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Day Six | Day Seven | Day Eight


It’s the first day and I’m already feeling
overwhelmed. As I sat looking over the program yesterday evening, I
realized how impressive this festival lineup really is. I’ll probably
see 40 films at least, perhaps 50. I can already come up with an easy
list of 30 I consider near-essential. That’s trouble. So I say
‘impressive’ not only compared to last year’s lackluster showing. Set
this schedule against any TIFF in the last decade and you’d have to
admit it’s in the top tier.

Furthermore, I’ve got a nicer
place than ever to do the late night writing, thanks to Ned and Ivy of
the Brattle Theater, with whom I’m sharing accommodations again this
year. Ned scored a place that’s simultaneously the nicest, cheapest and
closest the festival that we’ve ever had. It’s bliss, really. There’s
even a kitchen, so I don’t have to miss the domestic shit like grocery
shopping and dishwashing that I so enjoy at home.

Oh, right.
Movies. Full reviews will come of everything as soon as I can get to
them, but it’s tough to see five movies in a day and do them all
justice in a full review. It’s already 1:30 AM and I’d like to sleep
before the 9AM screening tomorrow�

 I was feeling contrary this morning, so I didn’t start with Fugitive Pieces, the opening night gala and one of the first press screenings of the festival. Instead I went into The Orphanage,
a Spanish horror film (sort of) that was exec produced by Guillermo del
Toro and directed by Juan Antonio Bayona. I wasn’t thrilled with the
result, which dawdles too long on uninteresting melodrama and indulges
in thin characters. But there are a handful of sequences that really
spark to life, and in those I was enthralled and occasionally even
creeped out.

Next was Bela Tarr’s The Man From London.
Positively a short film from Tarr, clocking in at just over two hours
— this is the director behind the nearly eight-hour long S�t�ntang�.
My favorite bit in this latest film, a sort of noir about a stolen
briefcase full of money (one of two for the day) was definitely the car
chase, followed by the chain-linked exploding buildings, which were
incredibly high-octane.

 OK,
I’m lying. There are no car chases or explosions, but there was a
really nice shot of a door. It lasted a full minute. There are some
incredible elements of The Man From London I’ll get to in the full
review, but I’m not sure who I’d actually recommend it to…the almost
self-conscious artistry of it butts up against the true feelings it
evokes.

I thought about taking in Lust, Caution
but (a) it’ll be opening soon and (b) the line was one of the longest
I’ve seen for a press screening in Toronto. You give a famous filmmaker
an NC-17 and a tepid Variety
review doesn’t matter a whit; everyone wants to see the goods. Does
that make the film a microcosm of the general critic/public
relationship? Are people queuing like mad for Lust, Caution for the
same reasons that Halloween made thirty fucking million last weekend? I hope not.

 Instead, I did the coin flip between Les Chansons d’Amour (part of the Vanguard program, which is a set of films that are almost always a good blind buy) and Ulzhan, the new film from “Volker-ing papers” Schlondorff. The German won.

The
walking papers reference there isn’t just a callback to an old news
piece; it’s a reference to this film, too. Ulzhan focuses on a man who
seems to be walking the length of Asia; we join him at the border to
Khazakstan and follow him across the steppe. Despite a sense of import,
it’s a fairly lightweight, I’d even say inconsequential film. But the
performances are there and I enjoyed watching it. Hell, after The Man
From London it played like a Guy Ritchie flick.

 My first bit of excitement for the fest came from Control,
Anton Corbijn’s vision of the life of Joy Division frontman and
eventual suicide Ian Curtis. There are issues to be had with the film,
which is based on a memoir by Mrs. Ian Curtis, and therefore skewed to
her perspective. But Sam Riley knocks it out as Curtis and the musical
performances are gold. And with Corbijn’s name on the credits, it’s as
beautiful as you’d expect. (More so than the Tarr film, actually — two
black and white flicks in one opening day!)

I passed on seeing
the new Dario Argento at midnight (I’ll see it midday tomorrow instead
if Ned doesn’t come home and tell me it sucks) so I could get the first
possible show of No Country For Old Men.
This one really rocks, folks. It’s lean and brutal and as stylistically
clear as you’d ever hope to see. I know everyone is always happy to see
Cohen Brothers wackiness, but there’s none here. Just a rock-solid,
goddamn great movie. I can easily understand why there was so much
confusion when it didn’t win at Cannes.

 More tomorrow. I’m going to try to knock out a few reviews and then get some sleep. Heavy Metal In Baghdad is first up, with Argento’s Mother of Tears likely afterward. Then, who knows…?

EDIT:
Ned just returned from Argento at midnight and had very bad things to
say. I trust him implicitly, so I might pop in tomorrow if there’s
nothing I want to see more running at the same time. Otherwise I’ll
wait on it. Evidently the highlight of the screening was running into
Edgar Wright, who was hanging out with Don McKellar. I know at least
one other CHUD reader who’s as excited as I am to hear that they’re
friends.




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