Yes, that small patch of September that falls after the Toronto Film Festival but before Austin's Fantastic Fest. Yes, I go from swanky hotels and Thandie Newton sightings to barbecued carnage and beer-drinkin' gorehounds without missing a beat. (And guess which fest feels more like home.) But with "TIFF" in the rear-view I figured a solid report was in order. Yes, complete with links to my full reviews. I'm sneaky that way.
The Walker -- Woody Harrelson as an effeminate schemer who gets all ostracized on a social level. Never woulda guessed this was a Paul Schrader flick.
The Orphanage -- Admit it: Abandoned orphanages are scary. Especially the ones found in Spain! Jokes aside, this is one of the best flicks I've seen all year.
Vexille -- High-end animayhem with a rockin' Oakenfold beat.
Dainipponjin (aka Big Man Japan) -- Certifiably insane. Trust me.
Stuck -- Yet another reason to be a big Stuart Gordon fan.
The Mother of Tears -- Harsh, nasty, weird and funny. Argento's most entertaining flick in years.
Juno -- Ugh, check the review. It reads like a goopy, soppy love letter to a girl who dumped me but I still think I can get her back.
They Wait -- A stiff-but-watchable Canadian ghost chiller that earns points by bringing in some Eastern flair. But not many.
Eastern Promises -- Witness the naked fury of Viggo Mortensen. Literally.
Sukiyaki Western Django -- Stylized Miike weirdness with too much chit-chat.
Just Buried -- Low-key Canadian dark comedy about two young people who kill folks to keep their funeral home afloat. Rose Byrne is so dang cute.
Frontiere(s) -- A thick and goopy stew composed of 14 other horror movies, but it's delivered with such sweat, slime and excitement that it's tough not to play along.
Elizabeth: The Golden Age -- Yeah, so it's Masterpiece Theater for Dummies, so what? The thing looks awesome, the story is actually decipherable, there's lots of soap opera hijinks, and Cate Blanchett continues to be a goddess. Fun stuff says me.
Redacted -- De Palma goes low-tech with this familiar-yet-novel war flick. Familiar because we've heard a lot of these perspectives by now, but novel because of the multi-handycam approach. Plus it's brief, ballsy, and sure to get people talking.
Diary of the Dead -- Yeeha, good ol' Georgie hooks us up yet again. It's a different approach to the genre, but since when is that a bad thing? Oh, and that Amish guy just kills me.
Sleuth -- A slight, slick, shiny little trifle that'll suitably entertain its target audience for 85 minutes and then slip out of the brain-pan without even a trace. I dug it for Michael Caine alone, but Jude Law's pretty cool too.
The Passage -- Another one of those "don't trust anyone who's not white and American" stories in which someone who's white and American trusts someone who's tan and Arabic ... and really lives to regret it. Nice to know Stephen Dorff is still around though.
Cleaner -- Renny Harlin directs Samuel L. Jackson, Ed Harris, Eva Mendes, Luis Guzman and Robert Forster in this tale of a professional gore-cleaner who scrubs the wrong crime scene and gets embroiled in a plainly noir-ish web.
Margot at the Wedding -- Hey, I really like The Squid and the Whale, so don't call me names for thinking Baumbach's follow-up is an ugly, tiresome and sweaty little mess. The American Pie trilogy is less bodily-function-obsessed than this movie. Jennifer Jason Leigh is awesome. That's the bright spot. You'll also get to see Nicole Kidman masturbate AND Jack Black's naked ass. Enjoy.
The Take -- John Leguizamo does some very fine work in this generally familiar tale of "guy gets shot, slowly gets better, starts wondering about who shot him in the first place." Rosie Perez is good too. And Bobby Cannavale is starting to really grow on me.
Death Defying Acts -- A handsome and entertaining (if not exactly spectacular) period piece about a dime-store "psychic" (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and her brief relationship with the legendary Harry Houdini. Probably worth watching if only for Guy Pearce's charming portrayal of HH ... but it's also nice to look at the Zeta for 90-some minutes, too.
Reservation Road -- Three damn good performances stuck in a push-button-topic drama that'd seem more at home on the Lifetime Channel. Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Ruffalo and Jennifer Connelly play three parents whose lives (ahem) collide after a fatal car crash. Possibly worth seeing just for the performances, but that's why matinees are cheaper than night-time shows.
Flash Point -- Hyper-kinetic Hong Kong action insanity. If you're a fan of the stuff, you'll be a fan of this.
The Devil's Chair -- British horror flick that borrows liberally (and openly) from Lovecraft to Voorhees and everybody in between. The result is a quick-clip hyper-gory hack-fest that'll keep the fans happy. Sick, simple, and surprisingly handsome to look at.
Inside (A l'interieur) -- A memorably intense French piece about a very pregnant woman, a very psychotic mega-bitch, and a very sharp scissors. Yeah, they go there. Amazingly bloody, lip-chewingly tense, all sorts of dark and disturbing fun. Go Frenchmen!
Next week: A long and lovely trip to Fantastic Fest. Expect reports and pics (from both festivals) soon. Yes, all nine of you.