Trespass Against Us (UK, 2015): I would normally praise an A-lister for going back to his native land to do a cheaper movie, but Michael Fassbender is rather miscast in this mildly compelling drama. Fassbender is Chad, the second in command of a band of outlaws living in the forest. Chad is good at what he does and is one hell of getaway driver. He is also a family man and has slightly more common sense than his fellow thieves.
When it becomes clear his son is likely to end up as one of the inept criminals that surround him, Chad begins to consider the possibility of jumping ship. The only obstacle is his father (Brendan Gleeson), a powerful figure that keeps Chad under his thumb using putdowns and guilt-tripping.
It just takes one look at Fassbender to realize he is no shrinking violet, a detail that makes his character hard to swallow. He is not the only problem: Trespass Against Us often feels aimless, the premise is stretched over ninety minutes for no apparent reason. While we care about the outcome, the film could have use a rewrite and a less-chiseled star. Three prairie dogs.
The Belko Experiment (USA, 2016): Imagine The Hunger Games without the terrible romance, or Battle Royale without the mystique. It’s just an every-man-for-himself brawl set in corporate America, and it’s predictably nasty and entertaining. Three prairie dogs.
Little Wing (Finland, 2016): The issue of immature parents who lean emotionally on their children is a recurrent one in this edition of the festival. In Little Wing, the subject is treated matter-of-factly: A twelve-year old girl basically raises herself as her self-involved mother sees her more as a clutch than as a person. That is, until the kid goes missing. Too low key to cause a splash, but worth looking out. Three and a half prairie dogs.
The Net (South Korea, 2016): Controversial filmmaker Kim Ki-Duk (Moebius, Pieta) delivers his most traditional film to date, but one with edge to spare. Through the story of a North Korean fisherman who unwittingly finds himself south of the demilitarized zone, Kim depicts the two Koreas as the mirror images of one another. According to The Net, neither country can claim moral superiority, not quite the narrative we hear in the Western World. Three and a half prairie dogs.
That’s it for me folks. Four to five movies a day take a toll on you. See you at the movies.
For more #TIFF16 up-to-the-minute updates, follow me on Twitter at @jicastillo.