John Cusack in Max

Catching up at TIFF 2002

The 2002 Toronto International Film Festival is quickly becoming history as events begin to wind down and some of the guests start to depart. Today, one of the darker days in history and a tough time for many, marks the point in the festival when last year’s red carpets were removed and things took a much lower key in respect to the events in New York. With that in mind I went to see a film called 11’09″01 last night (which will be a Gala presentation tonight).

Raising Victor Vargas

TIFF 2002: ‘Raising Victor Vargas’ Film Review

With the look of a well fleshed out biopic or documentary, Raising Victor Vargas (also known as Long Way Home) is a fresh and innocent sort of film. It’s the convincing story about what it’s like to be a teenager named Victor Vargas, a 17 year-old guy living in the middle of your classic urban sprawl in a distinctly Latino neighbourhood. This is a community that screams honesty and truth, and doesn’t layer on any ridiculous street music, hatred, or cliched wisdom like you get in many other films.

John Cusack in Max

TIFF 2002: ‘Max’ Film Review

In a Germany without accents, with the air of a city that could just as easily be 50 years ago or yesterday, Max follows the life of Max Rothman (played by John Cusack), a former soldier who came back from WWI without one of his arms and as an artist with only one hand, Max finds himself unable to paint, which leads him to start selling art in a local warehouse. On the evening that the film opens, Max meets an inspired young artist named Adolf Hitler who approaches Max with the hope that he’ll consider showing his art in the gallery. Nothing is that simple though, and even as we see Hitler walking away, there is an urgency and terror that bleeds into every conversation from then on as we begin to see what Hitler’s youth might have been like.