TIFF 2006 Daily Round-up: Day 7
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TIFF 2006 Daily Round-up: Day 7

348.jpgA quiet night in yesterday, but then we did go and see four films…
Sleeping Dogs – Terrance Odette’s latest feature is the story of a blind, bitter alcoholic who escapes from his rehabilitation unit to save his dog, which he believes is about to be put down at the city pound on his brother’s orders. This is a subtle film with a small scope, and while the performances are excellent, there really doesn’t feel like there’s much to it. An entertaining enough slice of life, but it could have worked as a short film. 2.5/5
Exiled – A surprisingly traditional gangster film from Johnnie To, this is a film that doesn’t really say much but it at least says it with some incredible style. An ex-gangster returns to Macau with a wife and child, forcing his old gang mates to choose between killing him and disobeying their leader; tragic consequences result, but at least with some amusing characterisation. There are some nice fight scenes and it’s continually entertaining, but it’s nothing really special. 3/5
Zidane: Un Portrait du XXIe Siècle – This, however, is. An entire game of football played in real time with seventeen cameras all aimed on Zinédine Zidane, this sounds awful but it absolutely is, as the subtitle claims, a 21st century portrait of one of the greatest footballers of all time. With only occasional textual excerpts from an interview and a soundtrack from Scottish outfit Mogwai really breaking up the action, this is a work likely to divide the audience. You can either grasp the film’s observations of Zidane as a individual working within the framework of his team and the narrative of a football game, or you can just see a succession of images. Even as that it’s beautiful; the close-up on Zidane’s wide smile when chatting with Roberto Carlos during the second half is one of the greatest moments. 4/5
Starter for Ten – We actually kind of hoped for more from this, starring, as it does, this year’s “triple threat” James McAvoy (also seen in The Last King of Scotland and Penelope.) Sadly, the story of a young man obsessed with University Challenge who goes to university (shock!) is absolutely chock-full of every possible student cliche and has a rather forced plot, like it was simply focus-grouped into existence (it is based on a book, though.) Sporadically funny, it’s unfortunately set in the eighties, which pitches its soundtrack and set design against This Is England, and it compares so badly it’s almost tragic. Robert Smith is cashing a huge royalties check off this film, there are about seven Cure songs in it one after another. Tom Vaughan must make terribly samey mix tapes. 2.5/5