Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The opening salvo of Midnight Madness

Last year fully a third of my TIFF screenings were part of the Midnight Madness program. Bear in mind I have never actually been to a midnight premiere at the festival, as my sleep cycles are whacked out enough and during the fest I'm coasting on caffeine and Szechuan fumes as it is--despite my best efforts I just know I'd fall asleep at the Ryerson and I suspect that's not a crowd you want to find yourself unconscious in the middle of, love 'em though I do. Still, I'm pretty sure that every year I've attended the Toronto Film Festival I've seen at least one MM flick during a day/evening screening, and last year I hit a certain saturation point. I wrote at length last year about how Not Quite Hollywood reaffirmed my faith in the joys of Cinematic Trash so I won't rehash it here, nor will I relate how the penultimate film of my TIFF '08 was Martyrs and how it made me question my own latent censorious nature. But while MM is the first program at the fest to be fully listed on the website and thus I couldn't help but wait with bated breath for the update, I was approaching it with trepidation this year for some very French, skinned-alive reasons.

Damn that freakin' Colin. Because the bastard with the best job in the TIFF organization seems to have done it again. Of the ten, there are at least eight that I know I'm going to see eventually, a few that I'll definitely try to see if I can come September and three that immediately made the "absolutely must see" list that I'm sketching before Program Book Release Day. It's not your typical MM lineup, either: there are no documentaries, there's nothing from Hong Kong (though if this year is like any of the last few, I'm sure Johnny To has two or three films scattered throughout the other programs), there's no Gallic torture porn. On the other hand, it appears the opening night flick is Jennifer's Body, the trailers for which are already playing in the Cinemultiplexes. Every year there's at least one MM premiere that ends up being an unexpected hit in mainstream theatres later that fall, but it's typically a surprise that's to some degree discovered at the festival. I've been going to TIFF since 2003, and looking back through my well-thumbed program books I see Ju-On (2003), Saw (2004), Hostel (2005), Borat and The Host (2006), Diary of the Dead (2007...okay, not a huge hit but I did eventually see it at the Scotia) and JCVD (2008). For a studio-backed flick written and produced by an Oscar-winning success story from just two years ago to be opening MM this year...subject matter be damned, considering how TIFF introduced the world to the brilliance that is Juno ( I say that without irony, I fucking love that movie) in 2007 one would think Diablo Cody would be walking the red carpet at the Visa Screening Room at least instead of waiting for her introduction next to a bank of gym lockers at the Ryerson.

ANYWAY...so my gotta sees this year so far are The Loved Ones, A Town Called Panic and Daybreakers, the last of which I may actually try and stay up late for the premiere on the off chance that Sam Neill will show up. Solomon Kane and Bitch Slap are possibilities for impulse ticket buys later in the festival to plug holes in my schedule as they occur.

Hey, they announced the documentary list, or at least seventeen of them. What's cool there...Cleanflix, about that weird Mormon company that hacks up movies for the sake of people whose heads explode at the mere whiff of an f-bomb, that just made my list. The Most Dangerous Man In America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. I am so all over that one. And The Topp Twins has one of the most enticing one-line descriptions I've yet come across, that's a strong possible there.

Alright, I'm officially excited.

38 days until FanExpo
51 days until TIFF '09

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