and so the lines continue …. On Friday after returning from the United States, I headed back down to College Park and dropped off my ballot for the Toronto International Film Festival.
I am back now from my 2nd visit down to College Park today … the lines at noon were mammoth and I just couldn’t face it … but when I returned at 4:00pm there was a peesly 20 people waiting in the Pick-Up line. I was lucky that I got all my picks but I tell you if you were a poor sod who didn’t and ended up with vouchers … omg … the line for Vouchers snaked from College Park past Gerrard and headed south on Yonge Street. I cannot imagine!
It just again proves my point that TIFF organizers have us all by the short and curlies!
But, enough of that, on to my picks. Over the next little bit, I’ll be seeing the following films:
- M, directed by Lee Myungse (Korea);
- I’m Not There, the new film on Bob Dylan directed by Todd Haynes;
- Silk, by Canadian director Francois Girard;
- Sukiyaki Western Django, directed by Takashi Miike (Japan);
- Sad Vacation, directed by Shinji Aoyama (Japan);
- Son of Rambow, directed by Garth Jennings (UK); and,
- Death Defying Acts, directed by Gillian Anderson (Australia).
In keeping with the movie theme, here’s three quick reviews of films I watched recently:
Former cinematographer, Zhang Yimou, directed this 1990 Shakespearean masterpiece that follows Ju Dou’s (played by a very young Gong Li) trials and tribulations as the wife of a brutal dye mill owner in the middle-of-nowhere rural China. Beaten for not producing an heir, Ju Dou takes solace in the arms of the mill owner’s nephew, Yang Tian-qing (played by
Bao-Tian Li). The result of this affair is a son, whom Ju Dou must raise while pretending the young lad is the mill owner’s. Predictably, familial tension, cultural tradition, and the twists and turns of simple human passions result in several tragedies. Zhang films the family’s fall into fate slowly and stunningly. At its heart, this film is so much bigger than its subject and characters and as such, it is a crowning achievement … capturing the sadness a child born in such circumstances can reap on an entire family. My rating 9 out of 10.
Mr. Bean’s Holiday
Rowan Atkinson revives his classic Mr. Bean character and takes him on vacation for this fun romp. I suspect if you’re not British you’ll not likely enjoy this film. However, I am a British-Canadian and adore the utter silliness that is Mr. Bean’s fumbling. His vacation sees him heading to Cannes only to have his plans – not surprisingly – derailed in Paris. This is slapstick, self-depreciating humour. What makes it good is the subtlety beneath the fumbling. The nod to the Tour de France; the nod to the farce that is the Cannes Film Festival; the nod to the silliness of fine dinning … each is perfectly done, planting a tiny seed of depth beneath the lightness of the comedy. While you certainly should not go pay money to watch this film (wait till it is out on dvd), it is worth the rent. The ending where Bean ties up the bits of the film, only to sum it up as an homage to friendship makes it worth the price of a rental. My rating 4 out of 10.
Filled with gobs of star power – Scarlet Johansson, Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine and David Bowie, doing an excellent stint as the real-life scientist Nikola Tesla – The Prestige directed by Christopher Nolan recounts the fictional tale of two magicians battling to out-do each other. The crux of the plot spins on the death of the wife of one (played by Jackman) at the hands of the other (played by Bale). This film demonstrates the strength of a bold, brilliant script in the hands of a good director. It is engaging, dark, thoroughly captivating, and will have you guessing what magic is going on right until the very last minute. I loved it and thought tying in the real-life character of Tesla was so very inventive. There’s pure magic in this film, and if you loved “The Illusionist”, you’ll love this too. My rating 9 out of 10.