Today was the end of our stunted TIFF14 adventure: a subtitled film from Quebec called Corbo (imdb | rotten tomatoes | tiff). Turns out I actually know very little about the early days of the FLQ, so I found it fascinating. And beautifully shot too — it had a texture to it and evoked the 60s so well. Uh, at least, what I imagine the 60s looked like. It didn’t always move quickly, but it never seemed to drag either.
I don’t know what we were thinking, really. One of the TIFF picks we made this year was for a screening of The Drop (imdb | rotten tomatoes | tiff) on the day it went into wide release around North America. At least it was in the Princess of Wales theatre (our first time there) so it felt like a big deal.
And hey, the movie was really good. James Gandolfini was terrific, but Tom Hardy — as usual — stole the movie. He’s the new Marlon Brando.
A week-long hiatus in the middle of TIFF has made it feel like the festival s barely happening. I’d almost have forgotten if my news feeds hadn’t been filled with exact details of celebrities ambling down carpeted sidewalks.
Last night we kicked off our lone festival-y weekend by seeing Hal Hartley’s closer to the Henry Fool–Fay Grim trilogy, Ned Rifle (imdb | rotten tomatoes | tiff). We saw Fay Grim at the festival eight years ago and expected more of the same. While it lacked the off-kilter camera shots it certainly had the same wry humour and subtle film-long wink to the audience. Parker Posey played a much smaller role here than in her character’s namesake movie, but she was replaced by a equally-if-differently disturbed Aubrey Plaza. Who I’m slowly becoming infatuated with, by the way.
The only things which marred the experience were outside of the movie itself: first, we picked some odd seats at the Winter Garden, such that I sat on a slope which became weirdly uncomfortable after a while. Second, the two women sitting behind us were the kind of people who feel the need to “OH!” loudly at every other scene, or simply say aloud whatever is happening on the screen. “Oh, she’s going to follow him.” “Oh, there’s no more bullets.” “Oh, that’s his uncle.” Ladies, some advice: stay home and watch movies where no one cares about your soundtrack. Or just shut the fucking fuck up. Either way.
Despite our light TIFF lineup this year, we did manage a first on Friday night: attending a gala presentation. We were the guests of one of the festival’s main sponsors, so we assembled in the near-tropical heat of Friday evening for drinks, dinner, and Ruth & Alex (imdb | rotten tomatoes | tiff).
Dinner was very good, but we felt bad for everyone trapped outside on King Street during the sudden massive thunderstorm which rolled through. People huddled under whatever cover they could find, including a doorway right next to our table. We felt a little guilty eating our steak and drinking our wine while families huddled outside and fended off blowing debris. I guess if we’d been outside we’d have been the ones wringing wet, so it was all just down to lucky timing.
The film itself was just okay. I love Morgan Freeman but Diane Keaton has settled into Jack Nicholson mode, playing the same character (herself) over and over again. The film seemed a little precious, I guess, kind of like it had been written in the 50s with that kind of stage-ish, stilted dialogue, and simply updated for modern-day trends like terrorist scares and real estate frenzies.
There was no Q&A after the film, and it was a very different kind of crowd in attendance (mostly corporate sponsors and industry people) so it felt very different than any TIFF event we were used to. But it was fun to try once, and at least made us feel like we were part of TIFF in the early, buzzy days of the festival. Our next screening isn’t until Friday.
When we left the rain was still pounding down, so we walked underground through the PATH as far as we could, but still got soaked during the two minutes of uncovered walk home.
Cover photo by Juha Uitto, used under Creative Commons license
It’s a light, light year for us at this upcoming TIFF. Because of weddings, business travel, and house guests we’re limiting ourselves to three films this year, not counting a gala which I sort of stumbled into. We chose the back-half pack (actually, I thought we chose two, but discovered during the selection process that we’d only bought one…some hasty prioritizing took place with a drowsy wife in tow) which might as well have been the back-quarter pack. Except for said gala, all three screenings take place on the final weekend.
One of these years we need to do more than five films at TIFF. The past few years have seen us cap it there, mostly due to travel and other constraints. I had every intention of amping things up this year, but we’re attending a wedding which will occupy the entire first weekend. Obviously we’re excited about the wedding, but it does feel like the universe is setting our ceiling for the foreseeable future. So, five it is:
Just to recap: those are films about child suicide, a world on the brink of world war three, disease/zombieism, African gangsters, and a “blood-soaked orgy of outrageousness”. Sweet.
There are tons of galas and special presentations I really wanted to see, especially Devil’s Knot and Gravity, but I’ll be able to see those in theatres within a few months. I wouldn’t be surprised if we never get another chance to three or more of the films we selected. Which, frankly, is part of the fun of the festival.
Photo by popturf.com, used under creative commons license