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.