In the fifth part of our TIFF 2012 preview, Brian McKechnie takes a look at The Hunt, The Sessions, and West of Memphis. Follow all of our TIFF 2012 coverage at criticizethis.ca/tiff.
The Hunt * Criticize This! TIFF Pick *
Director: Thomas Vinterberg
One of the most powerful, infuriating and emotionally draining films I’ve ever seen, The Hunt tells the story of a kindergarten teacher (Mads Mikkelsen) who is wrongfully accused by his best friend’s daughter of molesting her and then must deal with the aftermath from the people around him. Mikkelsen gives the performance of his career and director Thomas Vinterberg shows true craftsmanship and proves he’s one of the finest filmmakers in the world. The Hunt is a perfect cinematic experience that affected me deeply and stayed with me for days after seeing it.
Rating: **** (out of 5 stars)
Monday, September 10 at 9:15 p.m. at the TIFF Bell Lightbox
Wedesnday, September 12 at 3 p.m. at the TIFF Bell Lightbox
Director: Ben Lewin
Mark O’Brien was a writer who was paralyzed from polio at a young age and was confined to an iron lung most of the time. When he decided he wanted to lose his virginity in his 30’s he called upon a sex therapist to assist him in the delicate process. Starring the great John Hawkes as O’Brien and with Helen Hunt (who bares all) portraying his therapist, The Sessions should have been a much better film than it turned out to be. Instead it’s a wishy-washy wannabe tearjerker that left a bad taste in my mouth. I put the blame solely on writer-director Ben Lewin, whose last work was an episode of the TV show Touched By Angel back in 2003. With a stronger person in charge this material could have been Oscar-worthy. Where it stands now it will most likely end up in the discount bin at Wal-Mart before the end of the year.
Rating: ** (out of 5 stars)
Sunday, September 9 at 2:30 p.m. at the Elgin (Visa Screening Room)
Tuesday, September 11 at 2:30 p.m. at the Elgin (Visa Screening Room)
Saturday, September 15 at 12 p.m. at the Ryerson Theatre
West of Memphis
Director: Amy Berg
West of Memphis is a pointless documentary if you’ve seen the Paradise Lost films, which chronicles the entire story of the ‘West Memphis Three’ — the three men who were tried and convicted of murdering three young boys when they were only teenagers themselves — from beginning to end. Produced by Peter Jackson, who involves himself a little too much with the case to be able to call himself an unbiased participant, and directed by Amy Berg (Deliver Us From Evil), the film is way more Hollywood-ized and slick than the Paradise Lost trilogy. Yet it does offer up some major new revelations surrounding the case and is definitely a worthwhile watch if you’re unaware of the story or previous films. Just don’t rush out to see it at TIFF.
Rating: *** (out of 5 stars)
Saturday, September 8 at 2:30 p.m. at the Ryerson Theatre
TIFF 2012 runs from September 6 – 16. For more information, visit tiff.net.
Top image: A scene from The Hunt. Courtesy TIFF.