Friday, September 15, 2006

TIFF 2006 #11: Movie Cooties


I think I’m getting PFS (Post-Festival Sickness).

My throat remains scratchy.

I remain zonked.

This is not good.

I hate PFS. And, if it really is PFS, it’s not even waiting until after my final screening to kick in this year. Evil! I am fighting its onset tooth and nail, dosing myself with plenty of vitamin C and zinc and trying my best to include some modicum of healthy eating (along with more than six hours of sleep these last couple of nights) so as to give my immune system some fuel as it goes into this near-annual battle. But I fear my efforts may be futile. At this point in the fest, there are just too many cinema cooties floating around to avoid. Moviegoers have been pushing themselves hard – staying out in the rain, dashing in and out of cold theatres, picking up germs elsewhere and then carting them along to screenings to share with the rest of us. It’s like we’re all going to movies in giant Petri dishes. I’ve heard people coughing up lungs, blowing noses and generally giving aural clues that they are perhaps less than well. If I had a biohazard suit, I might be tempted to wear it on days like this.

[Fest-goers, please feel free to post your own strategies for avoiding germs during TIFF.]

My scratchy throat and I began the day with the Austrian drama Falling (5/8), which follows five former school friends (now thirtysomething adults) as they reconnect while attending the funeral of one of their former teachers. The cast is made up of five actresses, and all are very good/convincing as their characters reveal secrets from the past and open up about the present. But those same characters are never really fleshed out, and I honestly can’t remember which one was which. I think Carmen was the actress. Alex was…the drunk brunette? And, while the action held my interest and the performances were solid, the film’s final five or six minutes were completely baffling. I have no idea what the final two or three scenes are supposed to mean, or why they were tacked on. If anyone knows, by all means say so.

After a quick hop to Tim Horton’s for a very pathetic lunch, my scratchy throat and I returned to the Paramount for film number two, the documentary American Hardcore (5/8), which examines the hardcore punk movement in America during the early 1980s. It features tons of rare archival footage and dozens of interviews with influential figures from the era but, not knowing much about hardcore punk rock beforehand, I was only seeing the film as a way to educate myself (as opposed to the hardcore hardcore fans in attendance). As such, it didn’t work for me on the same level it did for them. Sad when the only people you recognize out of the huge bunch of interviewees are Henry Rollins, Flea and Christine McCarthy (formerly Elise), who used to be on China Beach and 90210. The theater was barely half-full, and the audience demo was overwhelmingly male. I felt a smidge out of place.

My scratchy throat and I had just under two hours to kill, so we opted for an immune-boost smoothie from Jugo Juice + a bagel. Then we popped into TGH to check email before making our way to the last film for today, True North (6/8), a rather unsettling but well-done drama about a group of Scottish fishermen (including the always wonderful Peter Mullan), who decide to smuggle a group of Chinese immigrants into the country aboard their trawler. Not surprisingly, all does not go well. Aside from its hugely impressive on-location shooting (i.e., on a real trawler, on the real ocean, with really big waves and real actors trying not to fall overboard), the film’s plot is perfectly compact and finite, which I loved. It’s a small story about a big issue, and its intimacy made its point much more effective than if it had been a massive epic featuring a cast of thousands. It’s just a crew of four guys, one stowaway girl and cargo hold full of terrified human cargo.

I was a little out-of-sorts thereafter, not because of the scratchy throat or the movie’s content but because I was finished a TIFF day at 7 p.m. I came home and felt a little lost. Shouldn’t I be running back out the door for my next screening, I thought, or popping into some random fast-food outlet for a calorie-laden between-film snack? Is there a line I should be standing in? Something?


So, as TIFF begins its official wind-down, so did I. It was nice to be able to sit down, read NOW, have dinner and watch some press conferences (Emilio Estevez actually started to cry during the PC for Bobby! Sharon Stone was typically Sharon Stone-y! The Dixie Chicks were plucky and fun!).

I also had a stern talk with my scratchy throat and requested that it vacate my premises by morning. We’ll see if it listens.

Celebrity Sightings: French actress Isild Le Besco, who was leaving the Paramount solo as I was arriving. And (this is how truly sad celeb sightings are at this point), Toronto’s own Marilyn Denis strolling in Yorkville! Yeah, baby! It’s all about the A-listers!

Crappiest Crap I Consumed Today: A Tim Horton’s Iced Capp + a leaden croissant.

Line Buzz: Only one film required standing in line today, but both the person in front of me and the person behind me opted to read books. In-theatre chatting was also non-existent, since I had empty seats beside me at all three screenings. Yep, it’s getting quiet and empty ‘round here.

Weather for Tomorrow: Mainly cloudy. High near 23C.

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