Cover photo from the TIFF site

#TIFF15: Films 1-4

We’re seeing seven festival films this year, which makes it our most ambitious in several years. In 2008 (right after I finished the MBA) I did thirty films and Nellie did twenty. Since then we haven’t done more than five in a single year. This year we bought our customary 10-ticket package, plus single tickets for a screening later this week, and we’ve been invited to a Gala near the end of the festival.

We kicked things off in prototypical TIFF fashion: Michael Moore’s newest documentary Where To Invade Next (imdb | rotten tomatoes | tiff). We were the first audience to see it. No one even knew what it was about, and the teaser image they put in the programme book was deceiving. Rather than an anti-military polemic, this was a domestic-issues plea. Moore stuck around after the film (before the bidding war started) to answer questions, and talked about how the crew called this “Mike’s happy movie” since it presented near-Utopian solutions rather than just rail about problems. Maybe he’s softening in his old age, but he’s still awfully entertaining. 8/10

Our token Midnight Madness entry was a big miss. Baskin (imdb | rotten tomatoes | tiff) started off SO well…so creepy, so tense, so gripping…and then wasted it all on a ridiculous set piece in the final act. After the screening the director said he was heavily influenced by French new wave horror and old Italian horror cinema. This felt derivative of both. 4/10

With only a few hours’ sleep following our Midnight Madness miss, we got up Saturday morning to see Sicario (imdb | rotten tomatoes | tiff), Denis Villeneuve’s latest. This had the most star power of any film we’ll see this year, and is already scheduled for a broad release in a month or so. Still, it was worth it: this was a better version of a straight procedural (written by Taylor Sheridan, who I mostly remember from playing small parts on Sons Of Anarchy and Veronica Mars) and shot with such skill by Roger Deakins. It was engrossing from the very beginning — despite the man hacking up a lung one section over and the dude next to me whose phone kept flashing like an emergency beacon — and watching Benicio Del Toro evolve (devolve?) over the course of the film was masterful. 8/10

The Lobster (imdb | rotten tomatoes | tiff) was…weird. Basically, you start by accepting the premise that all single people must go to a hotel where you have 45 days to meet someone to pair off with, else you’re turned into an animal of your choice. Colin Farrell, playing a frumpy architect, chose the titular lobster. This is a darker, less symmetrical Wes Anderson film (the same dryness and absurd humour live here) which maybe went on a little too long. Part of the problem was that the movie stopped dead halfway through, and re-started 20 minutes prior to where it cut off, so we watched both the funniest part and the most awful part twice. Eventually they got it back on track, but I found it a little tough to put myself back in that world after the projector took me out of it. Oh, and the chick in front of us having a total fucking meltdown because, I don’t know, her friend was mean to her or she couldn’t find a parking spot or something. Still, Lobster: points for creativity. 7/10


Cover photo from the TIFF site

The nation of whiners is angry

I don’t want the American economy to get the Asian flu. Really, I don’t. It’s not good for anyone, least of all Canadians.

But at the same time, this $700 billion bailout, should it eventually pass (the US Senate is expected to approve it this evening, after a retooling following the House’s rejection on Monday) will feel like rewarding the greedy. I know it’s not, of course; if banks fail account holders suffer, and that doesn’t help anything. But these bailout packages seem to contain little in the way of punishing the financial system for getting into this mess in the first place, to say nothing of ensuring that it doesn’t happen again. Hopefully the latter would be set out in new legislation, regardless of who becomes president. I dare say that even if Phil “The De-Regulator” Gramm hadn’t already been booted off the McCain campaign, he soon would have.

So Wall Street cries out for the Senate and House to save “Main Street” by handing over $700B, but the mob doesn’t like it. Not because they won’t want to help Main Street…they are Main Street. It’s because there’s no sense of justice here. I wouldn’t recommend something so head-scratching as Michael Moore’s plan (although the idea of sticking it to the nation’s 400 richest people will hold appeal for many) but if Bernanke and Paulson would just include a tax or fine — some kind of slap on the wrist — on Wall Street in their package, they’d have more public support, and a better chance with Congress. But it won’t happen. Bailouts and other socialist ideas only apply when it’s taxpayer money; when profits are at stake everyone miraculously reverts to a laissez-faire idealist.