TIFF Day 6: Great Comedies + Wrapping Up
by Alex Billington
September 14, 2007
As I sit here in my hotel room pondering how to rate the latest batch of films I saw here in Toronto, I start to get excited for a number of the films I didn't even see yet: Eastern Promises, No Country for Old Men, Nothing is Private, and plenty more. While all the films I have seen here have been great, my consensus so far is that I really haven't seen anything truly extraordinary. Just last night I saw two more fairly hyped films that turned out to be yet again just mediocre. There are only a few rare comedies, incidentally, that have stuck out. Which ones are they?
A few nights ago I was "dragged" along to a screening of a certain comedy called Ping Pong Playa. I didn't know what it was and what little I had read about it didn't sound interesting. The time didn't conflict with anything and I thought oh well, I'll just check it out, why not, that's what film fests are for - exploring film you might not have otherwise ever seen. DAMN was I in for a treat!
This indie comedy is about an average suburban Chinese-American teen named Chris Wang, nicknamed C-Dub, who is a wanna-be gangster living in California with hopes of becoming a professional basketball player. It's hard to explain the concept without sounding ridiculously dumb, but his brother is a "famous" (locally) ping pong player and his parents (who he still lives with) own a ping pong store. After he loses his jobs his parents force him to teach the local ping pong youngsters class and it takes off from there. I laughed my ass off in this and never for a moment thought it was cheesy or too over-the-top. It's flat out humor in a way I've never even really seen before. I never thought it would be possible, but Ping Pong Playa is competing for the top comedy spot next to Superbad and Death at a Funeral this year!
After that refreshing plunge into cinematic excellence, I was back-in-action and ready to finish up the last few days. Unfortunately, the rest of them weren't as good. I have a couple more films to see tonight, but for the most part this fest is done and wrapped up. In the next couple days I'll be finishing up reviews, running a few more interviews and features, and providing my overall wrap-up. If you're looking for a hint at what I'll say is the best of the fest, right now Michael Clayton or Assassination of Jesse James are the frontrunners, but I've got to think about Ping Pong Playa a bit more, too.
I also have to give a shout out to Eric at IONCinema.com. I met up with him and Peter from SlashFilm yesterday night and today and he's a great guy. IONCinema.com is my absolute favorite site when it comes to purely niche coverage of all movies independent and foreign. And finally meeting Eric, who is the founder, in person I got to really see that he is as dedicated as all of us and as big of a movie geek, too. Go check out his site!
Here's my updated list of movies I've seen from TIFF (that are playing at the fest - in order that I saw them) and a rating (subject to change) next to each one.
TIFF Films Seen:
Michael Clayton - 9/10
The Brave One - 8.5/10
In the Valley of Elah - 7.5/10
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward of Robert Ford - 9/10
Rendition - 7.5/10
Juno - 8/10
Young People Fucking - 9/10
Lust, Caution - 8/10
Diary of the Dead - 5.5/10
Lars and the Real Girl - 7.5/10
Redacted - 4.5/10
Across the Universe - 7/10
Into the Wild - 6.5
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - 8.5/10
Paranoid Park - 5/10
Reservation Road - 7/10
Married Life - 6/10
Ping Pong Playa - 9.5/10
Sukiyaki Western Django - 6.5/10
Death Defying Acts - 7/10
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead - 6.5/10
The Tracey Fragments - 8/10
22 in Total
The Toronto Film Fest is nearly wrapped up, but my coverage is still in the works. I hope you're not too burned out yet - we've got more reviews, interviews, and features on their way.
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