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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

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