In the fourth part of our TIFF 2012 preview, Andrew Parker takes a look at The Girl From the South, All That Matters is Past, and The Central Park Five. Follow all of our TIFF 2012 coverage at criticizethis.ca/tiff.
The Girl from the South
Director: Jose Luis Garcia
On a Soviet sponsored trip to North Korea in 1989, a then 24 year old Garcia travelled with an Argentinean youth group to ask Communist nations to help in their battle for sovereignty over the Falkland Islands. While there and recording with his VHS camcorder, Garcia became infatuated with a girl named Lim Su-kyng who staged a symbolic and heavily publicized border crossing between the two Koreas before serving a ten year prison sentence.
If his film were just comprised of the raw footage from 1989 North Korea, Garcia would have a much better and more interesting film on his hands. As a series of moving snapshots depicting a moment in time, the beginning of the film is almost indispensable. That sadly doesn’t last when Garcia’s infatuation with finding out where Lim is now proves to be self serving and arrogant. Lim doesn’t want to talk on camera about the subject at all, and Garcia’s prodding makes one feel extremely bad for her. She’s very obviously still traumatized and trying to deal with life in her own way, and without her involvement, Garcia really doesn’t have a movie to fall back on at all. It’s too uneasy feeling for it to work as the political document Garcia so desperately hopes for it to be.
Rating: ** (out of 5 stars)
Saturday, September 8 at 7 p.m. at Jackman Hall (AGO)
Monday, September 10 at 10:30 a.m. at Jackman Hall (AGO)
Saturday, September 15 at 4 p.m. at the Scotiabank
All That Matters is Past * Criticize This! TIFF Pick *
Contemporary World Cinema
Director: Sara Johnsen
Definitely not for the squeamish and brimming with tension and flashes of sadly inevitable brutality, Johnson has crafted one of the finest films of the festival with this Norwegian drama and suspense thriller that starts off intense and finds menace in some of life’s most mundane and ordinary seeming details.
The film’s time shifting narrative begins at the ending as an investigating officer attempts to piece together what went down between a pair of formerly estranged teenage lovers (Kristoffer Jonner and Maria Heiskanen) and the man’s deranged and jealous older brother (a quietly chilling David Denick). Although it’s clear where the story ends, the film flashes back to moments in the couples’ backwoods childhoods and adult life to paint a terrifying picture of a doomed romance marred by fear and tragedy.
Writer and director Johnson’s script is so tightly constructed and executed (with the exception of one scene that doesn’t quite make logical sense) that it’s easy to think that this film will spark a bidding war for the North American remake rights, and rightfully (and for some, regrettably) so. The film keeps the viewer guessing and surprises and shocks can come from literally out of nowhere. It’s definitely the best suspense thriller at the festival, and it never holds back, creating an equally brooding and terrifying experience.
Rating: ****1/2 (out of five stars)
Friday, September 7 at 6:00 p.m. at the Cineplex Yonge-Dundas
Saturday, September 8 at 12:30 p.m. at the Cineplex Yonge-Dundas
Friday, September 14 at 9:45 p.m. at the Scotiabank
The Central Park Five * Criticize This! TIFF Pick *
Directors: Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon
Famed documentarian Burns’ helps out with his daughter’s directorial debut, a stunning and inflammatory look at an infamous 1989 crime that proved that racial injustice and profiling wasn’t just a forgotten relic of the American Deep South circa Jim Crow.
Told largely through archival footage that includes coerced interrogations and from the mouths of those that lived through it, Central Park Five tells the story of the media circus surrounding the brutal beating and rape of a young white jogger in NYC’s Central Park and the five youths aged 14-16 that were incarcerated after being forced to confess to a crime they never committed because they were told that confessing would get them out of the precinct quicker and end the bullying they were subjected to by prideful and stubborn detectives.
Depicting late 80s New York as a powder keg of racial tension and admitting that the media and police never learned any lessons from all of this, the filmmakers put together a comprehensive package that feels like the urban equivalent to the now numerous films made about the West Memphis Three cases. It’s almost impossible not to be moved or incensed by what’s going on and even more frightening to see just how little progress we’ve made with regard to the rushing of the criminal justice system.
Rating: ***** (out of five stars)
Sunday, September 9 at 11:45 a.m. at the TIFF Bell Lightbox
Thursday, September 13 at 9:30 p.m. at the Cineplex Yonge-Dundas
Saturday, September 15 at 9:15 a.m. at the TIFF Bell Lightbox
TIFF 2012 runs from September 6 – 16. For more information, visit tiff.net.
Top image: A scene from The Central Park Five. Courtesy TIFF.