Northen high (and low) lights - Page 2

Silly Gallic heavens and hollow Darwinian costume flicks at the Toronto International Film festival

Yet it's much less fraught with danger than Abel Ferrera's 1992 original, and for all its gratuitous goofing too often looks/sounds like direct-to-cable product.

Plumbing sillier darknesses were the lamentable latests by George Romero (Survival of the Dead) and Joe Dante (The Hole), not to mention yet more not-different-enough vampire stuff (Suck, Daybreakers), a middling Manson recap (Leslie, My Name is Evil), and one dullish Robert E. Howard adventure (Solomon Kane). Midnight Madness' one shining light was a nasty little Australian number, The Loved Ones, after which you will never hear Kasey Chambers' "Not Pretty Enough" without cringing. I mean, even more than previously.

Elsewhere, pleasures were scattered and unpredictable, with some uneven films elevated by performances — Woody Harrelson's delusional superhero in Defendor, Edward Norton as twins in Leaves of Grass, and just about everybody in Rebecca Miller's The Private Lives of Pippa Lee. Major attention went to Drew Barrymore's directorial bow Whip It, but Samantha Morton's own, comparatively overlooked debut The Unloved ranks almost up there with the medium's greatest horrible-childhood portraits. For originality, nothing quite trumped Corey Adams and Alex Craig's surreal skateboarder fantasia Machotaildrop, even if its charms eventually wore a bit thin. Which was not an issue for French stop-motion animation A Town Called Panic, 75 minutes of perfect silliness that provided a Gallic heaven to complement Clouzot's hell.

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