Monday, 16 June 2014

THE BEST OFFER - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Festival Preview Review for the inaugural Niagara Integrated Film Festival 2014 (NIFF 2014) from the visionary producer and legendary co-founder and the first-ever Director of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Mr. Bill Marshall

The Niagara Integrated Film Festival launches its first exciting season June 19-22, 2014 inclusive. You're probably wondering about the "integration" aspect of this cultural event and I can assure you it has nothing to do with President Lyndon Johnson's 1964 Civil Rights Act. No Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe sporting guns and fedoras to stop Mississippi [from] Burning, no To Kill a Mockingbird Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) show trials, no Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier) coming to town In the Heat of the Night to solve murder with a racist lawman (Rod Steiger), no Melvin Van Peebles singing that Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song and most certainly, no William Shatner, The Intruder, heading to Wine Country to preach against desegregation. No-siree, Bobski! We're talking all about the integration of fine cinema, fine dining and the finest wine from the luscious grapes of Southern Ontario, all finely mushed together by the skillful prowess of only the finest bare feet a-stomping on the sweet orbs of fruity delights in those healthy receptacles designed to yield the nectar of the Gods. This is going to be one unique film festival and I've had a chance to preview a few of the cinematic morsels on view this coming weekend. The Film Corner reviews of NIFF's bevy of cinematographic delights right here and now.

Hey kids! Let's ALL line up
for a Geoffrey Rush sex scene.
The Best Offer (2013) ***
Dir. Giuseppe Tornatore
Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Sylvia Hoeks, Donald Sutherland, Jim Sturgess, Kiruna Stamell

Review By Greg Klymkiw

He gave us Cinema Paradiso, the bonafide masterpiece and loving ode to movies and he's reigned as one of Italy's most prolific, though not always on-the-mark directors. With The Best Offer, Giuseppe Tornatore delivers a sumptuously crafted romance infused with elements of mystery and the high-toned trappings of filthy rich people and settings that offer the sort of pleasures only movies can bring to us plebeians.

Herein this cinematic eye-candy, Geoffrey Rush plays a lone-wolf art/antique expert and celebrated auctioneer who jets all over the world to appraise private collections of disgustingly affluent upper-class scum. His greatest joy is privately collecting priceless portraits by working with a bearded beard (Donald Sutherland) who attends auctions to bid and win works that Rush prices far too below their real value. It's how the rich get richer and stay rich. They're essentially criminals at heart, but when they're played by Geoffrey Rush, we kind of look the other way so long as they're not overtly exploiting the downtrodden.

When Rush agrees to assess the collection of a mysterious young heiress (Sylvia Hoeks), locked away Miss Havisham-like in a massive villa, he's delighted with the woman's offerings within her crumbling manse, but taken aback that she refuses to meet with him in person. He only does business with people he can lay eyes upon. Our girl, hidden behind the walls of her secret room, proves however, to be quite the conversationalist and when our auctioneer snatches a few peeks of her lithe form she's also quite the catch for a stinky old art connoisseur, a definite babe.

Needless to say and in spite of her agoraphobia, the classy, erudite Mr. Rush manages to charm the panties off shy little missy and she eagerly opens up her private boudoir to him. Soon our smelly, old, but oh-so rapturously seductive gentleman is not only plumbing the depths of her very soul, but plumbing her, uh, plumbing (so to speak).

One of the cooler elements of the tale is how a handsome, young restoration expert (Jim Sturgess) side-coaches Rush to orgasmic bliss, performing a kind of Cyrano de Bergerac role, though in reverse, obviously, since Rush is a smelly, old coot endowed with a semi-prominent proboscis and dreamboat Sturgess has his fair share of babe-o-licious ladies drooling over him.

Even cooler, though, is the subplot involving Rush finding scattered pieces of what appears to be the inner-workings of a centuries-old automaton and Sturgess excitedly rebuilding it. This actually might be the coolest idea I've seen in a movie in some time - I almost perversely wish it could have been devoted to an entire movie instead of the one Tornatore gives us. Well, we're stuck with this one and it's pretty darn good with two exceptions.

The first drag is that the first hour of the film is supremely entertaining. No two ways about it. That's not the problem, though. What is, is that the careful viewer will pick up on pretty obvious hints as to where the narrative is going and said careful viewers will, like I did, want to beg Tornatore not to go there. Alas, he does. It's not only the obvious direction for the film to go, but as such, is an almost-hard-to-swallow denouement that hardly delivers on the promise of the first half.

The second drag might be my own peccadillo, but is there anyone on the face of God's Green Earth who wants to see Geoffrey Rush naked and having sex? Sure, if he's playing a sicko like the Marquis de Sade, I'm there, but somehow, in a mystery-drenched romance a la Daphne Du Maurier, there's something vaguely upchuck-inducing about oldster carnal shenanigans (unless one's imbued with that fetish, and if so, knock yourself out). Three years ago, Rush starred in a dreadful Australian picture called The Eye of the Storm. When I reviewed it, I noted that one of the picture's more sickening subplots involved Geoffrey Rush having his knob plunged and polished by a comely young thing who seemed genuinely charmed by him. It's more of the same here, only this is a good movie that really needed a far more chaste approach to Rush achieving orgasms.

I know what you're thinking: The laddie doth protest too much. Indeed, perhaps, he does, but some things are worth protesting, mais non?

The Best Offer screens on the opening night of NIFF. For further info, visit the festival website HERE. The movie is worth seeing on a big screen, but it will also soon be available on DVD via Mongrel Media. Feel free to order the film from the Amazon links below and, in so doing, support the ongoing maintenance of The Film Corner.