Tag Archives: Toronto International Film Festival

The Double Review, A Visually Stunning Mess

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The Double

Directed by: Richard Ayoade

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska, Wallace Shawn, Noah Taylor, Yasmin Paige, and James Fox

Richard Ayoade managed to surprise me with his directorial debut Submarine, so naturally I was excited to see what else he could do as a director. Submarine appealed to me based on my love of Wes Anderson, he is clearly had an influence on this film and it can tell. Although I couldn’t get it out of my mind while watching it, I still found a lot to like about the movie. Now The Double feels like another directors work, Terry Gilliam. Throughout the movie I noticed the parallels it had to movies like Brazil and 12 Monkeys. This really made me realize that Richard Ayoade is seriously lacking a style of his own. His movies feel anything but his own. He may be able to direct his actors well and control the camera well but he seriously needs to develop his own style of filmmaking instead of purely homaging other directors work.

Simon James (Jesse Eisenberg) sits alone in a completely deserted subway car. He clenches his briefcase to his chest and waiting to arrive at work. An unknown man approaches him and tells him that he is sitting in his seat. Simon looks around and eventually he moves for the man. This shows us just how timid he is and really shows the audience the kind of person he truly is. Even if there is other empty seats on the train he lacks the courage to tell the man to sit somewhere else. He arrives at work only to get his briefcase stuck in the doors of the train causing him to lose it. He arrives at his work only to get declined access. He can’t help but messing up. He goes unnoticed by his peers and the girl he is infatuated with.  We get a good sense of who he is in a span of 10 minutes and that’s one of the film’s strengths.

We soon meet the girl of Simon’s affection, Hannah (Mia Wasikowska), a lonely girl who works in the copy room. He always goes to visit the copy room but never has the courage to ask her out. It is not till a night when a man kills himself in the courtyard in the apartment complex that Hannah and Simon share. Distraught the two end up having dinner together and start to realize that they have a lot in common. A few days later we are introduced to James Simon (Jesse Eisenberg) a lookalike of Simon James who begins working at his job. Not long later he begins to usurp Simon and becoming a formidable force at his job and soon the same thing begins to happen to his life. He begins to go down the dark path of not knowing the difference between reality and what is in his head.

I really enjoy what Richard Ayoade brought to the screen with The Double and even more so with Submarine. The biggest problem with The Double is the story. Based on Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s short “The Double” it tells the story of two doppelgängers battling it out in dystopian like future, which isn’t quite explained. Nothing is truly compelling about the story itself. It was a rather repetitive shallow story about a man losing his life to a “different” person. Simon would interact with James pleasantly in one scene and in the next he is at his throat, it is just a repeat of the same formula. This happens throughout the entire movie, up to the very expected ending that shows just how unimaginative the story actually is. There is not true depth to the story at hand and if you really want to look into it the entire movie is revealed within the first 20 minutes. With Enemy it left it a mystery while on the other hand The Double gives you too much information.

Some believe this to be a comedy, just like Calvary, but I don’t think I found a single humorous moment. I’m not sure why it is being claimed as one but if that is what people are taking away from this movie that it is fine.

Were the story lacks the technical side of the film is amazing. Even though Jesse Eisenberg is able to convincingly play two different characters. He is both timid and mesmerizing. Richard Ayoade is very competent when it comes to directing actors, I don’t think there was a single dull performance. Given that Ayoade is also a very good comedian and I think it helps his directing and the talent that he brings behind the camera.

Even if I feel that the style of the movie is not his own I do still like the style that was brought to the film. The sense of dread and melancholy is shown very well with the sets and cinematography. One of the highlights of the film is the style. Brazil was a heavy influence on the film stylistically and did add to the film. I only wish that Ayoade would pick a certain style and stick with it.

Though it appears that I don’t like the movie that much given the content of the review I did actually enjoy myself watching it. It has its fair share of problems and I feel the hype for this movie really doesn’t pay off in the end.

Grade: C

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Enemy Review A Mesmerizing Psychological Thriller

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Enemy

Directed by: Denis Villeneuve

Starring: Jake GyllenhaalMélanie LaurentSarah Gadon, and Isabella Rossellini

Enemy asks the question “What would you do if you meet a person who looked exactly like you?” While it asks the question it doesn’t exactly answer it. It lets you think for yourself and answer the question yourself. I’ll admit that it is a little too vague sometimes but I found myself trying to answer all the mysterious elements that this film contains. Another movie came out this year that dealt with a similar concept, The Double, but never really asked the questions one would think a film like this would. I find the movie to be utterly fascinating but a little alienating towards it’s audience.

The film opens up with a man (Jake Gyllenhaal) sitting in a dimly lit club with men all around him. The man is watching an erotic dance, of sorts. Naked woman dance on stage which ends with one dancer crushing a spider with her heel. We cut to a pregnant woman laying alone in bed.

We are then introduced to Adam Bell (Jake Gyllenhaal) teaching a group of students about dictatorships and how they have come to be. He then goes back to his apartment, makes dinner, grades papers, and then has sex with his girlfriend before going to bed and repeating this routine day in and day out.

One day at lunch, Adam is talking to one of his coworkers and he recommends Adam check out a movie called ‘Where There’s a Will There’s a Way’. That night Adam can’t sleep, so out of curiosity he pops the movie into his computer and begins watching it. After finishing it he notices that one of the actors looks exactly like him. From this point out he becomes obsessed with finding out his identity and why they look alike. This leads Adam down a path that he will not be able to come back from.

The true power of this film is that it doesn’t reveal to much. It gives you the perfect amount of information and lets you decide what it means. A common motif of this movie is the use of spiders. There are plenty of scenes within Adam’s dreams and every time there is some sort of reference to spiders, whether it is a giant arachnid walking across the city scape or a woman with the head of a spider walking upside down. There have been many interpretations of this film so far. An interpretation that I read earlier states the movie is about something more sinister than anything I could have come up with. Some believe that the movie is about a dictatorship that is secretly run alien arachnids. Now that seems a little out there.

I can understand the idea that the movie is about a dictatorship and that no one really realizes that they are living in a fascist regime. It is completely plausible given the lectures that Adam gives during the movie. What I feel the movie was about was an identity crisis with this man Adam. One of the things that spider signify in dreams is a want to distance yourself from alluring and tempting situations. Throughout the movie Adam is having a relationship with Mary (Mélanie Laurent). In my opinion Adam and Anthony are the same exact person and, as a coping mechanism, Adam created an entire different personality so that he doesn’t feel guilty about cheating on his wife. This movie is completely complex and it knows that. You can dig deep and look into the film that you can’t for most movies and that what I like about the film. It takes a concept that is rather simply and easy but makes it much more than that.

All around it is a solid movie with subtly intense performance from Jake Gyllenhaal. The entire movie rests on his shoulders and he hits it out of the park. He plays both characters differently and makes them their own but also gives the movie its life. Sadly the other two main actors don’t do much but then again they aren’t given much to do. With what Sarah Gadon is given she does a great job as the pregnant wife of Anthony but in the end she isn’t that well developed.

Mind you the story isn’t that great. It is just about a man in search for answer and that’s all it is meant to be. There isn’t a big story arch or distinct acts but that is the power of the film. It lets the story evolve with the character instead of the other way around. Meanwhile the style of the film is one of the strengths. It makes the city of Toronto feel like this alien place.

The movie does a lot right but it may alienate the audience with it’s mystery and lack of answers. It is a difficult watch but absolutely worth the ride if it is the kind of movies you enjoy.

Grade: A-

Robert Rodriguez: A Mediocre Director with a Love for Grindhouse Cinema

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 Robert Rodriguez Director Profile

Robert Rodriguez is a man who made a name for himself for making  looney action movies that are completely bat shit crazy. He is also known for doing everything himself. His debut film El Mariachiwas completely done with unknown actors and a limited budget and was able to impress everyone who saw it. It debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival and then soon after at Sundance and was able to show just how great Rodriguez can be. With the success of El Mariachi, Rodriguez made two follow ups to the movie. Desperado and Once Upon a Time in Mexico expanded on the premise but wasn’t as successful critically and surprised commercially. El Mariachi inspired many aspiring filmmakers to pick up a camera and film no budget movies. Personally, the movie that he is most well known for is probably the Spy Kids movies. I remember seeing those movie when I was young and it was the first time I had any contact with his filmography. It was a movie that appealed to kids but also featured his goofy sensibilities. Sadly as of late Robert Rodriguez has failed to capture the acclaim that his earlier films received. Last year he attempted to franchise another one of his Grindhouse features with Machete Kills. It received near universal hate from most of the critics and was dead on impact. He returns to the universe of another popular film he directed Sin City this year and once again fails to live up to it’s predecessor.

As a director I don’t like his films all that much but I do have to admire his views about a one man film crew and it truly what sets him apart from other directors of his nature. I’m weirdly excited for his next movie but don’t know if I’ll be surprised if it is the third sequel to either Machete or Sin City but who knows right now.

Nightcrawler Trailer

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Here is another film that is set to make it’s debut at the Toronto International Film Festival. Jake Gyllenhaal isn’t a stranger of the festival as of late, both Prisoners and Enemy premiered there last year to praise for both of his performances and the vision of the director Denis Villeneuve. Nightcrawler seems to be banking on the very weird style and interesting storyline. I don’t expect this to be an award contender but it is certainly one of my most anticipated films of the year.

Lou Bloom, a driven young man who discovers the nocturnal world of L.A. crime journalism. Joining a group of freelance camera crews who film marketable mayhem, Lou makes his own place at the table, aided by Nina, a veteran of the blood-sport that is local TV news. Blurring the line between observer and perpetrator, Lou finds his calling in a murderous world reduced to transactions.

Directed by Dan Gilroy. Starring Jake GyllenhaalBill PaxtonRene RussoRiz AhmedEric Lange, and Jonny Coyne. Produced by Jake Gyllenhaal and Tony Gilroy and distributed by Open Roads Production.

The Theory of Everything Trailer

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Stephen Hawking is one of the most important and also one of the smartest men working in Theoretical Physic right now. We all know him for his appearance and the disease that caused his predicament. The Theory of Everything decides to focus on his life before his disease and during it but the main focus appears to be him struggling through life with the woman he loves and how he work past his disease to be the man he is today. It is a nice idea to see the life of a man that you don’t know too much about. Hawking is a genius and it seems to be giving the man his due.

Debuting at Toronto International Film Festival, James Marsh and company hope to release a heavy awards contender, mainly for the lead acting from Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones.

Starring Eddie Redmayne  and Felicity Jones, this is the extraordinary story of one of the world’s greatest living minds, the renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, who falls deeply in love with fellow Cambridge student Jane Wilde. Once a healthy, active young man, Hawking received an earth-shattering diagnosis at 21 years of age. With Jane fighting tirelessly by his side, Stephen embarks on his most ambitious scientific work, studying the very thing he now has precious little of – time. Together, they defy impossible odds, breaking new ground in medicine and science, and achieving more than they could ever have dreamed.

Directed by James Marsh. Starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones. Produced by Working Title Films and distributed by Focus Features.