9-12-2010: Day 2
[I lost all of my reviews for Day 2. I don’t have the time, nor the passion to recreate them right now. Can I say: FUCK!]
9-11-2010: Day 1
When I picked up my tickets, I did a double take. The same volunteer as last year helped me with my tickets. Strange coincidence.
The one film I saw in the evening was the world premiere of Julia’s Eyes (Los Ojos de Julia) from Spanish Director Guillem Morales. The great Mexican Director Guillermo del Torro (Pan’s Labyrinth and The Devil’s Backbone) produced this one and was there to introduce the film as well as the director, the writer and the radiant Belén Rueda. Del Toro was funny as hell in the Q&A, and defended the film mightily when someone questioned the ending. Del Toro actually has two films at the fest which he produced, the other being Biutiful which I was unable to get tickets for, not for lack of trying
The film is a fine representative of the Spanish horror genre, gothic and scary, as much thriller as horror film. While it doesn’t stint on the blood, there’s nothing gratuitous about it. Here blindness is physical as well as social. Films like this can be real guilty pleasures.
I have to say a word about the use of strobe effects in the climactic scene. It’s been used before, but never to such great effect. Not only did its use play into the themes of blindness – from darkness to intense light – but it added greatly to the shock effect. It left me shaking my head, and this really put the film over the top for me. A highly recommended film.
9-4-2010: The Slate
Well, this time next week I’ll be readying myself for the trip to the airport. Saturday: fly in, check in and pick-up tickets. I have one film Saturday night, and then it’s virtually non-stop from there on in. Or is it out? No matter. I’ve never tried to cram this many films into the festival – what amounts to 19 films in 7 days. Make that 21 films, because I have 19 tickets waiting for pick-up and vouchers for two more. I noticed that I’ve never had so may English language films on my view list before – what with the UK (3), the USA (2), and Canada (4) – that’s 9 of the 19. Canada. Wow! Of course, TIFF really showcases Canadian film. No surprise there. Films as always are divided into categories like Gala Presentations, Masters,Vanguard, Discovery, Mavericks, Contemporary World Cinema, and Visions. There is also a Canadian Programming section. Film selection is somewhat random, trying to balance both interesting looking films, and timing. With some juggling, disappointments were kept to a minimum, though I have some tight ones. There’s one block of movies where I may have to run from one to the next. Literally! So what about the line-up?
Ok, I just can’t resist seeing movies from novels I’ve read. Like many readers I play that who-would-play-this-part game in my head. So I signed up for these below – though I’ve only read the first two.
- Mark Romanek’s film Never Let Me Go is the movie from the UK based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel. Ah…with the ageless Charlotte Rampling.
- And the film from Haruki Murakami’s novel Norwegian Wood. Whoa, does this look gorgeous. Tran Anh Hung directs from his screenplay. Laotian born Hung has also directed The Scent of Green Papaya (93) and Cyclo (95).
- This one I did not read, so in lieu of…here’s the movie from Italy, based on Paolo Giordano’s huge bestseller: The Solitude Of Prime Numbers (La Solitudine Dei Numeri Primi).
- Another book-to-screen title is from Tatiana de Rosnay (whom I have neither heard of nor have read). But the film by the same name as her book stars Kristin Scott-Thomas. Thass all. I’m there. I had trouble getting tix for this one too but snagged one at an alternate showing from the one I had originally requested. The film is Sarah’s Key (Elle s’appelait Sarah). Actually KST has another film at the fest, and I’d grab a ticket for that as well, if there were one to be had. Love Crimes unfortunately has only two showings: the day I get in and the day after I leave. Whassupwiddat? Two KST’s are better than one!
- From a Douglas Kennedy novel, The Big Picture, the French film L’homme qui voulait vivre sa vie looks to be a stylish crime thriller in the French manner.
- Cirkus Columbia, is a film from Bosnia-Herzegovina, adapted from a Croatian novel written by Ivica Đikić. All politics is local (and rooted in the family).
I bought a 3-pack of films selected by the TIFF Programmer’s – a first for me. Those films are
- Canadian born Larysa Kondracki’s The Whistleblower, (not the 1987 Michael Caine film – are we running out of titles yet?) is a political thriller with a Bosnian connection and a nice cast (Rachel Weisz, Vanessa Redgrave, David Strathairn, and Monica Bellucci). Based on a true story, it looks interesting. I’ll go. I’ll watch. I’ll comment.
- The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town. << Look at these dudes! Will Bruce show? Huh? Like Sargeant Pepper, Darkness on the Edge of Town was certainly a game changer. Hyperbole aside. The “principal cast” is listed as Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. You don’t need much more than that, right?
- Kevin Spacey IS Jack Abramoff. No really. At least in this George Hickenlooper film. I’ll have to keep telling myself to keep an open mind. Casino Jack is NOT the documentary starring Abramoff himself (despite the fact that IMDB has the wrong links at their site). There is some question as to whether this film will make it into theaters at this point (but that’s no different than many hopefuls at the festival.
And here’s the rest (‘ceptin the two more I’ll select when I get there)
- Julia’s Eyes (Los Ojos de Julia) is a Guiillermo del Toro produced gothic thriller from Spain. The movies love vulnerable women (blindness? Quite right!). Remember the wonderful Belén Rueda as Laura from The Orphanage? If you saw it, you do. Remember that is.
- The Illusionist (L’Illusionniste), a followup to the loved it or hated it (I loved it) The Triplets Of Belleville, is of course an animated film from the UK (not to be confused with the film starring Ed Norton from a few years back). If it’s anything like the latter film, animated just doesn’t do it justice. This one though seems calmer, graceful even. Something that could not be said for the frenzy of Triplets, which put some people off .
- My Only Sunshine (Hayat Var), a film from Istanbul – a city that continues to have a hold on me somehow. This is not a new film (I saw Reha Erdem’s Kosmos earlier this year at Boston’s MFA – part of a Turkish Film Festival). TIFF has mounted a special collection of films under the umbrella “City to City”. This years featured city is Istanbul.
- Algerian film maker Rachid Bouchareb’s Outside the Law (Hors la loi) is a french gangster film which updates the lives of the three brothers portrayed in his Indigènes (Days of Glory). This film has been languishing near the top of my Netflix queue. Damn. I’ll move it to #1, but may not have enough time to watch it before I leave! Epic stuff!
- Japan’s 13 Assassins (Jûsan-nin no shikaku) is old fashioned samurai action. Swords and blood. Check your bullets at the door. I almost did not get tickets for this remake of the 1963 film, but finally scored. Yes!!
- Blessed Events (Glückliche Fügung), Munich born Isabelle Stever’s second feature film, is one of those something’s-not-right-here films. Let’s see what happens. Question: Does Glückliche Fügung sound like a blessed event to you – or does it lose something in the translation?
- Shakespeare In Love director John Madden (the other John Madden) brings a fine cast to The Debt: Helen Mirren, Sam Worthington, Ciaran Hinds, and Tom Wilkinson. Another woman involved in espionage. Whatever happened to stay-at-home moms? Just askin’…
- This French-Canadian psy-thriller (Jaloux) – a first time feature – looks like a real/reel kick. I almost overlooked this one. Could be a real sleeper.
- I’m not a big fan of the Dysfunctional Family film genre, and I’m not hearing good things about this, but I couldn’t resist a movie with Dexter’s Michael C. Hall, Poop World’s Sarah Silvermann, and The Office’s Rainn Wilson (also featuring Ben Schwartz, Judy Greer, Kate Mara, Ron Rifkin, Taraji P. Henson, Lesley Ann Warren). Hope I won’t be disappointed. But I don’t have a good feeling after my impulse selection. Peep World.
- Small Town Murder Songs is another Canadian film. Or is that filme Canadienne? In the crime thriller genre, I hope it’s entertaining. I liked the title, I did.
8-25-2010: Big Book Arrives
I received my Big Book (“11 days, 300 films”) and made several selections. First, let’s mention several films that I won’t be seeing because they’ll eventually hit the theaters stateside anyway. I try to stay away from those in order to see films that I probably will never get a chance to see again:
- The King’s Speech (Tom Hooper) is a biopic about King George VI with a good cast, including Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Guy Pearce and the wonderful Helena Bonham Carter. An underappreciated actress.
- Robert Redford goes back behind the camera for The Conspirator, about the lone woman charged in the plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln. Starring Kevin Kline as Edwin Stanton, Lincoln’s Secretary of War and Robin Wright as Mary Surratt.
- Ben Affleck revisits familiar territory in hoodlum infested Charlestown. Ben directs and acts in The Town, along with Mad Men’s Jon Hamm, and Hurt Locker’s Jeremy Renner.
- Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter, made in the UK with Matt Damon
Then there are some films that I can’t generate interest in – although I should, I guess:
- Barney’s Version is sure to be popular up North of the border, the movie version of icon Mordechai Richler’s novel with Paul Giamatti, Dustin Hoffman and Minnie Driver.
- Black Swan is already released stateside. Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis star, along with Winona Ryder and Barbara Hershey.
- Rabbit Hole, with Nicole Kidman, directed by John Cameron Mitchell.
- Conviction with Hillary Swank (dir, Tony Goldwyn)
- John Curran’s Stone (Robert DeNiro, Edward Norton and Milla Jovovich). It still feels like a DVD wait-fer.
There are always the disappointments. I have a rule: Any film directed by Fatih Akin, or acted in by Kristen-Scott Thomas are must sees. Akin’s Soul Kitchen is just now opening in the states. It was at last year’s fest, and he has nothing completed as yet for this year (there is one in post-production). KST has Sarah’s Key and Love Crime here, but I couldn’t work out either one, the times and dates just didn’t sync up. Ditto Jean-Luc Godard’s latest, Film Socialisme and Inarritu’s Biutiful. I really wanted to see these two.
One Gala I have selected for viewing is John Madden’s (the other John Madden) The Debt starring Helen Mirren in what looks to be a crackerjack political thriller. I bought a 10-ticket package and a 3-ticket pre-picked package. One of those selected for me is The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town – not necessarily a movie I would have sought out, but I understand The Boss will be making an appearance, so that will be kinda nifty. Another in the same category is the pre-picked Casino Jack, George Hickenlooper’s fictionalized account of Jack Abramoff – with Kevin Spacey as Abramoff.
I also scored tickets (hopefully) for Japanese master Takashi Miike’s 13 Assassins. Miike has directed more than 80 films. Who could resist these blurbs? “culminating in one of te bloodiest, muddiest swordfights ever put to film”. The battle scene lasts a full 45 minutes!
Still deciding on the film version of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, but have gotten tickets for Tran Anh Hung’s Norwegian Wood (looks gorgeous).
I’ll report back when I get all my ticket confirmations. 11 days and counting.