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Inside TIFF 2012 Day 6: Charles Dickens a la Mike Newell

11:59 pm – The long day closes, and it was a 5-film crescendo in quality, from the borderline inane by a master this morning (Capital) to the rather strong debut ported from Cannes’ Critics’ Week (Augustine) that just let out half an hour ago. The latter was preceded by another strong (albeit heavily flawed) film, The Last Time I Saw Macao, which premiered last month at Locarno and is the first feature-length collaboration between Portguese festival ‘it’ boy (or man; he is in his mid-40s afterall) João Pedro Rodrigues and his partner João Rui Guerra da Mata. The film is a hybrid of several genres – essay film, city symphony, queer noir – and has varying degrees of success with the lot of them. The worst – and unfortunately most prominent – would be the noir – a diaristic search for a transvestite-in-trouble named Candy by her Portuguese friend (played and narrated by Guerra da Mata). The acting and rhythm in these parts feels cheap and trite, and doesn’t adequately tie in to the rest of the film’s concerns with Portuguese-occupied Macao and the present-day state of the Chinese region. My favourite part of the film is the photography, which is in an HD video that was at first off-puttingly murky and muddy, until I realized that all of the medium-toned greys and browns where supplemented by slivers and panels of shimmering neon and sparkling hot spots from nearby cars, commercial buildings, and other electronic devices littered throughout the city. In a film about the disappearance of history and culture (Macao was a Portuguese colony for 4 centuries, ending in 1999, so the filmmakers are playing with their own genuine and personal nostalgia from its past), these little bursts of light infused a visual poeticism that made the overall viewing rewarding. [Blake Williams]

2:40 pm – It’s another lovely day for waiting in lines outdoors here in Toronto and I’ve got my lightest day of the week with only three films on my schedule.  Bill Murray, who lovingly plays a promiscuous FDR, failed to show for this morning’s Gala screening of Hyde Park in Hudson, but the film, though light on plot, was a thoroughly charming affair (literally and thematically).  Right before that I caught up with Liz Garbus for a chat prior to the world premier of her latest, Love, Marilyn.  Ahead of me, I’ve got two films I anticipate to break into the mainstream with Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman’s Imogene and the premier of Brian De Palma’s Passion along with Nicholas.  [Jordan M. Smith]

10:40 am – Gearing up for one of the few days with less than 5 screenings, looking forward to The Iceman, Berberian Sound Studio, Here Comes the Devil, and Passion. Yesterday caught 5 nearly back to back screenings including the premiere of Malick’s To the Wonder, which, to say the least, was somewhat of a disappointment. But caught Joel Kinnaman (our next Robocop) leaving the premiere at the same time. I didn’t get to asked what he thought. Viggo Mortensen’s latest, Everybody Has a Plan was interesting, while the best from yesterday was a great performance from Mads Mikkelson in The Hunt, an exhausting film to sit through (Viggo was in attendance for this screening as well). Also yesterday, a somewhat middling new film from Eran Riklis, Zaytoun, and, surprisingly, a better than expected performance from Dennis Quaid in At Any Price. I was one of the few that seemed to dislike Rahmin Bahrani’s last film, the highly acclaimed Goodbye, Solo—while I didn’t love his latest (the dialogue, at moments, is very forced) I was drawn into his Arthur Miller revamp. [Nicholas Bell]

9:30 am – Not sure how many times the classic novel has been adapted for the big screen, but TIFF certainly have no issues with remakes from literary greats as Mike Newell’s Great Expectations settles into the fest today joining the already preemed Dangerous Liaisons and Anna Karenina. [Eric Lavallee]

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