ON THE ROAD
(dir. Walter Salles)
Director Walter Salles takes a shot at bringing Jack Kerouac’s culture-defining novel On the Road
to the screen and succeeds with a faithful, even alarmingly accurate depiction of the beat generation. But what worked so well in the prose Kerouac creates around Sal, his central and autobiographical stand-in, becomes in the film a tiresome loop of smoke, drink, sex, drive, repeat. On the Road
has plenty to offer: great looking people freely embracing decadence and youthful carelessness, beautiful footage of America’s highways and side roads from New York to California, a soundtrack pumping out the best of jazz and blues, and the kind of inspired dialogue that could lead a poet to sing. But at just over two hours, this road trip ultimately becomes one without a destination. Of course, seeking a destination and not arriving at one could well be the point, in which case the film succeeds. On the Road
is perceptive and worth seeing, but chances are you could get up and leave at any point, return at another, and not have missed a beat. 2.5/5
- Thom Ernst AMOUR
(dir. Michael Haneke)
Michael Haneke has made many films about immoral young people. With Amour
he turns over, studying the final weeks of a kind and loving married couple in their 80s.
They are George (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva). At first Anne seems to be slipping into dementia. She goes blank during breakfast one morning, failing to respond for several minutes. Later a stroke paralyzes the lower right half of her body. Things, as George observes, go downhill as they must. For the rest of the film we stay inside their apartment as he tries, with the utmost respect and patience, to pacify his wife’s final days. Their daughter Eva (Isabelle Huppert) comes and goes. Like most of us she cannot appreciate the inevitability of the end.
Amour is the kind of movie many will watch in utter disdain. Even by Haneke’s standards it is hard work and I couldn’t fathom a second viewing. But we should go to film festivals to be challenged, and this is certainly one of TIFF’s toughest. 3/5 - Jesse Skinner
BEYOND THE HILLS (dir. Cristian Mungiu)
The monastery sits not far from town. It has access to a car, and a cellular phone. Its occupants are Orthodox but the priest is kind and accepting of the outside world. He certainly does not deserve a guest like Alina (Cristina Flutur), a 25-year-old orphan and lifelong friend to young nun Voichita (Cosmina Stratan).
Alina clearly loves Voichita. Voichita, newly devout, never acknowledges this. They have made plans to leave together but upon Alina’s arrival, Voichita dismisses the idea. Without another plan Alina stays with her, permanently sticking out in her Reebok sports clothes. It becomes apparent to the audience, if none of the characters, that she is also mentally unwell; even progressive religious institutions are ill-equipped to handle such people.
Cristian Mungiu, the most celebrated Romanian filmmaker working today, made one of the finest films I’ve ever seen, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007). My thoughts of it clouded this follow-up. Beyond the Hills is as drawn-out as 4 Months was suspenseful and perfectly timed. At 155 minutes Mungiu indulges himself, and the plot’s important action comes so late it’s almost impossible to process. But it has a undeniably haunting quality and the central performances are without fault. 3.5/5 - J.S.