Toronto Film Fest: "A History of Violence," "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang," "Elizabethtown," and "The Matador"

by | September 21, 2005 | Comments

Here are capsule reviews of four relatively good films I saw at the Toronto International Film Festival. Be on the lookout for these flicks in the coming months.

A History of Violence

David Cronenberg’s latest thriller starring Viggo Mortensen was probably one of the most hyped films entering the Toronto International Film Festival, and deservedly so. Mortensen plays an unassuming small town restaurant owner who gets mistaken by some menacing mobsters (Ed Harris and William Hurt) for someone who had done them wrong. It’s gory and violent, but satisfyingly entertaining. At 85% on the Tomatometer so far, this is definitely one to watch for in the Fall – well, actually, in a couple weeks.

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

Directed by “Lethal Weapon” screenwriter Shane Black, this tongue-in-cheek noir is one of the pleasant surprises of the festival. It features the odd pairing of two almost forgotten actors, Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr., in a murder mystery. The banter between the two is consistently funny throughout the film. Michelle Monaghan joins in on the fun as a struggling actress who hires the two private eyes to investigate her sister’s murder. The story does get a little too convoluted towards the end, but by that time, I was more than willing to let that slide. It’s a fun movie. At 67% on the Tomatometer so far, the critics seem to agree with me.

The Matador
Pierce Brosnan is hilarious as a sleazy assassin who’s lost his edge. It’s fun to see Brosnan satirize his James Bond persona with such reckless abandon. As in “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang,” it’s the odd pairing of characters – Greg Kinnear and Hope Davis as a suburban couple who are uncomfortably thrilled to have an assassin suddenly drop in and stay for a night – that creates most of the humor. Three of the four reviews available in our database also praise the film.


Director Cameron Crowe didn’t attend the screening I went to, but he did have a message for the critics prior to the viewing – don’t review “Elizabethtown” based on this screening because it’s still being edited. Sorry, Cameron – here it is, disclaimer notwithstanding. This romantic comedy starring Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst is pleasant enough, but I feel like I’ve seen it before – when it was called “Garden State.” City kid returns to hometown for a funeral and finds love. Sure, “Elizabethtown” is lighter, but it feels twice as long. Just when you expect the film to end, you get a prolonged funeral party and a road trip. Like “Seven Swords,” there’s probably a good 90 minute film in this 135 minute romance. The few critics who disregarded Crowe’s request skewered the film.

Other Toronto International Film Festival Articles:
Toronto Film Fest: Soderberg’s "Bublle," "Capote" with Philip Seymore Hoffman
Toronto Film Fest: Tsui Hark’s “Seven Swords” starring Donnie Yen
Toronto Film Fest: World Premiere of "The Myth" starring Jackie Chan
Toronto Film Fest: Tim Burton’s "Corpse Bride" starring Johnny Depp
Toronto Film Fest: "Flightplan" with Jodie Foster and "Shopgirl" with Steve Martin
Toronto Film Fest: "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit""

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