Some quick hits, written on the airport shuttle, to finish up the fest:
Twixt (Francis Ford Coppola)
Equal parts idiotic and idiosyncratic, one wonders how this Twin Peaks knockoff could possibly be a personal film for Coppola until one recalls that the dude made Dementia 13. This is very stupid stuff, graced with a visual style that is roughly akin to an outdated computer game. As a mystery, it’s fairly sloppy, essentially content to let the ghost of Edgar Allen Poe show up and explain the whole thing. Perhaps in having the protagonist exercise his personal demons through the resolution of this mystery, Coppola’s making some sort of statement about auteurs who produce termite art, but really that is a tenuous thing to hold a goofy ass movie like this on. Scattered moments of fun here and there (e.g. Elle Fanning’s teen vampire with braces), but really nothing that would merit any attention at all were it from a less famous director.
The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr)
Fairly amazing, though it might help that Sjostrom’s The Wind is one of my all-time favorite films. Tarr distills his already spare style down even further, producing minute variations on already spare elements (potato cooking, wagon dragging, trips to the well). Cumulatively, they create a powerful statement on a state of life that seems to be wavering between resignation and perseverance. The sequence shots here are rather incredible (talk about a movie that makes you contend with its space!), and the horse wins my TIFF award for Best Actor (Sorry, Mr. Shannon).
Sleeping Beauty (Julia Leigh)
Almost more powerful for being so undercooked, this formally accomplished drama charts the various levels of exploitation that a young, disaffected girl exposes herself to. Leigh’s singlemindedness keeps a firm POV from emerging on this material, and that elusiveness helps to draw us in and endure the various tortures inflicted upon our young heroine. Though there seems to be no doubt that Emily Browning did precisely what was asked of her, there’s probably some missed potential here in offering a fuller portrait of this girl. I am not sure that platitudes were the answer, but more understanding of attitudes would be appreciated. This may be an “art film” first and a “good film” second, but I found its surfaces seductive enough.