MIFF 2011: Hostages, Curling, Yakuza & A Psycho Juno

Inevitably most of my 5 film days end up as 4 film days. A break beckons at some point, food is necessary as well as basic physical needs such as moving your body. Today was no exception. 5 became 4 and I experienced my first 11.30pm session. What did I learn? I learnt it is time to start bringing my hip flask to sessions. Halfway through the festival and strong liquor is the only solution.
TOP FLOOR LEFT WING kicked things off to a middling start. This French hostage 'dramedy' is passable enough. I couldn't shake the feeling that the whole exercise was essentially redundant. It's nothing we haven't seen before and there isn't anything here that is especially surprising. I may have micro-slept at some point in this film. I am unsure. I give it two 'Jeff Goldblum staring into space's.
Second film of the day was a French-Canadian film entitled CURLING. Right off the bat let me say that there IS in fact, a little bit of curling in the film. Not enough for many in the theatre though. CURLING tells the story of a socially dysfunctional father and his similarly awkward daughter. It's essentially a mood piece showing two characters whose withdrawn tendencies have manifested in occasionally startling ways.
I actually enjoyed CURLING quite a bit. It accumulated quite a simmering tension as it progressed. Small, bizarre details continually appear on its periphery, never entirely explained but I personally found it undeniably compelling. The end was a little curt but overall this wasn't a bad film at all. I give it three 'smirking Harrison Fords'.
OUTRAGE, the new Yakuza film from legendary Takeshi Kitano, proved to be (for the most part) a solidly enjoyable film. Kitano returns to the genre that made him famous with a tough, tight and single-minded yakuza film that reminded of the films he was making 15 years ago. The plot is immediately simple yet ridiculously convoluted as Kitano traces the back and forth of retribution as different gang sects jockey for power.
OUTRAGE is probably 20 minutes too long and a dash repetitive but I had a really good time with this one. Kitano fans and those who generally love films that delve into the mechanics of yakuza power plays will have a ball with this piece of violent drama. Not Kitano's best by any means but a solid, enjoyable entry in his canon. George Clooney gives it four thumbs up.
My final film of the day was a late screening of SUPER, a film that I had been greatly anticipating. In the end, grumpy-rich took over and indifference reigned supreme as I found it to be genuinely enjoyable but ultimately unspectacular. This story of a meek man who decides to become a super hero suffers marginally from KICK ASS covering the same territory less than 12 months ago. SUPER is a much stronger film than KICK ASS though. It's wit is sharp and while it is relatively subversive, I would've liked it to step at little further into that territory.
The wonderful Paul Nelson (@mrpaulnelson on Twitter for the technologically adept) brought an interesting allusion to my attention post-screening. He viewed the film as a Gen X twist on TAXI DRIVER and I completely see that in SUPER. Unlike KICK ASS, the characters here are genuinely sociopathic. There is no question about it. Once Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page costume up and hit the streets to 'fight crime', they usually end up violently assaulting someone who is really just committing a petty nuisance (although the guy that cut in line really did deserve his fate).
I really did enjoy SUPER but the late screening and the long day prior did take a little spring out of my step. Watch and enjoy with a group of friends and some drinks. It easily gets four 'confused Mark Wahlberg's'.