People have this misconception that I hate Toronto. I don’t hate Toronto, I just don’t particularity love it. I have had way too many horrible experiences travelling to the city throughout the years to say I love it. This may be my 20th trip to the city and again this trip is turning out to be problematic. Not only could I not check in my luggage on the train but the internet doesn’t work. And what sort of train doesn’t come with a tray attached to your seat, to place your laptop on. The bus I took last year had a tray. I’m actually debating choose the Telluride film festival next year over TIFF. It’s in Colorado, it’s a nice five days long, set in the Rockies, low key, chill and void of paparazzi, rec carpets and that Toronto attitude.
Anyhow Montreal I will miss you even if I am only gone for a week but enough of that. As promised, here is my five favourite films of the year (so far) to complete my top ten list.
#5 – Exit Through The Gift Shop
Listen to our review from Sound On Sight Radio Episode 202
#4 – Somos lo que hay (We Are What We Are)
listen to our review from the Sordid Cinema podcast Episode #11
# 3- Fish Tank / Une Prophete
(I chose a tie since technically they were both released in 2009, but only made it to Montreal in 2010)
Listen to our review from Sound On Sight Radio Episode #189
Listen to our review from Sound On Sight Radio Episode #185
#2 – Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
Listen to our review from Sound On Sight Radio Episode #219
#1 – Castaway On The Moon
Listen to our review from Sound On Sight Radio Episode #220
You can also read my review below. I will try to post as much as I can while I am here in Toronto. Free internet is hard to find downtown. Thankfully co host and friend Al Kratina is nice enough to let me stay at his place for the week, so when I am here I can take advantage of his internet. Until next time.
Ricky D – out
Castaway On The Moon
Directed by Hae-jun Lee
Being as it is a deserted island picture, you would think Castaway On The Moon would seem derivative of previous work – and while picking up on some influences from Robert Zemeckis’ Cast Away and Pen-ek Ratanaruang’s Last Life in the Universe, Castaway On The Moon offers something decidedly original: a deserted island story about a man who isn’t really deserted at all.
Lee Hae-jun’s loopy rom-com begins with a failed suicide. Seung-keun Kim (Jae-yeong Jeong) jumps off the ledge of an overpass above the Han River. Due to his own misfortune (or good fortune), he ends up stranded on Bam Island, a tiny piece of land in the middle of the Han river. Unable to swim to the opposite shore, he is left with no choice but to stay on the island and await a rescue. Eventually, he discovers that life on the island isn’t so bad, so he abandons his attempts at leaving and begins his attempts at living. Amidst one of Asia’s largest cities, in the one place nobody can see him, Ms. Kim (Jung Rye-won), a young recluse living in a nearby high-rise, accidentally catches a glimpse of him via her camera’s telephoto lens, and becomes obsessed with observing his every action. Thus begins one of most bizarre and heartwarming friendship in recent film history.
Ultimately, Castaway on the Moon boils down to a two-person show and the movie’s success can rightfully be attributed to the fantastic performances by the two leads, who mostly occupy the screen
Even more interesting is how the two become isolated from society in very different means. Mr. Kim is faced with forced separation from society while Ms Kim who is in the midst of society chooses to hide away. The virtual distance of Ms Kim is therefore quite akin to Mr. Kim’s physical distance and his separation from the surrounding city. Watching each of them overcome their hardships, faults and fears makes for one of the most exciting and unique character developments in cinematic history. Those themes of loneliness are especially poignant, as it taps into primal fears and emotions, making the character’s journey one that is equally emotionally, psychologically and physically taxing.
Its hard to deny the film’s valid and poignant critique of urban society and contemporary modes, given an ironic twist at the end, wherein the city of Seoul is hit with a rare emergency drill, shutting down the city and possibly allowing for a fateful meeting. I won’t spoil the ending. It’s a somewhat cryptic ending highly reminiscent of Mike Nichols’ The Graduate – both of which coincidentally end on a bus.
Castaway On The Moon is a masterful piece of filmmaking – compelling, smart, and truly original but more importantly it manages to entertain while supplying observations on society, nature, determination, choice, isolation, friendships, ability and more.
– Ricky D
Our column “Hidden Gems” is dedicated to those great films that many people have overlooked and or have found trouble finding distribution across the globe.