stuff, written by me

Tag Archives: Adam Wingard

Saturday September 13, 2014

This is the end, my friends.

By Saturday, I’d already mentally checked out of festival mode, but I knew the evening would bring one last avalanche of mega-socializing.

Friday was an unintentionally late night, so on Saturday I had no particular desire to race around trying to see movies – besides, I’d be seeing The Guest at midnight and frankly, by this stage of the game, one film is enough. I spent the day mostly doing nothing and getting ready for the evening, which involved a pre-midnight dinner and party with Team Guest.

At dinner, Colin and I squirrelled ourselves away at a side table with Simon Barrett and just caught up for an hour, which after days of big events and large groups was just what the doctor ordered. Post-dinner, a party for the film, at which bar staff were dressed like hunky soldiers (way to theme it up!) and I spent a good chunk of time catching up with friends from Baltimore who I don’t see often enough but love (unrelated fact: one of them made a movie called Small Pond, which I really liked).

The Guest, which I watched in the European Film Market in Berlin (twice, because I liked it so much that I really wanted to see it with Colin, who wasn’t free for the first screening) was a treat to see again with a public audience. Besides, being there for the public screening meant seeing Matt Brown in the Symbol pyjamas Colin recently gave him. Which was worth the price of admission, and then some.

Matt Brown: world's most huggable

Matt Brown: world’s most huggable

After the film, we went back to our apartment with a few dozen of our closest friends and whatever filmmakers were still in town. This is something Colin and I do every year after the final Midnight Madness screening, but this TIFF we took it up a notch by getting some amazing friends to cater the party with booze and delicious made-on-the-spot tacos. They took it up several notches, to be honest.

Seriously though, Symbol might be one of the best and weirdest movies of all time.

The after party was more of a chance for me to catch up with Toronto friends than visiting filmmakers, though I did my fair share of both. This year, for the first time in the afterparty’s illustrious seven year history, someone passed the usually fairly private invitation around to some random festival guests, and we ended up playing babysitter to a pair of very drunk short filmmakers who spent at least 20 minutes having a relationship argument (in German) in our kitchen. And an extravagantly drunk Dutch dude who was really hard to get rid of. But hey, 98% of the party was great. Besides, now I can say that handsome Dan “Downton Abbey” Stevens has been in my living room! He was actually quite nice and very sweet to fans and he’s brilliant in The Guest. I definitely recommend that you all see it when it opens in Toronto in a week or so. Or y’know, today, in select cities in the US.

I haven’t seen Downton Abbey but I guess now I have to, since I was told by a hundred people during TIFF that it “really is very good”.

It took me a week to get around to writing this final diary entry, and that’s because post-TIFF, all I wanted to do was curl up into a ball and not think about TIFF. I mean, it’s not like some traumatic experience. I’m not trying to paint a fun week of movies and parties as an ordeal, by any means, but I definitely do feel a bit over-saturated with TIFF-related matters, and with film festival life in general.

path to our backyard after party, or path to our backyard blood sacrifice?

path to our backyard after party, or path to our backyard blood sacrifice?

I’m thrilled to be back at my apartment, back at my (really wonderful) new office, back to the gym, to grocery shopping, to playing board games with friends, to watching old movies with Colin (this weekend, we watched a double bill of Working Girl (an all time fave of mine which I’ve probably watched 100 times since the age of 12 or so) and Mean Streets (which I had never seen before!) and it was basically the best night ever).

best makeover in movie history?

best makeover in movie history

Lots of our film friends are currently having the times of their lives at Fantastic Fest. But fun as every tweet and Facebook update from Austin sounds, I must say, I’m not jealous. I couldn’t be happier to be staying home for the foreseeable future. I am so in love with my regular Toronto life.

Everything listed below either played in the official Berlinale selection, or is a Sundance title that was playing in the market, but has had its public debut already. I’m not doing real reviews here, just brief impressions of the small handful of films I actually managed to squeeze into my schedule. Surprisingly or not, everything I saw was pretty good, even the one that is “not for me”.

FrankFrank (dir. Lenny Abrahamson) – this film is, I guess, loosely based on a real person, Frank Sidebottom, a dude who actually played in a band with a giant papier-mâché head on top of his real human head. The film was written by a guy who played with him, so it’s based on “something”, but I’m not sure to what extent any of the actual plot points have anything to do with the real story. Probably nothing? I don’t think the actual Frank was mentally ill, but I could be wrong and the internet has been strangely unhelpful in this regard. Either way, I was charmed by this one and hey, it’s always nice to see Scoot McNairy in a fun role. I’ve really been a fan since Monsters.

GaloreGalore (dir. Rhys Graham) – this Australian coming-of-age-ish drama about three teens caught in an emotional triangle in a dead-end town is super heavy, and also really great. Two girls (Billie and Laura) are best friends in the insane and super intense way that only teenage girls ever can be. Laura has a boyfriend, but Billie is secretly sleeping with him, and it’s all very intense. The first time director really handled the subject matter deftly, and Ashleigh Cummings, who plays (the wild troublemaker) Billie gave a really powerful performance. Here, just watch the trailer.

god-help-the-girlGod Help the Girl (dir. Stuart Murdoch) – this ultra-twee musical was written and directed by the dude from Belle and Sebastian, and it shows. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, I’m just saying that if you like that kind of music, then this film is full of really great songs and absolutely adorable young people and perfectly perfect vintage  outfits, and an infinitely watchable confused young waif heroine. And you’ll probably like it. It’s about a girl who sort of gets over her anorexia by starting a quirky band with her nerdy friend who is clearly in love with her, and maybe 22 year old me would have loved it, but 36 year old me categorizes it as “not for me”. There’s nothing really wrong with it, you just have to be into “that kind of thing”, and if you’re not, it might give you a toothache.

GuestThe Guest (dir. Adam Wingard) – how many times can I say that this film is awesome? Not enough. It’s like if Drive was an action film (and yeah, Dan Stevens is at least as compelling, charismatic and menacing as Gosling), but actually better than that. Apparently Maika Monroe, who plays the sister, has also been in The Bling Ring and Labor Day recently, but I haven’t seen either of those films so I had no idea who she was and she’s now my favourite 20-something in Hollywood. I would like to aerobicise to the soundtrack of this film forever.

houellebecqThe Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq (dir. Guillaume Nicloux) – if you are a fan of the author, then this faux doc (inspired by Houellebecq’s real disappearance during a promotional tour in 2011) will probably seem both hilarious and very engaging. If you don’t know Houellebecq from any other grumpy, chain-smoking old man, then you might just be puzzled by it. Either way, this imagining of what kind of kidnapping could possibly befall a man like Houellebecq is bizarrely charming.

thou-wast-mild-and-lovelyThou Wast Mild and Lovely (dir. Josephine Decker) – I went to see this one because Joe Swanberg stars in it and I’m a fan. And I walked out a big fan of Josephine Decker! This film is intimate and quiet and beautifully constructed, but it’s also super weird in the best ways possible. Swanberg plays Akin, a silent summer worker at a farm run by the gruff Jeremiah and his in-tune-with-nature daughter, Sarah (Torontonian Sophie Traub). Things quickly become tense (and intense) between the three, building to an unexpected climax. This film features a sequence from the POV of a farm animal, and it is wonderful.

Fun fact: most of the films I saw start with “G”. G is the title letter of 2014.