Thursday, September 07, 2006

TIFF 2006 #3: Day One… And a New TIFF Record!

It’s movie time!

It’s new TIFF record time!

And it’s “Vickie Discovers Something New About Herself” time!

To begin…

Today was the official start of the film festival, when line-ups move from the box offices at College Park and the Manulife Centre to the actual theaters, and when the city’s movie-mad population magically increases several times over.

I noticed this morning that music seems to be the prevailing theme among the programmed films this year and, more specifically, among the ones I’ve selected to see myself. Along with the Dixie Chicks doc, Shut Up & Sing, I have tickets for The Magic Flute (Kenneth Branagh’s version of the Mozart opera…see post-mortem below), American Hardcore (which is about punk, not porn), and La Tourneuse de pages (a thriller about a piano player and her page turner…again, mini-review below). TIFF, meanwhile, is also featuring a couple of music-themed documentaries (the ones I’ve already listed + The U.S. vs. John Lennon and Kurt Cobain: About a Son), along with a half-dozen international productions celebrating, in theme or content, the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth. Toronto is also hosting the world premiere of El Cantante, the Jennifer Lopez/Marc Anthony biography of singer Hector Lavoe, which promises to wind up more of a media maelstrom than anything else. And those are just the ones that immediately spring to mind. I’m sure there are others featuring musician protagonists or storylines involving music in some way, like the Bollywood offering, Never Say Goodbye.

But, in what’s been the most unexpected TIFF musical coincidence, it’s been announced that Beyoncé and John Mayer will both be performing live, for free, in downtown Toronto on the last two days of the fest. Whaaa…? I mean, the performances have nothing to do with the film festival, but the timing of the gigs – put on to celebrate the opening of a downtown music store – couldn’t be more perfect.

To continue…

Today, I simultaneously set a new TIFF record AND learned something new about myself.

My first film of TIFF 2006 was the aforementioned The Magic Flute, which fell into the category of movies I selected simply because there was nothing else screening at that time. It was screening at the Elgin at 2pm and, since today was plenty sunny, I decided to arrive just before 1:30pm so as to minimize my baking time. Besides, I reasoned, the Elgin is a massive theater and the screening isn’t sold out, so even if the line is huge I’ll still get in and get a decent seat.

Well, the ticket-holders line was huge, but I took my place. And then waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. For no clear reason, they held the line outside until almost 1:55pm, so I was melting by the time we started to shuffle into the theater.

[I’d like to use this moment to add an item to my list of festival DOs and DON’Ts: if it’s sunny and you know you’re going to be waiting in line for any length of time, bring sunscreen.]

Thankfully, the theater is still massive and there were PLENTY of good seats. So, I sat down and started cooling my core body temperature down to normal. This screening marked a TIFF first for me, because the world premiere of the film was happening simultaneously in Toronto and Venice…so we were treated to a lengthy videotaped message from director Kenneth Branagh, who clearly got “Italy” in the continental coin toss between the two fests. He encouraged us, repeatedly, to have a fantastic time.

I’m sorry to say that I did not. I tried. I really did. For almost 45 minutes I sat there, slowly turning to stone (okay, that’s an exaggeration, but it felt like that’s what was happening), trying my best to get into the movie in some way while seat back after seat back flipped up as other audience members walked out. But I couldn’t get into it. I just couldn’t. I was bored silly. My mind was wandering. I started thinking about all the other things I could be doing, and better ways in which my time could be spent. I thought about snacks, or watching TV or writing this blog entry. And then I realized that I should probably just get up and leave after 45 minutes because, really, the film still had another 90 minutes to go and there was no way I was going to stay to the end anyway.

And that’s when I learned something new about myself: I don’t like watching operas on film. Not that I’m particularly fond of them in person, either, but there you go. By leaving my first film of the festival well before its halfway mark, I also set a new TIFF record (for myself) for Earliest Walkout of the Festival. I consider it a “glass is half full” way of looking at the situation.

I had a few hours to kill so I came home to relax and have a proper meal before heading out to my second film of the day, La Tourneuse de pages. Once again, though, we were kept outside in line until four minutes (?!) before the scheduled start time…which, of course, meant the movie started almost 20 minutes late. As an added treat, I’m fairly certain that I had Parents of Obnoxious Man standing behind me in line. They were about the right age, THEY SPOKE ALL IN CAPS JUST LIKE OBNOXIOUS MAN DID and they rambled on and on and on and on (loudly) about NOTHING. Sadly, there was no refuge to be had in front of me, since there stood Questionable Hygiene Man, whose aromatic majesty did not in any way delight my senses. *sigh*

But Tourneuse (6/8) turned out to be worth the wait! It was a fantastic little gem! A taut and tidy psychological thriller and revenge yarn, about a young woman named Mélanie (Déborah François), who decides to totally screw over the renowned pianist (Catherine Frot), who ruined her dreams as a girl. The movie was filled with wonderfully tense moments and a terrific performance from François, who has very little dialogue but a face that says “I am *so* going to f**k with your life in a very bad way!” almost constantly. (And it never hurts to throw a little HoYay! into the picture, which was an unexpected treat.) Bouncy and adorable director Denis Dercourt was in attendance and was just as engaging as his film, making for a fine end to an otherwise less-than-fine first day of moviegoing.

To conclude…flutes and opera? No. Revenge and HoYay? Yay!

Tomorrow, the Schmooze party and, even scarier, a new haircut. ==:-o

Celebrity Sightings: None yet.

Crappiest Crap I Consumed Today: Shockingly, none yet! The unexpected break after Flute is likely the reason, since I had time to eat actual food.

Line Buzz: Everyone and their cousin seems to want to see Borat. Plus, some early, non-line good buzz on Little Children, Summer ‘04 and, not surprisingly, Volver.

Weather for Tomorrow: Partly cloudy w/ a chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon. High of 26C, w/ a humidex of 32C. Yikes!


Linda said...

So the fest has begun, and already you have made a reference that I had to Google (usually I feel I'm pretty hip, but I guess Seattle is a small town compared to... what do you call yourself? "T-Dot"??).

So I stumbled over this vocab you threw in so lightly: HoYay!

What is this "HoYay!" you speak of? Thank goodness for the Urban Dictionary:

1. hoyay
Homoeroticism Yay!
1-Homoerotic subtext in film, books or movies. Usually followed by a feeling of glee in the viewer. Can also relate to homoerotic films in general.

There is a lot of HoYay in the film The Talented Mr. Ripley.

Ewan McGregor is the king of Hoyay.

Well, Vickie, we all learned something new today! :D

The_Voice said...

Out of curiousity, do you list the films you're planning on seeing at the other site?

ThisWatch said...

I've been following along with the films over at the TIFF site, and The Page Turner looks delicious. Oh, and I love it when you increase my vocabulary.

Vickie said...

Ah, the HoYay!

Always a good time when it shows up unexpectedly on television or in the movies.

And, the_voice, I list the films only after I've seen them. I don't post my full schedule.