Toronto Film Fest, Day 2: Reviews of Rendition and Alexandra

Toronto coverage continues with globally minded flicks.

by | September 7, 2007 | Comments

I mentioned yesterday I was expecting to post a Juno review, but I was also expecting for something at some point to go wrong. What went right: I saw Juno. What went wrong: I was rather underwhelmed. But don’t take that as ill omen; I’m apparently a bad judge at these indie coming-of-age comedies. I thought Eagle vs Shark was going to set the world on fire, while the Certified Fresh Rocket Science didn’t elevate me.

However, the people I saw Juno with are head over heels for it (and the festival crowd, who mostly refuse to register emotions, cheered and applauded with reckless abandon), including RT editor Jen Yamato who has also graciously volunteered to later review the movie. I will say this: Kimya Dawson, Cat Power, Kinks, and two (!) songs from Belle & Sebastian? Killer soundtrack, man.

In the meanwhile, I caught some screenings for Rendition and Alexandra.

Rendition is generating buzz as a groundbreaking Toronto film, showing waterboarding and electric torture in full detail. But call me desensitized: that stuff didn’t nearly shock as much as, say, the ball-busting scene in Casino Royale. Director Gavin Hood was recently announced to helm Wolverine, and it’s easy to see why: after nabbing the foreign film Oscar for Tsotsi, Hood gives in to his Hollywood impulses completely for Rendition, a polished-to-a-shine thriller in the vein of Babel. Starring Reese Witherspoon, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Peter Sarsgaard (I wanted those two to have a poker face-off, but, alas, they never meet), Rendition follows half a dozen storylines across two continents, each peripherally revolving around one’s man secret detainment and torture in South Africa. Each actor gets their moment to shine and clever editing creates an intriguing late-game plot twist, but it’s a relatively simple movie whose message isn’t anything you haven’t already read in a New York Times op-ed.

You know how Nick Drake songs are so depressing they sort of cheer you up? Alexandra is so awful that I was floating out of the theater, congratulating myself for having made it all the way through. Playing less like a foreign film and more like a spoof of a foreign film in an episode of Seinfeld, Alexandra follows the cranky titular character as she visits her grandson at an army base whilst complaining to the camera for 90 straight minutes. Extreme close-ups, washed out cinematography, pointless shots of nature — director Alexander Sokurov leaves no principle of obnoxious art cinema unemployed. Shockingly, this is the same Sokurov who created 2002’s Russian Ark, the hypnotic historical drama famously shot in only one take. Here, Sokurov films like he’s painting a bedroom wall: patient, even scenes of absolutely nothing interesting at all.

Tag Cloud

GLAAD unscripted Spike MSNBC El Rey sports Bravo Cosplay 2019 TBS Ghostbusters elevated horror transformers HBO zero dark thirty Acorn TV Crackle Starz justice league Red Carpet 45 BET politics Certified Fresh historical drama OWN talk show TIFF RT History Mudbound GoT Pet Sematary Biopics SXSW FXX RT21 SDCC cops 24 frames ABC IFC sequel FOX space BBC America streaming dragons Apple Super Bowl Oscars CMT Action Trailer harry potter Toys DirecTV DC streaming service CW Seed golden globes APB Animation Martial Arts DC Universe Amazon mutant adventure Spectrum Originals Reality Comedy Universal miniseries war 2015 TCA 2017 Cartoon Network USA docudrama Summer thriller Music Western Drama supernatural zombie 2016 TV Land Brie Larson TV Holidays crossover FX YouTube Premium See It Skip It Amazon Prime Fox News Mary Poppins Returns GIFs Emmys Stephen King Kids & Family technology Calendar MCU Thanksgiving TruTV Freeform Superheroe Tarantino Mary Tyler Moore Trivia witnail TNT Rocketman biography Netflix Polls and Games jamie lee curtis political drama dc Epix Sundance Anna Paquin Ellie Kemper aliens CBS All Access Mindy Kaling cooking facebook 2017 true crime IFC Films Britbox 007 Nominations New York Comic Con VH1 Watching Series finale Comedy Central Year in Review television Premiere Dates Schedule Captain marvel award winner psychological thriller Musical Adult Swim Pirates Reality Competition DGA San Diego Comic-Con sitcom nature 21st Century Fox TCA Grammys Countdown Paramount Network police drama TCM serial killer doctor who based on movie Rock Christmas strong female leads Tumblr Winners Teen PBS Superheroes Film Festival Marathons WGN Podcast Pixar Lucasfilm Winter TV Comics on TV dceu Interview A&E comiccon vampires zombies SundanceTV The Arrangement National Geographic cats Logo ratings Horror AMC Awards Tour science fiction Mary poppins Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Musicals blaxploitation Dark Horse Comics ESPN Rom-Com E! NBC Photos cults Valentine's Day Lionsgate The CW Sony Pictures ITV Heroines LGBTQ Awards travel spy thriller USA Network Country Mystery Tomatazos Fantasy composers TLC Creative Arts Emmys Elton John Character Guide diversity X-Men DC Comics Ovation Walt Disney Pictures Video Games Pop Lifetime anthology Cannes Sci-Fi robots Masterpiece First Look Hulu VICE dramedy The Witch natural history Comic Book President Rocky YA CBS Quiz Election Columbia Pictures comic Warner Bros. Infographic 20th Century Fox mockumentary Women's History Month medical drama Fall TV discovery PaleyFest Black Mirror Disney Showtime History Opinion binge Trophy Talk American Society of Cinematographers richard e. Grant YouTube Red ABC Family disaster hist Spring TV Marvel Nickelodeon anime green book Vudu social media theme song BBC period drama Paramount Esquire Syfy what to watch Best and Worst Disney Channel Set visit romance singing competition Shudder NYCC crime thriller Shondaland casting Food Network Star Trek Star Wars Sneak Peek crime drama teaser Extras boxoffice spider-man 2018 Nat Geo Song of Ice and Fire festivals Box Office Writers Guild of America crime cinemax CNN Chilling Adventures of Sabrina E3 MTV adaptation psycho Sundance Now