TIFF 2008: A Film With Jean-Claude Van Damme In It
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TIFF 2008: A Film With Jean-Claude Van Damme In It

Today’s Listings:
2:15 p.m. – A Film With Me In It (pictured above, AMC 3)
3:00 p.m. – Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould (AMC 4)
3:15 p.m. – JCVD (Scotiabank 1)
5:15 p.m. – Treeless Mountain (AMC 3)
5:45 p.m. – All Around Us (Scotiabank 1)
9:00 p.m. – Vinyan (Scotiabank 1)
7:45 p.m. – Wendy and Lucy (AMC 7)
9:30 p.m. – Burn After Reading (Roy Thompson Hall) Review
11:59 p.m. – Detroit Metal City (Ryerson) Review
After the jump, reviews of today’s screenings of JCVD and Treeless Mountain.

JCVD (Midnight Madness, directed by Mabrouk El Merchri)
Jean-Claude Van Damme is apparently well known within French-speaking Europe as a very “self-aware” personality (using the word “aware” repeatedly in interviews; YouTube it!) so it’s no particular surprise he’d star in one of the most self-referential films possibly ever made about such a well known face. What results is a film with an incredibly strong performance from Van Damme (it’s sounds silly to say, but he’s so good at playing himself you’ll forget he’s acting), but the major disappointment is the film itself is only “self-aware” so far. There’s something obviously ironic about placing a realistic Van Damme in a movie-style situation (a hostage in a post office robbery, with very stereotypical robbers in charge), so as the form is never played with (other than at the very end, briefly) the result is a lot flatter than it should be. Still very worth it for a blazing soliloquy from Van Damme mid-way through. 3/5
JCVD plays today at the Scotiabank 1 at 3:15 p.m..
Treeless Mountain (Contemporary World Cinema, directed by So Yong Kim)
Treeless Mountain is a slow, quiet film that follows a six-year-old girl, Jin, as she tries to deal with being abandoned by her mother in a small town with an indifferent aunt and a younger sister to look after. Though the girls are cute and one of the set-ups ripe for sentimentality (“When this piggy bank is full I’ll come back,” the mother tells them), this film is a lot more about trying to see the world with Jin rather than passively watch her—it’s been shot with a distracted, extreme close-up style, making the world seem large and confusing and her problems insurmountable. Loosely based on the real childhood of the director, this is a honest piece of filmmaking that does what it does well enough. 3/5
Treeless Mountain plays the AMC3 today at 5:15 p.m., September 7th at 1:30 p.m. and September 13th at 1 p.m.