tiff: a wrap

8 movies in 8 nights, the last of which spilled off the reel last night at the elgin.

  • between strangers wasn’t the best movie of the festival, but it provided the biggest buzz in the theatre. the lineup was much bigger, people were begging to buy tickets outside, ans the cameras were thick and plentiful. there were loads of stars in this one, including mira sorvino, pete postlethwaite, deborah kara unger, malcolm mcdowell, klaus maria brandauer and wendy crewson. but most of the excitement, of course, was for sophia loren. a longer standing o than coppola got (toronto loves their italians) and the cameras went nuts, but once sophia got down the stairs without her dress falling off the film got underway. it wasn’t, as i said, a great movie, but there were some very good performances (especially loren and sorvino and, as always, postlethwaite) and people enjoyed seeing toronto so honestly portrayed rather than doubling for new york or chicago. a good film, not a great film.

the final rankings?

  1. dirty pretty things
  2. assassination tango
  3. laurel canyon
  4. the emperor’s club
  5. 8 femmes
  6. talk to her
  7. between strangers
  8. adolphe (really, putting this movie in the 8th spot is misleading. i’m very emphatically placing it dead last. i’m certain this movie, in a past life, was some old sick nazi guard dog)

the drama the drama

so, not only was tonight’s movie one of the best yet, there was some additional drama right next to us in the theatre.

  • i admit that i haven’t seen many stephen frears movies. really, high fidelity is the only one i’ve seen, but i’ve been meaning to see the grifters. anyway, last night’s movie was dirty pretty things, a pretty remarkable flick. audrey tautou must’ve really been trying to find a role completely removed from the saccharine amelie. piers handling pointed out that, in the whole movie (which is set in london) you never really see any “typical” british people. just immigrants, some legal, some not so much. anyway, it was a great movie…beautifully shot, gritty and posh at he same time (not unlike london), interesting and with real characters. there was a bit of a predictable twist at the end though. i must admit, i missed most of the last 5 or 6 minutes as someone was having a medical emergency right in front of us (he was fine, in the end), but i think i got the gist of it. even not knowing what happened in those scenes, this film belongs in my top three of the festival for sure (along with laurel canyon and assassination tango).

(twelfth / 2) night

expectations met and surprises!

  • robert duvall showed up to present his new movie assassination tango, which he both directed and starred in, and brought along a friend. though i knew francis ford coppola was an executive producer i didn’t think he’d be there…but there he was, dressed in the same cocaine-smuggler-white suit that rob morrow had worn the night before (let out a few inches), ambling out to a standing ovation. duvall’s co-star luciana pedraza also came out, and about the time i caught my breath they’d been seated and the movie began. the movie itself was great, easily one of the best so far, right up there with laurel canyon. duvall has a great penchant for unapologetic and memorable characters, and the relationship that fell out with pedraza was unpredictable and sensible and still touching. it’s better than #2. i’m calling it #1a.

film fest, part the fourth

5 down, 3 to go. last night’s movie was…different, without a doubt.

  • François Ozon’s movie 8 femmes is, as Piers Handling says, “a giant chocolate cake of a movie.” a mystery, a comedy, an absurdist crime thriller, even a musical. catherine deneuve showed up for a standing ovation and then watched the audience swing from laughter to mild confusion. i think the movie lost a few people who like their movies a little more formulaic, but most seemed impressed. as for me, i liked it, even though i usually detest musicals. the movie never took itself seriously enough for the music to seem overbearing; instead, it was quirky like your weirder friends. not for everyone, but most peope seemed to enjoy it. i believe i’ll put it in third place. the rankings, in case anyone’s interested, are as follows:
    1. laurel canyon
    2. the emperor’s club
    3. 8 femmes
    4. talk to her
    5. adolphe (in this case, the gap between #4 and #5 is like the distance between “good” and “pig-nasty”)

tiff v3.0

now that’s more like it.

  • the emperor’s club, starring kevin kline, was a far sight better than the carnage we’d witnessed the night before. in the same vein as dead poets society, but shown from the teacher’s point of view, it was a showcase for kline – who was in the audience – and the man rarely goes wrong, so the crowd loved it. i’m ranking it #2, right behind laurel canyon and ahead of talk to her. i refuse to even include adolphe in my rankings. ptoo!

tiff, part ii

yecch. you know, i’m not one of those guys who dismisses french films out of hand. i like a good character-driven period drama as much as anyone, but after last night, two of my four most hated films in memory have been french.

  • adolphe was shite, in my opinion. i felt absolutely nothing for the characters, not even annoyance or loathing – they were simply not interesting or well-drawn. and in a character-driven movie, that’s death. had this been a regular movie theatre, i’d have left. too bad, really. i was hoping it would surprise me.

the toronto international film festival

it’s on! seen two movies thus far:

  • talk to her, the new film from pedro almodovar. i hadn’t really watched much more than pieces of almodovar’s earlier films, but i was impressed with this one. bizarre at times (where did he find that prop?), uncomfortable at others, funny throughout. really, really good.
  • laurel canyon, lisa cholodenko’s newest. i’d seen high art, and liked it more each itme i watched it, but this one was – to my mind – so much better. a lot of the same elements throughout…two vastly different groups of people interact awkwardly, one member of the meek party is drawn into the bohemian party, etc. what made this even better than high art were the performances of frances mcdormand and alessandro nivola (both of whom were there last night). kate beckinsdale surprised me too, i’d sort of written her off as a loss after pearl harbor. i continue to love natascha mcelhone. i continue to hate christian bale.

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now that was a weekend. ~55 hours in chicago, illinois.

  • the shedd aquarium was great, if for no other reason that it contains otters, funnest animal alive
  • the art institute blew me away with how much impressionist art it had
  • i’d forgotten how much i love ribs
  • don’t believe the hype. giordano’s pizza is the worst i’ve ever had, hands down
  • i could do the architecture boat tour a dozen times and not get tired of it
  • one day, when i have money, me and my credit cards are gonna take a little trip down the magnificent mile
  • the restaurant at the fairmont hotel serves the best $15 waffle i ever et