TCFF Day 7 reviews: The Liability, Casual Encounters, How I Live Now

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Now that TCFF has wrapped, I’ll be posting some reviews from the last few days of the film fest, as well as which films won the TCFF Awards which was announced last night. Glad to see some of my personal favorites getting nominated. You can check out the list here.

Now here are some films from Day 7 that are worth checking out:

How I Live Now

by Ruth Maramis

I have not heard about this film until it was announced as a TCFF lineup. I was immediately drawn to it because of Saoirse Ronan who’s been excellent in everything I’ve seen her in so far. This time it’s no different. In this film adaptation of novel by Meg Rosoff, Ronan plays an angst-y American teenager Daisy, who reluctantly goes to spend her Summer vacation with her cousin in an English countryside. Once she’s there, the rural house is in complete mess as her four cousins, Isaac (Tom Holland), Piper (Harley Bird), Edmond “Eddie” (George MacKay) pretty much had to look after themselves as their mom is involved in a mysterious project, something about the ‘peace process,’ who’s quickly whisked to Geneva, never to be seen again.

What starts out as an idyllic vacation, complete with picnic, lake-swimming, and a blossoming teen romance between Daisy and Eddie, life is soon turned upside down for them as war suddenly broke out, seemingly out of nowhere. Whilst there are hints along the way that of what looks to be a World War III scenario, from news footage on TV, signs of military presence, etc., when nuke effect “snow” from a London nuclear attack falling on them, it still came as quite a surprise. As the country descend into a violent and chaotic military state, Daisy is given a chance to return to America, but yet she chooses to stay with Eddie.

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The last half of the film becomes a journey for survival story as Daisy and Piper flee a forced-labor camp through the woods. The pacing of the film drags at times, and I find the film’s relentlessly-allusive storyline a bit frustrating. I like a good mystery but somehow this film felt more elusive than truly suspenseful. I also feel like the chemistry between the characters a bit lacking. The romance is far from gripping and the pairing of Daisy and Piper also didn’t quite mesh well, though both actors did a good job. Thus I didn’t feel as emotionally-involved with the characters as I otherwise would.

I do think the premise is intriguing though, and there’s enough going for it here that kept me engaged. The tone is dark and pretty grim, especially the last third of the film, with some gruesome doomsday scenes that warrants its R rating. Just like she did in Hanna, Ronan pretty much carried the film here and she’s more than capable. She easily outshines everyone else in this film, though Harley Bird as Piper has some scene-stealing moments. The cinematography is gorgeous as well, giving us a stark contrast between the serene and lush pastoral beauty and the sinister apocalyptic views of a doomed future.

As far as young adult stories go though, this one is certainly far more compelling than other ‘supernaturally-themed’ offerings out there. I quite like the hopeful but not ‘too neat’ ending, though some might feel it’s a bit anti-climactic. It could’ve been a bit more compelling, especially coming from director Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland, State of Play), but I’d say it’s worth a rent though if you’re a fan of the talents involved.

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Casual Encounters

by Adam Wells

Casual Encounters is an anthology film about people who meet other people online for a casual night of love. The movie shows five different people’s experience with a casual encounter and they do intertwine as some characters show up in multiple storylines. The film is really 5 short films and in some cases they have been shown separately in some cases but Casual Encounters has them shown altogether.

The movie has excellent performances all around, the actors and actresses in this film handle the maturity of the content of this nature. In particular the character of Eric who is the only one to appear in three storylines including his own, his character has many levels of depth to him as his life is a bit complicated. Eric is portrayed by Aaron Mathias (who was also the star of Things I Don’t Understand which premiered at TCFF last year), and he is definitely an actor to keep on your radar.

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The movie has many settings that take place at night, but despite that the cinematography is done very well, while also different color palettes for lighting in each story’s setting. As each story differs in its nature of intimacy and sexual orientation, the colors of the lighting seem to change, and that shows the producers and director really thought through the composition of the shots wanted the viewer to associate certain colors with certain interactions, as Eric’s story is the final one in the film and has multiple settings as opposed to the other stories that have one or two.

Overall, Casual Encounters is an excellent film and comes highly recommended due to its amazing performances, elaborate world it creates with intertwining storylines, and its content that is usually not shown in films. The film plays against the viewers expectations as it has romantic movie plots but they don’t play out as most romantic movie plots usually play out, which is always pleasant to see.
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The Liability

by Sarah Johnson

A movie with good plot twists that also wraps up all the loose ends by the time the credits roll? The Liability, the new crime tale directed by Craig Viveiros and written by John Wrathall, does just that. It stars Tim Roth as Roy, a world weary hit man who only wants to retire so he can attend his daughter’s wedding, and Jack O’Connell as Adam, the 19 year old stepson of Roy’s gangster boss Peter (Peter Mullan). When Adam wrecks Peter’s car he gives him a job of becoming Roy’s driver as a way to work off his debt. “It’s either that or the septic tank,” Peter says.
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Of course things don’t go according to plan. A bizarre string of events involve a girl, a hippie van and the true reason Adam was paired with Roy. Suffice it to say, when I heard a nearby audience member gasp at one of the plot twists, I knew the filmmakers had done their job. Casting Tim Roth in one of the starring roles was a good choice as his wry acting style is a good mix with the sexy edginess of the movie. (“I haven’t killed a woman since 1983,” he proclaims.)
The one thing I found slightly lacking was the chemistry between O’Connell and Roth- it would have been nice to see them play off each other more. Some might say the movie is a little too by-the-book in wrapping it up at the end. I appreciate movies that keep you guessing as well but is walking out of the theatre feeling like you understood everything so wrong?

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So that about wraps up our Day 7 reviews. Any thoughts about any of these films?

TCFF Day 7 Highlights: MN Shorts 2, The Liability, Casual Encounters, How I Live Now

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Only four more days left at TCFF but there are no shortage of great films to look forward to. Between my two volunteer staff and I, there’s a myriad of shorts, documentary and feature films we’re planning to catch tonight:

Beyond Right and Wrong: Stories of Justice and Forgiveness

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 4:00pm

Directed by Lekha Singh & Roger Spottiswoode

BEYOND RIGHT AND WRONG follows the stories of survivors, like Beata, whose children were murdered in the Rwandan Genocide; Bassam and Rami, who each lost a daughter in the conflicts in Israel and Palestine; and Jo, whose father died in the bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Relying on the survivors’ own words, BEYOND RIGHT AND WRONG does not dwell on the violence and loss, but highlights healing through forgiveness, as victims and perpetrators alike begin humanizing the people they once perceived as enemies or animals. By sharing their experiences of loss and anger, their struggles with forgiveness, and their efforts for peace, these survivors have opened a discussion on the role of forgiveness in the search for justice.

This premise of this documentary intrigues me. It’s a tough subject that promises to be a heart-wrenching and thought-provoking one.


MN Shorts Part II

Another collection of great short films shot in the state of Minnesota!


Panhandler – 25 minutes

Go Home – 13 minutes 

PROTOS – 17 minutes 

Public toilet – 2 minutes 

The Information Thief – 11 minutes 

3 Bullets – 14 minutes


The Liability

Showing: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 6:30pm

Directed by Craig Viveiros

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Dark comedy thriller starring Tim Roth and Jack O’Connell. When Adam (O’Connell) is asked to be the driver for a business associate of his mother’s crime boss boyfriend, he soon finds out that this business associate is Roy (Roth) – an aging hitman on the eve of his retirement. While Adam drives Roy to what he hopes are his last ever jobs, a series of unexpected events lands the pair in a game of cat and mouse with a mysterious Latvian woman (Talulah Riley).


Casual Encounters

Showing: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 9:00pm

Directed by Will McCord

No matter how alone or strange one may be, internet sex personals provide an anonymous setting to divulge one’s most secret and intimate desires. Post an ad about your kinkiest desires and you’re bound to receive dozens of replies from like-minded people – some genuine and real and others deceitful and predatory. CASUAL ENCOUNTERS tells five stories where each character meets their online respondent for what they think will be a simple encounter. What they discover is very different.


There’s also another screening of Hot & Bothered short film tonight. Stay tuned for a spotlight post on that with review and interview with director Jake Greene!


How I Live Now

HowILiveNowShowing: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 8:30pm

Directed by Kevin Macdonald

Starring Saoirse Ronan (The Lovely Bones, Atonement, Hanna and The Way Back) and based on the popular Meg Rosoff novel, HOW I LIVE NOW tells the story of an American girl on holiday with her family in the English countryside, who finds herself in hiding and fighting for her survival as the third world war breaks out. A powerful tale of battlefield heroics, shattered innocence, and how love enables us to endure.

I’ve been a huge fan of Ronan since I saw her in Atonement, and one of my favorite Irish actors. She’s easily one of the most talented young actress working today so she’s the main draw for me here. I also like the Scottish director Kevin Macdonald’s previous work State of Play. Sounds like the role is tailor-made for Ronan, I hope this film is worthy of her talents.


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Ticket Prices are as follows:
General Admission $10; Opening/Closing Gala $20; Centerpiece Gala $20; Sneak Preview Galas $20. Festival Passes can also be purchased: Silver $50 for 6 films; Gold $70 for 10 films; or Platinum $120 for 12 films + 2 tickets to Opening, Closing or Gala. (Silver and Gold Packages do not include Opening, Closing or Gala Tickets).

For more information and to purchase tickets visit www.twincitiesfilmfest.org.


So that’s Day 7 highlights. Any one of these piqued your interest, folks?