinema Axis

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In What Will People Say, young Nisha (Maria Mozhdah) is caught in an irreconcilable culture clash between her Pakistani heritage and her Norwegian surroundings. At home, especially in the presence of her father, she plays the part of the faithful Muslim daughter. Out with her friends, she is your standard Western teenager – chasing boys, navigating high school, and just trying to grow up.

The opposing viewpoints collide one night, and Nisha is kidnapped by her father and forced to live with relatives back in Pakistan. This is all in service of teaching her (read: forcing her) to act in accordance with her parents’ wishes.

What Will People Say is not a particularly kind film, but it is obviously a personal one. Writer-Director Iram Haq lays the story out bluntly, forcing the viewer to walk alongside Nisha without any reprieve. It’s a harsh journey.

That harshness contrasts with Nisha’s…

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State of the Blog – September 2017

Move to a new state, start a new job, and your movie blogging suffers. July was something of a testament to that, but I still got to see some cool movies. August was brutal, with only a couple of worthwhile releases, both of which I missed (but hope to get to soon). Anyway, Life Things are starting to get sorted, September will certainly be better than August with regards to releases, and thanks to my laziness, there’s a plethora of good content on the way.

Let’s start with everything in the barrel here at Plot and Theme. I’ve five reviews in various stages of completion, and those will start rolling out over the next week. My quick reviews from TIFF, care of cinemaxis.com, will start showing up today with the amazing short animated film Threads, and I’ve got eight total reviews that will pop up throughout the festival. My Kubrick essay on Barry Lyndon is late, and going to be later (who would have thought a 3-hour historical drama would be so complicated?) Don’t worry, it will get done before the next Kubrick essay (which is The Shining). There’s also a pair of Patreon Picks that will be uploaded near the middle of the month.

Now for flicks. September is usually when some of the Awards movies get rolled out, and we have a little bit of that in Battle of the Sexes. Two other wide releases I’m interested in are genre fares, and they couldn’t be more different: It releases this weekend, and Kingsman: The Golden Circle releases the same week as Battle of the Sexes. Then, wrapping it all up, we have mother!, the Darren Aronofsky film starring Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer. I’ve always liked Aronofsky, and getting J-Law away from David O. Russell has to be beneficial.

So, while it may look like my interest in Plot and Theme is wavering, rest assured that it merely stalled due to the convergence of tumultuous life events and a terrible August. September, objectively the best month of the whole year, will help right this ship.

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