TORONTO AFTER DARK FILM FESTIVAL 2014: DAY 5
Open Windows (screened with short film, The Monitor)
Frequently boasted as "Hitchcockian," which I wasn't entirely prepared to believe, this film is probably best described by my friend who said, 'I think it will just be Elijah Wood looking frantic for an hour and a half.' Open Windows follows Nick Chambers (Elijah Wood), a die-hard fan of actress Jill Goddard (Sasha Grey), and after entering a contest, has won a dinner date with her. A man named Chord calls Chambers to pose as her campaign manager, and says that she has cancelled, and then slowly introduces more and more invasive measures of hacking into Jill's affairs, which Chambers is at first intrigued by, but eventually terrified by. Open Windows depicts a web that Chambers is stuck in and desperately trying to get out unscathed.
Although I definitely understood the humour of how easily all of the hackers were able to do just about anything that they desired through a few clicks of a button, the film did begin to drag on a bit by the end. As a viewer, I reached a point where I just was wishing for a conclusion and groaning at every fall deeper and deeper into absurdity. This is a movie that you have to definitely be in the mood for, but it is a successfully ludicrous adventure story that is laden with genuinely funny moments of irony. Had I expected as much of a crazy film as it is, I may have greeted it with better feelings.
As with every film played at Toronto After Dark, Open Windows screened with a short film called The Monitor, directed by Jay Clarke. The short depicts a family with an infant child in a typical suburban home. The father has to work late, so he says goodbye to his wife and kid, and then in that evening, the mother receives a phone call from an unknown threat who says that he is in her son's room, just off camera so that she can't see him on her baby monitor. With home invasion being such a timelessly frightening theme in horror, The Monitor is a wonderfully chilly story about the danger of leaving yourself vulnerable.
Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter (screens with short film, Migration)
The second that I heard the premise for this film, I was entirely enthralled. Kumiko is a young Japanese woman in Tokyo, who after seeing the Coen Brothers classic Fargo, is convinced that it is an entirely true story and that the money that Steve Buscemi's character buries in the film is still really there. She travels to Minnesota and tirelessly works towards finding the treasure that she knows in her heart can be found, and meets an incredibly unique and peculiar cast of people along the way.
Kumiko , The Treasure Hunter is a thoughtfully stunning film in regards to cinematography. Much like Fargo, there is a high dependence on the snowy white geography, with drips of red that appear sharply on screen, such as with the bright red sweater that she wears during most of film. Along with the meticulously chosen camera angles and scenery, it is accompanied with witty and subtle dialogue that is a great mirror of real life. Kumiko is perhaps a little out of place at this particular festival, but due to the dark and deep context and strange premise, it is worthy of a cult status place in pop culture.
I have really enjoyed how the people at Toronto After Dark have paired each short with each full length feature. The shorts easily set the tone for what's to come in the following movie, which is certainly the case with Migration, the breezy and whimsical film that preceded Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter. Written by Mark Lomond and directed by Fluorescent Hill, it is a beautifully unique story about the migratory patterns of strange whale/bird looking creatures, shown through a distressed animation.
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