Sunday, July 27, 2008

Wishing and hoping

As I mentioned last time, bits and pieces are doled out teasingly by the TIFF exec as the summer plods along. The Midnight Madness program has been made public and while I was looking forward to Chocolate, I may be getting my hands on a boot later this week and thus I'll pass at the fest, tempting tho' it would be to see a flick about a female autistic savant Thai boxer while surrounded by genre junkies hopped up on Jolt Cola in the Ryerson auditorium at one AM even for a second time.

As I wait for more announcements, I can't help but make my mental wish lists. I already mentioned Palermo Shooting, but now let me add Genova to the list. I just watched 9 Songs, and was reminded just how much I dig Michael Winterbottom's work and I'm hoping his latest gets programmed, hopefully in the Masters program. With the change this year bumping Special Presentations up to the more or less status of Galas, there's cause for worry that my anticipated picks are going to be priced out of my range, or if I decide to splurge on one or two I'll be stuck with nosebleed seats like I was for Clean in 2004. Winterbottom's a TIFF regular, so the odds are good IMHO that he'll be bringing Genova here in September.

And I swear, if one more person asks me what I thought of The Dark Knight I'm going to freak. Once and for all: half an hour too long and a botched ending. Beautiful cinematography though, especially of the cityscapes. Now taking bets on who the villain will be in part three. I'm stumped, seeing as how the remaining name-brand Bat-villains all have a fantastical element that would brush up hard against the gritty realism established in the onscreen Chicago (let's call it what it is). The Romero and Nicholson portrayals of the Joker may have tipped into the surreal but Ledger showed the character could be embodied as a human loony with a few smears of greasepaint. Unless Wayne Industries has been tinkering with genetic engineering as far back as the sixties, the Penguin seems unlikely, and the Riddler, oy, don't get me started. My vote's for Rose McGowan as Catwoman, though.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Midnight madness and counting down

Okay, so it took me more than a week to get around to the second entry of the new journal. Moot point, to be sure, as I'm sure nobody's reading this yet. Maybe if the TIFF does that link from their site this year some folks will scroll back but anyhoo.

With forty-three days to go 'til opening night, the steady stream of announcements and leaks have begun. Last week the Sun published its annual "we can all look forward to seeing Pitt, Clooney and Witherspoon on the red carpet this year" blurb, yadda yadda. I don't go to galas, so that niche of celebrity spotting is well out of my orbit of interest. That said, the Gala and Special presentations that have been announced so far are a pretty impressive lot this year. Oscar bait, sure, but still no complaints, and plenty I'll pay to see in regular release ultimately, especially the new Jonathan Demme flick and Fifty Dead Men Walking.

The fest is opening with Passchendaele, the trailer for which has been playing in Canadian theatres since late Spring (I saw it in front of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, of all places). And I know I may get my passport yanked for this, but I simply have no desire to see the movie whatsoever. The battle of Passchendaele is one I learned about several times throughout grade/high school (retention is another matter altogether) and yes, I know this movie is meant to be Canada's Saving Private Ryan, ie: a visceral representation of a wartime crucible that formed our national character. Maybe some Americans found the brilliant Ryan to be an insufferable history lesson, and perhaps those Americans will appreciate Paul Gross' tribute to our sacrificing forefathers much more than I can. Maybe it's just my general dislike of Paul Gross. You know, I suspect he's an absolutely awesome guy, a blast to hang with, real salt-of-the-earth. But I have a hard time seeing him onscreen without his precise Grierson-esque diction grating on my nerves. And fine, be a patriot. But his endless elevation of Canuck ephemera drives me batshit. Men With Brooms comes off as smug and insular as the "Darkest One" video, the one where the Hip hang with the Trailer Park Boys, Don Cherry delivers them fried chicken and they pay with red two-dollar bills and Canadian Tire money. Seeing Gross interviewed about Passchendaele, and I don't doubt his sincerity, he always seems to have that heavy-lidded, down-the-nose look that evokes the smug cliquishness you can see in photos of Woody Harrelson yammering about mediatation and biofuels, Tom Skerritt in Contact, and Soundgarden in any photo circa 1989.

But anyway, onto brighter topics. I've seen Midnight Madness movies at the TIFF before (Sukiyaki Western Django made my Top Ten of 2007 list) but never actually at the midnight screenings. Licking my wounds from missing last year's opener of The Mother Of Tears I booked Friday the fifth off as well so I'd be free to catch any MM screenings. Opening night is JCVD, in which Jean Claude Van Damme goes all meta on his celebrity, which is tempting, but...Sexykiller, Not Quite Hollywood and Chocolate are all must-sees for me, especially that last one, which I've been dying to see for a while now. C'mon, the folks who brought us Tony Jaa now spring an autistic Thai hitwoman on us? Dude!

More tidbits as they come up. My fingers are still crossed for a Palermo Shooting premiere, hopefully not as a Special Presentation so I can still squeeze it in on my ticket book. It's getting scathing reviews, but it's Wenders, so I'm there with bells on no matter the venue.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Hellboy II: The Semi-unflattering Comparison

Saw Hellboy II: The Golden Army last night, which I suppose I was looking forward to as a summer popcorn muncher, and it certainly had its moments but ultimately left me kind of cold. I wonder if I'm just getting burned out on the whole "visual innovation for spectacle's sake" aesthetic, as I also thought Wanted was boring as crap a couple of weeks back. Don't get me wrong, Hellboy II is miles and away better than most generic summer movie junk. The performances are uniformly excellent and the makeup/effects work is well-nigh staggering. Plus I could watch two hours of Selma Blair and her cheekbones reading the phone book. Still, Guillermo del Toro is someone I'd categorize/lump in with Tim Burton in that he's a visual stylist who's a much more interesting director than, you know, a good director. If the Hellboy movies are del Toro's Batmans, then I guess Pan's Labyrinth is his Big Fish (and by the same token Devil's Backbone is his Corpse Bride? Blade II is his Mars Attacks? Probably best to leave this thread unpulled..).

Anyway, this is sort of a stopgap ramble to get my new blog up and running. More to come later today.