Playing Catch-up in 2012: The Road to TIFF

It’s officially and startlingly halfway through the year, and I’ve decided to take it upon myself to start playing catch-up a little earlier this time around. In other news, I and a couple of other folks from Reel Time have recently booked our trip to Toronto for this year’s TIFF: an event we most certainly cannot wait to attend. In light of the anticipation literally almost killing me, I’m going to try to keep up with what I missed both in and out of theaters to the best of my ability with little blurbs about five films per entry. Enjoy, and if you have any questions about TIFF or what have you, please don’t hesitate to ask; I’ll gladly share with you all the vital details!

Rampart (dir. Oren Moverman)

Woody Harrelson puts forth another knockout performance in Rampart, writer/director Oren Moverman’s second feature and exaggerated retelling of the Rampart scandal that frequently and irreparably tarnished the L.A.P.D.’s reputation throughout the late 1990s. Unflinching in its depiction of the severity of the violent acts, chronic boozing and unsavory sexual escapades of the titular Dave Brown, Rampart somewhat sensitively examines his Jekyll & Hyde personality with the utmost ease. Struggling to simultaneously keep his job and support an immediate family of unconventional stucturing, “Date Rape” Dave lies and cheats his way from day to day until his lifestyle finally catches up with him. A straightforward, if exaggerated and familiar biopic, but a noteworthy one nonetheless thanks to memorable subject.

Intruders (dir. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo)

At first assuming the guise of a straightforward supernatural horror yarn, Intruders eventually, and without a fight, regresses into something much less involving. Bouncing back and forth between two disparate story and timelines, a creature known only as “Hollowface” frequently threatens the lives of two children with dangerously overactive imaginations. Garnering most of its appeal through this approach, a highly questionable final twist is implemented with fairly middling results, detracting from the film’s somewhat tangible and agreeably thin aura of intelligence. Scare-free, technically deficient and inept in every area a horror-thriller simply shouldn’t be, Intruders is pure schlock of the lowest caliber as it’s mistaken for successful experimentation within the genre.

Being Flynn (dir. Paul Weitz)

In admirably straying from brother Chris’ botched Twilight path of self-destruction, writer/director Paul Weitz stuck to what he knows best: people. From About a Boy to In Good Company, Weitz had had a knack for illustrating the varying dynamics of both adolescent and adult relationships, no matter how flawed. Being Flynn, albeit your typical memoir fare, is no exception, examining the father-son reunion chronicled throughout Nick Flynn’s “Another Bullshit Night in Suck City” with the utmost finesse. Remaining agreeably yet appealingly morose from an existential standpoint, the film’s ups and (mostly) downs are foreseeable, but exceptionally well-acted and involving as such. Take into consideration that this is easily De Niro’s best role in the better part of a decade, and you have yourselves one conventionally satisfying biographical tale.

Entrance (dir. Dallas Hallam & Patrick Horvath)

“I’m going to go upstairs, and I’m going to kill the rest of your friends. Then it’ll just be you and me.” Granted, a film that utilizes this quote within its theatrical trailer as a ploy to hook its intended audience is a bit… tacky, however the powers-that-be did something right, because their plan worked. Inexplicably unsettling from the get-go, Entrance is another mild epitome of low budget horror excellence, following central character Suziey as strange occurrences build up to a truly horrifying climax involving a murderous party crasher. Given its technically deficient sensibilities, it’ll test the patience of those looking for the next Bellflower, although the payoff is just as disturbing and oddly rewarding if you’re willing to give it a chance.

Ted (dir. Seth MacFarlane)

Having sworn off “Family Guy” long ago, my desire to see the predictably successful Ted was virtually nonexistent. Needless to say, if you’re familiar with the brand of humor MacFarlane has put on display for us year after year, you’ve probably already seen his feature film debut to some degree. From identical voice acting to an increasingly stale sense of humor, Ted isn’t without its moments, however these moments are few and far between when you’ve undeniably fallen victim to a third, fourth and maybe even fifth viewing of its oft-discussed red band trailer. All in all, it’s nothing more than throwaway escapism at its best, so don’t expect anything revolutionary or particularly gratifying outside of excessive profanity and an obnoxious child getting socked in the mouth.

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