Thursday, September 15, 2005

TIFF Entry #11: When Being Chatty Pays Off – An Observational Tale

Today, boys and girls, we’re going to learn a lesson about why adopting a friendly, conversational approach to fest-going can land you a world of rewards!

This morning, as I queued up for my first film, In Her Shoes, I met a lovely older woman from Santa Barbara (by way of NYC), and we had a very nice chat about the festival, which movies we’d seen, what we’d loved and hated, and whether the odd man screaming at passersby across the street would come over to us at some point. During the course of our discourse, she said that today was her final festival day, and that this film was her last. She went on to say that, because she was heading home, she just GAVE AWAY her Festival Pass to someone she met before a movie yesterday.



This is a pass that’s worth several hundred dollars, and with a good two and a half days of festivalling yet to fill!

She said that she’d been sitting next to a young college student who’d been lamenting about the price of fest tickets making attending the event somewhat cost prohibitive. So, the SB lady took this girl’s phone number, then called her that night and said, “I’ve left an envelope for you at the front desk of my hotel. Enjoy!”

So this girl can now see a good ten to twelve movies (or more, depending on her stamina) for free!

And the nice SB woman said her son had done the exact same thing a day earlier. The way they see it, the pass is already paid for, so why not let someone else enjoy it?

That, friends, is why I *love* TIFF audiences! (For the most part, I mean. I don’t love the ones who are rude, inconsiderate or smelly.)

Back to the movie…

In Her Shoes (6/8) tells the story of sisters Rose (Toni Collette) and Maggie (Cameron Diaz), who are vastly different on every level – social, professional, economic and aesthetic. When screw-up Maggie screws up once too often, she high-tails it outta town and heads to Miami to find their long-lost grandmother (Shirley MacLaine). What follows is the story of how each sister reorganizes and improves her life, and how their broken relationship is slowly mended. I enjoyed the film very much, and thought Toni Collette was superb, as usual.

But remember the coughing woman who sat behind me yesterday for Where the Truth Lies? Well, she sat down right behind me AGAIN this morning. This time, she excused herself from the theater whenever her incessant hacking became too much for her (and us) to bear.

Next up was the impressive basketball documentary The Heart of the Game (6/8), which chronicles seven years in the lives of the members of a Seattle-area girls’ high-school basketball team. Tracking several team members and their struggles on and off the court, the film is sort of like a Hoop Dreams for women that’s as inspiring as it is poignant and frustrating. Director Ward Serrill and the coach from the film, Bill Resler, were in attendance, and said they’d only finished the final cut of the film two weeks ago.

But because the film started a little late, and the Q&A session ran a little long, I didn’t have much time between that screening and the next – Noah Baumbach’s “yuppies and their kids” drama The Squid & the Whale. I weighed my options: run like mad across town to try to make it to the film, or head home for a good, two-hour food-and-rest break.

I opted for the latter. There’s nothing like a good, sit-down, real-food dinner to re-energize and revitalize a weary filmgoer as she creeps up on movie #26!

Sadly, not even the heartiest of meals would have given me enough energy to get through my last film of the day. Frankie is a French drama starring Diane Kruger as a model who’s convalescing in some kind of psychiatric hospital and reflecting on her career. Shot in a hazy, dreamy, increasingly frustrating fashion, the film played out like an extended Calvin Klein ad…with some American Apparel or Ambercrombie & Fitch thrown in for good (or, in this case, bad) measure.

I was BORED SILLY. As I sat there in the near-empty theater (there couldn’t have been more than 50 or 60 of us in there) and tried my best to stay awake, I asked myself how long I’d sit there before leaving. I decided to give it until the 45-minute mark, simply out of respect for the director, who was sitting a few rows up. At about minute 39, the first person to walk out of the movie walked out. Then another. Then another. Then another. By the time I got to my (apparently) generous cut-off time, at least eight other people had already packed it in before me.

There’s nothing like a symphony of seats flipping up to get the ball rolling on a mass exodus, I tell ya.

As the final two days of the fest approach, I’m very near to hitting the wall. My eyes are struggling to stay open during most movies, and I find myself tuning out as I very nearly drift off to sleep. I’m hoping that my comparatively early night tonight will give me a chance to catch up on some much-needed rest. If not, I may have to start bringing a pillow to screenings.

Celebrity Sightings: Director Curtis Hanson appeared briefly to introduce In Her Shoes, but that’s about it.

Roger Ebert Sightings: The management regrets to inform you that Mr. Ebert was not available today.

Line Buzz: More crapping all over Caché, good buzz for Richard E. Grant’s Wah-Wah, huge amounts of praise for the Indian telemarketing documentary John & Jane, and some thumbs down for the Thai film, The Masseur.


the_voice said...

On chatting with people in line: Sometimes I find I'm standing around people who WANT to chat. Sometimes they DON'T want to chat. Like yesterday, I was 6th or something in line for "Dear Wendy" and no one seemed up for chatting.

To be honest, the best lines I've been in for chatting are lines with women ages 30 and up and older men. They all seem friendly and chatty. People about my age (low 20s) only seem chatty around midnight madnesses.

BUT, I give you this: chatting is extremely good if you are at a film alone, and you have to go to the washroom and you need someone to mind your seat ;)

Linda said...

I once got a pass for the last weekend of the (now defunct) Women in Cinema Fest in Seattle, from a co-worker who was leaving town after catching a week's worth of shows. Same story! I was baffled and happy, and she was happy that someone would use it! You gotta like that. Not all passholders are "passholes" (a term I've heard more than once at SIFF). :)

Vickie said...

OMG, "passholes." I *love* it!!!

The whole "who wants to chat and who doesn't" thing is so true -- sometimes, you get people who chat you up the minute you step in line, and other times you get the folks who put on their best "don't f**k with me" face.

You're *so* right about older men and women being much more willing to talk about movies than the younger folks. But I also find that people in line alone are often easier to chat with. Many times, though, I wind up sandwiched between groups of people, who are talking to each other but not so interested in me chiming in.