TIFF Toronto Films

TIFF Today: Like Crazy, Life Without Principle, Undefeated, A Simple Life, Dark Girls

The first and only Wednesday of TIFF is one of the most critical days of the festival because something of a power shift takes place. Frenzied ticket purchasers are snapping up well-reviewed films left, right and centre while the remaining press and industry attendees are screened and feted out. In terms of flashy carpets this evening, Starbuck celebrates with a Gala at Roy Thomson Hall, and the Jason Segal vehicle Jeff, Who Lives at Home (by the directors who brought you Cyrus) hits the carpet right after. But if shilling out $40 seems a bit excessive this late in the week, why not see two of the next few suggestions instead?

Like Crazy (12:00, Ryerson)
What's a better start to your day than a film about that first, strong, devastating romance of your life, a film about that person who is your everything... until that bliss is interrupted. Like Crazy is just that film. Starring Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones as Anna and Jacob, two college students in L.A who meet at school and fall in heartbreaking love, only to end up separated on separate continents after a short romance. As they struggle with the stress of their long-distance relationship, which involves awkward texts, emails and unsatisfying video dates, Jacob finds himself distracted by Sam (Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence) a mysterious co-ed who is the opposite of everything Anna is, she's dark, unpredictable and local.

Life Without Principle (3:30, TIFF Bell Lightbox 1)
Festival veteran Johnnie To has a film just about other year at TIFF. In 2009 the Hong Kong director brought us Vengeance, in 2007 Mad Detective and Exiled the year before, and Toronto can't get enough of him. This year he presents his newest film which reflects on the current financial crisis in a film about corruption, greed and the law in Life Without Principle. Three seemingly unrelated characters are all tied together financially after rash, morally ambiguous and outright illegal decisions concerning money connect them to a loan shark who has just possibly lost all of their money. Undoubtedly things are going to get a bit violent.

Undefeated (5:00, TIFF Bell Lightbox 3)
Undefeated is several stories rolled into one. It's the story of volunteer football coach Bill Courtney and his dedication to the team; it's a story about Money, Chavis and O.C. some of the best players on the team but it's also about character. This is Courtney's sixth year coaching a team which has never won a playoff game in its 110 year history, but this year he believes things will be different. With a strong squad composed of some talented seniors, Courtney trains and teaches his players what it is to play for a team and for the betterment of yourself and other people. While his players are diverse in their goals and attitudes, he finds a way to compel them to play together and learn something, creating a truly inspiring message that will last once he's hung up his whistle.

A Simple Life (6:30, TIFF Bell Lightbox 1)
An interesting take on the elder care issue that is becoming a hot topic in wealthier nations, A Simple Life is about anything but. The film stars Andy Lau as Roger, a film producer who lives alone in Hong Kong long after the rest of his family has left. His only "family" is his long-term family amah Ah Tao. She's been with his family through 4 generations and when she takes ill and her health continues to deteriorate, Roger decides to address his priorities in life to spend as much time with her as possible before she passes. A simple, touching story that combines issues of class, age and lifestyle that seems to be a much better alternative to The Help.

Dark Girls (9:15, Ryerson Theatre)
Like Good Hair a few years ago, Dark Girls is a strong documentary that tackles the internalized racism that still exist within the black community concerning appearance and good looks. Instead of focusing on hair straighteners, relaxers and hair conventions however, this film tackles skin-colour bias against black women. Issues such as skin bleaching, brightening and shade are explored, taboo subjects that are usually relegated to women's studies classes instead of the cinema. It's another strong addition to the phenomenal Real to Reel programme this year.

A big thanks to Drive, an Alliance film opening in theatres on September 16th, for sponsoring our coverage of the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival.

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