Torontoist already has a documented history on disliking Death of a President (including arguing with a FIPRESCI jury member about it) and we don’t really need to go into it again, so let’s hear what the critics have to say. Eye’s Liz Clayton gives it three stars, but doesn’t seem that enthused; “ultimately doesn’t insinuate anything more creepy and despairing than what turns up in the real news every day”, while NOW’s Cameron Bailey finds it more interesting to talk around the film rather than about it, finally admitting the film is “not paranoid enough to be really interesting”.
We’ll say one nice thing about it. James Urbaniak, the wonderful Dr. Venture from Adult Swim’s Venture Bros. is in it briefly. But that’s all we can think of.
People have a lot nicer things to say about this week’s other film that concerns American national security, Shut Up and Sing, about the aftermath of the Dixie Chicks show in London, where they screamed “Death to America!” before detonating a George Bush piñata full of offal (or something). NOW’s Deirdre Swann calls it “a powerful free-speech polemic and an intimate look at the band’s dynamic”.
Of course, if you’re interested in films about how institutions (and individuals) in authority can go tragically wrong, it looks like you can’t get better this week than Deliver Us from Evil, Amy Berg’s exploration of the case of Father Oliver O’Grady, a child molester simply shifted from parish to parish rather than dealt with. A “laser-like focus and lack of hysteria make it so much more damning than an easy, knee-jerk screed” according to Eye’s Adam Nayman.
Also opening this week is Into Great Silence, about (we believe) non-evil religious types (the Carthusian Order of monks in the Grande Chartreuse), Black Eyed Dog, and Saw III, the latest in the series of idiotic horror films with an unbearably smug bad guy. Please let Torontoist know in which film he’s going to get is comeuppance, so we can go and see that one.
Cinematheque Ontario’s fall season continues with The Cinema of Intelligence, a retrospective of the cinema of “Isabella’s dad” Roberto Rossellini, given some nice (if short) coverage by John Harkness at NOW, but we’d pick out the Jacques Tati comedy Playtime (tomorrow at 2pm) as our pick of the week; a perfect Saturday matinee.
The glut of film festivals continues, of course. We’ll talk about the Planet in Focus film festival next week, but this weekend is the Fantasy Worldwide Film Festival (at the Innis Town Hall) which includes Gamerz, “An off-beat comedy with a love triangle set in the fantasy role-playing society of Glasgow University” and Japanese Kaiju flick Negadon: The Monster from Mars. Competing with that is the Reel Awareness Film Festival, from Amnesty International at the NFB, opening tonight with A Child’s Century Of War at 7 pm, and the opening night host is George Stroumbo! Swoon! (We like the sound of Sunday’s Darfur Diaries, at 11am).
The Arcfest and 7a*11d Festival continue also.