TIFF 2007: The Rambow Fragments
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TIFF 2007: The Rambow Fragments

No Film Friday again today, as we’re still too busy with the festival A few of the films that played at the festival are out already, with Neil Jordan’s The Brave One, David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises and Julie Taymor’s Across the Universe all on general release. Not even new release Mr. Woodcock escapes a connection—it’s directed by Craig Gillespie, director of festival film Lars and the Real Girl.
Today’s Reviews:
The Tracey Fragments
Though Ellen Page’s performance still occasionally grates, if we’d seen this before Juno we’d probably have been even less positive about Jason Reitman’s waste of talent, as here she’s about a million times better. Bruce McDonald shows his chops as one of Canada’s most important filmmakers with a film that blazes with so much intensity and innovation it’s easy to mistake it as the work of a brand new, unfamiliar director; one desperate to show the world what he’s capable of. The Tracey Fragments sprays the confused mind of its lead character, Tracey Berkowitz, all across the screen, taking split-screen techniques further than we’ve ever seen as she rides a Winnipeg bus on a desperate search to find her missing brother. In the context of a confused, fragmented mind it makes perfect sense, and everything ties together into total clarity by the time of the credits. A vital work. 4.5/5
Mad Detective
The plots of Johnnie To’s films are normally so ludicrous and convoluted that they eventually tie themselves into knots that make perfect sense, and Mad Detective is no different. Andy On stars as Ho, a detective on the seemingly unsolvable case of a missing police officer implicated in multiple murders and robberies. Exasperated, he turns to legendary ex-detective Bun (Lau Ching Wan) in the hopes that his eccentric detective style can succeed where Ho has failed. The film quickly degenerates into utter nonsense as Bun’s utter madness infects what the viewer sees; a technique that’s doubtlessly going to be ripped off by others. In the end, though, after a clichéd (if well done) hall of mirrors conclusion, everything fits so cleverly it’s hard not to be pleased. The pacing is a little slow and it’s nowhere near as exciting as his previous work, but it’s a solid entry in To’s oeuvre. 3/5
Son of Rambow
Last year we fell in love with Shane Meadows’ This Is England, and this year’s film about British youth in the 80s is Son of Rambow (written and directed by Hammer & Tongs’ Garth Jennings). And would you know it, we’ve fallen in love with it too. Will (Bill Milner) is a boy of the Plymouth Bretheren faith whose imagination is set free after meeting troubled tearaway Lee Carter (Will Poulter) and viewing First Blood. Together they start to film Son of Rambow on a borrowed camera in the hopes of winning the BBC Screen Test young filmmakers contest. Though it doesn’t initially seem amazing, Son of Rambow quickly hits its stride as characters reveal hidden depths throughout a neat, warm, and above all funny narrative arc that rarely relies on cliché. Jennings succeeds admirably in crafting a nostalgic film about youth where so many others fail, and while it might be a bit too sweet for some, we really can’t see anywhere that he’s gone wrong with what he’s trying to do. 4.5/5
Today’s Listings:
12:45 p.m. – The Tracey Fragments (Visions) – Cumberland 3
3:00 p.m. – Heavy Metal In Baghdad (Real to Reel) – Review – Cumberland 3
3:00 p.m. – Mad Detective (Special Presentations) – Scotiabank 1
3:30 p.m. – Programme 2 (Short Cuts Canada) – Review – Cumberland 2
5:45 p.m. – Erik Nietzsche The Early Years (Contemporary World Cinema ) – Review – Scotiabank 1
6:45 p.m. – Son of Rambow (Contemporary World Cinema ) – Ryerson Theatre
11:00 p.m. – Diary of the Dead (Midnight Madness) – Review – Varsity 5
11:59 p.m. – Dainipponjin (Midnight Madness) – Ryerson Theatre