TIFF2010, Day 3

I cannot believe it's only Day 3.  By the time you get to the end of this entry, you will understand why.

Day 2 started bright and early - I took a cab to the box office, getting there at 6:05.  And I was the 22ND person in line - gah!!  It was dark, and it felt like fall, which is okay by me.  As usual, I struck up conversations with folks around me, mostly newbies in the box office experience. I wound up getting all my tickets for that day, plus a couple more, including the last of my three must-haves, HEARTBEATS.  However, I still struck out on the Saturday line-up, which meant having to do this at least one more time.  After another 3 hours' sleep and my first breakfast at Fran's, I headed to Dundas Square for the day (all my films were at the AMC).   Here follows my impressions of my films, followed by bullet points of the day:

MandooMANDOO, Iraq, 2.5 cats The story of an old mute Kurdish man who wants to move back to Iran from Iraq, despite all efforts by his niece, whose family had immigrated, to get him to return with her to Sweden.  Something of a typical road/end of life journey tale, but with one twist - the entire film was shot from the old man's POV, down going out of focus and using 'blink' fades to indicate his sleeping or getting dizzy.   Which meant a lot of cheats, really, to have it possible for the old man to see/hear key elements of the story. If the story's details had been scaled back, perhaps the cheats wouldn't have been as obvious - as it was, there were too many details to the plot.  And, even more unfortunately, whether it was due to the direction or the acting, the character of the niece was extremely irritating.   A real buttinski, as my father would say.    In the end, I felt as mandoo, or exhausted, as the old man's son did.

Norberto's DeadlineNORBERTO'S DEADLINE Uruguay 3.5 cats  A passive, vaguely unsatisfied realtor sees a play, decides to take acting classes, and discovers a new comfort with himself by pursuing acting.  Okay, I still don't know what to think about this - the elements should add up to something I wouldn't like, but there was just something compelling about this nebbishy guy.  His arc was minimal, really - and he was at times, a real jerk to his friends and family and clients.  The film was the directorial (& writing) debut of actor Daniel Hendler, who I loved as the lead in THE PARANOIDS, two TIFFs ago, another film about a dweeby South American.  It's a thing, who knew?  Hendler did a great job with the cast, particularly Norberto, who is exasperating, funny and sad to watch.  While I wouldn't say one roots for him, exactly, there are definitely moments of 'been there' sympathy.   The script, too, is really tight - if he hadn't gotten such a great cast, I might have said it was overwritten, but they make the various details that are mentioned but not fleshed out seem less like 'writer ideas that should have been cut' to 'the messiness of You Are Here real life'.  It's a complete, albeit messy and unfocused, world Hendler has built.  I think ultimately, the key to the film is the play we see practiced and performed throughout - The Seagull.   There is something very Chekhovian about Norberto, I think.

What I Most WantWHAT I MOST WANT Argentina 4 cats Oh, I liked this so much!  I tweeted something quick about it the other day, along the lines of 'distaff lovechild of OLD JOY and SILENT LIGHT'.  Here's a testament to how much i liked this - I have learned the hard way to select films carefully at TIFF, particularly on those days when I have to get up ridiculously early for tickets.  The rule is: Film #3 must NOT be foreign-language or slow-paced.  Otherwise, fatigue will sneak up on me and close those damn eyelids!   And yet - even though this was my third film, in Spanish but almost half in silence...I was engaged and awake!  A young woman visits her old friend in a tourist/farm town - she is having trouble with her boyfriend, while her friend is dealing with the sudden death of her father.  The two leads were incredibly appealing, and their rapport was fantastic.  Both also had wonderfully expressive faces, which held them in good stead in the silent long takes that were scattered throughout the film.  The film was also beautifully shot - the Patagonian scenery is almost a character itself - and much of it shot in natural light, which at times was stunning.

The PipeTHE PIPE Ireland 2.5 cats  This was a documentary about a small Irish town's almost decade-long fight with Shell Oil to prevent it building a pipeline that would destroy much of the farmlands and shoreline.   The filmmaker was a TV newsjournalist assigned the story early on, and was shocked by how the story on the ground was so different from what had been in the media. A local boy, he decided to make a record of the real story, to set things straight.   It felt like a film that wasn't intending to be a film initially, to be honest.  This conflict had many sit-ins, non-violent protests on land as well as on sea, court and parliamentary cases, even a hunger strike - not to mention a half-dozen charismatic characters...and yet, I'd say 20% of the film is stock 'pictures of Ireland' footage.  Yeah, I know County Mayo is pretty from a helicopter, and ditto the western shoreline - could we get back to the story, please?  During the Q&A, the director said he had initially put in a lot of history, but felt it was too much and ultimately decided to yank it all, and 'let the story tell itself'.  Oy - you know, sometimes less is less.  There needed to be more context - also, while he didn't hide that he wasn't non-partisan in the storyine (which I'm fine with, if you make that clear), he still should have made an effort to have the government or the police view represented.  We don't know if he asked and was turned down - presumably not, because he made a point to say that Shell declined to participate. 

+ saw Cameron Bailey not 3 feet away from me - good lord does he know how to wear killer suits well! 

+ sat next to a Canadian cinematographer at MANDOO, had a great chat about Canadian film. Apparently there was some controversy about the pick for the Opening Film.  Isn't there always, though? Exhibit A: PASSCHENDAELE. 

+ they sell the most exotic fruit juice boxes in the College Park supermarket - lychee fruit?  I felt conservative going with mango!

+ the trailers running before each film are good this year - to the point, short, funny, & with no earworm music going on.  I won't be clawing my eyes out after seeing these for the 20th time, thank goodness.

+ Michael, you're missing free cupcakes! Sunday, TIFF is having a block party to celebrate the opening of the Lightbox, & during every intro they make a big deal about the cupcakesI

I'll end this by talking about the start of Day 3 - the next entry I'll do the films of Day 3.

So, I get home around 11:45 after my last show, and get to bed a little past midnight.  At 1:45, the hotel fire alarm goes off - at first I had no idea what it was, thought it was my phone's alarm clock.  It freaked me out, obviously - fortunately I had prepacked my bag and laid out my clothes for the early morning rise, so quickly got dressed and added a few more items to my bag, then threw on my jacket.  Of course it wound up being nothing, but still it took a while to shake it off - I just peeled out of everything, leaving my wallet etc in my pockets as is, then crawled back into bed.   Flash forward a few hours - I suddenly wake up, and go to check my alarm clock.  Which isn't working - I don't know what happened to my iphone, maybe I turned it off during the fire alarm?  But it's dead to me at the moment.  I freak out, leap out of bed - oh great, it's 5:50, the time I was supposed to meet Christine and Judy to share a cab to the box office.  BUT thanks to the fire alarm, I literally can jump into my clothes and be ready - and also thanks to the alarm and my vanity, my face and hair aren't the typical wrecks, so I set a new worlds record for getting out of the door after waking - but still, don't get to the box office until 6:15.  AGH!  Now I'm 30somethingth in line!  As if to punish me further, god puts a Sheldon Cooper without the charisma type next to me...this day can't go fast enough!  I did, however, still get my films for the day, plus one of two remaining open items.    So back to the hotel I go, try to get in another hour or two of sleep, then wake up for the THIRD TIME today....  

TIFF time-warping has begun, people!  More later...




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 Love the reviews - Looking forward to reading about the Day 3 films and what the new Bell Lightbox is like!

Oh... now I'm really missing Toronto.  That craziness sure brings back memories!  Time warping... that's right!  Sounds like a good time!  And it sounds like people are getting up REALLY EARLY for the box office!  Well, at least you're getting your films!

Can't wait to hear about TRIGGER!

Hey Michael, I'm not sure where you got that image for The Pipe, but it's definitely not from the film.

Sorry, Beth.  I'll fix it tonight!