TIFF Spotlight: ‘Byzantium’, ‘Aftershock’, ‘The Bay’ & ‘Yellow’
It ain’t over until it’s over. TIFF has a lasting effect on moviegoers and to sift through all the reviews, previews, photos, trailers and casting notices may take a while. Fortunately, we’ve decided to put a spotlight on a select few films that we’ve been anticipating. Look no further than for Neil Jordan’s Byzantium, Barry Levinson’s The Bay, Nick Cassavetes’ Yellow and Aftershock starring Eli Roth. Read more after the jump.
While I hesitate to say BYZANTIUM is quite as good as INTERVIEW, or some of Jordan’s other films, it’s nonetheless quite intriguing, with a unique take on the mythology. It’s refreshing seeing an ambitious, smart vampire film that owes more to THE HUNGER than TWILIGHT, and while it had some issues (a bit of goofy dialogue, such as when one vamp declares they are “the long fingernail of justice”), I was thoroughly entertained. Should this prove a success, I could easily see the world of BYZANTIUM explored in a follow-up.
An unexpected detour for director Barry Levinson into mock-doc horror, The Bay is an unnerving eco-disaster thriller that refreshes the found-footage trend with surprising effectiveness. Playing by classic B-movie genre rules but with a mostly convincing veneer of reportorial realism, this lean, microbudget entry sustains tension while delivering squirms, even if it drops the ball in the wrap-up… But Levinson and screenwriter Michael Wallach mostly manage to circumvent the problem by gathering multiple media sources. These include news cameras, police vehicle cams, surveillance video, smart phones, Androids, Skype and underwater goggle cameras. On top of that are such sound sources as recorded phone conversations, 911 calls, scientific and medical logs and Coast Guard transmissions.
Officially the most refreshing breath of air at this year’s TIFF, Nick Cassavetes’ new feature ‘Yellow’, is a step into crazy terrritory, far from his recent romantic comedy fare and “Alpha Dog.” It’s Cassavetes moving away from traditional ways of telling stories, and towards a different type of perspective and very different type of view, as he admitted during the Q&A… It is Nick Cassavetes’ most adventurous and fun-loving film, in its own sense of freedom reminiscent of his father, the late great John Cassavetes. So far there is no news on distribution or when this thing is coming out, but as soon as it does, go out, don’t take it too seriously and have a little fun with it.
Of all the films to play Midnight Madness at TIFF this year, AFTERSHOCK’s the one that’s walked away with the biggest deal, with Dimension Films picking it up for a presumably wide release somewhere down the line. It’s easy to see why as Nocolas Lopez’ film is a slick, confident genre entry with a dynamic visual style, and an appealing cast of characters, with the camaraderie under duress reminding me of the similar dynamics you’d find in a John Carpenter movie.
But, AFTERSHOCK is also disturbingly evocative of the torture porn aesthetic in horror, which I’ve always found really distasteful. While it’s certainly a lot tamer than Eli Roth’s own HOSTEL, AFTERSHOCK digs into that territory, with the subplot of the rape-crazed inmates escaping jail seeming extraneous to what was previously a really solid disaster flick, with more than enough gore for the hardcore fans.