Live from the Toronto Film Festival: Sunday, Sept. 7


My Toronto schedule is mostly sketched out, with a line-up of four or five films a day from now through Thursday. With luck, the days will be more fruitful than my first day, a relatively light one in which I saw three films.

My day began with Tusk, a well-publicized new horror film by Kevin Smith. I'm a long-time fan of Smith's hilariously discursive dialogue, which can rival Quentin Tarantino's for being both juicily arcane and raunchily hilarious.

It serves him well for the first half hour of the film, a bizarre tale of a podcast jockey named Wallace (Justin Long) who winds up the luckless subject of a strange Canadian serial killer outside Winnipeg. As played by the protean and menacing Michael Park, this guy loves walruses, of all things, and surgically transforms his victim into a large, fleshy (and heavily scarred with stitches) walrus-like blob.

That first half-hour, an increasingly tense give-and-take between spider and fly, ultimately gives way to the kind of bizarre antics that drive the movie straight off the rails, never to return. In fact, the film takes a drastic turn -- into mannered comedy with a Canadian version of Inspector Clouseau, whose bizarre accent is apparently meant to be a joke in itself (played by an unrecognizable Johnny Depp).

I admire Smith's impulse to expand his film-making palette and was a fan of his Red State. Tusk, however, may only be for Smith completists. It was so disheartening that I bailed a little early in order to make a screening of The Reach. Not, unfortunately, a significant improvement.

These reviews continues on my website.