When a piece of art is a collection of many different inspirations, the outcome depends greatly on the quality of the source material and the overall interpretive nature of the artist. Pieter Van Hees’ film Waste Land can easily be recognized as an anthology of inspiring works; from David Fincher’s filmography (most notably Fight Club), Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, the shorts of T.S. Elliot, Cliff Martinez and his innovative scores in Refn’s Only God Forgives and Drive, and of course, Refn himself. With this plethora of source material, you would think that Waste Land would be an astounding masterpiece. Instead, the film simply does a poor job of rehashing excellence. With a brisk runtime of under one-hundred minutes, the film plays out like an elongated saga of confusion, repetition and grim subject matter that makes the content darker than it really should be.
In 2009, director Oren Moverman created one of the most relevant and moving post-9/11 war films of our generation with The Messenger. Blending subtle realities of the peculiarities of individual family traditions with the overly-patriotic mentality of American society, the film was a deliverance of cinematic importance and high entertainment. Five years later, and after his sophomore feature Rampart, Moverman returns to the screen with Time Out of Mind, a film that showcases another unglamorous reality of Western society; homelessness.
The Western genre is one that unofficially begins with the appearance of a hopeless wanderer. Engulfed by the depth of rugged terrain and unimaginable physical feats, the mysterious stranger is on the run; usually from their past. Miraculously, the stranger finds their way to a local tavern, hydrating and resting until the next stretch of their journey begins. What the stranger doesn’t know though, is that their presence alone within the small town is one that usually sparks some sort of trouble for its citizens–prolonging their stay in the once quaint and unsuspecting town. In director Szabols Hajdu’s film Mirage, Casino Royale actor Isaach De Bankolé is that stranger, who makes his way to a desolate, obscure Hungarian Prairie town run by Cisco (Razvan Vasilescu), a Hungarian gangster. Our stranger doesn’t quite know what he’s getting himself into when he introduces a little anarchy to Cisco and the sparse population of townsfolk.
Anything that can go wrong, WILL go wrong! An epigram for tragedy when it strikes on a seemingly constant basis, Murphy’s Law can be appropriately applied to many scenarios in life when things seem to never go right. Simply and subtly, the country of Bulgaria transcends the adage into a piece of fine cinema that is The Lesson.
It’s the most exciting time of the year here at Night Film Reviews, as we kick off our second year of covering the Toronto International Film Festival.
Each and every year, the fest does its best to top the selections made from last year, and 2014 is no different. With a huge selection of clear previous festival favourites, new discoveries, world premieres and indie darlings waiting to make a big splash for Awards season attention, TIFF is the official launch of Awards season films.
Make sure to check back daily for reviews, interviews and everything TIFF related for the next ten days.
See you at TIFF.
For the love of film.