#TIFF14 week 1

Pictures to come in a separate post.

Festival Street

Went to TIFF on friday to pick up tickets. The line was quite long and I ended up waiting 1-2 hours. I’ll keep in mind same-day pickups for next year.

I really liked Festival Street (King St West) and I’m surprised its a new initiative this year. The giant chess board is one of the better stations in my opinion. Given that there are quite a few chess-related films this year, it would’ve been nice to have a small sign beside the board listing them.

All the sponsor events were good too. Who can say no to free food/ swag bags.

Celebrity Sightings, Seeing Films

Bring a chair to camp out if you want to see celebrities on the red carpet. The best (and easiest) way would probably just be to purchase tickets to the premiere. So far, both of the screenings brought the director and actors out to talk before the movie started and also had a Q&A afterwards. If you’re lucky, you might be able to catch them leaving.


  • The Dark Horse– What I liked most was the mix of tradition and modern life present in the film. The story was very much a modern one; filled with gangs, chess, and values of family that we can all relate to. However, it never failed to connect the traditions of the culture and tie that in through dialogue.

The film followed the story of Genesis Potini, who was obliquely referred to as having bipolar disorder. I liked that they never said he had the disorder, but showed that through his actions and through references of his medications. The meat of the film was his interactions with the youth at the chess club and with Mana, his nephew. I loved that almost all the youth were highlighted and given a scene to star in.

The relationship Genesis had with his brother was heartbreaking. I won’t forget the moment his brother said that no one had ever told him “everything would be alright” and the ending scene in which Mana mirrors his father and places a hand on Genesis’ shoulder.

The cinematography was beautiful. The opening with the rain pouring down was wonderfully shot and directed.

8/10 As much as I enjoyed the film, I wanted to know more about the children and felt slightly unsatisfied. I understand the limitations of film, but perhaps a miniseries would’ve given us more exploration into the side characters (a la Friday Night Lights).

  • Confession- “Complex” was a word used many times to describe this film. I’m not sure I would say the plot was necessarily complex, but it was certainly well-developed and told a story with many twists and turns. The film itself was highly plot-driven, and conversely, character-driven. The 3 main characters were well-established and we could see how their actions and decisions affected the plot.

Having known Kwang Soo from Running Man and Joo Ji Hoon vaguely from the korean entertainment bubble, I feel that they were typecast. At the Q&A, the director mentioned that Kwang Soo is known for being a comedian, and so this movie was able to show his more dramatic side. I’m not debating this statement, but I would like to see him in a role where he isn’t a “weak guy” or the boy everyone laughs at/ bullies.

For all of its for all its complex plot/fleshed out characters, the women weren’t necessarily so (wife+daughter, girlfriend). We never found out how Hyun Tae met his wife, although I understand that wasn’t relevant to the story. Ji Hyang, the girlfriend of In Chul, was sadly 2D and we only got to see her petty side. Hyun Tae’s mother was the most fleshed out women on screen, and even so, we didn’t get to see much of her.

Most of the strands were tied up (by killing off much of the characters) but we never got to see the father’s recovery, or if the loan shark would do anything with the ledger. I did like the ending of showing that the Walkman was simply dropped in the snow, rather than stolen by In Chul, and Hyun Tae almost bailing on Min Soo. However, “adult” Hyun Tae being there in the snow with his younger self was unnecessary and ruined the scene for me.

Again, the cinematography and sound mixing was gorgeous. Korean films and dramas like to feature scenes with a very shallow DOP, creating beautiful bokeh effects.

7.5/10 I wouldn’t call it complex, but quite a lot of events occurred in this film.


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