Movie Reviews

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, 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.


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!

All about Sean Penn

Okay, so I just had my first truly transcendent festival experience of 2007. I don’t think I’ve felt that way in a movie theatre since the World Premiere of Paul Haggis’ Crash a few festivals ago.

I thought today was going to be all about Cronenberg for me, and I did like his film… But WOWOWOWOWOW…

Into the Wild
, the new Sean Penn movie staring Emile Hirsch and with music by Eddie Vedder. Can’t express how moving and riveting this film was. And I was really tired going in. I actually considered going home after my 6:00 pm film, but I’m so glad I didn’t. Worth staying up for.

For me, the truly amazing films at the festival are the ones where there’s no buzz, were there’s been no reviews, because no one has freakin’ seen it yet. That’s the way it was with Crash in 2004 and Into the Wild this year. Those of us lucky enough to be in the room are the first people to ever see it on a big screen. And when a film like that is good… well it’s amazing.

Into the Wild is so beautiful visually, the music’s incredible, the performances are real, the characters fascinating, the story gripping in spite of what many people would consider a slow pace, and then Jon Krakauer’s truly beautiful and deeply meaningful prose as read by Jenna Malone. WOW.

I have three Oscar predictions, no four. Best Actor, Emile Hirsch, Best Score, Eddie Vedder, Best Director, Sean Penn, Best Movie, Into the Wild. That is, assuming this movie hits theatres before the end of the year. I have no idea what they’re planning. [Update: According to, it’s out this month. Go see it.] With Crash, they waited almost a year after I saw it to release the film to theatres… But that was because Haggis was getting all that buzz over Million Dollar Baby. (I assume–and digress.) There are also a few possible supporting actor noms including Hal Holbrook and Catherine Keener who were stand outs for me in a cast where every performance felt so real.

If you don’t know anything about this book, then I suggest not reading it or listening to any reviews before seeing the movie. If you have read the book, I expect you won’t be disappointed. I may be wrong about my Oscar predictions, but if this film doesn’t solidify Sean Penn’s reputation as a stellar filmmaker, I don’t know what it would take. Truly fabulous. Okay, I’m gushing. But the film really blew me away, and if the standing ovation was any judge, it blew everyone else away, too.

And the festival audiences don’t do that for every film just to kiss up to the stars in the room. Last night, there was short polite applause after The Assassination of Jesse James, in spite of half of Hollywood royalty being in the room. (Okay, just the boys. Half the cast of Ocean’s Eleven, Twelve, etc. were there to watch Brad in his arty western.) Which I enjoyed, by the way, I know I didn’t blog about it last night… But I did find it beautiful both visually, and in terms of the words. (Like this film tonight, Jesse James has a voice over narration at times, and it was like poetry. Beautiful.) But in spite of Pitt winning best actor at the Venice Festival, I really don’t think that film’s going to do very well. (Nor did I think he was all that great in it.) It was about the same length and overall pace as Into the Wild, but felt about 2 hours longer… And I talked to several people today who genuinely hated it…

Anyway… Another big day tomorrow, starting out with a very interesting sounding movie, In Bloom, starring Uma Thurman, (which sounds controversial enough that it may not hit theatres in spite of Ms. Thurman), and ending with Paul Haggis’s new film, In the Valley of Elah, in the evening… But Haggis’s new film has already been seen by the press and in Venice, so not nearly as exciting. BTW. Haggis was in the theatre tonight to watch Sean Penn’s movie.

Over and out….

Reese Witherspoon made me cry…

True confessions, Reese made me cry. And early in the morning. (Maybe I was crying because it was so early in the morning?)

But seriously. Rendition was amazing. I really liked it. Not only did I find it gripping and emotional and important, but it was my first film this year that made me think about storytelling techniques.

I don’t want to give away spoilers for a film I think everyone should see… but there are multiple storylines and an interesting twist in how the writer/director uses those storylines. Just something I’d never seen before and I thought it really worked to heighten tension, build to a climax, etc. etc.

Another very cool festival experience was the world premiere of Stuart Townsend’s new film Battle in Seattle about the WTO riots in 1999. The audience gave a five minute standing ovation… I’m not sure I thought it was five-minute-standing-ovation good… but clearly others did and Stuart and Charlize were too cute for words. During the Q&A someone asked how each of the actors got involved in the project and they all gave these long-winded answers about how great the script and subject matter were and how badly they wanted to be involved… And then the mike went to Charlize and she said, “I just wanted to sleep with the director.” Seriously, they were too cute.

All-in-all a great day but I’m a little too tired to blog much and need to get up in less than 6 hours if I want to make my screening of Eastern Promises, and I want to pay the films I saw today justice when I talk about them.

I’m just going to say one more thing. In person, Brad Pitt is the most beautiful human being on the planet. Oh, My, God. (Says Maureen from the third row, realizing she’s not over him like she thought she was when he left his wife for that slut.

Worth the mad dash across Queen St?

Okay, so I’m through my first full day, but it’s 12:44 am and my first film tomorrow (today?) is at 9:00 am… So this blog will be short. My morning film tomorrow is Rendition, and I do want to see it, but it opens Oct. 19, and the premiere was tonight (at the same time as I was seeing an Ang Lee film) so the stars are highly unlikely to be there… so when my alarm rings at 7:30 am I may well decide to give it a pass.

Today was pretty good. First film Pink. A very strange but interesting film. It’s a Greek film and I’m trying to think of how to describe it… All elements were odd/offbeat. The characters, the story, the filming style, everything. But all in all I’m glad I saw it.

Next was California Dreamin’ (Endless). A Romanian film that did end up being well named — endless. I was loving the film for about the first 90 minutes… Then I got restless and realized I had a time problem because I had a 6:00 pm screening at another venue. I’d figured that would be lots of time, since California Dreamin’ (Endless) was at 3:00, so I figured I’d be out by 5:00… But no… I knew there was supposed to be a big explosive ending… so I kept waiting it out, but ended up leaving at about 5:40 (I’m not sure what I missed) and literally ran and then took a cab for 3 or so blocks and ran some more (once the traffic around Yonge and Queen got so bad running was quicker than the cab). But I made it. They only officially hold seats until 15 minutes before the screening, but they were still letting the main line in (hadn’t even started dealing with the Rush folks) when I got there. Phew.

That film was worth the run, I think… But I was in the second row which was kind of difficult. It was called Then She Found Me and the filmmaker/star was Helen Hunt. This is a real “women’s fiction” type story and although the Ang Lee movie is in my head right now… I think I really liked Then She Found Me. Hey, Colin Firth was in it. What’s not to like. (He didn’t show up for the screening, though.) It’s about a woman dealing with her marriage ending, wanting to have a baby, meeting her birth mother, etc. etc. There were a few interesting/unexpected twists and Hunt was really good. Bette Midler plays her birth mom and one bizarre thing I hate to comment on, was that Hunt looked older than Midler. I admire Helen Hunt for not botoxing or eye lifting herself… but it was a bit strange that Midler looked younger. I guess it kind of fit their characters, though. Okay, I officially feel badly about noticing/mentioning this. I’m such a hypocrite.

The Ang Lee film Lust, Caution was pretty amazing. But I’m a big fan of his. During the intros, one of the producers made a joke about Ang Less going from a gay shepherd movie to a 2 1/2 hour Chinese porno… LOL. Lust, Caution is a spy-type story set in Shanghai in the 1940’s and yes, there are some very graphic (and violent) sex scenes. It’ll be interesting to see if this movie gets released in the US. Probably will with a NC17 rating. Can’t imagine how they could cut it to avoid that rating. But then the ratings given by the MPAA are so arbitrary and bizarre, who knows… They showed some clips from 40’s era movies during the film, including Casablanca, and I have a feeling these clips were chosen purposefully, but I’m going to have to think about that a bit more… One character does make a big/difficult/impulsive/tragic choice that’s kind of motivated by love… but it’s not like Casablanca in my mind… Will have to think about it once my head clears a bit. Maybe it was just showing the romantic nature of the protagonist? Hmmmm…

Anyway… I’d better try to wind down and get to bed! (Tomorrow’s Brad Pitt day, not to mention the new Coen brothers movie!)

Good first day

Okay, so it was a good if uneventful opening day. Most exciting, for the first time in years they actually had a pretty funny ad before the film. It involved producer Robert Lantos being pitched a film idea by Gordon, one of those stupid beaver characters from the Bell commercials, but in spite of that, it actually got laughs. I imagine it’ll get pretty old by the end of the festival, no, by tomorrow. But at least it got a laugh on the first run. That’s opposed to the very strange promo piece for the Harold Greenberg Foundation which involved someone (Ian Greenberg?) in a coffin at a funeral, with Atom Egoyan and another filmmaker, I should recognize but didn’t, talking about what an inspiration the dead guy was, then he sits up in his coffin and talks. If it was supposed to be funny, I didn’t get it.

Fugitive Pieces was emotionally draining, but good. Well worth seeing in my opinion. I wish I thought it was going to be a huge hit… I love when Canadian films do well, but ultimately I think the story is too sad to be a box office hit and I just don’t know if the performances were strong enough for it to be a contender for Oscars or anything. Except the little kid who played Jakob as a boy. WOW. He was amazing.

I was extremely impressed with how seamlessly the writer/director moved between locals and time periods. The actors, too. The lead had to play his character over quite a long time period, and not in chronological order in the film, but it was always easy by this demeanor etc to determine what stage of the story we were in. The story moves back and forth in time, but it was never confusing. I’d have to see it again to study how he did it.

Persepolis I’d definitely recommend. I noticed on that they list actors for the English version (including Sean Penn, Iggy Pop, and Gena Rowlands) so I assume it’ll be released in North America (and in English instead of French with subtitles.)

The animation is unique and striking and well suited to the subject and while the overall story is kind of heavy, the filmmaker adds a lot of levity. There were a few laugh out loud moments for me, and that’s a lot to say about a film documenting the rise of the Islamic regime in Iran and the Iran-Iraq war.
Persepolis. My first no caveats recommendation from this year’s Festival.

I don’t have a film until noon tomorrow, so I can sleep in! The film is called Pink and sounds interesting. It’s a Greek film but is described as having the style of Richard Linklater or Paul Thomas Anderson. Hmmm….