Monday, August 17, 2009

A sense of order

I was just sitting here sweating my way through a marathon of Dr. Who season 4 DVDs, and realized that it's only three days until the full film list goes live. It's well past time for an update, as the summer is cresting and the accelerated race through my glory weeks of FanExpo/TIFF is nearly upon us. Funny thing, if you go to the festival website, the list of films is already pretty comprehensive. Have the announcements been more thorough and spoilerish this year or is it my imagination? There's always been that glut of reveals every year regarding when Clooney will be arriving and whatnot, and even though I don't get a paper at work anymore, I seem to be picking up a steady stream of such news via osmosis this year. What is there left to unveil on Thursday?

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

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