I shall have to make these reviews brief, as I am both tired and stuffed. You’ve been warned.
We started the day with Diggers (tiff | imdb) at the Cumberland, a light-hearted drama/comedy about New England clam diggers and their small-town goings on. It was a pleasant little movie, neither memorable nor offensive. It did seem like a dreadful waste of such a talented cast (Paul Rudd, Lauren Ambrose, Ron Eldard, Maura Tierney, Josh Hamilton and Ken Marino) though. Not a bad way to start the day, but nothing to set my world on fire either.
We dashed out of there to get in line for Blindsight (tiff | imdb) and scarf down gooey, sugary treats. The screening started quite late, thus blowing any chance we had of staying for post-film Q&A if we wanted to make it to our third film of the day. Too bad, too; we really wanted to stay around and hear what the “stars” had to say. The documentary was about six Tibetan blind children who, under the guidance of their German teacher and an American mountain climber (both also visually impaired) and some sighted climbers, attempt to ascend a 23,000 foot mountain next to Mt. Everest. The documentary also gets into a bit of the story behind each child; blind children in Tibet are treated as outcasts, as suffering for “transgressions in past lives” as the TIFF synopsis puts it. The story of the children’s paths to the school could be a documentary unto itself, and the life of their teacher — Sabriye Tenberken — could easily be another. Needless to say, the story of the climb was astounding and inspirational, and had the cinematography to match.
After the credits rolled the director called Tenberken and Erik Weihenmayer (the blind American climber) to the front, and the crowd gave them a long standing ovation. At that point we had to leave, which was too bad; one of the six children (named Kyila) was just arriving from Beijing, and arrived at the theatre just moments after we left, I suspect to another standing ovation. I’m sorry we had to miss it.
But, the show had to go on, so we bolted from the theatre and into a cab. One very speedy ride later and we were in line at the Ryerson for Fay Grim (tiff | imdb). Once we got past the Jeff Goldblum fan funniness, found some seats in the balcony and waited through all the delays that I can only assume were from Jeff Goldblum and Parker Posey being harassed on the red carpet, director Hal Hartley made a few comments and started the show.
First of all, I don’t now why I haven’t heard of Hal hartley before. I think that perhaps he was making intelligent films before I knew what those were, so I hadn’t seen any of his work, including Henry Fool, the prequel to Fay Grim. However, after tonight, I believe I shall be renting a good chunk of his oeuvre. Fay Grim was a blast, a funny, tricky, off-balance (literally; nearly every shot was as crooked as 60s-era Batman) bottle rocket that reminded every one what a genius Parker Posey really is. The only reason I didn’t give the film a 9 or 9.5 out of 10 was because, for the last third or so it took a very slow and serious turn, and so the humour and style of the first two acts disappeared. This was necessary to set up the third film, which Hartley all but guaranteed would eventually come, but it left the film on a bit of a downturn. Still, it was tremendous art.
Not a bad day at the festival. We’ve now see 9 of our 13 films; tomorrow we have most of the day off to relax. Or, in my case, to get a haircut and submit my final bit of work for this course.
[tags]tiff, toronto international film festival, diggers, blindsight, sabriye tenberken, erik weihenmayer, fay grim[/tags]