stuff, written by me

Tag Archives: Midnight Madness

Thursday September 4, 2014

After a late-but-not-too-late and boozy-but-not-too-boozy night at Cold Tea on the eve of TIFF, I managed to start my festival with a bang. Four movies on the first day feels like a victory and it also feels like a return to what it’s really all about. I got into film because I love watching films. I started going to festivals so that I could watch as many great films from around the world as possible in a short span of time, with the heightened atmosphere of an international community of cinephiles surrounding me in a cocoon of giddy enthusiasm.

speaking of giddy enthusiasm, I am SO going to get a bingo this year!

speaking of giddy enthusiasm, I am SO going to get a bingo this year!

And yet, and yet. These days, when I go to Cannes or Berlin, I don’t see much. There are meetings, dinners, receptions. There is rushing around and trying to find people and frantic texting. But there is not a lot of time left for films, and that makes me sad. At TIFF, I am not only on my home turf, but I’m also not at a film market – not an official one, anyway, though my sales agent friends might disagree. I feel protective of my own TIFF experience because it’s my hometown festival, the first one I fell in love with, the one I started going to as soon as I graduated from high school. I still want to experience it as a festival, not just as an opportunity to do business. I want to be swept away by the actual power of film. Old fashioned, I know.

This year, I started with a bit of Cannes catch-up, with the Dardenne brothers’ Two Days, One Night, an uplifting downer starring Marion Cotillard as a depressed factory worker who’s fighting not to be laid off. Next, Cronenberg’s Maps to the Starsa bleak film whose premise seems to be that Hollywood is a place for depraved monsters to paint their cruelty upon each other until there’s nothing left. Someone gets bludgeoned with a Genie Award though, and that might be the best use of one of those ever committed to film.

Marion Cotillard, the undisputed queen of looking uglybeautiful

Marion Cotillard, the undisputed queen of looking uglybeautiful

In the evening, I go to the premiere of Sunshine Superman, a doc about the delightfully nerdy dude who invented base jumping. It was beautiful, but it did not make me want to jump out of planes, or off cliffs, or antenna towers, or bridges, or skyscrapers. My commitment to terra firma remains, well, firm. My date is the effervescent Sam Horley, an exec producer on the film and England’s most charming film sales person (sorry, everyone else). I hit up a falafel joint with her and some friends post-film and pre-party, then headed to the Sunshine Superman reception, where mac & cheese croquettes are served. I met a couple of Torontonians who aren’t in the film biz, but happen to be friends with someone affiliated with the film. Always refreshing to chat with people at film parties who aren’t schmoozing or hustling, or even necessarily interested in only talking about movies.

Around 11ish I jetted off to the Ryerson for the Midnight Madness opener, the Japanese hip hop musical Tokyo Tribea film that’s not exactly my cup of tea, but is undeniably entertaining and a fine addition to the cannon of films that make Japan seem like the batshit-insanest place on earth.

Tokyo Tribe, never ever die ... Tokyo Tribe, never ever die ... Tokyo Tribe, never ever die ...

Tokyo Tribe, never ever die … Tokyo Tribe, never ever die … Tokyo Tribe, never ever die …

And then bed, sweet bed, for too few hours before we do it all again.


Too few days till TIFF, that’s the answer. Too few days and too many movies to wade through!

I have barely looked at the announcements this year. I’ve been busy with things like prepping for and attending Frontières @ Fantasia, and moving my office, and trying to keep up with Royal-related tasks, and submitting 100 funding applications for Birdland, and tackling the post-Fantasia rewrite of the script for Rite of the Witch Goddess, and trying to spend a bit of time with family at the cottage.

The cottage is a wonderful joy in my life and the pictures I post on Facebook make it seem like it’s nothing but barbecues and lake swims, and while that is mostly true, this year I was so exhausted by the time we got here that all I could do was sleep and stare off into space, at least for a few days.

It’s been a great chance to recharge, and spend time with both sets of parents, and my sister-in-law and niece (the cutest cutie in cutesville), and try to step away from social media (not entirely, but I check my phone approximately 200 times less per day up here than I do in Toronto and I feel like it’s helping me regrow brain cells).

And now I’m finally doing something that usually takes up a huge and pleasurable chunk of my summer, and that is: checking the TIFF lists and making some dream-lists. I know there are announcements yet to come, but I gotta get started.

Here’s my initial list, based on a quick glance at the TIFF website. I’ll delve more deeply when the book comes out. Here they are in order of programmes:

Galas

I’ll probably just wait for most of these to come out in theatres, because they surely will. But there is one I might try to catch at TIFF:  The Connection. It stars Jean Dujardin, the sexiest actor alive, so it’s worth it, right? Plus, I saw the promo in Cannes and it looked really fun.

Oh hi, Mr. Dujardin. *schwing*

Oh hi, Mr. Dujardin. *schwing*

The other two Galas I’d like to catch are Maps to the Stars and Foxcatcher, both of which I missed in Cannes but really wanted to see. And I’m curious about The Judge, because Robert Downey Jr is second only to Jean Dujardin in my heart. Realistically though, I won’t bother with most of these at the Festival.

Masters

One highly anticipated film and one that I’ll see for the experience. First, A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence. Guys! A new Roy Andersson film! If you haven’t seen Songs from the Second Floor, do yourself a favour and seek it out immediately. This one’s my most anticipated Swedish joint of the year! Exclamation marks!

And yes, I am curious to see the Godard, Goodbye to Language 3D, in actual 3D.

Special Presentations

Usually the least-frequented-by-me TIFF section this year it features several titles I’m excited about. A few Canadians, like Denys Arcand’s An Eye for Beauty and Xavier Dolan’s Mommy (I’m not a huge fan, but lots of trusted pals loved this one at Cannes so I’m willing to give him another chance).

Willem Defoe as Pasolini

Willem Defoe as Pasolini

There’s also a few by filmmakers who are on my “usually worth it” list, like Noah Baumbach’s While We’re Young, Mia Hansen-Løve’s Eden and Abel Ferrara’s Pasolini (it’s not about Ferrara, it’s that I’m actually too big a Pasolini fan not to see this one).

And of course, my absolute most anticipated film of the festival, Hal Hartley’s Ned Rifle. I want to re-watch Henry Fool and Fay Grim before TIFF just to get in the mood but I doubt I’ll have the time. I’ve written before about the profound impact of Hartley’s work on my life (and the way he is eternally connected to TIFF, for me). I remember the powerful, visceral reaction I had to Trust when I first saw it, accidentally, on TV, nearly 25 years ago. I was thrilled to be able to support both his most recent films on Kickstarter and I am totally elated that this one is playing at TIFF. Feels like a weirdly personal homecoming (maybe more for me than for Hartley, but let’s not quibble).

Aubrey Plaza in a Hal Hartley film? Perfect!

Aubrey Plaza in a Hal Hartley film? Perfect!

Discovery

Perhaps because other titles haven’t been announced yet or perhaps because Discovery has become the de facto replacement for the Canada First programme, everything in this section that I’m excited about is Canadian.

Bang Bang Baby!

Bang Bang Baby!

There’s the delightfully weird-sounding Bang Bang Baby, by Jeffrey St Jules (whose short, The Tragic Story of Nling, charmed me ages ago). This one’s also produced by a friend so I’m excited to support his success as well. There’s Corbo, about a Quebec teen and the founding of the FLQ. There’s Songs she Wrote about People she Knows, by the director of Doppelgänger Paul, a film I really enjoyed a few TIFFs ago. There’s Wet Bumwinner of the best title award and also produced by a couple of rad women I know who I would like to cheer on.

TIFF Docs

I love documentaries. I might love them more than I even love features, but I don’t make as much time for them in my life. Lots of great ones coming to TIFF, as usual. Of course, Joshua Oppenheimer’s follow-up to The Act of Killing, The Look of Silence, is on my list and everyone else’s. I’m also curious to catch Sturla Gunnarsson’s Monsoon, and Nick Broomfield’s The Grim Sleeper.

Contemporary World Cinema

This catch-all hodgepodge category is always a chore to wade through. At least with Wavelengths or Vanguard or even Special Presentations you have some basic sense of the curatorial voice of the section. CWC is “everything from everywhere”, and it’s usually full of amazing films, so it’s not like you can just skip over it.

Here’s a few that sound intriguing. Behavior, from Cuba. Bird People, from France. Cut Snake, from Australia. The Grump, from Finland. I’ll watch anything from Finland, just about. Canadian Stéphane Lafleur’s Tu Dors Nicole, which I wanted to catch in Cannes. Partners in Crime, from Taiwan. The Reaper, from Croatia. Two Shots Fired, from Argentina.

And then there’s Li’l Quinquin, from Bruno Dumont. I thought La vie de Jesus was one of the best films of the decade. I was lukewarm on L’humanité and hated Twentynine Palms with a fiery passion I usually reserve for … I dunno, Julie Taymor.

I’ll go on the “why that movie is sexist and dumb and hateful and pretentious” rant some other time. The point is, I’ve been on a Dumont hiatus and this new oddity seems like it might be worth returning for.

TIFF Cinematheque

After Ned Rifle, my most anticipated TIFF screening will be the restored version of John Paizs’ Crime Wave. I’ve written elsewhere about my love of the film, so I don’t need to repeat myself, but I will say this. I’m going to go to this screening, and I’m going to sit next to John Paizs, and maybe squeeze his arm out of un-containable excitement, and I’m going to have the best 90 minutes of my festival.

swoon

swoon

I might also try to catch Atom Egoyan’s Speaking Parts, because it’s a good film and because I know one of the actors who starred in it and I always enjoy the rare chance to see a pal on the big screen. Especially a pal as the fresh-faced youngster he was a whopping 25 years ago, a long-ass time before I met him!

Vanguard

I’ve seen a few of these already (because I live with the programmer) but I still heartily recommend them: Alleluia (a fave of mine from Cannes), Goodnight Mommy, Luna (Dave McKean! All those Sandman covers! Arkham Asylum!) and Spring.

And there are several others that are very high on my list. Peter “Berberian Sound Studio” Strickland’s The Duke of Burgundy, for example. Or Takashi Miike’s Over Your Dead Body. Or Tetsuya Nakashima’s The World of Kanako.

Let’s face it. Vanguard looks like pretty much all hits and no misses this year.

Midnight Madness

What’s the point of even writing about this section? I’m married to it. I’m biased in its favour. And I’m excited about them all, obviously. Especially the ones I haven’t seen yet, but also the ones I have.

like this one

like this one

Tell me pals, what must-sees have I missed so far?