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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Toronto: Che, The Burrowers, A Year Ago in Winter, Machan

Continuing the theme of discovery, after a long day of movies I didn't have anything scheduled for an evening movie yesterday. I considered calling it a day, but instead I figured I would just try my luck in the Rush Line of whatever the next movie starting at the nearest theater was. That turned out to be Machan, a Sri Lankan movie about a team handball team. Not something that might have been at the top of my list but it turned out to be a delightful underdog story of a group of men in Colombo, Sri Lanka who decide to fake being the National Handball Squad to get a visa to travel to Germany in order to find a better life for themselves and their families. The film is directed by one of the producers of The Full Monty, and much of the loveable losers tone that made that a hit is on display in Machan.

The day started with the four and a half hour version of Steven Soderbergh's Che. The film will apparently be released as two movies theatrically and was shown as one film with an intermission at this screening. Part one concerns Ernesto Che Guevera's time as part of the successful revolution in Cuba, while part two covers his less successful attempt to export revolution to Bolivia. It's less of a biopic and more of a meditation on revolution. The Cuba section is certainly the more accessible stand alone section, but the Bolivia portion works as a contrasting companion piece that adds to the film's themes. On a different note was JT Petty's Western/horror film, The Burrowers. When a family disappears in the Dakota plains in the 19th century, the local Indian tribes are suspected so a posse sets out for the rescue or to exact revenge. In this horror reworking of The Searchers, hostile Indians are among the least of their worries. Making it a perfect four for four day was A Year Ago in Winter, the latest film from Academy Award winning director Caroline Link (Nowhere in Africa). The story of a family coping with the death of the youngest child, 19-year-old Alexander, isn't an original story, but the movie is powered by a captivating performance by Karoline Herfurth as his older sister.

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