TIFF

TIFF 11 Review

I am going to start posting reviews of all or most of the 32 films I saw… but for now, I thought I’d post an overall review of this year’s festival. I know. Exciting, right?

Weather:  A

This is more important than you might think. The weather wasn’t absolutely prefect, but while it was kind of hot and humid near the beginning (if you got stuck in a line in direct sunlight) and kind of nippy later in the week (waiting in a line at night), it didn’t rain! (more than sprinkles) and was overall neither too hot nor too cold. Yay. With all the waiting in lines involved in the festival, this is key. A few of the days were downright gorgeous early fall days.

Ease of Festivalling:  B-

Yes, I made up a new verb. Sue me. I decided to fork out the big bucks to be a contributing member this year. While this didn’t mean I got all my picks, I did get 29 out of 30.  The only one I didn’t get was A Dangerous Method (got Anonymous instead) and based on what I’ve heard people say… it wasn’t that great, anyway. Or at least not as great as everyone expected with the Fassbender, Mortensen, Cronenberg combination. Although rating on imdb is quite good I see…

All of my trips down to the box office went smoothly — picking up book, dropping off picks, picking up tickets, buying a few single tickets, exchanging a ticket… That members and donors line is AWESOME.
On the other hand, I was annoyed that there were even more premium screenings this year. It was hard to pick films to see in the evenings the first weekend because so many of them were off limits for picks with passes and coupons. I think the festival should add some kind of pass or coupon booklet where you can pre-select a certain number of premium films… I don’t like buying a Gala pass (hate seeing movies at Roy Thompson Hall) and found the Visa Screening Room disappointing, too, because you end up with no choice… But why not a 10 coupon book or 5 coupon book for premium screenings… In my perfect festival world, I’d have a 30 film pass where I could pick up to 5-10 premium screenings within my 30.

Health:  B+

Okay, this is a pretty personal one, but also important. Back when I used to buy a 50 Film pass, I got a cold every year. I haven’t become ill the last couple of years because a) I no longer try to go to 9:00 am screenings. That’s just crazy. And b) I make sure I eat better than I used to and drink lots of water. But this year I got a monster zit on my nose, the likes of which I’ve never seen before… So not an A worthy health year. :)

Line Buzz: C

I noticed that now that everyone has a blackberry or iphone in line, no one talks anymore. Nor are they as likely to chatter with seatmates once seated in the theatre. I miss that. Although I do admit to checking my e-mail and reading on my kindle in lines and in my seat while waiting for screenings, too. Next year I vow to talk to more people (assuming I go again). I’ve met so many cool people at TIFF over the years and missed that this year. It’s fun to hear what everyone else loved and compare notes on films you saw in common. Plus, I get kind of strange when I go 10 days without much human interaction. Scary really. And the big zit didn’t help.

Overall Experience:  C+

The festival just isn’t as exciting as it used to be. Maybe I’m getting jaded, but I think it has to do with the fact I couldn’t pick any of the premium screenings and most of the “red carpet” events were deemed premium. Also, I somehow picked quite a few films this year that didn’t have a Q&A, even though it was a first screening… and didn’t have any of those great surprises when the director or actors show up at a next day screening. I miss that.

Films: B-

I will talk about each film later, but basically I didn’t have many that totally blew me away. :( And talking to the few people I did talk to in lines (and eavesdropping) most people felt the same way. That it was kind of a m’eh year for films. Maybe that’s why the People’s Choice was a Lebanese musical... Although I do hope winning that award will mean the film gets a general release. I don’t remember a time when the TIFF People’s Choice award didn’t go on to be a box office success…

More later. :)

A Great TIFF Day

So, I’m a little too bagged to blog properly… I will get caught up and talk about this year’s films properly, but I did have a really great day today. It was a five ticket day. I can’t say five film day, because one of them was a “Maverick” talk, not a film, but we did see a film clip as part of it…

My day started with Rampart, starring Woody Harrelson. I will post more about this film… Overall: great performances, interesting, too long. At least that’s what I think was “wrong” with it for me.

Then I went to a talk between Indian-born, Canadian filmmaker, Deepa Mehta and Salman Rushdie. She is currently making a movie of his book Midnight’s Children that will be out in October 2012. It was a pretty cool talk. I haven’t read the book, but the talk made me really want to see the movie and tackle the book, too. Sounds like my cup of tea… No pun intended. Seriously. I did not intend that almost pun.

Then I saw a screening of Anonymous. Very good. I think I’ll see this movie again when it comes out (soon). I was distracted by very annoying people sitting next to me who when they weren’t talking to each other, one or the other of them had their phone out. That kind of behaviour is rare at TIFF and I wanted to kill them. But LOVED the film’s theory on Shakespeare. Loved it.

Then came Pariah, which I understand was one of the darlings of Sundance last winter. And often those films don’t do as well with a “real” audience vs. the industry audience at Sundance, but I loved it. I’ll talk about this one later, too… But I was riveted. Touching coming of age story at its core. Stunning performance by the lead.

Then my last film of the day was Martha Marcy May Marlene. VERY interesting and tense. Loved it. Again, a stunning performance by the young lead (who happens to have very famous older twin sisters… named Olsen…) A non-hollywood ending that will make some people crazy (a few people swore aloud) and had me sitting stunned through the credits while the theatre cleared out. I have a new theory about the ending… Now can’t wait for someone else to see it so I can discuss. :)

Sorry for the very vague references and incomplete reviews. I promise I will talk more about these films and post some pictures as soon as I get some sleep!

And it Begins

The 36th annual Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) opened yesterday, so my life for the next 10 days is gone. I have some time today and a bit later in the week where I gave myself a break, (theoretically to write. Ha!), but I’m seeing at least 33 films at this point.

Yesterday, the TIFF was all about U2, with the premiere of the documentary From the Sky Down, but alas, not for me.

That was a “premium” screening, so I couldn’t select it with my 30 film pass and frankly I think that film is likely one of the main reasons it was next to impossible to get through on the web or the phone to get single tickets when they went on sale last Saturday.

But, I did have a good first night.

My first film was also a documentary, Into the Abyss by Werner Herzog. He got a (very long) standing ovation when he came on stage just to introduce the film, which shows how well he’s respected. Interestingly, there was no standing ovation at the end. I did like the film — actually, like might not be the right word. It’s a hard film to “like”. If you want to see an “easier” Herzog film that’s playing around still I think, go see Cave of Forgotten Dreams. Mesmerizing.

The subject of Into the Abyss is a very young man who was executed in Texas last year for murders he committed when he was only 18. It’s hard to like anyone in this film, and Herzog to his credit does not try to manipulate the audience opinions. Clearly Herzog himself is anti-death penalty, but he doesn’t ask leading questions or try to tug at heart strings and gives the daughter and sister of two of the victims a lot of time on screen. And while I didn’t like her, either… she’s one of the most sympathetic people he interviews. Herzog also dedicated the film to her and all victims of violent crime.

The part of this film that will stay for me for a long time is the realization that this laughing, goofy, immature, uneducated, probably lower-than-average IQ kid we saw interviewed is now dead. Killed by lethal injection 8 days after the interview. And there’s no question he was guilty of the crimes. But he was a human being and I suppose more than anything the film showed that he was human, not a monster. Herzog said that after: his crimes were monstrous. He wasn’t.

It’s probably clear by now that I’m against the death penalty, too and I try to keep this blog away from political or controversial issues, so I’ll shut up now and talk about the next film. :)

I also saw the new Gus Van Sant film Restless last night. I’m slightly on the fence about this one, too. It’s a more commercial film than a lot of his movies about teens, but I almost found it too commercial or too pat. I might have been influenced by a negative review I read in NOW magazine right before the movie started, but I think my beefs were slightly different than the reviewer’s.

The film stars the fabulous Mia Wasikowska which is why I picked it. She really is such a fabulous young actress and she’s very good in this. The male lead is the screen debut of Henry Hopper, who happens to be Dennis Hopper’s son and for me, he was slightly less than fabulous. I don’t know. I had trouble believing a few things he did/said. But generally the performances are very good and it had a very natural, voyeuristic feel. 

My issue was the screenplay which I thought was a tad unsubtle. I don’t know. As I try to describe it, it all sounds kind of clever and tight… And this is (slightly) spoilerish… A boy trying to get over the deaths of his parents imagines that he’s friends with a dead WWII kamikazi pilot and falls in love with a terminally ill girl. 


The non-cliche, best part of the story is that it’s a really sweet romance. It’s clear these two kids are made for each other in a way you rarely see in films. You rarely see two characters who so completely get each other and it’s tragic watching them fall in love when you know it will end so soon.  I don’t know. Maybe I liked it more on reflection. :)


I did wonder as I was watching, “How did the screenwriter get this made? It doesn’t seem all that special. And how did he possibly get Gus Van Sant to direct?” Then it all became clear in the Q&A. The screenwriter is a long-time friend of Bryce Dallas Howard… Who produced the film, with the help of her father (Ron Howard) and father’s best friend (Brian Grazer). Hmmm.. That’s an idea if I want a screenplay made. I need to make friends with the kids of huge Hollywood producers. Must get on that. :) 


But to the writer’s credit… I did really believe the relationship between these kids and that can’t have been just the actors and the director. 

Here are some snaps taken last night.  The dude in the green pants is the writer and just look how pregnant Bryce Dallas Howard is! I had no idea





Married Life

One of my WIP’s that’s more of a WFIP (formerly in progress) is/was a series of interconnected stories about single people. And I was planning to have the audacity to to suggest that some of my characters were very happy about their marital/relationship status. I have nothing against marriage or other forms of domestic partnerships and I’m sure many people are extremely happy in their marriages. But what irks me is the assumption that many/most married people have that people who are not married are defacto unhappy or missing something in their lives. That they’d be happier if only they were married. This assumption really offends me and that’s the theme I was hoping to bring out in my book. That happiness comes in all kinds of packages. It’s not one-size-fits-all kind of thing. And without turning this in to a way-too-personal post when it was supposed to be a movie review… I’m not anti relationship. If the right man came along. Sure. But I so love the freedom I have now to do whatever I want whenever I want.

Now, my book never got off the ground for a variety of reasons… I may still write it some day… but watching the film Married Life made me think about it again, because it made me a little bit happier about my single status.

The Globe and Mail reviewer, Kamal Al-Solaylee suggested in his review that the film Married Life poses two questions. One: can you build your happiness on the unhappiness of others; and two: can attempted murder spice up a marriage.

All I can say to that second question is, “HUH?” Did we see the same film? Just shows how different two people’s perceptions of the same film can be. I’m really curious to know if Mr. Al-Solaylee is married and my guess would be yes. And that his marriage needs some serious spicing up. For me, the second very obvious question asked in the film was: Can you ever really know what’s going on in the heart and mind of the person sleeping next to you.

In fact, that question was not just implied, it was specifically asked. And to me, that’s what the film was about. It was a pretty depressing take on marriage if you ask me. Now, not to get too biased the other way, at the end of the film all the characters seemed outwardly happy. Like I said before, happiness comes in all kinds of packages. But by the end of the film there were a lot of secrets never shared between all the couples. Big secrets (including an attempted murder) brushed under the rug, never to be discussed in order to save relationships.
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Hmmm… Now that I think of it, perhaps it wasn’t meant to be an entirely negative look at marriage, merely a realistic one but brought to an extreme to make a point.

Interesting film, anyway. Not amazing. Didn’t entirely work for me, I think mostly because of the Chris Cooper character. I normally love him in just about anything… but I found his character’s motivations too much of a stretch to be believable in this story. But obviously the film got me thinking.

I’d recommend it as a rental, unless if you suspect (or know) there’s a big secret between you and your significant other. Warning. Watching this film together might bring secrets to the surface, and this film certainly suggests that some things are best left buried.

The French Films

Okay, so I really fell down on blogging about the films I saw last week and there are still so many amazing ones I haven’t mentioned. In all, I saw 40 films (I think). I had 44 tickets and think I passed on going to 4. (My pass was good for up to 50, but I think that’s physically impossible. Not if you want more than 3 hours of sleep a night, anyway.)

So, the French ones…

Persepolis, Les Chansons D’Amour, Chrysalis, La Fille Coupee en Deux, and Le Scaphandre et Le Papillon.

I didn’t realize I’d picked so many French films, but they were all worth seeing and three out of the five I’d highly recommend.

First is Persepolis, which I think will be released in North America in English, not French, so you won’t even have to deal with subtitles.
As you can see from the photo, it’s animated (and mostly hand drawn from what I understand) and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s based on the autobiographical graphic novels of Marjane Satrapi, formerly of Iran, who now lives in Paris. The TIFF guide referred to this film as a, “…darkly humorous take on her experiences as a spirited young Muslim woman coming of age in Tehran – during the rule of the Shah, the Islamic Revolution and the gruelling Iran-Iraq War…”

Sure, there are some very dark elements. Sure, there are elements of “history lesson” in this film, but what an amazing way to present history, through the point of view of a young girl growing up and experiencing the history first hand. For me, one of the most important aspects of this film is how it breaks down stereotypes of Iranians and Muslims and shows how, in many ways, kids are kids no matter where they are. Okay, so I don’t remember having one-up arguments with friends over whose relatives had been tortured the longest… but all kids have arguments like that using whatever amunition (parent’s job or talents) is relevant to them. The bullying scenes were pretty scary, too — kids chasing other kids with nails poking out between the fingers of a fist. But again, in context, it showed how kids are affected by what’s happening around them and act out their stress via games.
And the film wasn’t all bleak. Not by a long shot. There were some truly laugh out loud moments… For example, I’m remembering two perpectives of a past boyfriend — one told when she was in love and one after their break up. So clever. So funny. And also the scenes of her coming out of a depression made me laugh out loud. I admire any writer/artist who can pull on the audience’s emotions like that, making us feel empathy for her depression and then to pull us out of that sadness with a hilarious take I don’t want to spoil, but it involved the theme from Rocky. Anyway, imdb.com lists some American actors, (including Sean Penn and Iggy Pop!), in the “English version” so I assume when it’s released over here, Persepolis won’t be a French film and because of the animation, I don’t think it’ll matter one bit. (I hate dubbed films normally, but I mean, all animated films are dubbed, so what’s the difference? Especially this kind of animation. I guess it would matter for some of the Pixar stuff where the characters’ mouths actually move well to the words … but not in this one.)

And the best French film I saw this year… Probably one of my top 5 or so films of this year’s festival full stop, was Le Scaphandre et Le Papillon.
Translated, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. A truly amazing film. It’s based on a book written by a man with “locked in syndrome”. He suffered a stroke which left everything paralyzed except one eyelid, but his brain, in terms of thinking etc was completely in tact. The filmmaker did an amazing job of putting the audience in this man’s shoes, which was at once heartbreaking and uplifting. A speech pathologist devised a way to communicate with him –basically she read out letters (in the order shown in the photo) and he’d blink when she hit the right letter, and then she’d start again. Believe it or not, that’s how he wrote the book. You have to see it to believe it. And I don’t want to give you the impression this is a tear-jerker smaltzy kind of movie. Not at all. HIGHLY recommend this film if it comes to your city. It wasn’t one of my original picks but I swapped it for something else and was glad for it. One small detail… the subtitles got very confusing for anyone who knows any French, when he was learning to “speak”, because, for example, when he was trying to spell mourir, which means “to die”, he’d blink on M and she’d ask “M?” and the subtitle would read D. Until I trained myself to listen instead of reading the subtitles in those bits, it was very distracting. But go see this film if you get the chance.

The other French film I really enjoyed was Les Chansons D’Amour.
I did talk about this one a bit the day I saw it. Basically, it was interesting and quirky fun. A musical about some very unconventional characters and their love lives.





Chrysalis was a French sci fi film I liked well enough, but don’t think it was amazing enough to recommend that highly. The same with La fille coupee en deux, which I blogged about when I saw it. Interestingly, it starred the same actress as Les Chansons, and while La Fille is certainly considered the “bigger” film of the two… based on the filmmaker etc. I really enjoyed Les Chansons, better…

So, that’s it for the French films. Tomorrow… The ones about child abuse including Alan Ball’s new film Nothing is Private and Nicole Kidman’s new film Margot at the Wedding. Brace yourselves.

Viggo’s penis wins People’s Choice Award

Too tired to blog again… Will talk about more movies next week…

But Eastern Promises won the People’s Choice Award at the festival. To understand what the title of this post means (and yes, to see his penis)… go see the film. Ironically, it didn’t win the best Canadian film prize (which is a juried prize) which went to Guy Maddin’s My Winnipeg. Now, I’m all for avante guard films and must say I (mostly) enjoyed Maddin’s very strange film The Saddest Music in the World in which Isabella Rosellini’s character has a glass leg full of beer… But I saw Maddin’s film in last year’s festival, called Brand Upon the Brain and in spite of some cool gimics like having not only a live orchestra, but also live sound effects artists you could watch to the side of the screen (it was a silent movie…) I found it tedious and left before the end. So, needless to say, I did not pick My Winnipeg as one of my movies this year.


Eastern Promises
was a good film. Definitely worth seeing. It’s film noir but with Cronenberg’s horror film stamp on parts of it. Examples are the way he shows things like throats being cut or even a baby being born… But for me Eastern Promises wasn’t as good as A History of Violence that I thought had so many more layers… Speaking of film noir… I saw Eastern Promises last Sunday morning at 9:30 am. Cronenberg introduced the film, and seemed truly perplexed that 1200 or so people would show to see such a dark film so early in the morning. He called it, “the world premiere screening of the film in the morning.” LOL

Runner up for the People’s Choice award (I heard from someone in a line) was Juno, a really great little film that I blogged about the day I saw it… Not sure when this film is opening, but I really hope it does well. I thought it was so genuine and unique and true. (Not to mention laugh out loud funny. I want to see it again to hear the lines the audience laughed over.)

The festival is over for 2007… I skipped my first and last films today, but still managed to see four. My last film actually doesn’t start for another four minutes… But I was too tired to stay to see it.

Will post more thoughts on the films and the fest all next week.

tomorrow

I just don’t think I can blog tonight… But I’ll bring my laptop with me tomorrow and try to post some time during the day.

Good day, today… Don’t want to post about the films without thinking a little and being half-way coherent.

Okay day

Am I getting tired or was today just OK?

I ended up sleeping through Bill my 9:00 am screening. Oh, well. I hope it gets released into theatres. I started the day with what was supposed to be my second film of the day, the new Woody Allen film, Cassandra’s Dream starring Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell. It was good. Not like the most amazing film I’ve ever seen–not even the most amazing Woody Allen movie, but better than many of his more recent films, for me anyway.

With Matchpoint and this film, it seems Woody Allen’s back to exploring ethical and moral dilemmas like he did in great movies like Crimes and Misdemeanors. (Makes me wonder what kind of ethical lines Allen has crossed in his life — other than sleeping with his adopted daughter, that is.) Ewan and Colin play brothers in the film and it was interesting to see Farrell in the “beta” brother role. I think this film comes out around Christmas and it’s worth seeing. (I mean, is any movie with Ewan McGregor not worth seeing???)

After that, instead of trekking 10 blocks to another theatre, I passed on Weirdsville which I’m a little bummed about, because it looks fun, (but I assume it will be released in theatres in Canada, anyway) and picked up a ticket for Atonement. I’m glad I did. I guess the Woody Allen movie got me thinking about ethics and morals and since I’d read Atonement I was kind of in the mood for more of that kind of thing.

Anyway… As afraid as I was about being disappointed, I actually think this movie worked for the most part. The book is so amazing… If you haven’t read it, you should. But it’s a challenging book to adapt for the screen in that it goes over the same time period and events more than once from different points of view, and in that all is not what it seems for most of the story. I wasn’t sure how the filmmaker would pull this off… But he did use a few tricks to give the viewer clues, including some interesting foreshadowing devices that you’d probably only notice if you know the book… but added to the enjoyment for me. The coolest example of this was using a typewriter as a percussion instrument throughout bits of the musical score. If you’ve read the book, you may get why this was an interesting choice.

Atonement was made by the same filmmaker who did the most recent Pride and Prejudice, which I loved. He really is an expert in show don’t tell… He shows so much in all these tiny little moments.. Like having James McAvoy touch the surface of the water Keira Knightly has recently been in… That kind of detail reminded me of his P&P which also had many nice little moments like that.

After that, I saw La Fille coupee en deux, which Barrie asked me to review. Dang. Sorry Barrie. I dozed off a couple of times. I don’t think it’s a boring film… I was just tired — maybe too tired for subtitles. I kept jerking awake when the audience laughed. It’s pretty out there… A very implausible story in my mind, but I don’t necessarily think it was supposed to be plausible. But the filmmaker is some famous french director who was part of the new wave thing and he’s in his eighties now and I can’t help but think that it’s a story only a man that age would tell. I probably need to let it percolate a bit… and maybe see it again to see just how often my eyes were closed… But I’m not sure that I like what this film says about women. The main actress Ludivine Sagnier was in another absolutely charming French film I saw this week, called Les Chansons d’Amour. I’m planning an “about the musicals” post at some point, and so I’ll wait on talking about Chansons until then… But some of you may have also seen Ludivine in Swimming Pool. She was the young girl in that film.

I ended the day with an Australian film called Romulus, My Father, starring Eric Bana and Franka Potente. Eric was there (jealous much, Sinead?) A very nice little film. Not amazing, but very nice. I found one plot element a bit off, but then learned during the Q&A that the film is based on a memoir… so just goes to prove that sometimes real life isn’t very believable.

Three more days, but things already feel like things are winding down… I still have 14 or so movies to see… But at this point I can’t even remember if there’s anything I’m really excited about. Oh, I don’t have a ticket, but I’m going to try to switch one of my picks tomorrow to see Le Scaphandre et le papillon. (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.) At least two people have called it their favourite film when I’ve asked. It’s showing again tomorrow afternoon when I now have a ticket for a film called The Take, that looks okay… but the French film sounds better. It’s actually been a good year for French films for me… Maybe I’ll do an “about the French films” post later, too…

Living up to the hype


Okay, so yesterday I theorized that whichever film I was most looking forward to in any particular day would be sure to disappoint… Not today.

I saw Across the Universe this morning and as excited as I was to see it, the film exceeded my expectations in just about every way.

It’s kind of hard to explain this movie. To call it a musical trivializes it, but clearly it is a musical. The director Julie Taymor did a Q&A after the screening and according to her there’s only 30 minutes of dialogue in this 2 hour movie and that sounds about right. It was mostly music. But the music is so compelling and fun (or heart wrenching) and the visuals so original it didn’t feel long.

And surprisingly, in spite of featuring such well known songs, the music felt original, too. I was blown away. Sure, it was 33 Beatles songs all strung together to make a story… But all of the arrangements are different and the performances outstanding and the lyrics felt totally organic to the story being told. I’m telling you, the guy who plays Jude, Jim Sturgess, was truly amazing. Not only is he adorable, he has an incredible singing voice and, like all the performers in this movie, has the acting talent to make it seem like Lennon & McCartney’s lyrics were about him and that he was singing them for the first time. According to Julie Taymor, about 90% of the musical performances that ended up in the movie were from live performances on the set (not prerecorded and lip synced). Sounds like they did prerecord everything, but had the actors sing on set, too (with the music playing in little ear buds in their ears) and those were the performances she went with most of the time. Evan Rachel Woods was amazing, too. I knew she was a talented young actress, but who knew she could sing, too?

LOVED this movie. (Can you tell?) I feel like it’s one I’ll enjoy watching over and over again. It opens in select cities including Toronto this Friday (everywhere on Sept 21) but I’m glad I saw it first and saw it in the beautiful Elgin theatre and got to hear Julie Taymor answer audience questions at the end. FANTASTIC.

Heard something else interesting today. Not sure if it’s accurate, but heard it from someone who has a short film in the festival, who heard it at one of the industry events. Anyway… the gossip was that the cut of the Brad Pitt film (Jesse James) I saw the other night is not the one that will be shown in theatres starting in ten days. The rumor was that Brad Pitt did his own cut of the movie, but both the director and the studio thought it was too long and slow-paced. Supposedly, I saw the Brad cut and the one being released into theatres is the shorter one the studio liked… This is probably a good thing. It was very long 2 hours and 40 minutes and felt it…

I know I didn’t talk about The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford the day I saw it… It’s been percolating. Overall, I liked it, but certainly didn’t love it. If you’re interested in films and creative storytelling then you might enjoy it. Visually, it was pretty spectacular. Some art worthy shots to be sure. Also, the director did a few interesting stylistic things. For example, during the voice-over narration, he made the screen look like an old daguerreotype or something…. That is, a circle in the centre of the screen was in focus, but the edges were blurred… Like it had been shot through an old fashioned lens. Things like that did make it kind of interesting… And the shots of characters posing… certainly the movie was from the POV of looking back at a legend from today, not watching it unfold in real time. I think that’s what made the pacing drag, but also was kind of creative, I guess. But the film did drag at times and a few story elements weren’t clear to me… But this may just be because I’d let my mind wander.

Given the tepid applause at the end of the film (even with the ridiculously star-sprinkled audience) I wasn’t the only one who was luke-warm on Jesse James. I’ll be interested to see how it does in release. (Remind me some time to talk more about that night. Really surreal.)

I’m still trying to decide what I thought of In the Valley of Elah, that I saw yesterday, too… During the film, I was really disappointed. It felt preachy and heavy handed in it’s message and derivative of TV cop shows in it’s delivery… But by the end I liked it more, and now that it’s percolated for a day, I realize there were some really strong moments… Mostly at the end… And I’ve also decided that in many ways Haggis did deliver his overall message (that war turns boys into monsters) in a fairly creative way… At least not in the most predictable way. But this movie didn’t 100% work for me. At least it didn’t live up to my very high expectations.

Another 5 film day tomorrow. I have a ticket to the new Woody Allen film… but may take a pass. Right now, my day goes like this:

9:00 am Bill at Scotiabank Theatres
11:00 am Cassandra’s Dream (Woody Allen one) at The Elgin
3:00 pm Weirdsville at Scotiabank
6:00 pm La Fille coupee en deux at The Elgin
9:00 pm Romulus, My Father at The Elgin

So, if I can get a ticket for something at Scotia that ends no later than 2:00…. I might do that instead. (or I might sleep in and skip Bill… but it doesn’t have a release date listed anywhere, so this might be the only chance to see it and it sounds pretty interesting…)

Over and out…

All about the comedies

You think I’d have realized by now that whatever I expect to be my “big great experience” on any particular day will not ending up being so.

I thought today was going to be all about Paul Haggis’s new film In the Valley of Elah, and it was good… (more on it at another time) But for me today was about two comedies I saw. Maybe I just really, really needed a comedy. There are a lot of very heavy films in the festival this year.

The first comedy was Juno an amazing movie by Jason Reitman of Thank-you for Smoking fame — which also had it’s world premiere at the TIFF a few years ago.

Anyway… Juno. It was the most original and unique take on the teenager gets pregnant story I’ve seen. Unique mostly because of the writing and the main character played by Ellen Page, who I’ve only seen in really dark films prior to this, like Hard Candy. (If you ever want to see a film that will make you feel really uncomfortable, rent Hard Candy. Deep exploration of revenge and moral choices and perhaps karma — not to mention castration…) Her character in Juno was so quirky and different and totally unique — as were her parents played by J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney. Michael Cera (Arrested Development, Superbad) has a small part and he’s adorable as usual.

The other great comedy was Lars and the Real Girl with Ryan Gosling. Another totally unique and different film with great performances. Yes, it’s about a man who falls in love with a sex doll… But it’s actually very sweet and says a lot about the positive side of human nature. Some people will find this movie over the top, but I think that’s kind of the point. You can’t take it 100% literally.

Anyway… Two good films to check out when they hit theatres. I know they both have distribution deals in both Canada and the US. Juno probably sooner. Oh, I’m wrong. According to IMDB I have that backwards. Looks like Lars will be out some time in Oct and Juno in December in a limited release. Perhaps after the amazing reaction Juno got at TIFF they’ll release it more widely.

Sorry this post isn’t more interesting or coherent. I need sleep!