A low key wind down to the fest, with more miserable weather tagging along for good measure. The festival ended with no obvious slam dunks save for a Coen flick, but there was an overall quality that bodes well for the year to come.

The Q&A during the Who doc at the Elign proved to be a highlight of this year's fest, with a great interaction with the filmmakers that went far beyond the normal back-and-forth that takes place at most public screenings. There were genuinely interesting insights provided about the process, including the amnesty discussed in the review below, along with indications about the complexity of the process. Digitally projected with wonderful sound, it was a memorable screening of a fine film to be sure.

Running from screening to screening, I was lucky to have a highly positive final slate of films. With the wind down in full force, the pickings are often slim at this point. The new procedure of doubling the press screenings and opening up many more public ones has been a huge benefit I believe for many.

We skipped the dash to the overcrowded Bistro 990 in favour of some late night, post-MM pancakes at Fran's, and then off for some well earned sleep.

Amazing Journey: The Story of the Who
This rock-doc presupposes one thing right off the bat, that you've seen the previous definitive Who documentary, The Kids are Alright, so you have a general familiarity with the band and their antics. From this point it carves out its space as one of the more effective music documentaries in some time, a fine tale from the streets of London to their recent tour with the two remaining members.

The contemporary version of the Who could easily be dismissed as silly dino-rock, with the curse of hoping to "die before they get old" hanging over as a pathetically ironic boast. Yet as this film shows, Msrs. Daltrey and Townshend remain as fiery and determined as ever, opening up in this film (and on their last record) in a way that they've not done in decades.

The historical footage shown is absolutely top notch, many of it culled from bootleg sources. In a remarkable turn of events, the band granted an amnesty to fans to provide much of the (surreptitiously collected) material, allowing for a tremendous diversity of never before seen footage. What shines through is the sheer brilliance of this band as a live act, straight through to this millennium with their show-stopping performance at the 9/11 tribute.

Interviews with a number of contemporaries do a nice job of providing additional context, and the caustic comments from the likes of Noel Gallagher do much to liven up the talking head interviews. Still, it's hearing from Daltrey (the gruff leader) and the always erudite and compelling Townshend that gives a warts-and-all look at this band. This is no hagiography, and the film is adept at showing the many bumps in the road. Still, this journey that the band has undertaking has proven to be quite an Amazing one, and this documentary does justice to this remarkable run.
Directed by: Paul Crowder and Murray Lerner
Grade: A
Nothing is Private
Alan Ball had made a career out of lifting the covers on suburban normalcy to find a far more dark, more menacing core that's hidden by the façade of manicured lawns and wide streets.

This film takes him down a starker path than even his celebrated American Beauty, as a tale of Lolita-like lust, xenophobia, and racism are set in a banal Texan cul-de-sac. As the first Gulf War is about to rage, a Lebanese father is trying to control the behaviour of his daughter as she integrates into American society. Her black boyfriend doesn't go over well in the mix, and the violent reaction by her father is only overshadowed by the fact that she's being forced into a sexual relationship by the man next door for whom she babysits.

There's nothing light or cheery about this film, and its starkness can be overwhelming. The performances are shattering, and even the good neighbours come across as much more than two dimensional "nice guys". Given the timeline of the film, this can be seen as the dark flipside of The Big Lebowski - while the dude deals with his caper, out in Houston some nasty things are afoot.

Nothing is Private is far more raw and hard hitting than American Beauty, and will no doubt find a hard time finding an audience. It doesn't quite all gel together, but it's an ambitious film, certainly one bound to divide audiences and critics alike.
Directed by: Allan Ball
Grade: B+
Surfwise
Not your everyday documentary about a family of Mexican/American Jewish surfing prodigies, their Stanford Educated doctor father who gives up his practice to raise his family on the beach in a used campervan.

Yet another doc at this years fest that goes well beyond the expected scope, remaining compelling throughout its running time once the "hook" of the main story is spelled out quickly at the beginning. The story actually reaches back into the past (the father actually brought surfing to Israel, where it remains quite a phenomenon) to the present, where the family must come to grasp with the teachings of their unconventional, unrepentant patriarch.

This strange film elicits a mix of pathos for the family and a strong sense of voyeurism. They lived their lives in a unique way, to be sure, but the underlying principals instilled by their parents continue to guide them, even as the family has gone through some pretty significant setbacks.

The documentary does lose any sense of objectivity fairly early on, but that's part of its charm - the process of telling the story itself causes the family to reconsider past conflicts, and to come to terms with their unique take on life, sport, the environment and family. This is a fine portrayal of a complex situation, a fine work that illuminates something quite extraordinary.
Directed by: Doug Pray
Grade: A-
À l'intérieur
A stylish and gory film, with some very effective moments of horror, A L'interieur creeps inside your brains and stays with you for days. The woman-attacked-a-home trope is elevated here with a pregnant protagonist, chased by a female assailant intent on causing as much ruckuss as possible.

For those averse to sheer bloodsport, this certainly isn't the movie for you. Buckets and buckets are spilled, with some very chilling moments that are sure to impress even the most jaded genre fan. As always with these pics you've got to forgive a plot hole or two, but this grisly and stylish slaughter-fest, complete with surgery-by-scissors, makes for an excellent close to this year's TIFF.
Directed by: Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury
Grade: B+