In part three of our TIFF 2011 preview, Andrew Parker takes a look at 388 Arletta Avenue, Afghan Luke, and Café de Flore. Check back over the next few days for more previews of films playing at TIFF 2011.
388 Arletta Avenue
Contemporary World Cinema
Director: Randall Cole
388 Arletta Avenue has a great hook, but it simply doesn’t do anything exciting. A graphic designer for an advertising agency (Nick Stahl) is unwittingly being watched by an unseen psychopath who has placed surveillance cameras and microphones throughout his house. Once the unseen creep kidnaps his wife (Mia Kishner), he must unravel the mystery behind a person who manages to stay one step ahead of him at every turn. Director Randall Cole manages a few good moments here and there and the use of the hidden cameras to tell the story is less annoying than some cynics would probably believe, but this is simply Cache, Saw, and Paranormal Activity thrown into a blender minus any of the elements that made those films engaging. It’s just really dull. On the plus side, though, Devon Sawa shows up in a small supporting role and it’s nice to be reminded he’s still working.
Rating: ** (out of five stars)
September 11 at 7 p.m. at the Scotiabank
September 12 at 2:30 p.m. at the AMC
Director: Mike Clattenburg
Trailer Park Boys creator Mike Clattenburg takes a tongue in cheek look at war journalists in Afghanistan with his tale of a young reporter (Nick Stahl) who wants to return to a war zone to track down an infamous sniper after his initial story is buried by his editors. It sounds a lot more serious on paper than it is in practise, and that is ultimately a compliment. Clattenburg injects his film with some much needed humour and an episodic tone that makes it more palatable than the most recent wave of self serious films about modern military quagmires. Stahl shines as the grounding force in the film even if his narration is a bit overbearing at times.
Rating: *** (out of five stars)
September 11 at 9:30 p.m. at the Scotiabank
September 14 at 2:15 p.m. at the AMC
Café de Flore *Criticize This! TIFF Pick *
Director: Jean Marc-Vallee
Director Jean Marc-Vallee (C.R.A.Z.Y., The Young Victoria) has crafted a beautiful and elegiac film about love and loss that almost knocks it out of the park entirely.Café de Flore bounces back and forth between 1969 Paris and the Montreal of the 1980s and today to show the connections between a recently divorced DJ (Kevin Parent), his ex-wife (Helene Florent), and a young boy with down-syndrome that is falling in love for the first time to the chagrin of his loving single mother (Vanessa Paradis). Vallee explores the nature of first love and the influence of music on a person’s life with near heartbreaking realism, but when the film takes a third act turn towards the mystical it stumbles. The performances are excellent across the board and the soundtrack for the film is almost worth the price of admission alone. Under no circumstances should you leave once the credits roll. If you do, you will miss the actual ending of the film.
Rating: **** (out of five stars)
September 12 at 10 p.m. at the Princess of Wales
September 14 at 11:45 a.m. at the TIFF Bell Lightbox
TIFF 2011 runs from September 8 – 18. For more information, visit tiff.net.
Top image: A scene from Café de Flore. Courtesy TIFF.