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Toronto 2010: “Trust,” Reviewed

Toronto 2010: “Trust,” Reviewed (photo)

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Reviewed at the 2010 Toronto Film Festival.

Nothing comes easy in “Trust,” a drama about pedophilia that will inevitably face heavy scrutiny should it make it out of Toronto, and even with Clive Owen and Catherine Keener, there’s reason to be skeptical. It is at once an attempt to deal with one of the last taboos in a way that keeps audiences engaged and it’s directed by one of the stars of “Friends” that refuses to employ the stylistic flourishes or overt moralizing that usually make such films easier to digest. Yet a lack of artistic creativity shouldn’t be mistaken for a lack of narrative ambition.

Schwimmer takes the road less traveled with “Trust,” the story of a 14-year-old named Annie, who becomes the victim of an online predator after months of IMs and texts with a boy she thinks is her own age, discussing volleyball and the other girls at her school. Except that Annie never really considers herself a victim, even after she meets her virtual boyfriend ChRLeeCA in the flesh, discovers he’s 40 and the two engage in not entirely consensual sex at a local motel where her mind drifts after some uncertain protests. In her eyes, if she’s a victim of anything, it’s what happens after the act, when her admission to a friend at school leads to a search for a man she still considers her “boyfriend” that truly has nasty repercussions.

Since Owen plays her father, this would be the part where you’d expect him to double pump a nearby shotgun and get angry for her, but to their great credit, the script from Andy Bellin and Robert Festinger leaves far more ambiguity than that. (It’s worth noting Festinger was last co-credited with the screenplay for “In the Bedroom.”) As the adult most shaken by Annie’s situation, Owen goes from pushing forward with an ad campaign of scantily clad models at work to wondering what he’s done wrong as a parent when there really might not be an answer. (Keener plays his wife and hits some nice grace notes in an underwritten part.)

09112010_Trust-1.jpgTo build some tension, Schwimmer indulges in some searching for the wanted pedophile, bringing in a FBI investigator (Jason Clarke) and a psychiatrist (Viola Davis) to help with any familial trauma, but “Trust” defiantly bucks the notion of being a chase film or some sort of Lifetime movie of the week in favor of realistically depicting the aftermath of such an incident. In their anger and confusion, Keener and Owen raise their voices more than once over what to do, appearing less mature at times than their young daughter who has the insecurities of a teenager that feed into her headstrong nature. First-time actress Liana Liberato gives a poised performance as Annie, though if there is any concession to the reality of movies versus actual reality, it’s that her cherubic dimples scream an innocence that tips the film’s hand as to where it’s going in the first act.

Schwimmer also has his limitations as a filmmaker, for better or worse. Whereas “Run Fatboy Run” suffered as a comedy from his restraint, “Trust” benefits from it, usually knowing when to let certain scenes breathe and when to pull back in others. There are a few instants where a heavy hand pokes through – Owen’s internal struggle ultimately manifests into some unexpected physical violence and Schwimmer is none too subtle in amping up the score and going crazy with the editing. But by that point, he’s generated enough goodwill by respecting the audience’s intelligence to make the more uneven aspects forgivable.

Considering there haven’t been many films of note to take on pedophilia with sophistication and ample consideration, and the few that have usually try to provoke by taking great strides to humanize the pedophile, “Trust” is a bold film, just for humanizing the victims by showing their flaws and making their plight seem all the more relatable.

“Trust” currently does not have U.S. distribution.

Bourne

Bourne to Run

10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Bourne Movies

Catch The Bourne Ultimatum this month on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

You know his name, as the Super Bowl teaser for the upcoming summer blockbuster Jason Bourne reminded us. In this era of franchise films, that seems to be more than enough to get another entry in the now 15-year-old series greenlit. And gosh darn it if we aren’t into it. Before you catch The Bourne Ultimatum on IFC, here are some surprising facts about the Bourne movies that you may not know. And unlike Jason Bourne, try not to forget them.


10. Matt Damon was a long shot to play Jason Bourne.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Coming off of Good Will Hunting and The Legend of Bagger Vance, early ’00s Matt Damon didn’t exactly scream “ripped killing machine.” In fact, Brad Pitt, Russell Crowe and even Sylvester Stallone were all offered the part before it fell into the hands of the Boston boy made good. It was his enthusiasm for director Doug Liman’s more frenetic vision that ultimately helped land him the part.


9. Love interest Marie was almost played by Sarah Polley.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Damon wasn’t the only casting surprise. Franka Potente, of Run Lola Run fame, wasn’t the filmmaker’s first choice for the role or Marie in The Bourne Identity. In fact, Liman wanted his Go star Sarah Polley for the part, but she turned it down in favor of making indie movies back in Canada. A quick rewrite changed the character from American Marie Purcell to European Marie Helena Kreutz, and the rest is movie history.


8. Director Doug Liman was obsessed with the Bourne books.

Universal Picutres

Universal Pictures

Liman had long been a fan of the Bourne book series. When Warner Bros.’ rights to the books lapsed in the late ’90s, Liman flew himself to author Robert Ludlum’s Montana home, mere days after earning his pilot’s license. The author was so impressed with his passion for the material, he sold the rights on the spot.


7. Liman’s father actually worked for the NSA.

Universal Picutres

Universal Pictures

Part of Liman’s fasciation with the Bourne series was that his own father played the same spy craft games portrayed in the books while working for the NSA. In fact, many of the Treadstone details were taken from his father’s own exploits, and Chris Cooper’s character, Alex Conklin, was based on Oliver Stone, whom Arthur Liman famously cross examined as chief counsel of the Iran-Contra hearings.


6. Tony Gilroy threw the novel’s story out while writing The Bourne Identity.

Universal Picutres

Universal Picutres

Despite being based on a hit book, screenwriter Tony Gilroy, coming off of The Devil’s Advocate, had no idea how to adapt it into a movie. He said the book was more concerned with people “running to airports” than character, and would need a complete rewrite. Director Doug Liman agreed, and Gilroy claims to have condensed the original novel into the first five minutes. Getting that out of the way, he then wrote his own story, based on a man who wakes up one day not remembering anything but how to kill.


5. Damon walked like a boxer to get into character.

Universal Picutres

Universal Picutres

Damon had never played a character like Bourne before, and was searching for a way to capture his physicality. Doug Liman told him to walk like a boxer to give Jason Bourne an edge. Damon took that to heart, training for six months in boxing, marital arts and firearms.


4. Damon broke an actor’s nose.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Damon’s training for the films is legendary, but mistakes still happen. While filming a scene for The Bourne Ultimatum, Damon hit actor Tim Griffin so hard, he shattered his nose. Apparently, the space the scene was filmed in was smaller than originally intended, throwing Damon off just enough to exert a real beat down.


3. James Bond visited The Bourne Legacy set.

Eon Productions

Eon Productions

Actor Daniel Craig stopped by the set of The Bourne Legacy to visit his wife, actress Rachel Weisz, who was starring in the movie. While having James Bond on a Bourne set must have been exciting, The Bourne Legacy was the only Bourne movie to not actually feature Jason Bourne, meaning our bets on who would kick whose ass would have to wait for another day.


2. The Bourne Identity was nearly a bomb (in the box office sense).

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

As reshoots began to pile up, and an all-out war between the studio and director Doug Liman spilled into the press, expectations were that The Bourne Identity was going to flop. Matt Damon told GQ that, “the word on Bourne was that it was supposed to be a turkey…It’s very rare that a movie comes out a year late, has four rounds of reshoots, and it’s good.”


1. Matt Damon wasn’t the first actor to play Bourne.

Warner Brothers Television

Warner Brothers Television

Aired on ABC in 1988, the TV movie adaptation of The Bourne Identity, while not exactly critically acclaimed, was a more faithful version of Ludlum’s book. Richard Chamberlain, of The Thorn Birds fame, played a much less ass-kicking spy, while “Charlie’s Angel” Jaclyn Smith played love interest Marie. If you like your Bourne movies heavy with poorly lit ’80s melodrama, this might just be the adaptation for you. Otherwise, you should catch The Bourne Ultimatum when it airs this month on IFC.

Toronto 2010: “Windfall,” Reviewed

Toronto 2010: “Windfall,” Reviewed (photo)

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Reviewed at the 2010 Toronto Film Festival.

There’s little doubt Ondi Timoner’s “Cool It” will grab most of the headlines at Toronto as the documentary to question the validity of global warming, but that might work in the favor of “Windfall,” a film that’s equally skeptical, yet wouldn’t benefit from high expectations.

Part of the charm of the debut doc from Laura Israel, an editor for the likes of Ed Lachman and Robert Frank in recent years, is the fact that it sneaks up on you, nearly as unassuming in its start as the farming town of Meredith, NY where the closest thing to conflict is the theft of a sign shaped like a cow by some local teens.

Save for Israel and cinematography Brian Jackson’s vivid depiction of Meredith’s landscape and the twang of electric guitars that serve as its score, the film’s opening promises sped-up shots of nature and talking heads optimistically musing about the potential of wind energy in their community. Yet it isn’t before long that Israel reveals that those wind turbines that sprouted up so inauspiciously throughout Meredith are churning far more debate in the town than actual wind.

Pitchforks aren’t drawn, but they might as well be as this presumably liberal enclave descends into heated disagreement over the towering 400-ft. windmills that are invading Meredith’s acreage, a byproduct of the farms’ desperation for cash and the opportunism of alternative energy companies to sign them up to agreements they couldn’t possibly understand the implications of since it’s still a developing technology. As a result, the residents of Meredith who didn’t sign up to have the windmills on their land are treated to the same constant grinding noise and vertigo-inducing shadows as those that did.

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Toronto 2010: “The Town,” Reviewed

Toronto 2010: “The Town,” Reviewed (photo)

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Reviewed at the 2010 Toronto Film Festival.

When people seemed genuinely surprised that “Gone Baby Gone” was a solid directorial debut for Ben Affleck, I was not among them. Anyone who paid close enough attention would’ve known a guy as sharp as Affleck would have the capability to pull together something that was compelling and naturally well-cast, given he can stock up on actors he knows are underutilized. So it is with some frustration that it appears he’s taken a step backwards with “The Town,” a crime thriller that is good more of the time than it’s not, but suffers from the fact it should’ve been great.

As has been noted frequently, Affleck is back in his hometown of Boston, not in Dorchester where his slow burn adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s “Gone Baby Gone” was set, but in the wild, wild north of Charlestown, which is noted in the film’s first title card as the birthplace of “more bank robbers and armored car thieves than anywhere else in the world.” Once again co-writing with Aaron Stockard, “The Town” is also an adaptation — this time, of Chuck Hogan’s “Prince of Thieves” — and it turns out for the most part, Affleck’s sensibilities are well-attuned to the needs of an action film, which “The Town” is far more so than his last.

With a great sense of how to raise the stakes on any given scene or when to cut the tension with a clever one-liner, Affleck injects a real crackerjack energy into the story of two childhood friends-turned-bank-robbers (Affleck and Jeremy Renner) who attract the attention of an FBI task force agent (Jon Hamm) after one of their scores leaves a witness (Rebecca Hall). “The Town” eventually travels down the relatively well-worn road of having Affleck attempt to find a way out of the criminal life, inspired by a romance with Hall’s bank manager after initially seducing her for information, conflict with the illegal aspirations of Renner, but it rarely feels stale. (In fact, the film’s three robbery sequences are amongst the most gripping this side of “Heat.”)

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