I started out my 30-day film festival trip with some awesome movie selections — Over the last week, I’ve screened some of the best movies of the year. Sooner or later I expected to come across some average to subpar films. It was bound to happen. That time is now.

At film festivals, I try not to focus much on the negative. I like to cultivate the films I loved or liked and share them with you. There is almost no point in tearing apart a film that you’ve never heard of and will never see in your local multiplex. However, the Toronto International Film Festival is a lot different than Telluride. The main focus of the TIFF line-up is comprised of films with actors you recognize or from big name directors. Sure, there are a selection of independent films here too (a lot of Canadian indie films as well), but the main focus is on the star studded premieres. That’s just the kind of festival it is.

In the last day and a half I’ve seen a bunch of these type of films. Some of them I liked (but didn’t really love, while others I definitely wouldn’t recommend. That is this blog post.

Guy Moshe‘s Bunraku (pictured above) is a super-stylized movie which is a combination of the western, samurai and noir film genres, based in a world where guns have been banished. Here is the official plot synopsis:

In a world with no guns, a mysterious drifter, a bartender and a young samurai plot revenge against a ruthless leader and his army of thugs, headed by nine diverse and deadly assassins.

On the surface, this is the type of film that readers of /Film should love, but it isn’t something that I can rightfully recommend to everyone.I did not see the entire movie, so I can’t rightfully review the whole movie. I will say that at almost two hours, it is overlong, and offers some cool style and ideas but little substance. I recorded a video blog reaction with Steve from Collider (who did see the entire film). You can watch the video below:

Vanishing on 7th Street is the latest film from Brad Anderson, who has directed such films as Next Stop Wonderland, Happy Accidents, Session 9, The Machinist and Transsiberian. I’m actually a big fan of the filmmaker, and Vanishing is his return to horror.

The plot kind of starts out like Y: The Last Man: The lights go out and when they come back on, the majority of the population has disappeared, leaving only their clothes and belongings. The film has a great opening twenty five minutes but slowly digresses into the usual indie horror film involving a group of survivors hiding out in a small location. The film does a lot with only a little, but at the end of the day, the second act feels too long for an 87 minute movie. I recorded a video blog with Steve talking about our reactions to the film. Watch that below.

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