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TIFF 09: Favorite Moments, Day 3

Accident (Soi Cheang, Hong Kong): The saddest moment in a usually restrained film.  Our hero, a widower, sees the man he is spying on meet a woman.  Next shot is of the LED lights of audio equipment our hero is using to tap his target's apartment.  Next shot is our hero listening on his headphones.  He looks sad, calmly devastated.  He wipes his hand with his face, and slowly removed the headphones.  Distantly, we finally hear what he was listening to—the sound of his target and the woman making love.  The withhold on this scene is marvelous, the punch-line clever and tragic in a wonderfully genre kind of way.  Epilogue: the man slowly puts the headphones back on...

Hadewijch (Bruno Dumont, France):  Does it count as a cop out, especially with Dumont, to say an actors face?  Well, tough.  The close-up of the nun who expresses her doubt about our heroine's place in her nunnery evokes more of faith, certainly, and uncertainly and bodily and immaterial presence than the entirety of the rest of the film does, which is entirely created to explore those ideas.  Sometimes cinema's documentary impulse wins out above all.  A lesser favorite element of this film is the unexpected pleasure of seeing Parisian youth do Parisian youth-movie things (drink at cafes, steal motorbikes) in a Dumont film.
Pro Agri (Nicky Hamlyn, United Kingdom): Who knew that at night time lapse photography could stop looking like time-lapse photography and starts looking like regular cinematography?  It seems a small point, but there's a lot of tiny magic in this small movie.
Käfig (Karl Kels, Germany): Of the two doors that hold a place in the frame of this film like the doorways of Ford, Ozu, and Costa, I choose the right door, the one that never opens, is always closed, and that the rhino—the zoo-bound star of the film—never seems to think as an option of escape or respite.  That door, what's behind it and why it's not an option, holds one of the greatest mysteries of Toronto's film festival.
Let Each One Go Where He May (Ben Russell, USA):  I feel it's a bit unfair to the nuance of Russell's film to point out the most epic of all his near-10 minute long take shots, but it remains the most affecting in the work.  It is the one (of thirteen) where one of the film's protagonists methodically applies a chainsaw to several trees in the frame, moving from one to another, often obscured by the underbrush, and leaving them standing, only to have nearly all the trees somehow, miraculously, terribly and irrevocably, fall down at the same instant, clearing a horrible path of light over the wreckage.
I’m interested to see how that Ben Russell film turned out. Judging by your description, it seems Russell is trying an objective, long-winded approach — much like John Gianvito’s “Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind.” I remain a skeptic.

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