Twitch Wraps Up TORONTO AFTER DARK!

Andrew Mack, Contributing Writer
If one thing became evident this year as we prepared for Toronto After Dark is that we here at Twitch are a lot like a local Toronto television station, CityTV. Locals know. The slogan is 'CityTV. Everywhere'. And we at Twitch are... well... everywhere, as I realised when I continued to dig up review after review of films in TADFF's lineup. It didn't give those of us who attended a lot of opportunity to offer up our own thoughts but it did allow us to visit festival circuit favorites, catch some of our own faves again, and see if our compatriots' opinions were correct. 

After the break we offer up to you reflections from Kurt and myself. And we also have the unique perspective from Peter K who is also a programmer at TADFF and contender for Best Fucking Introduction To A Festival Film Of Year Award. And if that is not an actual category somewhere I will proclaim him the winner and buy him something frilly myself. 

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Andrew Mack 

What was your overall favorite film? 

Not going to lie to you. I really liked watching Resolution again. And though anyone who was there might say that this decision was impacted by the presence of the filmmakers, producer and their two leads I would probably say that the success of the Dead Sushi screening was impacted more by their five-man show than their own film was. Don't get me wrong. Justin, Aaron, Dave, Vinny and Peter were at the top of their game. But, I had already seen Resolution earlier in the summer so I couldn't be easily won over by their good looks and charm. I also did not get laid as they promised I would after the Montreal screening. And no, it didn't carry over to this screening either. I am beginning to think it is me. I love Resolution for it is the itch you just cannot scratch. The creepiness of each new discovery is subtle. It also happens to be damn funny as well. 


How about your biggest disappointment? 

I have not hated anything that I saw at this year's festival. Believe you me that means something. But if I have to choose a film I'm probably going to have to admit to not warming the mean-spirited Inbred. The gore is excellent though tainted with dodgy CGI but I find myself not being a fan of killing for the sake of killing. It is also rather boring too. 


Who gave the best performance? 

Katherine Isabelle in American Mary. Though I have my own reservations about the film's overall structure and randomness there is no denying how good Isabelle is in this role. This was further reinforced to me as I avoided a near fatal argument with a film studies senior when I told the producer of Resolution I would rather watch those five guys on stage any day of the week over the Twisted Twins. This lovely girl went on to impress upon me how Mary was strong and independent and everything she did, from the way she dressed (the word killer is appropriate in more than one sense here) was for no one but herself, to hatching and carrying out her fiendish acts of revenge. Fortunately for me I agreed with her and the Karaoke bar we were going to was just a few more doors down. We agreed that Isabelle was awesome and went on to sing into the morning. 


What was your top discovery of the fest? 

My top discovery? Probably that I did not hate Dead Sushi. Some will say that the experience was influenced by the intro from the Resolution guys. And while that was awesome I also had to contend with an ass hat seated behind me who was making up his own jokes as the movie went along. But Dead Sushi is nowhere near as mean spirited as Yoshihiro Nishimura's films are. It certainly is a lot more fun than some of Iguchi's earlier entries into the Jsplatter genre. So while my own tolerance of Japanese splatter gore films is waning Dead Sushi at least kept me hopeful future films will be as entertaining.

Finally, what was your favorite non-film After Dark-tastic moment? 

My hat goes off to Peter and his introduction for Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning. No slight against the other programmers but Peter always strives to take his intros to that other level. And for a brief moment Peter took off his own signature hat and donned a UN Blue beret and gave his own interpretation of the speech from Street Fighter, with the footage playing on the screen above him.


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Kurt Halfyard 

What was your overall favorite film? 

Wrong was not only my favourite film of the festival, it is one of the best films of the year. A big leap in scale and execution from Rubber, Quentin Dupieux tackles the nature of the social contract in an absurdist fashion, as if to wonder how any human communication is possible. A comedy that succeeds not only from superb deadpan performances (including an unhinged William Fichtner) a weirdly brilliant conceit (the dog kidnapping and subsequent fall-out is handled far better here than in Seven Psychopaths) but from a deep understanding of cinematic grammar. Wrong uses film language as the syntax for a sort of stand-up comedy routine. It's crisp and dazzling. 


How about your biggest disappointment? 

A Fantastic Fear of Everything which is a tonal mess from scene one, is not nearly as funny as it thinks it is, and on top of all of that looks garish and ugly. Only a brief stop-motion animation sequence in the film is a saving grace for a film with a good lead actor (Simon Pegg) and a solid idea that never comes close to realizing its potential. 


Who gave the best performance? 

Carlos Areces in A Game of Werewolves. If there is a single actor in Spain that is a 100% guarantee of a quality project, it is Areces, who has recently starred in a plethora of exceptional genre films: Alex de la Iglesias' The Last Circus, Nacho Vigalondo's Extraterrestrial and Javier Ruiz Caldera's Ghost Graduation. Here he plays the lead characters goofy side-kick but invests a lot of heart and a lot of brains into the part such that he may end up actually being the lead of the film by its conclusion. 


What was your top discovery of the fest? 

[REC]3 - not so much a discovery of its existence or the talent behind the camera, but rather that it was shockingly excellent in how the third entry in the franchise was in going about itself. It is hard to re-invent a series with such constraints into something new (including abandoning the found-footage conceit) and even harder to do a good Raimi/Jackson splatter homage these days, yet Paco Plaza does it with energy, humour and grace. Bring on the final part of this quality franchise. 


Finally, what was your favorite non-film TAD-tastic moment? 

A spirited debate about the merits of Ridley Scott's Black Rain with Charles de Lauzirika (director of Crave) and Juan Martínez Moreno (director of A Game of Werewolves) which somehow evolved into a love in for The Temple of Doom. The whole thing was frightfully geeky, but a lot of fun, and carried it even over into a second evening. Also, red wine by the glass and Red-Velvet Twinkies on sale at the Bloor concession stand is pretty hard to beat.


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Peter Kuplowsky

As a programmer of Toronto After Dark it feels a bit odd to weigh in on the program, but as I'm also a contributor to Twitch I was interested in dropping my two cents. I've often heard it said from some critics that attend TAD, that the fest frequently feels like a rerun of Fantasia - I've never taken this as a problem however as I consider the Fantasia programming team to have impeccable taste and there's a very good reason that fest inspires much of our programming: films like ResolutionWrong and Doomsday Book (to name just a few) are films absolutely worth sharing to as many people as possible!  That being said, I also think TAD continues to bring a lot of new stuff to the genre cinema table as well. I was especially proud to champion the John Hyam's Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning this year (so much so that I dressed up as Col. Guile from Street Fighter: The Movie to introduce the film) and gather an audience to experience such a unexpectedly remarkably ambitious action/sci-fi/horror hybrid that will unfortunately likely not get any theatrical play in Canada.

I am also incredibly humbled by the enthusiasm our fans show for our short films year after year. This year I was thrilled to introduce Torontonians to the stylish wit of Bill Palmer (Vicki), the emotional pathos executed through exceptional animatronics by Eli Sasich in Henri, as well as the latest micro-masterpieces by festival alumni short filmmakers Javier Chillon (Decapoda Shock) and Aurelio Voltaire (Odokuro). And of course there's also our Canadian shorts, each of which get a chance to play in front of one of our feature films. Short films are never seen by enough people, especially in a theatrical context, and that festival director Adam Lopez demands that I get a Canadian short up in front of each and every feature (frequently to a rowdy and enthusiastic crowd) is a job I can't wait to fulfil.

And on top of the great films and filmmakers that we hosted this year as well as some of the greatest audiences I have had the pleasure to enjoy a film with, we also took a cue from Fantastic Fest's Fantastic Arcade and brought indie games into the mix with the first annual Toronto After Darkcade!

I can't wait to get back in the saddle for 2013.

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  • Ard Vijn

    Dammit, I want a similar team at IFFR!
    And I am in total agreement with Kurt about Carlos Areces in Game Of Werewolves.

  • Gooooooo TEAM!

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