Thursday, September 14, 2006

TIFF 2006 #10: Viggo…Is That You? Plus, I Want to Hug Shane Meadows and Amanda Peet (Together or Separately, I’m Not Fussy)

I must begin this entry by posing a question to anyone out there who’s been reading along here while TIFFing: did anybody attend the screening of Alatriste this afternoon at the Paramount? If you did, please post a comment and let me know if I saw whom I thought I saw exiting the venue earlier today: Viggo Mortensen.

Yes, that’s right Jennifer, I think I might have seen your Viggo. From behind, and from about 25 feet away (hence my uncertainty), but who else would be leaving the theater with a full camera crew – complete with lights and a sound guy – in tow? I was stuck in the heart of a serpentine line of people waiting for the next screening, so I was unable to scramble out for a better look. The subject of the crew’s attention seemed to be a man, about Viggo height and build, with Viggo-esque hair, walking briskly out past the concession stand. Was it him? I don’t know. I want to believe it was. If anyone knows for sure, please let us know!

Onwards to the movies…

My first screening of the day was Shane Meadows’ This is England (7/8…and it might still get a full pie because I’m not completely set on my rating and very tempted to bump it up a slice). I’ve seen every Shane Meadows film but one (Dead Man’s Shoes, simply because it didn’t fit in my sked when it played at TIFF) and have followed his career since his Romeo Brass and twentyfourseven days. So, his was one of my must-sees this fest and I’m delighted to say that I was not disappointed. Plenty of folks have been trumpeting the film’s merit, so allow me to chime in to say that this is not only my new favourite among his works, but I also think it’s his best film to date. It’s gorgeous to look at, brilliantly written and insanely compelling to watch. It tells the story of Shaun (Thomas Turgoose), a bullied 11-year-old boy, who falls in with a gang of skinheads in 1983. Initially a goofy group united through music and mischief, the boys (and girls) soon splinter with the return of the menacing and seriously militant Combo (Stephen Graham in a positively terrifying performance). I’ll save the details for my eventual review, but the film had me riveted from start to finish…which is not something I can say about most of the movies I’ve taken in this year.

And, seriously, how huggable is Shane Meadows? He’s so cuddly and adorable, and I lurrrrrve that accent. I just want him to read me bedtime stories while we eat cookies and milk. I was sitting in the fairly empty (considering) lobby of the Ryerson this morning before the start of the screening, eating my breakfast muffin and watching people stream in. As the crowds thinned, I heard Shane’s distinct voice chatting someone up and there he was. In the lobby, hanging out before heading in. It was all I could do not to be a squirrelly fangirl, but I did give it some serious thought. I refrained.

Next up was Breaking & Entering (5/8), the latest epic from Anthony Minghella. There’s a lot going on in this film, so here’s the shopping list: Jude Law is an architect named Will, whose firm is repeatedly targeted by young acrobatic thieves. One of those thieves is Miro (Rafi Gavron), a teenage refugee from Bosnia. Miro’s mother is Amira (Juliette Binoche), who’s befriended (and later bedded) by Will after he follows Miro home one night post-thwarted robbery. A whole bunch of relationships get really complicated. While all this is going on, the luminous Robin Wright Penn tries to carve out her own character (Will’s wife), but winds up underused, in my opinion. The movie was long and could have been about 15 minutes shorter, but it was fine overall. Not amazing, not terrible. Just fine.

I’m going to preface this next blurb by saying that I adore Amanda Peet. I think she’s a supremely underrated actress whose career is practically screaming out for a meaty dramatic role…one through which she could totally knock the socks off the moviegoing public (see also: Elizabeth Banks). Perhaps her gig on the new TV series Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip will do that, but I suspect not.

Her newest film, the teeny indie Griffin & Phoenix (4/8), was my third film of the day and, sadly, it was disappointing. Peet co-stars with Dermot Mulroney as a pair of terminally ill people who fall in love. Now, revealing their illnesses to you is not a spoiler, since it’s obvious from about minute seven of the movie that both characters aren’t long for this world. So, with the cosmic clock ticking, the pair set out to do fun things like hop on freight trains or paint water towers…but so what? The movie didn’t connect with me at all, and I found myself much more annoyed than engaged. It’s too bad, too, because Peet does some nicely nuanced work here, being more vulnerable and sweet and, yes, huggable than she’s ever been in a film before. At least she managed to rise above the material.

I treated myself to a deeeeeelicious Jugo Juice smoothie (Copa Banana, in case you’re curious) + some less-delicious take-out spaghetti for dinner, then headed to the Cumberland for my last film, White Palms (5/8). The story is based on actual events, and follows a young Hungarian gymnast from his childhood training at the hands of a ruthless coach, to his own coaching job guiding a Canadian champion (Canadian Olympic gold medalist Kyle Shewfelt) decades later. The film jumps back and forth in time, but the sequences in the past (when the main character is a boy) were far more interesting than those featuring him as an adult. And the final 15 minutes seemed to drag on needlessly in order to show off creative editing. Perhaps I would have enjoyed that more had it not been the end of my filmgoing day. Perhaps not.

I am mildly alarmed because my throat is kind of scratchy tonight. Scratchy in that “hey everybody! I feel a cold coming on!” way. I do NOT want to get sick. No PFS for me, please! At least, not until Sunday. I have taken extra vitamin C tonight just in case, but I’m sure the past two days of rain + my poor diet + cooties everywhere + total lack of rest will = PFS shortly.

Celebrity Sightings: As is usually the case at this point, the pickings are getting slim. Today it was only Shane Meadows and Kyle Shewfeldt.

Crappiest Crap I Consumed Today: The aforementioned breakfast muffin – triple chocolate – which was not only bad for me, but extremely messy.

Line Buzz: Lots of so-so rumblings about the much-ballyhooed D.O.A.P. and the non-ballyhooed The Last Winter; good buzz on Black Book.

Weather for Tomorrow: Partly cloudy. High near 22C.


Jennifer said...

OMG! Good work Vickie! Things are progressing well. You had an almost-sighting last year, a probably-real sighting this year, and that can only mean one thing - next year you and Viggo will be hanging out. Thanks for letting me live vicariously through you! As always, you rock!

Angela said...

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWW! Scutigeras (sp?) creeeeep me out!

I saw American Hardcore on Wednesday night - last movie of the fest for me. I think Vic's seeing it today, so I won't go into too much detail. But I have to ask you, Vickie, if your screening featured the most argumentative Q&A I've ever been to? Because mine did. Is that the way of hardcore punk rock? I don't know.
On a side note, my preppy blouse and my dbf's golf shirt + khakis blended in nicely at that screening. :-)

BikerXena said...

(((((Vickie))))) Remember the magic elixir, zinc! It really will stop a cold...cold. ;-) The Cold-eeze brand stuff works but tastes crummy, although the bubble gum isn't *too* bad. But, if I feel a cold coming on, I just take a zinc tablet from the local vitamin store or pharmacy (daily). Remember, this works for (((Lou))) too! Good luck. I sure would hate to hear that you got sick and missed movies. Another mother hen suggestion: pack some of that hand sanitizer, and use it before touching food you're going to eat. (It's not necessary for food you're going to toss at the loud person in front of you. LOL) Best of luck!--BikerXena

Vickie said...

Aww, thanks biker! And welcome to the blog! I am borderline OCD with regard to germs and hand-washing, so I can tell you with great confidence that my hands are always clean before they touch any food I'm about to eat. I blame the germs on the constant hot/cold/hot/cold/hot/cold of going in and out of over-air-conditioned theatres. Plus, the rain of the past couple of days meant that everybody was perpetually damp...which can only serve to weaken the immune system and allow the cooties to settle in.

Angela, I *did* see American Hardcore this afternoon and was underwhelmed. The theatre was barely half-full, but the director and writer were there. They did a Q&A, but it wasn't argumentative. Do tell!

Jennifer, if there's even an iota of a chance that I'll somehow be hanging out with Viggo next year (or ever), I give you full permission to pose as me and enjoy the encounter for yourself. You have my blessing. ;-)