Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Five hours in line and the rare stroke of luck

This may be the week for me to buy a lottery ticket.

You can probably tell from the tone of my last dispatch that I felt thoroughly screwed by fate, being in the very last ticket form bin to be processed. All Sunday night I was in a pretty foul mood, figuring I’d get none of my first picks and I’d be slogging through the festival seeing a bunch of also-rans. Any gems I came across by accident would be tainted…tainted, I tells ya.

So I’m up at 4:30 on Monday because I collapsed from exhaustion at quarter to ten the night before and apparently my body’s only got a certain number of hours REM in it each night, and I checked my email. And I got thirteen out of my top eighteen. Not only that, but I got some shows that I was 100% sure would be sold out, like the Genova SP and the premiere of Ashes of Time Redux. Adding curiosity, I got It Might Get Loud as a backup. Huh? That was a shot in the dark, if only because who knows if Jimmy Page, Jack White and the Edge will show up for opening night? So thirteen first picks, four second picks and one voucher. I did miss a few that I really wanted, but oh well, I’ll only see one Icelandic movie with “wedding” in the title this year.

Anyway, I head downtown a bit later than I’d planned and I get to Canada Life Square around nine…then all the way up the block to Gould and around the corner. And then the weird stories start. I’m right in front of a woman who not only got none of her first picks but none of her second picks either. She got an email saying, basically, “here’re ten vouchers.” What are the statistical possibilities of that happening without a computer foulup or some serious human error? The woman in front of me, on the other hand, got duplicate tix for the same show, with her first and second picks overlapping, so she had some exchanges to make as well.

Knowledge of the holy bin number turned out to be a strange shibboleth among the crowd. All morning, you could hear the furtive queries: “what bin were you?” My downbeat “eight” was always met with a mixture of horror and sympathy, followed by disbelief that I batted as well as I ultimately did. Two hours after arriving I finally picked up my tix. The volunteer cheerily noted “you did pretty well!” so I imagine he was seeing some of the horror stories first-hand. At this point, the exchange line was almost as long as the pickup line. I joined the second crowd and…stood almost perfectly still for another hour. THAT line wasn’t moving an iota. Word filtered back that they were letting up fifteen people every twenty minutes…or ten people every fifteen minutes…or thirty people every…whatever…and that a printer had broken down, and a volunteer was running someone’s tickets down from Manulife.

Finally I said screw it, I’ve gotta go. So I scooted up to Yonge and Eg to catch a noon showing of Babylon A.D. which aside from a botched ending (the leitmotif of high-concept action flicks this summer) was actually a pretty solid dystopic actioner with a European sensibility. Kassovitz is disowning the movie, saying the producers ruined a much smarter movie. I’ll be curious to see a director’s cut.

Anyhoo…back down to Canada Life Square and jaysis fookin’ ‘ell, the exchange line is just as long. Well, ye gotta do…so two hours later…I traded in my voucher and my passes to that long-titled Quebec film about the ’68 Expos as it’s been getting pans and Cold Lunch because I just can’t deal with dead kids that early in the festival (yes, I know the blurb says nothing about a dead kid but it’s implied) for a couple more Midnight Madness matinees and an early screening of The Ghost. Heard more tales of woe while in line…the guy who got two out of his top picks, the goof who didn’t know about the 1 PM cutoff for dropping off his form (actually, not much sympathy there, but then I’m anal about deadlines, especially when it comes to the TIFF), and NOBODY I talked to got Country Wedding though many people had it as a pick. Who knew that an Icelandic comedy would be the hot ticket item for opening night?

Heading up to the Box Office after work tomorrow to try and fill in some gaps, to try and trade one of my Achilles and the Tortoise tix for a second My Mother My Bride & I pass. Two more days of work, then Friday afternoon I plunge right in. Woo-hoo!


Anonymous said...

I know Jack White is showing up. ;)

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

What an ordeal! I'm glad you got through it.

Interesting how Country Wedding is a hot ticket. I remember I was surprized last year when Jar City was like that. I guess the TIFFers like their Icelandic films!