Monday, August 31, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
The festival changed the format of the order form: instead of the colour-coding by double-ended highlighter (which hasn't been included in the bag since 2006 anyway) you now write a screening code for your second pick under each first pick. I know there's been enough confusion in the past but this shift still seems odd to me. No matter.
As I mentioned earlier, blogs written by The People aren't being linked from the festival site this year, so if anyone does read this it'll likely be FB friends who may not be here in Toronto. I won't prattle on with details (oh who am I kidding...) but short version: I bought a 10-pack of tickets, so I chose my top ten movies (with specific screening times) and ten backups in case the first ones are sold out. Except for the Michael Caine afternoon, I don't think many of my top ten are big ticket festival items (ie: no Clooney, Coens or Michael Moore) so I may be on fairly solid ground. That said, I also plan on buying four or five individual tickets when they go on sale, so ideally I'll still be able to catch a handful of my backup picks, and even possibly some of what I don't get in the first ten at different screenings if the ones I've requested are sold out. I drop off my order form after work tomorrow, and next week sometime I'll get the email telling me what I got. Anyhoo...
My top ten picks (check out the summaries on the TIFF website if you're curious):
The Most Dangerous Man In America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers
The Disappearance of Alice Creed
in conversation with...Michael Caine
The Loved Ones
Timetrip: The Curse of the Viking Witch
My ten backups:
Five Hours From Paris
Giulia Doesn't Date At Night
My Tehran For Sale
So what's the breakdown? No Dialogues this year (Joe Dante might be cool, come to think of it), no Canada First!, and I'm going to a Sprockets screening for the first time, that Danish kids movie that looks like fun. Four of my top ten are not in English, and two of those are in French; seven of my runners-up aren't in English. Only one Midnight Madness flick in the whole batch. Did Martyrs turn me off that program so much? I doubt it, it's just that of the other nine this year, three or four are definitely hitting screens later this summer and I've already seen Ong-Bak 2. I've got some huge gaps in my screening schedule, but I'll no doubt fill them somehow. Even if it's not with #s 11-20, as there are plenty of others in the book I wouldn't turn up my nose at. I've got nothing from Hong Kong in either list this year, but if I wind up squeezing Vengeance or Accident into a hole in my schedule, no complaints.
Made it through Station To Station and most of Buddah of Suburbia while bashing this out. Exhausted. Another annual tradition passed.
3 days 'til FanExpo
16 days 'til TIFF
Superficial stuff first: love the program book cover this year, the motif that appears in variations throughout the materials of enraptured audience members instead of vague abstracts or modern-art surrealism. The people's festival indeed, illustrated. Looks like the bag is made of better material than it has been in the past two years as well, with a flat bottom to boot (okay, this seems irrelevant, but I save 'em as souvenirs and last year's was made of some fabric barely a notch up from crepe paper). Got a second Stella Artois glass, assuming they remain a sponsor, after TIFF '11 I'll be able to serve pilsner for four. Took the traditional big whiff of the book and...hmmm. Paint. The Nathan Philips Square TIFF tent's new expansion just got a fresh coat recently, it seems, and the glorious new-ink-and-cinema scent of the program book is subsumed by the odour of white latex paint. Got back to the office, gave the enclosed promotional sample cosmetics, coffee, popcorn and cherry/pomegranate power water to co-workers and began highlighting titles in the index.
I suppose the Kindle may be different as it's not so much for the interactivity, but I must say that books, ie: solid paper-based blocks of info you can hold in your hand, can't be disappearing any time soon. Sure the whole film list has been up on the festival site for a few days and bouncing back and forth between links there has been helpful, but actually being able to study the summaries and credits caused a small shakeout and huge additions. 25 titles highlighted in the index based on the cover-to-cover I did at my desk. And now comes the winnowing.
Still nothing for me from India this year, the one that looked great, What's Your Rashee?, is a gala. Didn't know anything about An Education until...screenplay by Nick Hornby?!? I'm there. Quite a lot in Reel To Reel I'm curious to see, but oddly enough there's nothing in Canada First! that's grabbing me. The afternoon with Michael Caine is on my list, but the movie he's selling isn't. I suspect his Q&A will be sold out, or at least I'm bracing myself for settling for a second pick that day. The first screening of one of my gotta-see's conflicts with the Nick Cave book signing, which is a drag, but maybe Willem Defoe will stick around for the second screening. Still sort of regretting not doing two ticket books, but pragmatism must rule.
Okay, back to the spreadsheets...
Thursday, August 20, 2009
A few things I noticed: no Baltasar Kormákur movie this year, in fact only two Icelandic films, one of which is a documentary largely in English (judging from the trailer) and the other a multinational co-production starring Brian Cox and Paul Dano so I guess no whimsical Reykjavic family dramas starring lovely elfin redheads for me this year; no Takashi Miike; still no Palermo Shooting, which has been in the can for so long I'm sure we'll have to wait for his next film for another Wenders appearance at TIFF. There are, as usual, new offerings from the Coen brothers, Carl Bessai, Johnny To and Steven Soderbergh.
As for what I want to see...okay, here's the tentative list of the twenty movies I'd most love to see, the Can't Miss ones marked with an asterix:
Five Hours From Paris
The Disappearance of Alice Creed
The Loved Ones*
Timetrip: The Curse of the Viking Witch
The Most Dangerous Man In America
In conversation with Michael Caine*
Giulia Doesn’t Date At Night
So...more than the usual quota of French-language films on the list...and shit, no Indian movies. I'll have to look deeper once the book comes out. Only three Midnight Madness movies, as I figured I'd be cutting back this year, but as I suspect that Daybreakers will get a regular release I'll probably pass on it for the fest. With the Danish time travel flick, that could be my first-ever Sprockets Family Zone screening. First Israeli movie as well. Michael Caine? Oh wow...that's gonna rock, I suspect that'll be one of the fest's hottest tickets.
Got an invite today on FB for Nick Cave, apparently he's doing a reading/signing of his new novel at Indigo at the Eaton Centre in the middle of the fest. That's going to poke a hole in my schedule, for sure. Does Cave have a movie in the festival as well? Has anyone snatched up the rights to "And The Ass Saw The Angel" yet?
How come the rain didn't cool everything off?
8 days 'til FanExpo
21 days 'til TIFF
Monday, August 17, 2009
Anyway, I'll get back to the current list in a minute, but first some housekeeping, which may be crying into an abyss for all I know because the TIFF09 website has yet to announce any links to fan blogs. For the past three years I've answered the invitation to link my blog (first two years on MySpace and since last year here at blogspot) and enjoyed a few readers. Not tons, but I don't need tons, I just think it's cool when strangers tune in for whatever reason. My dream job is film critic; real life doesn't really afford me the opportunity, and the rise of the internet has, sadly, rendered such an occupation as it's been commonly defined since the thirties to a degree obsolete. So for two weeks a year I can immerse myself in cool foreign and indie fare, dissect and analyze and assign arbitrary star ratings...oy that sounds callous. I love movies, and I love to talk movies. If one person checked out Not Quite Hollywood, Son of Rambow or The Burrowers because they were sampling fan blogs via the TIFF website and took my rave at my word, I suppose I'll never know (MySpace used to count fifty-plus readers a day during the festival but nobody ever left comments), but part of me would be greatly satisfied.
At any rate, I used to have readers, I have a couple of subscribers here and my fingers are crossed that a few more film fans will join me here later on. Thus, I'd like to tell the assembled multitudes my basic rules...well, traditions, really...for how I pick movies for the prime festival experience.
1. No galas. They're not worth the money, all the movies are going to play in theatres later (some notable bombs excepted, and I'm looking at you, Edison), and without a high-priced donor pass, you wind up in the nosebleed seats. Fuhgettaboutit.
2. By the same token, nothing that's going to play theatres in the fall anyway. Sometimes one can't tell; the star-studdedness of a film is no longer any guarantee that it's arrived at the festival with a distributor or that it'll pick one up after the premiere. But I've seen festival premieres announced long after the trailer for the same flick has been playing for months. 2007 was an odd festival in that regard: from the festival's second Friday through the Sunday after wrap, I saw three movies outside the TIFF that had premiered at the festival mere days before (Eastern Promises, The Brave One and Across The Universe).
3. Try to see at least one of the following: documentaries, "In Conversation With...", Dialogues, Canadian movies, and if at least half of what I see isn't subtitled, I'm not trying hard enough. Every year I swear I'm going to see something from India and it never seems to happen. I've had good luck with Iceland in the past, and if there's anything filmed in the Welsh language, I'm so there.
4. I'm not quite the starfucker I was as a young lad (especially when I first moved to L.A., I was pretty insufferable then, actually) but if anyone I've actually worked with or for is in a movie at the festival, I try to check that one out to say hi. For the record, I've crewed on two feature films, a low-budget indie called Lovelife (1997) and the remake of The In-Laws (2003), worked for one major actor (who shall remain nameless) and interned for a multiple Oscar-winning director (ditto), plus I met or knew tons of other creative folk who may be passing through town in September.
5. My favorite director is Wim Wenders, if he comes to town, I'm in the front row. Plus I've now got a cool Bis ans Ende der Welt poster that I'm dying to get autographed, and if anyone has spotted Sam Neill around town while he's filming, I'd love a tip or two.
So I just went over to the site to comment on the list and while I was there they took it down for updating! Dagnabit, they did that the other night as well! Okay, I'll go through the list again later this week.
11 days 'til FanExpo
24 days 'til TIFF