Sep 14 2003 -
Closing the Uptown was a far bigger deal than Undead itself was... and I don't even like the theatre! Still, it was a neat send off for the place. Nobody did any pillaging or plundering which was a shame... except me of course. But I didn't get that THX sign.
I really enjoyed the festival this year, or more accurately, the process of the festival this year. I saw four films that I would rate outstanding (Jeux d'Enfants, Le Temps du Loup, The Five Obstructions and Antenna), only two that I would call lousy (Testosterone, Good Bye Dragon Inn), a few that were decently respectable and then a few that were just "meh." That's a pretty good year. And what a gorgeous time to be out and about in the plague-stricken city of Toronto. The sun was shining, the air was warm, and everything seemed cinematic.
Sep 13 2003 - 12:26
Yesterday destroyed me. I couldn't even write about it when I got home, except in my journal, where I concocted four paragraphs of flowing, stream of consciousness prose. The process of doing this - slamdancing with the Fest - is wearing me down in surprising ways. Surprising, as in, like a band-sander on naked skin. The result is red and raw and sticky. Emotional control seems to be out the window (somewhere my inner Spock is screaming while my inner T'Pol is taking off her shirt again revealing those gigantic, artificial sacks of silicone).
And then I saw Le Temps du Loup.
This movie tore me down as thoroughly and completely as three days of virginal snowboarding. When I left, I no longer had any sense of self, any sense of purpose - I was a vacant lot, waiting to be filled. Fortunately Courtney was along for the ride and so I filled the vacant lot with the longest sustained Jack Sparrow impression I've ever run, which dragged me nicely out of my funk but lead to some rather unusual consequences for my fellow Midnight Madness goers. Consequences such as, "why is that guy in the back row shrieking about rum?"
Last night's midnight rocked, one of the best midnight's I've ever seen at the festival. I considered making it my final film of the fest (except Undead, of course) but I think I'll try for Zatoichi today after all.
Here's yesterday's coverage:
Testosterone, a thoroughly misguided gay obsession flick that makes just about every tonal mistake you could possibly make in a situation like this;
The aforementioned Le Temps du Loup, which, even as I'm writing this, I have no idea how I'll review;
and Save the Green Planet, a spectacular Midnight Madness sci fi fantasy that transcends its own festival placement.
Tonight, of course, is the final showing at the Uptown. I've got my own ticket, although precious few do. Losing the Uptown isn't hitting me as hard as it's hitting everyone else. I mourned for the York; I mourned for the Eglinton. I even mourned when they turned the facade of the old University into the front of a fucking Williams Sonoma. Those were my grand old movie houses growing up - I didn't start going to the Uptown with any regularity until I was well into my teens. And looking back, I don't think I've seen a single life-changing film there in all the time it's existed.
Still, it sucks to lose the last authentic theatre in the city. It's amazing that all week, we've had countless film luminaries in town - Ridley Scott, Francis Coppola - and all the festival directors have spoken at length about how much they'll hate to lose the Uptown, yet no one thought to bring all these wealthy people into theatre 1 for ten minutes, and ask them to pony up a massive festival contribution. Okay, it's a pipe dream anyway, one of those things that would never, ever happen. But you can bet your ass that if it were ten years from now and I was one of those luminaries, I'd buy the whole fucking thing lock, stock and barrel. And then I'd convert it back into a single-screen theatre just because I can.
I am, of course, tempted to bring my camera along and make my own Good Bye Dragon Inn. I would, of course, rectify the small matter of the original film sucking, by having ... oh, I don't know ... something happen.
(Yep, I dragged that flick out of the cellar just to kick her around a bit more.)
And of course: now that the fest is winding down, it's time for you to check out Jason's reviews at FilmFest.ca. He saw a lot more flicks than I did... but like Gimli with the axe, I'm catching up.
Oh and one last thing: I've, as of now, officially overflown my top ten list for films this year, which means that no matter what happens through December 31, we're getting a top ten for 2003 instead of a top 5 like 2000 and 2001. And a couple of honourable mentions.
Three and a Half
Sep 12 2003 - 1:59
Today something happened that hasn't happened for an age: Entmoot. Which is just a fancy way of saying that I walked out of a film.
The flick was Gozu, tonight's midnight madness. I really didn't like Ichi the Killer so I was just... okay, itching... to dislike Gozu. Well, I didn't dislike Gozu... nor did I find myself able to keep my eyes open. So, the hell with Gozu. I took off.
Other than that, today was a great viewing day. I rush-lined for Young Adam but failed, so I actually ended up coming home and watching two of the best episodes of Angel I've ever seen - "The Trial" and "Reunion" - before heading back to festland for four screenings in a row.
Jeux d'Enfants was not only the best film I've seen at the festival so far, but will undoubtedly end up highly placed in my top ten films for 2003.
Prey for Rock and Roll wasn't bad, it just wasn't good. It did, however, confirm that when Marc Blucas and Gina Gershon share a movie screen, I spend more time salivating about him. Go Riley!
The Five Obstructions has a horribly preventative title but otherwise has me (and Daniel, who was there) all rarin' to go in adapting the concept for FORP. The FORP Obstructions will involve a panel of Obstructors forcing each member to remake one of his films with various trips and catches in place to mess things up. I look forward to making VCR Obstructed.
And then I walked outta Gozu at the 42 minute mark.
One last pirate reference: on my way into Jeux, I quite innocently joined the ticket-holders line midway, as it was already starting to go in and I just merged with the crowd. A woman behind me became belligerent about this. I turned around, in a full Jack Sparrow impression and said (with hands floating about appropriately): "I tell you what. If when you arrive in the theatre I am sitting in your seat, I shall move." And then I strutted away.
Sep 10 2003 - 11:53
More fest madness. God my feet are killing me. As you'll recall, I busted my ankle on Sunday, and the resultant change in my walking pattern has brought about a big mother blister on the ball of the opposing foot. So standing in rush lines all day wasn't exactly what the doctor ordered. But fuck it: I got to ask a question of Jim Jarmusch. He stood up to say a few words after the screening of Coffee and Cigarettes, and being the quintessential nerd that I am (concerned as always with how film technology converges with artistic intent), I asked him how Cate Blanchett accomplished her scenes for the film. You see, she plays a 7-minute dialogue sequence against herself, often in split-screened 2-shot, a virtuosic double performance that is all the more breathtaking for just how fluid it is. She eats her opponent's lines, responds wordlessly to the other her's dialogue, and gives just about as solid a performance as anyone ever could in a special effects situation. So, I asked if she was playing off a monitor of herself in the other persona... and was stunned when Jarmusch answered that the entire performance was just a monument to how skilled an actress Blanchett is. She did part of the work with pre-recorded audio being fed to her through an earwig, part of it with a stagehand reading the lines, and part of it just from her own intuition of how she would play the opposing role. In Jarmusch's words, it was "like playing mental / emotional chess with herself." Pretty fucking cool.
I saw three films today, and click on through for the reviews:
Coffee and Cigarettes is a gem of short comedy anthology, with some movie-stealing performances that are not to be missed.
Flyerman (from York alums Jeff Stephenson and Jason Tam) is surprisingly versatile and emotionally resonant, given that it's about a yokel who hands out flyers.
Easy is too easy, an amateurish fem-pop flick that needed another few runs through the spin-cycle to things up to snuff.
Sighted: Atom Egoyan, sitting behind me for the entirety of Coffee and Cigarettes without my noticing it. This would have been fine, had I not followed my every guffaw with the words "Fuck Atom Egoyan, fuck him hard!" Also: I saw a girl yesterday who was the spitting image of Keisha Castle-Hughes but I can't imagine why she'd actually be here, so it might have been a professional Kiwi impersonator.
Okay, now I'm off to soak my feet in murtlap essence. And drink rum.
"She didn't finish?! She didn't finish being NOT
Sep 10 2003 - 2:57 a.m.
My first full day at the film festival, and what a hoot it was. Somehow, the four flicks that I caught today all fell under one word: "haunted." Sure, they ranged from a man haunted by the demons of his failed marriage to a traditional haunted house movie, but I'm up for syncronicity in anything, and today had it in spades.
It's quite a bit of fun, this festival thing, and I'm glad I'm doing it. I cruised the downtown area for several hours in the early afternoon, as my first screening wasn't until 3. I hung around with my patron, Colin Geddes, the real mack daddy if there ever was one. And you can't beat the rush of seeing four completely different movies in a 10-hour period.
Here are the flicks, click through for the reviews:
My first screening was Alexandra's Project, a surprisingly effective thriller/drama that nonetheless forces me to question its motivations.
I had a ticket for Brown Bunny in my hand but chose instead to go see a flick getting a lot of good press, Good Bye, Dragon Inn, and to my immense displeasure, I emerged from the film wishing I'd seen Bunny instead. At least then I would have seen a shite film that everyone's talking about, rather than a shite film no one's ever heard of.
Antenna was the best of the day, a tough, challenging picture that transcends itself through a couple of amazing sequences.
And we closed it out with The Grudge at Midnight Madness, an unabashedly manipulative horror movie.
So, read the reviews. I'm not up at three o'clock in the morning to have you not read the reviews.
More tomorrow? Not sure yet. There's that little matter of having a job.