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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Le retour de Last Kiss - /* I could be your last chance for happiness */

Thursday, Sept 28, 2006
6:30 p.m.

I've been thinking about my life lately, and everything feels pretty planned out. There's no more surprises.

The 06 TIFF is long over but upon this second viewing of The Last Kiss away from the festival, the film maintains its quirky charm and insouciance. The laughs are present as ever - but with a different audience in a different theatre where the seats were not packed to the rafters the experience is quite different. Akin to the headspin that was I Heart Huckabees which had the festival crowd rollicking from the get-go, The Last Kiss garnered a more of a hmmmm reaction. [Just wait until Stranger Than Fiction comes out]. On the heels of Garden State, Zach Braff has left his imprint all over this film - from his zany Scrubs like expressions to his the soundtrack of his life imprinted on the film. In Garden State, he featured the au courant Shins and Iron and Wine as backdrops to his quirky adventures and romance with Natalie Portman; here in The Last Kiss, with Imogen Heap it's a game of Hide and Seek and what the hell is going on.

On the verge of turning thirty, Michael and his longtime friends are facing anxious moments as they dare face growing up. Michael has the life he envisioned - a good job, still best friends with the guys he grew up with and in love with a beautiful girlfriend - life is just as he pictured - and at dinner she is about to deliver the good news to her parents : she is going to have a baby. Michael is the envy of his friends - Jenna is beautiful, perfect and just like a guy. Everyone around him and their relationships are falling apart - a co-worker at the architecture firm is married with a new baby - what was supposed to kickstart their marriage is tearing them apart. Another friend is a pathetic mess who still pines for for ex-sweetheart. The bartender has casual sex with a new girl almost every night and nearly becomes ensnared by a girl into meeting her parents. So no wonder Michael feels trapped. "There are no more surprises."

At their friend's wedding he panics his way into the charms of young Kim who has come with her three school chums. The winsome junior college student, the long haired brunette Kim [Rachel Bilson] notices Michael and strikes up a flirty conversation with Michael [Zach Braff]- setting off a chain of events that spell the end of his idealized life and three year engagement to Jenna [Jacinda Barrett].

Michael and Kim make small talk easily - Kim does most of the chatting and he falls for her easy charms. They meet up later days after the wedding at a coffee shop. As he drives her home, he admits, "You make me feel 10 years younger." "Good, I'm dating a younger man."

Shallow and self-absorbed is he? A jerk is he? The fact there are no more surprises left in his life, the seeming finality of it all has Michael scared and panicked.

"I could be your last chance for happiness," she whispers in his ear. And thus precipiates Michael's perilous decline. The script adaptation by Paul Haggis [director and writer of Academy Award winner Crash] of the original Italian version dictates that people's lives bump and collide, that actions have consequences and for Michael to untangle himself from his mess will demand whatever it takes to hold on to the one good thing he had.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

DAY 10 - once upon a time there was Candy and Dan - the last day of 06 TIFF

the sounds of Camera Obscura Lloyd, I'm Ready Ready To Be Heartbroken

42 films so far and the last day is at hand.

Double double toil and trouble - but we have chosen at last and we are landing these last three/four films - starting with a revisit to Candy

1:15 pm

Viewing Candy for the second time is still as great as the first. Clearly my favourite film of 06 TIFF.

Once upon a time there was Candy and dangerous Dan. Be ready to have your heartbroken - a tale of a couple fuelled by their deep love for each other - and drugs, lots and lots of drugs. The tale depicts their fall from Heaven to Earth to Hell itself. The couple are played to the hilt by Abbie Cornish, my favourite Australian actress from 04 TIFF's Somersault, who can go from zero to 60, and Heath Ledger as the loser junkie Dan. In the beginning Candy is an innocent, new in the way of taking drugs and this wild lifestyle. Their refuge in the storm is Dan's longtime friend Kasper, portrayed by Geoffrey Rush, as a gay Professor of chemistry at the university who can manufacture his own drugs and has found the way to transform morphine into liquid heroin - his golden elixir. He gives Dan money when he comes begging for it, and the fix they need when necessary. He befriends Candy with the cautionary words. "new to this way of wonder, you can quit when you want to, but when you want to quit " - it's the paradox.

"I did not set out to destroy Candy's life, I just wanted to improve mine," narrates Dan [ Heath Ledger ].

3:45 pm

Hong Kong director Johnny To brings three films to this year's festval. Exiled, and these two parts of Election which tells the tale of the Triad [ the Chinese Mafia so to speak ] and the politics of the ascension to power and the post of Chairman or Godfather. Election 2 is the more polished effort and takes place two years after the first Election. The current chairman is loathe to give up power and has designs to keep power. Jimmy Lee has tried to put his Triad's days in the past and has become a very rich and powerful businessman, mainly through his distribution networks and the pirating of discs. However, he has the backing of many of the nine Uncles who decide who becomes the next Godfather. No matter how he tries to distance himself, just when he thought he was out he is brought back in. And thusly concludes Election 2.

Of course any movie about the Triad and the Godfather demands the third part Election 3 - and hopefully we will be able to see this soon at a future TIFF.

8 pm

It's 3:15 in the morning and the lady and the girl are on the run for their lives.
London to Brighton is the gripping story of a middle aged woman and a nearly teenage girl on the run for their lives. In this story of power, violence and sordidness, it turns out the woman is a hooker under threat from her boss to seek out suitable prospect for a client with a taste for young girls. The hooker finds the young runaway bumming for change on the streets and befriends her. When the pimp himself is intimidated by the client by immediate violence and given 24 hours to find the girl or lose his life, the chase is on. As the pimp with his mate tries to find the two, interludes of the girl innocently playing on the of the beach in Brighton while they seek refuge with the hooker's friend in Brighton, underscore the painful tragedy of their lives.

Turn on the lights - exit the theatre - and just like that the film festival is over and back to reality - but the magic of cinema lingers

10 days - 46 movies later - many gems - much enchantment - enduring the line-ups and the mad dashes between movie theatres - the chance to see your favourite movie stars and directors of now and the past and future this year amidst the red carpet throngs [ Laura Linney, Christina Ricci, Emily Barclay again, Werner Herzog, Christian Bale, Jeremy Davies, Zach Braff, JLo ] - we are counting killer black sheep tonight - it's all about the movies. What more can you want out of 06 Toronto International Film Festival? except to hope to do the same again in 07 ?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

DAY 9 - Our lives on this planet are too short - BOBBY, "I underestimated Katrina, that was mistake #1" - Suburban Mayhem, Hottest State, Magic Flute

cue Zero 7 - In The Waiting Line - Garden State

The September antsiness is in the air - the cloudy skies and the cool air nipping at the jacketless who hold onto their summer statements.

9:30 a.m.

Bobby Kennedy was the voice of a generation of American youth - his ideals and his speeches were emblematic of a time of hope in the air and he stirred the nation disenchanted by a war that was claiming young American lives. This view at history directed by Emilio Estevez is a strong, bold and compassionate statemen looking at the events and the stories of the lives of the staff and guests at the Ambassador Hotel on that June day in 1968 where RFK is campaigning for the 1968 Democratic leadership and the presidency. The cast has been noted as being the size of a Robert Altman film with many notable names: William H Macy, Sharon Stone and Demi Moore, Laurence Fishburne, Lindsay Lohan and Elijah Wood, and others, their sequences flow along, sometimes intersecting. In one notable scenes, Laurence Fishburne delivers the most moving speeches about his kitchen staff colleague who has had to surrender his ticket to the Dodgers game on the night of his sixth consecutive shutout because he has had to work a doubleshft at the last moment. Fishburne compares his worker to a young, selfless King Arthur: "the once and future king" = which will reference the ending of the movie as well. As in Death of a President a foreboding overshadows the events of the day as they move along to climactic moments. Bobby Kennedy's presence is always seen and felt in the background through television coverage, speeches and references from the cast. After delivering his California primary victory speech, the denouement is tragic. "Our lives on this planet are too short."

Bobby is a noble movie with the punch of a worthy Oscar contender.

Suburban Mayhem
11:45 a.m.
Varsity 6

"I knew the grandmother, she was mad - I knew the mother, she was madder. It's genetics I reckon, that's the only thing I can come up with. You can't get clean water from a dirty tank."

After Bobby meant less than 15 minutes to get up to the Varsity for the very last chance to see Emily Barclay in Suburban Mayhem. Timetable conflicts by the 06 TIFF schedulers has thwarted all previous attempts to see this movie which was at the very top of the list of movies had to be seen at 06 TIFF [after Candy].

Pretty Beach is suburbia nowhereswville up the coast north of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia. Emily Barclay is 19 year old Katrina Skinner, the young mother partying and living out of control. A contented housewife with a kid? No. This is not the mere disaffectation of American Beauty suburbia. This is full on carnage - starting with her brother Danny she loves so much who was sent to jail for life for decapitating the head of his murder victim. Danny was a leader among his wildstyle friends. Katrina is conniving and irresponsible, but wants to hold on to it all including her baby. Nonetheless she leaves in the hands of her beautician school friend Lilya for days while she goes out partying and looking for money to pay for a lawyer for her brother. Katrina is not reluctant to use her body and her wiles to keep sway over her boyfriend Rusty and their mentally challenged friend Kenny. As she plots to get the money to get Danny out of jail, the question arises: can she get away with the murder of her father? Suburban Mayhem is just that and more - and one wild and crazy ride we are so glad to be a part of.

The Hottest State
3 p.m.

Once upon a time Ethan Hawke was in a movie called Reality Bites.

That philosopher poet character prevails over Ethan Hawke's latest written and directed movie based upon his own novel The Hottest State.

My heart is gold
What will you give me for it?

he declares to his lady love

The Silence
6 pm
Royal Ontario Museum

My second viewing of this Cate Shortland piece is full of atmosphere and brooding. The Silence deals Richard Roxburgh so perfect coping with his suspension from active duty, who froze in the line of fire. He now works now at the Museum of Police History with his young sassy colleague played by ta-da! Emily Barclay. Referential to the imagery in pieces such as Michelangelo Antonioni's Blowup, The Silence is a photographic mystery. Who was the lady in the silk dress?

The Magic Flute
8:30 pm
Varsity 8

Mozart is magic, and hearing and seeing The Magic Flute was a magical way to end the evening. Kenneth Branagh's take on the opera and setting it in the background of World War I, it works as a plea for peace and the end to war, due to the magnificent singing, the libretto sung entirely in English and the acting talents of all the cast who deliver the pathos and humour, including our own Canadian in the lead role of Tamino.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Day 8 - I'd rather be a rockstar - Kurt Cobain About a Son : Death is the road to awe - The Fountain, This is England, Renaissance, Coeurs

It's been one week in this coccoon that is the festival. It's been 37 films down and here we are heading into the final three days of the festival to reach the magic 50 - nowhere to go onward ! sleep, where are you?

Day 8 was a series of astounding performances and intelligent, well articulated directorial movies in This is England; Alain Resnais masterful in Coeurs with one of my favourite actresses at 05 TIFF : Isabelle Carré; a trip through Olympia and Seattle that might have been through the eyes of a rockstar named Kurt, the dazzling looks of Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain, and the black and white future of Renaissance.

This is England
9:30 a.m.

This is England is a nostalgic recollection of the rise of the skinhead movement in Thatcher era England after the Falklands war. As seen through the eyes of the director / writer Shane Meadows at his 11-year-old counterpart of the time, This is England is articulate and defies the usual anarchic UK stereotypes of this blank generation. The year is 1983 - the ethos is punk, the music is the Jam, the Sex Pistols, Subway Sect and the fashion is Siouxsie Sioux. Unemployment is a major problem, with immigrants in the underground economy taking jobs away. It is a time of tension. Living with just his mother, Shaun is an 11 year old boy who lost his father in the war. He is a loner, and outsider, given to losing his temper and fighting. On his way home one day as he is passing under the bridge, he is befriended by an older group of punk teens. Oddly enough, beneath the rough exterior, they are well-mannered around each other and put each other in their place. They take a shine to Shaun and make him feel one of their own, and he feels wanted. Of course with boys boys being boys, there is a measure of destruction for destruction's sake, to blow off steam and boredom. The girls think he's sweet and give him a skin haircut and stylish clothes. Rather than being horrified, his mother thanks the kids for taking care of Shaun.

The bomb gets lit with the entrance of Combo [played by Shane Meadows himself]. He is rough and tumble, yet very smart and well-reasoned. He take over control of the gang. He is a member of the National Front, and rather than tolerance, he sees the immigrants as a problem. Shaun is forced to take sides and he falls under the spell of Combo and is introduced to the concept of racism even at this young age. At a recruitment meeting at a pub, one begins to see how the Nationalists justified their ways - trying to defend their England from outsiders who become targets of hate. Here it is only a small group of disaffected youth and adults listening to the passionate words from the National Front leader, but you can see how this grows. Initially being a skinhead was all about the music, ska, reggae, the genuine article from Jamaica adopted by two-toned groups such as the Specials AKA, but soon the Front saw the skinheads as a ready-made army ready to be recruited.

By the end, This is England is almost like Quatre Cents Coups [400 Blows] where Shaun comes to face himself and you.

12:45 p.m.

AVALON Health, beauty, longevity, we're on your side for life

Christian Volckman's Renaissance is a bleak cutting edge look at the future that is a marriage of Ridley Scott's Bladerunner transplanted to Paris 2054. Avalon is a leading edge company in the field of beauty and their top scientist has been kidnapped. The detective known for his methods of doing whatever it takes at all cost has been hired to get her back. Renaissance is a futuristic movie filled with corporate espionage, big brother surveillance everywhere, and a surfeit of dead bodies and bad guys. The black and white animation is spectacular as the French have been leading the way in movies such as Immortel Ad Vitem. The secrets of Avalon's research could have an impact on humanity forever.

The Fountain
3 p.m.

What if you could live forever?

In this parable about the search for eternal life, Hugh Jackman transcends time and space.

At the heart of Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain is a love story; it's the biblical passage of Genesis 3:24 the tree of life set against the Spanish quest in search of the fable of the fountain of youth. Zigzagging back and forth through time - it's the quest of Hugh Jackman's character to keep his wife Rachel Weisz alive physically and in spirit - the crush of painful memories and what ifs? forsaking his one last time with her in order to pursue his scientific work - while trying to find a cure for his wife's tumour by experimenting on lab monkeys, he finds a procedure that stops the aging process. But the cancer is still there. The story of The Fountain is wild and fabulously excessive, going far into the future, without the editing quirks of his previous Requiem for a Dream, suffused in golden tones and transcendent spirit. Faith, hope, rebirth. Death is the road to awe.

Kurt Cobain - About a Son
6 p.m.

An outsider changes the cultural landscape - Kurt is a tip of the iceberg. "People don't deserve to know about me," he states in these hours of interviews compiled for Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana. "I'd rather be a rock star." Sarcastic yet caring. Nihilistic jerk. I hate journalists. Everyone wants to see us die.
Re-bar Dry Acres Crocodile Restaurant Mecca Cafe Vain Lewiston Queen City Moore Theatre Olympic Fireplace Twinkle Pig #3 Cherry St Milk Terrace Oak Harbour City Pawn Caffe Vida United States Post Office Broadway Super 97 cent Store Lambert Building
I've thought about dying all my life. Thank you Kurt.

8:45 p.m.

Director Alain Resnais who won the Silver Lion at Venice for Coeurs has a magical touch with relationships and nuance - almost 50 years ago he gave the world Hiroshima Mon Amour and in 1961 won the Golden Lion at Venice for Last Year at Marienbad. Coeurs is his latest little gem - based on the play Private Fears in Public Places - six degrees of delicately told personal stories of six people whose lives mesh in the most delightful and surprising ways in a wintry Paris. Beneath their very Parisian grace, there is an underside that reveals hidden aspects of their character and how these come to light is the mark of Alain Resnais. Life is a balance - the spiral road downward is paved with good intentions and destiny trips into their lives - the careless word from a bartender trying to be witty with his customer sends a relationship down the tubes, a well-meaninged gesture from a caregiver has disastrous results. A melancholy prevails over Coeurs. The beautiful Gaelle [played by Isabel Carré who was in my favourite movie Entre Ses Mains at the 05 Toronto International Film Festival] is the sister of Thierry, the real estate salesman. She is a wallflower who goes out every night to the bar, apparently looking for company but is always alone, sipping on her cafe. But to her brother, she is always out with the girls. Personal complications arise in the story - think Francois Ozon's 8 Femmes on a smaller scale. The gentle snowfall adds that winter wistfulness of the heart. Coeurs is a gently mannered comedy that deserves to be seen to see a master at work.

37 films down - 2 days to go

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

DAY 7 - Top of the World - Dixie Chicks Shut Up and Sing

Have to fly down to see the Dixie Chicks - Shut Up and Sing and the rain is coming down.

9:30 a.m.

Day 7 started the day with a very uplifting documentary by directorial duo Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck of their look at the Dixie Chicks : Natalie Maines, Martie Maguire, Emily Robinson - from back in the day when they were the #1 country act in the USA and were touring Top of the World - then contrasted with their lives and career now since the "incident". The incident of course is the comment made by lead singer Natalie Maines - known for her mouth getting the Dixie Chicks in trouble [ not just for Bush but also their feud with Toby Keith ]- at their London concert at Shepperd's Bush in 2003 just on the crest of the Iraq conflict: "We're embarrassed that the President is from Texas."

The Dixie Chicks toughed out the subsequent fallout. Shut Up and Sing is often very humorous with the especially sassy remarks by Natalie and the Dixie Chicks manager Simon Renshaw - the audience is often laughing at lines that drip with dramatic irony and moments when they were in a running feud with Toby Keith complete with FUTK and FUDC t-shirts [ Natalie jokes the DC refers to Vice-president Dick Cheney ] - at the time how were the Dixie Chicks to know the consequences, including the boycott by country radio and their conservative members of their audience south of the Mason-Dixon line? The documentary goes behind the scenes with very personal looks at the Dixie Chicks' lives, their children, visits to the hospital for ultrasounds, listening in on recording sessions for the new direction on their new album Taking The Long Way. On the morning of the selling of the tickets for their 2005 tour, it is shown their return is not totally triumphant with a steady refusal south of the Mason-Dixon line - but they have found a new audience in Canada. The end of the film shows the girls back at the scene of the crime two years later back in London and still unrepentant. The Dixie Chicks rule! They are my new heroes.

Then the race up to the Varsity in the rain for Guillermo Del Toro's Pan's Labyrnth.

11:45 a.m.

A grim fairy tale come to life, Guillermo del Toro's flight of fancy stands as a gorgeous retelling of an Alice in Wonderland story on its own - but beneath the exterior is an allegory of the 1940's Franco Spain which del Toro tries to subvert and cast it into nothing but a faded memory.

2:30 p.m.

A refusal to accept a life of unhappiness triggers out of marriage relationships and personal collisions in this desperate housewives suburban nightmare of secret lives and frustrations. Directed by Todd Field of In The Bedroom, Little Children moves tediously slow.

5 p.m.

In this spooky Midnight Madness horror portion of the festival, The Abandoned proves the adage there is no place like home.

9 p.m.

Laura Linney ! She was there with Gabriel Byrne ! and she was just in the row over watching the movie with the crowd - Jindabyye, a compelling take on the Raymond Carver short story expanded to a full length movie taking place in the Snowy Mountain district of NSW in Australia.

Gone fishing. The men on a fishing trip find the body of a dead teenage Aboriginal girl. So what do they do? They keep fishing and tie her leg to a log so she does not float away. The fallout, the reaction of the communities to the men's inactions spark the movie. Laura Linney and Gabriel in the third failed marriage together onscreen [ they were together 2 year's ago P.S. at 04 TIFF ] - it's marvellous to see the two together.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Day 6 - /* i never wanted to be away from her */ - Away from Her, Macbeth, Black Sheep, Prague, El Cantante

Day 6

Metric Poster of a Girl and Monster Hospital in the background

9:30 AM

Canada has grown up with Sarah Polley - following her from her days on Road to Avonlea through television productions such as Straight Up, Slings and Arrows, starring in The Sweet Hereafter, Guinevere, flirting with Hollywood in Go! Dawn of the Dead, internationally with My Life Without Me, Beowulf and Grendel, and after directing several shorts, she comes out with her phenomenal directorial debut in Away from Her. Based on an Alice Munro short story, it is the tale of Grant and Fiona, (Gordon Pinsent [ Canada's treasure ], and Julie Christie [o for the days of Far from the Madding Crowd]) who have been married 44 years. The signs of lapsing mental faculties are revealed early on in Fiona as she leaves a frying pan in the fridge. As she is slowly but surely declining, Fiona knows she is in the grip of Alzheimer's disease while he refuses to acknowledge it. Finally after one incident, he is forced to acknowledge the facts and place Fiona in a home - the two have never been apart during their long marriage.

Sarah Polley as writer and director to her credit never becomes overly sentimental yet brings out the love and anguish between Grant and Fiona, and Grant's grief as he sees her slipping away and losing her to the affections of another patient at the home.

Yes, the public viewing audience [ we the ones who do not go to the Roy Thomson Hall $40 ticket black tux and monied galas ] gave Sarah a standing ovation after the movie.

1:30 PM

All the hurlyburly and mayhem, the bloody gunplay, Shakespeare's Macbeth brought to contemporary life by Romper Stomper director Geoffrey Wright in a surprisingly faithful to the text rendition.

4:45 PM

"The tale of New Zealand that had to be told." 40 million sheep in New Zealand, 4 million people. A ten to one ratio. You do the math. A very original story as only New Zealand can do, and helped along by the WETA effects team that brought you Lord of the Rings, very zany and many baaaaaaaaaad jokes.

6:30 PM

"Life is hard but you can't have it all."

Could this be the new Lost in Translation. Directed by Denmark's Ole Christian Madsen who brings back the beautiful Stina Steingarde from Kira's Reason which played at 01 TIFF to Prague to play Maja alongside Mads Mikkelsenm as her husband Christoffer. Prag has both poignancy and bits of absurdity. The city is the crux to discovering more about Christoffer's relationship with his wife Maja dead father and himself. Prag is a commentary on relationships, both personal and culturally. Communication is tantamount, and even the briefest of understood words can bring two people together. Sometime all you have to say is an "I love you".

Stina and Mads along with Ole were there for a brief and humourous question and answer.


9 PM

Yes - we survived the sight of Jennifer Lopez on the red carpet - and the world premiere of El Cantante. Jennifer Lopez in her smashing dress did present a brief speech to the gala crowd citing the movie as coming from the heart and soul of all involved.

TIFF has been a launching pad of sorts for Oscars for Ray, Walk the Line - but El Cantante is going to be a harder sell - what with Marc Anthony as the Salsa superstar Hector Lavoe whose meteoric career was consumed by mass adoration and the pressures which he drowned out in copious hard drug use in the 70s and Jennifer Lopez in a rather one-dimensional loving loyal but living the high life demanding wife - which all coming to a peak in 1985 then all comes crashing down with his contracting HIV and his literal fall from grace and the limelight. But what is left is the glorious music - the soul of salsa and the singer himself El Cantante.

[ 27 movies so far - four more days to go ] and we have to be up in four hours for Day 7 :

Dixie Chicks - Shut Up and Sing [ Dixie Chicks ! ]
Pan's Labrynth [ Guillermo del Toro ]
Little Children [ Kate Winslet ]
The Abandoned [ chiller ]
Jindabyne [ Aussie Aussie Aussie ! ]

Day 5 - Little did he know - /* Life is a delicate negotiation */ - Love and Other Disasters - Stranger Than Fiction, Fay Grimm, The Dog Problem,

to the sounds of Substitute by The Who

Short and sweet for now

Love and Other Disasters
9:15 a.m.

A sexy and smart with Brittany Murphy as English Vogue assistant. Think last year's clever and funny Imagine Me and You and this year's The Devil Wears Prada. A genuine crowd pleaser

Stranger Than Fiction
12:30 p.m.

Little did one know that Stranger Than Fiction would luck into a winner with Will Ferrell, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson and, of course, Maggie Gyllenhaal in this existential comedy. Will Ferrell is Harold Crick, an IRS auditor locked into his mundane life with his methodical ways and measured timed down to the exact instant - except for one Wednesday he would be rattled from his routine. Little did he know one day he would hear the narrator's voiceover his life telling him his impending demise was at hand. Dustin Hoffman back in one of his quirkier roles continuing on from the fabulous I Heart Huckabees seen back at 04 TIFF. Continuing on in a practice started in 05 TIFF in Winter Passing , Will Ferrell plays his comedic role an understatedly restrained way. Maggie Gyllenhaal is Ana Pascal - the baker who he has to audit and eventually falls for. He brings her flours. Maggie who is drop dead charming was a former law student who used to bake the best cookies and other desserts for her study partners so they would feel good - but eventually she would up with 27 study partners and a D average. So to make the world a better place she turned to baking. She is rebellious and drop dead charming. Harold Crick falls for her - bringing her flours. The overriding arc of Stranger Than Fiction is determining why Harold Crick is hearing the voice and he turns to Dr. Jules Hilbert [Dustin Hoffman], a literary theorist at the university to help him figure out if he is in a tragedy or a comedy. Emma Thompson is the crime author who is facing a huge case of writer's block who turns out to be the voice and whatever she writes on her typewriter becomes the reality in Harold Crick's life and eventually Harold knows he has to die.

3:30 p.m.
Sharkwater is a compassionate plea to save the sharks being hunted to extinction by man. Sharkwater is a clear labour of live by Toronto's own shark fanatic Rob Stewart who tries to debunk the myth of sharks as one-tracked vicious man-killers. In the movie's stunning opening shot he is hugging a shark in his arms. The underwater shots are gorgeous and are an impetus to pushing the story of how Stewart became fascinated by sharks and involved with Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and its Greenpeace style boat tactics in saving sharks as they are being poached everywhere by the millions for their fins and "medicinal" values for the Orient shark mafia. Stewart is more concerned about saving sharks than saving his leg at one point in time.

Fay Grim
6:30 p.m.

Parker Posey is the indie queen and a TIFF without her is like no TIFF at all. Last seen we saw her was at the premiere of Personal Velocity at the 2002 film festival at the Uptown. Looking glam and gorgeous along with fellow stars Kyra Sedgwick and Fairuza Balk and director Rebecca Miller.

Eight years after 1997's Henry Fool later, director Hal Hartley and stars Parker Posey Jeff Goldblum, Saffron Burrows and the rest of the cast return to the next chapter in the story in the life of Henry Fool. Hartley and all the main cast showed up for Q&A. The zaniest spythriller - watch Henry Fool again and head into Fay Grim, Henry's wife. Dutch framing and imposed letter blocks add to the espionage style zaniness of Fay Grimm's plot and complications arising from the discovery of what the contents are of Henry Fool's journals. Just you wait for part 3!

The Dog Problem
8:30 p.m.

The surprising and charming The Dog Problem is Scott Caan's second directorial. Life is a delicate negotiation. This is so good. Giovanni Ribisi plays an indebted and loveable Solo loser on the downside after the "success" of his first novel. At his last session his psychiatrist [Don Cheadle] suggests he perhaps get a pet. The scoundrel and arch confident confidante Scott Caan is Solo's best friend Casper and his opposite. Casper abandons Solo for a beautiful girl as they go to the mall to pick up a dog from Pet Mart and obviously Solo falls for a little mutt who proves to be too untrainable and yappy for him. Casper takes Solo and dog over to his friend [ Mena Suvari ] who wants to buy the dog. Solo refuses the many offers for him, even though the sale would solve his money woes compounded by the loanshark who is after Solo who also takes a shine to the dog. At the dog park, Solo meets up with a young lady whose own dog takes a bite of Solo's dog, and he has to beg her for the money to put up with the vet bill. The lady turns out to be a stripper [with a heart of gold] and they begin to fall for each other - but the loanshark gets in the way. Then the dog escapes.

Scott Caan, Giovani Ribisi and Mena Suvari were all watching in the audience watching this first ever screening which turns out to be a clever smart funny ribald heartwarmer and showcase for Los Angeles. It's an incredible journey.

And so ends this day and night at Ryerson.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

DAY 4 - Actions have consequences - Death of a President and Babel highly realistic looks at events in the world

DAY 4 – the watchwords: actions have consequences – Babel, Death of a President, The Last Kiss

A Good Year

9:30 AM

A few vintages ago in a land far away known as France.

Does the day start any better than the new Ridley Scott comedy with Russell Crowe as a top of the line capital trader? “Good morning labrats”, and Albert Finney as his uncle living the good life on an estate in the vineyards of Provence. The very blonde Abbie Cornish, Albert Finney's unknown American daughter? Clue in Matchstick Men. It’s a good day for A Good Year, a good film.

11:30 AM
VISA Elgin

Babel is like the great white elephant of this year's festival, impossible to ignore and luring everyone to it after its splash debut at Cannes. Babel is the worthy successor by Alejandro González Iñárritu to 21 Grams. Babel rings more of a plea for compassion everywhere, act local think global, a seeking for communication between cultures everywhere. The world is a fractured place, but compassion and healing can take place at the smallest levels to overcome prejudice and misunderstanding. Babel is emotionally wrought, displayed through four seemingly diverse storylines with deeply personal performances from the stellar world cast from Brad Pitt to Cate Blanchett to Gael Garcia Bernal, and the other side of the planet, from locals in the Moroccan desert to the bustle of Tokyo - trying to break down communication barriers at all levels - how one mistimed gunshot gets blown up to a terrorist incident - to a teenage girl who is deaf falling out with her father. And watch out there's another Fanning sister - Ellie Fanning, Dakota's sister.

Paris Je T‘aime
3 PM

Bonjour tristesse. A compendium of films by 21 directors of renown, not just French, but including Alexander Payne [who was at the screening], in a series of vignettes set in the neighbourhoods around Paris – the city of love. Directors matched with top notch actors, some of the most notable being Natalie Portman in Tom Tykwer’s piece that is clearly evocative of Lola Rennt, Maggie Gylenhaal in a piece by Oliver Assayas, Elijah Wood in a sin city style vampire piece by Vittorio Natali. However, the most delight came from the Gena Rowlands written piece that paired her again with Ben Gazzara and a little cameo by Gerard Depardieu.

The spirit of Paris Je T’Aime is summed up in the American speaking mailperson in bad French while narrating her time in Paris she says at the end of her tale: “I was feeling both happy and sad, and in that moment I fell in love with Paris.”

The Last Kiss

6 PM

The Last Kiss is a worthy successor to Garden State for Zach Braff having an about to turn 30 personal crisis –he has achieved his goals, a successful job as an architect, scoring with a perfect beautiful girlfriend, “she is a god” Jacinda Barrett who has become pregnant by him, an achievement celebrated by her parents: the aces in the hole Tom Wilkinson and Blythe Danner as Barrett’s parents who are undergoing through their own crisis His relationship with Barrett is held as the highest ideal as the relationships of the friends around Braff and Barrett are falling apart. But Braff is paranoid, he feels his life is over, he has the perfect girlfriend with no imminent plans for marriage [at his insistence, the job, he is about to become a father, she is hinting at getting a house of their own, his life has no surprises left. Then at a friend’s wedding along comes the young brunette in the guise of Rachel Bilson – the O.C. girl Summer – She is scrumptious and hot as she has her eye on him. They get along easily, they talk [but being the guy he is does not tell her the girlfriend he has is pregnant], she gives him a small kiss. She tells him “she could be his last chance for happiness.” Once again, Braff's actions have consequences.

The Last Kiss is clearly NOT a sequel to Garden State but the characters are back in fine form.

Death of a President

8:30 pm
Paramount 4

“Chicago hates Bush! Chicago hates Bush!”
At the world premiere at Paramount 4 – 100 people were turned away at the rush line. The idea behind Death of a President is the use of a real president provides the impetus and “verisimilitude” to this documentary of the assassination of George Walker Bush in the near future on October 19, 2007 is a platform to comment and condemn Bush Patriot Act policies since 9/11, including the use monitoring and racial profiling in the “rush to judgement.” The film uses the documentary style of insiders giving their viewpoint in one on one camera sessions while the events of the day are depicted. Protesters are out in full force as the President lands in Chicago to deliver a speech at the Chicago Economic Club. The film provides an utterly realistic look at the events of the day. The protesters have become more dangerous and headstrong and the security around the President is clearly slipping. After the assassination, suspects by the hundreds are rounded up. But the focus lands on one individual who is actually innocent. However, since the assassin fit the profile of being Islamic, therefore he became the lead and only suspect despite the contrary evidence that has been provided by the son of the real culprit.

Once again, the final question is "Why did you use the gun? Do you not know that actions have consequences?'

The dramatic question and answer with the director afterwards had a very decided angry tones to it at times when someone asked the director: “Why did you use Syria?” In one incident, security people with their infrared goggles landed upon an individual who was recording just the Q&A.

Day 4 - it's a good year of 06 TIFF so far

Sunday Sept 10, 2006
today's forecast : 18 C - it's a cool one in Toronto - and just about the first sign of jacket weather tonight.

We're on 4 hours sleep and a glass of milk now. This is not going to be an easy day travelwise - hopping all over the place with theatres.

So far no disasters in the movies [ the projectors have run - Penelope Cruz looks wonderful as always ] and the people in the line-ups have been 90 % friendly - a few people trying to edge in but the staff have cut them off.

It's off to A Good Year - and we may just have to cut out of there at a good point early in. Babel is the great big white elephant on the schedule today.

Really looking forward to: Paris Je T'aime !

Last Kiss looks like vintage Zach Braff, and D.O.A.P. is what it is.

We're out the door now - hopefully the TTC is running.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

DAY 3 of 10 - A perfect day 06 TIFF - ""The jungle is not erotical. It is obscene. It is base and vile." - Werner Herzog, Rescue Dawn


It was just one of those perfect days at 06 TIFF

9:30 A.M. !

An Almodovar ghost story – dirty secrets should be handled on the inside. Penelope Cruz is amply present and her mind is on the fly as she has to cope with the tragedies that have fallen on her that she has to deal with. Of course it’s a comedy underscored with darkness and warmth.

12:30 P.M.

With no internet buzz and you were there just because you wanted to be there to see Penelope. A true English charmer and comedy with a great score that had the crowd laughing along for the ride with Christina Ricci as the unfortunate Penelope who is born with a curse and her despairing parents played to the hilt by Catherine O’Hara and Richard Grant – who go through the list of English blueboods they want to marry Penelope to break the curse and all the suitors who throw themselves out the window at the first sight of her – and a comedy with a personal message at that. You can almost think Pride and Prejudice. The design sets from New Zealand were truly fantastical. The experience was so reminiscent of times experienced at the gala for A Good Woman – standing ovation for our Toronto born director – Christina Ricci shines and can express more with her eyes than any mortal. Candy, 2:37 and Penelope are becoming my *three* favourite movies of 06 TIFF. And believe it or not for a Saturday gala repeat showing the actors showed up for the Q&A ! The crowd fell in love with Christina Ricci and the fellow castmates. Motivation for Christina Ricci between her before and after takes her back to her sad days when all she could see of herself was an overweight 15 year old girl.

3 P.M.
VISA Elgin

Tarsem Singh first came to light for many for the REM Losing My Religion video. His keen sense of the visual brings this sumptuous fest of story and colour shot in 30 countries around the world. Storytelling brought to life a story within a story – with a message at the end dedicated to the great storytellers of the early 1900s – the silent movie makers and their fabulous comedies and stunts. The little girl steals the show.

6:00 P.M.
Paramount 4

My first encounter with a Belgian film at TIFF. Cages pronounced the French way as in Cages aux Folles. Once upon a time there was Eve and Dan. Cages is intensely intimate and physical you are drawn into their relationship. She is a young ambulance medic who suffers an accident after her ambulance collides with another vehicle with a shard of glass tearing through her throat. She survives, but she is imprisoned in a body that can barely speak. Her speech impairment is proven not to be physical, but a psychological block. Her handsome husband who runs the pub endeavours to help her bring her speech back but the results are frustrating to her and him. Six months pass and she can barely speak more than a few words at a time. She has become a shell of her former self, images from the accident still haunt her. He declares that he needs time off to rethink their relationship. Unless she can say something, he will leave her. She tries, She catches her husband with the young woman who supplies the alcohol for their pub This new woman has become Dan’s lover giving him what Eve cannot. Just as she is imprisoned by her speech block, she literally imprisons Dan, applying camphor to him then tying him to the bed. Somehow in this way she is trying to demonstrate she still loves him and does not want him to go. Oliver Masse-Depasse, the director in his first feature film shows in Cages how a relationship between a man and a woman develops, flourishes and comes to an end.

9:00 p.m.

I like the jungle against my better judgement.

With the world premiere of Rescue Dawn, Werner Herzog is back at TIFF and so is Christian Bale. Werner Herzog, Christian Bale, Jeremy Davies [ back too from Dogville ] were there in person for the intro and the after Q&A. Steve Zahn also a critical part of the movie was in L.A. shooting but he is remembered from the TIFF classic Joyride.

“It was Klaus Kinski who said the jungle is erotical. I say the jungle is obscene, it is base and vile,” said Herzog. The jungle is a major player to this Vietnam war tale originally started as a Herzog documentary, Little Dieter Needs to Fly – the next step Rescue Dawn shows Christian Bale as Dieter Dengler and his harrowing experience in 1965, the early days of the secret war in Vietnam after he is shot down and captured on his maiden flight. His hope, eternal optimism, always positive spurs his fellow campmates through the unbelievable ordeal in the prison camp. Jeremy Davies's character has already been in the camp for more than two years and keeps waiting for his release. All the inmates tell and the jungle after the escape.

Rescue Dawn was an intensely physical challenge that Christian Bale embraced – slogging through the jungle with a machete was like walking through syrup – he endured the leeches and the snakes and having to eat live maggots “wasn’t that bad”.

He went on: "Wermer wrestles movies to the ground. He is enjoying the pain of mavie the
movie, [just like[ pulling that boat through the jungle" in Fitzcaraldo.

Dieter Dengler was a great friend of Werner Herzog who wishes Dengler could have been their that day of the premiere, but he passed away five years ago. However, his widow and son were there.

The audience gave a well deserved standing ovation for Werner Herzog and all.

Today at 9:30 a.m. A Good Year with Ridley Scott [hopefully we wake up], BABEL at 11:30 [Cate Blanchett], Paris Je T'Aime at 3 pm, The Last Kiss at 6 p.m. and capping it all off at 8:30 p.m. with D.O.A.P.

Oh joy. One week to go.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Day 2 - Friday Sept 09 - Are you going to be OK ?

The operative word of the day was “Are you going to be OK?”

The highlight of the 06 Festival here was the Day 2 slate of Australian films: Cate Shortland’s The Silence, Murali Thalluri’s 2:37, and Neil Armfield’s Candy. For starters it was off to an eery Paramount at 9 in the morning. Stripped of its evening neon lights glowing and the big blasting music, the Paramount is like a hungry cage ready waiting for the filmgoers. The vendor stands remain shut except for the evergrowing coffee queue.

9:15 A.M.

Getting up an ungodly hour to see a movie at another ungodly hour is not the best ticket to see Takashi Miike’s new Big Bang Love, Juvenile A. Diehard fans of the director of past works such as Ichi the Killer or Audition amongst his 70 or so films were there though for his latest. Presented as a North American premiere, it is a series of experimental theatrical vignettes is started with the question: What kind of man do you want to be? The movie traces two murderers who enter the prison on the same day. Is it a coincidence?

Shots of rockets in flight, and triple rainbows underline the big question: In death does life go on?

12:15 pm

Director Kim Ki-duk is a master of vision and riveting stories. Two years ago 04 TIFF presented his sublime Spring Summer Fall Winter ... and Spring.

In Time, his latest movie, the sexual reclivist statuary of Architecture Park by the water is a stylish backdrop for this tale of two lovers in Korea. Vanity, thy name is woman. Yet the woman - the key character in Time - is not unattractive and not past her prime - her boyfriend of two years is in love with her - but in the coffeeshop she cannot help but notice his look askance at a younger girl which sets off an embarrassing tirade from her that is out of control. That night he is too tired to make love to her but she encourages him to think of the young girl as she continues. It is in the fluid nature of time that one grows older and it is in this woman's nature the pangs of jealousy are set in stone. To revitalize her life she undertakes the drastic step of plastic surgery to change her face over the objections of the surgeon who becomes a key player in Time. She vanishes from sight and her boyfriend's search and melancholy for her has film noir overtones. She reappears again six months later with her altered face in the coffeeshop taking a job as a waitress. He still visits the place and as this changed woman she begins to flirt with him, not revealing her "true" self. But he still cannot forget the past and old photographs of her previous self and her boyfriend at the park sitting in the Hands by the water still sit in picture frames. Paradoxically once again she is feeling jealousy for what was. The revelation at the ending has time coming full circle and a sadness sets in.

2:30 pm

The key question of 2:37 is "Are you going to be ok?"

This enthusiastically standing ovation received movie at 06 TIFF [ and at Cannes ] is a remarkable first time effort by a 19 year old director Murali K. Thalluri - himself just fresh out of high school - looking back at a close departed friend who inspired this movie. At 2:37 a suicide occurs at the Adelaide high school. Who it is is not revealed - but in a combination of the events starting from the beginning of the day along with the close personal documentary style with individual students talking to the fateful moment. There are the cliques, the popular girls, the jock, the stoner, the picked upon outsider. This is not the Breakfast Club. Their stories intermesh and interweave as the camera follows their lives from their points of view. There is no clock towards the final minutes but it is quite the jolt when it becomes clear who the movie is about and the ominous beats of the music spell the last moments.

No one less than Gus Van Sant was thanked in the credits while there may be comparisons but obvious differences to Elephant, Van Sant did encourage and praise 2:37.

Thalluri was very frank with the audience revealing his life of pain living with kidney problems, getting beaten up and losing eyesight in one eye during a fight and his own suicide attempt, then receiving the tape of his friend who committed suicide. 2:37 is dedicated to this friend. Writing the movie was therapy, with the script rewritten dozens of times as the students picked for the movie workshopped it and put in their own contributions and they were embraced by Thalluri.

2:37 is an extremely important film that one audience members said should be seen by all teachers and students in an effort to understand and diffuse the hell that is high school. This is one movie that is going to stay with us for a long long time as one of the best movies of 06 TIFF.

8:30 pm
Varsity 8

Candy is the movie we were looking most forward to - especially after reading the inteview with Abbie Cornish in Black and White magazine. Have we mentioned already that we managed to ask Abbie Cornish for her autograph at the 04 TIFF after her awe-inspring performance with Sam Worthington [ at 06 TIFF here in Macbeth ] in the brilliant Cate Shortland movie Somersault?

The presence of Heath Ledger added even more excitement to the anticipation of seeing this North American premiere as he introduced the North American premiere of Candy to the audience.

Candy is a movie fuelled by deep love and lots and lots of drugs. And sparked by the firecracker performance of Abbie Cornish whose performance can go from 0 to 60 zoom!

Once upon a time there was Candy and Dan, and Dan was a criminal.

Already a hardened junkie, as Dan and his friend are injecting as Candy looks on, she asks why she can’t do this. Their friend tells her to keep it simple, just inhale it – but she defies them both and says she’ll do it in the bath. “That’s a new one.” She immediately overdoses in the tub – and Dan frantically tries to revive her. “That was wicked – let do it again!” she immediately says upon being resuscitated. And thus begins her new way of life – “new to the wild of abandon”.

They score everywhere - even in the carwash. You can literally see and feel the drugs scouring through their body.
Their relationship goes from Heaven to Earth to Hell.

When you’re a junkie, 7 of the first 10 years are spent waiting. You spend a lot of that time thinking.

Hope against hope, you are almost praying for the happy ending Candy is proving to be my favourite movie of 06 Toronto International Film Festival along with 2:37 [ review to come ] . off to Volver at 9:30 with Penelope Cruz! Then Penelope with Christina Ricci and Reese Withspoon! Then Tarsem's The Fall, Cages and Werner Herzog's Rescue Dawn [ all subject to change].

DAY ONE - TEN CANOES - 9:15 PM - VARSITY 2 - "Goose egg hunting is Undramatic"

A long time ago in a land far far away

This is my story.

A fascinating tale of the Aboriginal culture in the town of Ramingining Anhem telling a story within a story about the time of the ancestors. A story with great warmth, humour and patience - and without subtitles !

It is a testament to the storytelling and the wonder of the personalities and the landscape cinematography shot in rich black and white tones depicting the present to the vista of the colourful past. It is also a testament to the audience's patience that the entire movie was devoid of the subtitles underlying while the aborignal language was spoken. The audience had been forewarned by the director Rolf de Heer that "If you get one-tenth out of this movie that I got out of shooting this movie you're going to be okay."

But even de Heer was shocked when he heard the movie was presented without subtitles. "There are subtitles! "

The people of the village were used as the characters for the movies - and indeed the people used in the recreation of the famous 10 canoes picture were descendents from that original shot taken back in the 1920s!

Day 2 - today is Australia Day

DAY ONE at last ! - HANA - 6 pm - Varsity 8

6 pm
Varsity 8

A lovely way to start our 06 TIFF with Koreida Hirokazu's HANA - His films are not to be missed at any opportunity. HANA takes quite a a turn for him with this end of the 17th century samurai revenge tale with a at times comedic twist.

Amidst the abject poverty and the downfall of the samurai Hirokazu finds transcendent beauty and the samurai adherence to truth and honour. Yet this is not your Kurosawa samurai. This young samurai Sozaemon is bent on a quest for vengeance for the death of his father has weaknesses and flaws. But the quest begins to falter. Our hero is taken to task for delaying his revenge by the people who are paying his way. Instead of wielding a sword, he has turned to wielding the pen, and teaching this village of Edo [ which is to become Tokyo ] how to write. He has little pocket change but amidst the village he is comparably wealthy and able to pay his rent to the corrupt landlord. The samurai discovers that his mother has kept a great deal of the money supposed to come his way - doling only a very meagre amount for subsistence. But the money is a minor problem for his eye has caught the local beauty Osae - a widow with a son. He prays with her and takes long walks with her and her son. He is very philosophical and gentle in his ways. Set in the background of Hana is the story of the 47 ronin without a leader, who are hiding out in a hut, and are seeking their own vengeance - the way of the samurai has come to an end in industrial Japan. Through the co-operation and humour of the villagers including the local idiot, Sozaemon is able to stage a revenge play and fulfill his task in this manner. Hana is very untraditional too - with English madrigal music more appropriate to Shakespeare in Love colouring the background - a nod to the European influence in this time in Japan.

In the end, the lesson is the cherry blossoms fade every fall only to come back in spring - with greater beauty. Hana is a wondrous movie with a smile and a wonderful way to start 06 TIFF.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

No worries

September 01
TIFF Down Under

Our final Australian and New Zealand selections are finally on our schedule. The final trade before the day the public descends upon the festival to buy tickets was probably excruciating: turned in Infamous and finally got a ticket for Suburban Mayhem with our fave Emily Barclay. And we have a ticket for Out of the Blue. If anyone out there wants to trade PENELOPE at 7:15 pm for my daytime PENELOPE leave a comment here.

Back at 04 TIFF, we had the most delightful chance to talk with the young Emily Barclay after the premiere of In My Father's Den. She really seemed to like Toronto and the plaudits she was receiving for her stunning performance in this Brad McGann work. She asked me what I was seeing next at the festival and I replied Somersault. Her response was surprising to the point she said she wanted to see that film which at that time was about to open in Australia. Emily Barclay returns to 06 Toronto International Film Festival in Suburban Mayhem and the Cate Shortland tv piece The Silence. We have a thing for movies called The Silence - especially if you are a fan of the Ingmar Bergman trilogy.

Seeing Abbie Cornish after her poignant performance in Somersault at Isabel Bader Theatre at night was a tongue-tying experience. We managed to ask for an autograph to which she did and after we said thank you she gave me the "no worries". In fact we lined up once again in the rush line [ another one of those TIFF experiences that becomes mandatory for any TIFF attendee ] to see Somerault again at Cumberland Terrace. Abbie Cornish is back in two films - the one we are dying to see Candy [with someone named Heath Ledger] and Sir Ridley Scott's A Good Year.

We have had the best times watching movies from Australia and New Zealand - especially back in 2001 for Rain at the badly missed Uptown 1.

[Uptown 2 and 3 are missable except for the good times had there - Try 17with Elijah Wood and Mandy Moore in 2002- just after the release of the first Lord of the Rings episode on DVD - the fans descending upon him for autographs as soon as the Q&A finished and the look of terror on his face. So security had to clear the room - and Blue Car which was introduced with Agnes Bruckner in a little black dress; David Strathairn is a treat in this movie - and a standing ovation for the cast of The Station Agent - Patricia Clarkson, Peter Dinklage, Bobby Cannavale].

And of course there was Whale Rider.

And Black Sheep?

She's Lost Control

What means to you, what means to me, and we will meet again
I'm watching you, I'm watching her, I'll take no pity from you friends
Who is right, who can tell, and who gives a damn right now
Until the spirit new sensation takes hold, then you know
Until the spirit new sensation takes hold, then you know
Until the spirit new sensation takes hold, then you know
I've got the spirit, but lose the feeling,
I've got the spirit, but lose the feeling,
Feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling.

Disorder - Joy Division, Unknown Pleasures

So here we are and here's our schedule brimming with the promise of TIFF magic in the dark and shadows. Will there be another Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amelie, a groundbreaking Lola Rennt, a sublime Dekalog, an artistic achievement along the lines of The Cremaster Cycle or Beowulf and Grendel? Will some film match personal favourites Somersault or In My Father's Den or Mysterious Skin? Or will you be crushed by Orlando Bloom fans at the red carpet for Elizabethtown? What will be this year's Brown Bunny? Is there a Cache or L'Enfant or Summer of Love or Spun? [Mickey Rourke, you da man!] Have you had enough of sex at TIFF? 29 palmes, Where The Truth Lies, Lie With Me, 9 Songs? Can you ever have enough of TIFF? We'll find out in the next 10 days starting with these almost 50 selections anguished and debated over and chosen and culled with curses thrown at the TIFF programmers? There will be lineups, oh there will be lineups. Lineups and waiting is the motif du jour. It will be too hot during the day, it will be cold at night. There will be hunger, there will be dashes to Tim Hortons for black goodness. Then the golden hour comes, the stars arrive, the red carpet is walked, the camera flashes blind. There will be the scramble for seats. There will be more waiting. Then the lights go out - and the magic begins.

2006 HANA THU 09/07/2006 06:00pm
FESTIV (1) Varsity 8
2006 Ten Canoes THU 09/07/2006 09:15pm
FESTIV (1) Varsity 2
2006 Big Bang Love, Juvenile A FRI 09/08/2006 09:15am
FESTIV (1) Paramount 1
2006 Lights in the Dusk FRI 09/08/2006 12:30pm
FESTIV (1) Ryerson
2006 2:37 FRI 09/08/2006 02:30pm
FESTIV (1) Paramount 1
2006 The Silence FRI 09/08/2006 05:45pm
FESTIV (1) Varsity 8
2006 CANDY FRI 09/08/2006 08:30pm
FESTIV (1) Varsity 8

2006 Volver SAT 09/09/2006 09:30am
2006 The Wind that Shakes the Barley SAT 09/09/2006 12:00pm
2006 Penelope SAT 09/09/2006 12:45pm
2006 The Fall SAT 09/09/2006 03:00pm
2006 Cages SAT 09/09/2006 06:00pm
FESTIV (1) Paramount 4
2006 Rescue Dawn SAT 09/09/2006 09:00pm
FESTIV (1) Ryerson

2006 A Good Year SUN 09/10/2006 09:30am
FESTIV (1) Ryerson
2006 Babel SUN 09/10/2006 11:30am
2006 Paris, Je T'aime SUN 09/10/2006 03:00pm
FESTIV (1) Ryerson
2006 The Last Kiss SUN 09/10/2006 06:00pm
FESTIV (1) Ryerson
2006 D.O.A.P. SUN 09/10/2006 08:30pm
FESTIV (1) Paramount 3

2006 Love and Other Disasters MON 09/11/2006 09:45am
FESTIV (1) Paramount 1
2006 Stranger Than Fiction MON 09/11/2006 12:30 PM
FESTIV (1) Ryerson
2006 The Last Kiss MON 09/11/2006 01:15pm
FESTIV (1) Paramount 2
2006 All the Boys Love Mandy Lane MON 09/11/2006 02:45pm
FESTIV (1) Royal Ontario Museum
2006 Fay Grim MON 09/11/2006 06:00pm
FESTIV (1) Ryerson
2006 Out Of The Blue MON 09/11/2006 8:30 PM PARAMOUNT 4

2006 Away From Her TUE 09/12/2006 09:30am
FESTIV (1) Ryerson
2006 Macbeth TUE 09/12/2006 01:30pm
FESTIV (1) Paramount 2
2006 Black Sheep TUE 09/12/2006 04:45pm
FESTIV (1) Paramount 1
2006 Prague TUE 09/12/2006 06:45pm
FESTIV (1) Paramount 3
2006 El Cantante TUE 09/12/2006 09:00pm
FESTIV (1) General Admission

2006 Dixie Chicks - Shut Up and Sing WED 09/13/2006 09:30am
FESTIV (1) Ryerson
2006 Pan's Labyrnth WED 09/13/2006 11:45am
FESTIV (1) Varsity 8
2006 Little Children WED 09/13/2006 02:30pm
FESTIV (1) Varsity 8
2006 The Abandoned WED 09/13/2006 05:00pm
FESTIV (1) Paramount 3
2006 Jindabyne WED 09/13/2006 09:00pm
FESTIV (1) General Admission

2006 This is England THU 09/14/2006 09:30am
FESTIV (1) Ryerson
2006 Renaissance THU 09/14/2006 12:45pm
FESTIV (1) Paramount 2
2006 The Fountain THU 09/14/2006 03:00pm
FESTIV (1) Ryerson
2006 Kurt Cobain About A Son THU 09/14/2006 06:00pm
FESTIV (1) Varsity 7
2006 Coeurs THU 09/14/2006 08:45pm
FESTIV (1) Varsity 1

2006 Bobby FRI 09/15/2006 09:30am
FESTIV (1) Ryerson
2006 Suburban Mayhem FRI 09/15/2006 12:15pm
FESTIV (1) Ryerson
2006 The Hottest State FRI 09/15/2006 03:00pm
FESTIV (1) Paramount 3
2006 The Silence FRI 09/15/2006 06:00pm
FESTIV (1) Royal Ontario Museum
2006 The Magic Flute FRI 09/15/2006 08:30pm
FESTIV (1) Varsity 8

2006 Red Road SAT 09/16/2006 09:00 am
FESTIV (1) Varsity 8
2006 The Banquet SAT 09/16/2006 12:00pm
2006 Candy SAT 09/16/2006 1:15 pm
FESTIV (1) Varsity 2
2006 After the Wedding SAT 09/16/2006 03:00pm
2006 Election / Election 2 SAT 09/16/2006 3:45pm
FESTIV (1) Varsity 2
2006 London to Brighton SAT 09/16/2006 08:00pm
FESTIV (1) Varsity 6

That's it!

September 1, 2006

It's the final countdown
12:58 pm
the mayhem at College Park is on ... the mad scramble
to the sounds of The Who Can't Explain [ how appropo ] over my iRiver headphones it's TWO MINUTES to the 1 pm !!!! advance drop off deadline and we can't find our *********** Drop Off coupon !
30 seconds !
Drop off coupon located - try to put in glass window of big white envelope - and voila !
We are in box 40 !
The staff are in a cheery mood as they count down the
15 seconds !
The advance drop off is over !
Final number of boxes : 41
Now onto the lottery - have to wait for that magic number
we are so dead
[ cue Garden State soundtrack : Coldplay - Don't Panic - how perfect ]
Choices ?
Can we remember the last hour ? the blind panic ? TIFF gives away a handy dandy two ended magic marker : Yellow highliter for first choice ; Green highliter for second choice.
Trick remembered from last year : make everything first choice - it's safer to get too many first choices than not to get it at all and hope for second choices - of course the conflicts make for some interesting running around to come.
Congrats ! The first hurdle is over.
What did we choose ? Next time [ we are still trying to remember what madness and x's and o's we played with the schedule as we tried to fill out the book with our final choices ] [ silly conflicts left right and centre ] [ The Last Kiss ends at 7:59 pm - Transylvania begins at 8 - that's so not going to work ]
Next important date: Sept 4 for the pick-up.
The Quiet opens in T.O. today at Canada Square - a very dark sexual entry at last year's 05 Toronto International Film Festival featuring our very own very hot Elisha Cuthbert [ of course Kim Bauer on 24 ] and a very disturbing Camilla Belle as Dot along with Shawn Ashmore - the dark side of life as a high school teenager - and Martin Donovan and Edie Falco as some very odd parents and some nudity you should never have to see ...