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TIFF 2009: Manus and the Bull

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Hipsters


Today’s Picks
11:15 a.m. – Cooking With Stella (Scotiabank 2) – 3/5
11:45 a.m. – Bunny & The Bull (Scotiabank 3) – 4/5
3:00 p.m. – Carcasses (Varsity 1) – 3.5/5
6 p.m. – Hipsters (Ryerson)
6:30 p.m. – The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus (Roy Thomson Hall) – 4/5
7 p.m. – Short Cuts Canada Programme 3 (Jackman Hall) – Review
8:15 p.m. – The Sunshine Boy (AMC 2) – 3.5/5
9:30 p.m. – Max Manus (Roy Thomson Hall) – 3/5
11:59 p.m. – A Town Called Panic (Ryerson)
After the jump, reviews of Bunny & The Bull and Norwegian WWII biopic Max Manus.


Today’s Reviews

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Bunny & The Bull


Bunny & The Bull (Paul King)
Bunny & The Bull is a story about two men—Bunny and Stephen Turnbull. It’s through Stephen that we piece the story together—and he doesn’t realize that the most important bull in the story is him, Stephen Turnbull—not the literal bull that turns up later on. He doesn’t realize this because he can’t, not until he works out the story himself. Sounds confusing? Well, Bunny & The Bull might be a story about two men, but it’s also about the way in which we need to create our own narratives within our lives to explain what we’ve experienced—particularly in the case of traumatic events—and what makes it so spectacular is that everything in the film is geared toward exploring that theme, from the pacing to the set design. We don’t watch flashbacks of the fateful trip that Bunny and Stephen take to Europe that has left Stephen a shut-in who hasn’t left his house in a year—we see it the way he does. So trips to museums are a flurry of photographs—the photographs he’s flicking through to recollect. A road trip is driven across a map and through a snow globe, and so on. It’s a dazzlingly inventive way of portraying memories, one that would call to mind Michel Gondry if the style wasn’t so perfectly Paul King’s, because anyone who has viewed his series The Mighty Boosh will find this film very similar. In fact, that’s it’s flaw. As well as his style works in the aid of the narrative, it’s too familiar for lovers of “The Boosh” (especially when stars Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt turn up) even down to the rhythms of speech. If you’re new to it, however, this will blow you away. 4/5
Bunny & The Bull plays today at the Scotiabank 3 at 11:45 p.m..

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Max Manus


Max Manus (Espen Sandberg, Joachim Roenning)
It’s always utterly fascinating to see famous recent blockbusters from other countries, because despite whatever the country’s arthouse output is like, their big box-office successes always seem to be warmed-up Hollywood-style slop, just in a different language. And while Max Manus might be exactly that kind of slop, it’s a fairly pleasant kind, easily digested and not offensive to even a discerning palate. Telling the story of Norwegian resistance fighter Max Manus in the overblown, exaggerated style that WWII stories thrive on, it’s got all the required parts—Max is scarred by his past, performs daring raids against the Nazis, is further scarred by the loss of his companions (even, gasp! driven to drink), has an especially bad Nazi as a nemesis (though to be fair, he’s not as bad as they normally get made out to be), and best of all it has a love sub-plot that is completely superfluous (it isn’t a WWII film unless the love story—and actually, the women in general—are barely required). Even though we say all of that to mock the film, while you’re watching it you probably won’t mind—we didn’t—as it’s all shot nicely and (in particular) is suspenseful where it needs to be. Plus it’s nice to see some of the actors from Reprise show up again. 3/5
Max Manus plays tonight at Roy Thompson Hall at 9:30 p.m. and tommorow at the Varsity 8 at 3 p.m..

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