Thursday, August 20, 2009

New Write Ups, Ratings Runtimes on Triage, Valhalla Rising at Toronto Film Festival

Several pieces of news today out of Toronto regarding two films (NOT Sigma films sorry but ones that I care about) playing at the film festival next month. New writeups/descriptions of the films have been posted along with a confirmed guest list. 500 big name stars, press pics ahoy forthcoming!

*Valhalla Rising: Director Refn and star Mads Mikkelsen again confirmed to attend (and no not surprised that Jamie Sives is not on list; he usually avoids these things like the plague although I wonder if he is shooting the Bonny Boys since they updated that as in production-no idea tho) Now listed with a 90 minute run time, the TIFF writes:

One of the most daring and audacious directors in Europe, Nicolas Winding Refn is probably best known for the epochal Pusher trilogy, which transplanted the gangster film to Copenhagen and gave it a tragic import and epic scale. (It may be the only gangster series that evokes not only Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palma but also Shakespeare's Henry IV plays.) His most recent effort, Valhalla Rising, is possibly even more ambitious, since it tackles one of the tawdriest genres in cinematic history – the viking movie – and elevates it so significantly that the film bears almost no relationship to its forebears.

Valhalla Rising begins on a desolate coast where the heads of warring clans meet in battle. For years, the most fearsome and successful fighter has been an enigmatic figure known only as One Eye (played by the inestimable Mads Mikkelsen, star of the first two Pusher films, as well as Casino Royale and Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky, also playing at the Festival).

Silent and lethal, One Eye has defeated everyone he's encountered, but he's treated more like an animal than a warrior. The only person he has any relationship with is the young boy who brings him food and water daily. Constantly caged and shackled, One Eye has drawn the attention of a new force now sweeping the countryside and displacing the society's leaders: Christians.

Determined to claim territory for his faith, the leader of a band of Christians sets sail on an ill-fated odyssey to the Holy Land with One Eye and the young boy in tow. Referencing masters like Akira Kurosawa and Sergio Leone with a touch of Andrei Tarkovsky thrown in for good measure, Valhalla Rising shows how carnage, once invoked, has no fealty but to itself. Little separates the Christians from their pagan predecessors – they're just as bellicose and bloodthirsty.

The film's landscapes look so foreign and desolate that Valhalla Rising might as well have been shot on the moon. By emphasizing the distance between these characters and us, Refn paradoxically makes the events seem closer and more immediate. Rarely has a film exposed so succinctly the specious, often theological justifications for war."

*Triage: Director Danis Tanovic and star Colin Farrell confirmed again to attend. Listed with a 99 minute runtime and rated 14A, their write up reads:

It is only the dead who have seen the end of war.” This quote from Plato shadows the story of Triage, Danis Tanovic's latest exploration of how battle alters the human heart. But unlike his Academy Award-winning No Man's Land, this new drama follows not the soldier but the chronicler.

Colin Farrell plays Mark Walsh, a war photographer in the late eighties. Home in Dublin between assignments, he shares a few laughs at the pub with his friend and fellow photographer David (Jamie Sives) and the women in their lives, but they all know it's only a matter of time before Mark's no-nonsense editor (Juliet Stevenson) sends him back into the fray. This time it's Kurdi-stan – and David goes with him.

High in the arid mountains pursuing a war without borders, Mark and David witness and capture horrendous images, from combatants pulverized by ammunition, to a doctor who works heroically to save the wounded but shoots dead those he knows he can't help. Worse, the friends begin to disagree over whether to stay or flee the chaos. Eventually they separate and lose contact, and Mark must return home to Ireland alone.

The scene where Mark arrives back in Dublin to surprise his Spanish wife, Elena (Paz Vega), is a lovely, erotic interlude. But soon the tension builds again. He is increasingly alienated and volatile, and startlingly thin (Farrell lost over forty pounds for the role). Desperate, Elena brings her grandfather over from Spain.

As played by the legendary Christopher Lee, Dr. Joaquin Morales is a fearsome man. A psychiatrist who worked under Franco's fascist regime, he specialized in healing murderers. In a series of gripping encounters that are the real heart of this film, he challenges Mark to release his guilt over what happened in Kurdistan.

Triage is a slow burn, gathering more and more emotional impact as it goes. Working at the centre of this moving character study, Farrell is terrific. But it is Lee, in perhaps his most detailed dramatic performance of a very long career, who is the revelation.

The actual date of screenings have not yet been released, and have no idea when they will be alas.

1 comment:

  1. Two of the most anticipated films of 2010. Love your works, very interesting, I will keep in touch.