finally hit a wall Thursday night. The tiny of the brain that allows me to
write shut down with a clank and a hiss. The overheated system just wouldn’t
kickstart. And I tried to kick it in the classic manner: at the Midnight
Madness party and events following I had some sauce, but that just led to
a late start Friday morning and a rush to make my interview with the
filmmakers behind Inside.
at the airport now. The US customs agent was paying more attention to the live
Nine Inch Nails record cranking from his computer than my landing card; I had
to wait to hand over documents to the next inspector while he finished a verse
of what looked like loose form poetry. The girl who swabbed my laptop and
fished through my backpack’s pocket of wires and gadgets had the carriage of a
model, not a TSA drone. I don’t remember telling the cabdriver to take me to Moulin
reason for this installment’s delay is that the festival died a quick, savage
death on Thursday. Typically it keeps kicking until Friday evening, but by
midday Thursday the only evidence of sustained interest was the queue for In
Bloom, which I actually got shut out of. I saw only two films that day, and two
Friday in the tape library. Three out of the four were hits, making the end of
the festival seem less like a hot air balloon incinerating in rapid flame.
Mad Detective, directed by Johnny To and Ka-fa Wai opens this last journal. I’m
amazed how To has grown from a Midnight Madness offshoot to fully respected
director. Guarantee: his films will be as well attended at the festival as any
English language title, and fewer people will bail out.
said, Mad Detective is lightweight. Bun (Lau Ching-wan) lives up to the title
perfectly; he’s an investigator with the unusual ability to see a person’s true
personality. Or so he says; he might just be crazy. Fired from the force, he’s
recruited years later as a moonlight partner by another detective working on a
serial murder/robbery case that might involve a cop as suspect.
murky, easily identifiable visual style serves the story well and there are a
handful of unique images that make the film stand out from all the other Hong
Kong offerings this year. (Like an overhead shot of three men facing off with
shattered mirrors on the ground reflecting all their different personalities.)
But it took Exiled, a vastly superior film, a year to see stateside
distribution, so be prepared to import this one if you’re interested.
back at the beginning of the festival I had to skip the new Werner Herzog, and
I finally caught up to it right at the end. Encounters At The End of The World
is what happens when Herzog is invited down to Antarctica to shoot whatever he
wants. The result, he promises his benefactors, "will not be another movie
about penguins." Instead he pokes his camera into the lives and work of
what he calls ‘professional dreamers’, the people who end up at the bottom of the world for scientific, spiritual and personal reasons. His camera goes under the ice and to the edge of a volcano, but the most interesting moments come when scientists light up about the work they’re doing.
also got to see Water Lilies (previously referenced as Naissance des pieuvres
in the Day Five post) thanks to the press/industry tape library. Really good
little debut flick from Céline Sciamma. It concerns a
trio of girls, two of whom are part of their high school synchronized swimming
team, with the third fascinated in a nascent sort of socio-sexual obsession with the swimmers.
Marie, the lead, is frustrated by friendship with the large, ungainly
Anne and infatuated with the pretty and popular Floriane. There’s a bit too
much swimming (which we see though Marie’s eyes) but plenty of honest, powerful
observation about the negotiation of teenage friendship and sexuality.
the one negative reaction of the post: King of the Hill, the debut from Spanish
filmmaker Gonzalo López-Gallego. It’s a wilderness
survival film combined with a first-person shooter video game, and far more
silly than taut. A man and woman meet at a remote highway gas station. After a
little spontaneous bathroom sex, they rendezvous again down the road when
threatened by a very determined sniper.
After entirely too much running around hills and forests and the threat of invisible snipers, there’s a reveal that’s probably
supposed to shock. By then it’s too little, too late. I only watched the
entire film because I knew I didn’t have time to queue up anything else, and
figured I should stick it out for the last film of the fest.
with a whimper, then. It’s so often the case, and this year was particularly
review deluge will start today, now that I’ve got big chunks of time to devote
to getting each review right. There will also be a wrap-up / best-of mid week
with links to as many trailers and official sites as I can find.
hit the official thread on our message board, and check out some of the other
viewpoints on the festival from our great readers.
Message Board: The
Official TIFF ’07 Thread