TIFF 2010 Capsule Reviews: ATTENBERG, REPEATERS, and Max Winkler’s CEREMONY
ATTENBERG opens with our two main females standing in front of one another (seen above). They begin to show us the literal meaning to "French kiss," and swirl their tongues around and around. Marina (Ariane Labed, right) doesn't like the feeling, so she starts growling and sticking her tongue out. Then both of them jump around like dogs and the scene ends. This is pretty much the entirety of ATTENBERG, with a subplot of Marina spending time with her father during the last days of his life. Marina hates men too, she's 23 and despises even the thought of a penis. Then she stumbles upon a man who fascinates her.
ATTENBERG was written and directed by Athina Rachel Tsangari, who served as an associate producer on the much talked about movie DOGTOOTH. After walking out of ATTENBERG, I couldn't decide if I really hated it, or really loved it. I still can't decide. Tsangari definitely has her foot in the door of arthouse cinema, but ATTENBERG stretches this genre to "WTF!?" Our lead, first timer Labed, was fantastic in it. She's a natural at being awkward; the Michael Cera of women.
REPEATERS is GROUNDHOG DAY in hell. Three patients in a rehab hospital get this weird electricity charge through their bodies on a stormy night, which forces them to repeat the same day over and over. At first it's a rush. One time they rob a liquor store. One time they break into their male nurse's house and find porn magazines all over the place. As the repeats start to get worse and worse, one of them (Richard de Klerk) starts to go on a crime spree, and killing whomever gets in his way.
For an indie flick, REPEATERS was really well-made and a lot of fun to watch. Director Carl Bessai takes us on a journey of raw, unplanned mischief, the kind you probably always thought about venturing on didn't want to face the consequences. It's one of those films where you don't know whether to root for the bad guy or the hero, or even who is who.
CEREMONY was written and directed by MICHAEL AND CLARK's Max Winkler. This marks the debut of his first feature as well. CEREMONY stars Michael Angarano as Sam Davis, amateur children's book writer, and former flame of Zoe, played by Uma Thurman. Davis has big dreams: become an established writer and marry Zoe. There's a few problems: Davis is awful at his writing and illustrations and Zoe is soon to be married. So what does he do? Convince his friend Marshall (ROCKET SCIENCE's Reece Thompson) to take a road trip with him, unknowing to him Davis has plans to break up a marriage. They end up staying at the mansion Zoe, her fiance, and their entire wedding party are staying at, and things become, well, a lot more complicated.
CEREMONY is hilarious and very surreal when it comes down to the moments on life-changing decisions. Winkler knows how to balance his comedy and drama. With Angarano as our lead, he nails his character as a young Vince Vaughn: the out of place winks, the full confidence in situations he has no way of gaining. CEREMONY's title might throw off the young crowd (this is not your typical rom-com), but it's a lot better than sitting through an actual ceremony. Nobody cares about those things.
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