Sunday, September 10, 2006

TIFF 2006 #6: An In-Line Examination of Human Behaviour at TIFF – Forget Obnoxious Man, Meet the Army of the Odiously Obnoxious

Several entries ago, I commented on juxtaposition at TIFF, and today I had the most blindingly perfect example of it, courtesy of the line-ups before my second and third films of the day. One was horrible; the other was delightful. One was mean and malicious and ugly; the other was fun and relaxed and had free snacks.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I regret to post that I skipped my first film of the day today. I had a ticket for the 9 a.m. screening of The Ugly Duckling and Me, a computer-animated kids’ movie that had an adorable program-book picture, but I was so tired this morning that I opted for an extra hour of sleep + a nutritious breakfast instead. I was kind of bummed to skip a film so early in the fest, but was nonetheless grateful for the comparably less-hectic morning.

So, after my mango-pineapple-strawberry smoothie + big bowl of Grape Nuts Trail Mix Crunch cereal (with extra pecans, cashews and dried cranberries added in by me), I headed to the Bader for my first actual screening of the day: the action-adventure movie Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker (5/8), which is based on the popular book series. The movie itself – about a British teen (Alex Pettyfer) who becomes an agent for MI-6 – was okay, if a little heavy on the endless chase sequences, but the pre-screening entertainment was unprecedented.

This year, it seems like screenings are becoming events. Earlier in the festival, Sacha Baron Cohen made a Vegas-worthy spectacle of his entrance to the world premiere of Borat, arriving in character on a giant wooden horse being pulled by several women.

Well, before Alex Rider, everyone outside the theater was treated to a stunt show, complete with a multitude of red lights, a smoke machine, thumping music and about a dozen youths staging fake fight sequences, climbing on buildings and leaping wherever there was space to leap. It was pretty cool! (Special thanks to my friend Heather for the accompanying photo, which she snapped as we walked into the theater.)

Next up would be Paris, je t’aime (6/8), a series of 18 (?) shorts about love in Paris, directed by 21 well-known directors. When I arrived at the Ryerson, the rush line was surprisingly long – I guess the draw of so many filmmakers dramatically increased its appeal. Anyway, I queued up alongside Lee sister #3, who’d arrived early and who was third in line.

Unfortunately for us both, the group of six people behind us were the Army of the Odiously Obnoxious. Here’s why:

Given the length of the rush line, several people without tickets decided to be proactive about getting some. One young woman in a red hooded sweatshirt fashioned a sign that read “Need 1 or 2 tickets” and began walking along the ticket-holders line to see if anyone had an extra ticket they wanted to sell. When she made her way past us, one of the lieutenants in the Army of the Odiously Obnoxious – an über-slick (in a lame way) Euro-trashy ass in his late-20s – said, “I’ll sell you one.” He took her aside and, based on the fact that she left shortly thereafter empty handed, must have asked for a seriously marked-up price. She, in turn, must have given him a lecture about scalping, because he returned to his fellow Army brats and started mocking her, saying that someone without a ticket shouldn’t be so picky about having to pay extra. Then he went on and on, and his friends (all of whom were in their late-20s or early-30s) laughed uproariously, chimed in and then they started making fun of the young woman. They made fun of her sign, her desire to see the movie, her efforts…and then they called her back over.

In my head, I was silently telling her not to come back, because I just knew this wouldn’t end well.

So the repellent lieutenant kept calling her until she slowly wandered back. “Come on, I’ll sell it to you for $5,” he said to her as his friends snickered. (Seriously, these idiots were behaving like high-school bullies picking on a outsider to such a degree that I thought I must have somehow landed in the middle of a co-ed version of Mean Girls). So, the young woman came over and asked him, “Are you serious?”

He assured her he was and, because she was wisely skeptical, she said, “Are you really serious?”

And he looked at her, scoffed and said, “$5? Do you think I’m serious? I’ll sell it to you for $80.” And then started laughing at her as she walked away. His friends laughed, too. The young woman, rightfully pissed, walked off…and these ASSHOLES just kept laughing at her! Loudly, so that she – and everyone else – could hear them. I was tempted to just turn around, call the young woman back and GIVE her my ticket for free for having to put up with these jerks’ obnoxious assholery. What is WRONG with people?! But, like a cowardly twit, I did nothing because I knew we’d still have to stand with these people for another 20 minutes, but I still feel awful about it. It was like I was suddenly ten years old and afraid of the bigger kids. Sometimes, you know when the universe is testing your mettle. I know mine was being tested there…and I failed. I spent much of the film wishing I’d said something to shut the asses up and feeling totally ashamed of being a passive observer. The only thing that made me feel better was knowing that the same universe that was testing me and sighing would likely punish the Army in some karmically glorious way.

Despite being emotionally distracted, I managed to enjoy Paris…, which featured a whole whack of great little vignettes and only one that was truly confounding (from director Christopher Doyle). Among the standouts were the Coen brothers’ look at love in transit starring Steve Buscemi; Gurinder Chadha’s cross-cultural romance between a British boy and a Muslim girl; Tom Tykwer’s uniquely stylized and circular love story involving an aspiring actress (Natalie Portman) and her blind boyfriend; and Alexander Payne’s sweetly poignant district 14 travelogue, narrated by an American tourist (Margo Martindale) on her first Paris holiday.

I stuck around the Ryerson after the screening to witness the fandemonium preceding the world premiere of The Last Kiss. I didn’t have a ticket to the movie, and had some time to kill before my next screening, so I stood behind the throngs of photographers, fans and hugely overzealous stalkers to watch the cast arrive. Everyone was there – Zach Braff, Rachel Bilson, Jacinda Barrett, Schuyler Fisk and director Tony Goldwyn, along with Fisher Stevens, director Paul Haggis and actor Gabriel Macht – and the crowd went nuts for Zach and Rachel. So nuts, in fact, that I got my first glimpse of what psychotic adult fanboys look like at full throttle. There were several of them, all doughy oafs in their 20s or 30s (a few were older…which made them even creepier), and they were SCREAMING for Rachel Bilson as if their lives depended on her acknowledging them. I mean SCREAMING her name.


They were running back and forth around the crowd, trying to squeeze through to get her to autograph photos that they will either: 1) sell on eBay, or 2) keep and use for fantasy purposes. *shudder* These guys were scary in their pursuit of her, and I suddenly felt glad that there were steel gates and security guards keeping folks at a distance. Zach signed a ton of autographs, posed for pictures and was extremely generous with his eager fans, which was nice.

Oh, and en route to the Varsity from the Ryerson (a route which took me through College Park), I saw Chantal Kreviazuk and a chapeau'd Raine Maida, who were trying to find their way through CP to Yonge Street and the red-carpet entrance to the One X One gala, which taking place upstairs at the Carlu. So that’s the second time in less than 48 hours that I’ve seen them. Freaky.

Also nice was my line-up experience for my final film of the day. This time, instead of the Army of the Odiously Obnoxious, I wound up behind a trio of lovely individuals, who were not only friendly and chatty, but who brought me a bag of free popcorn from the bookstore downstairs (which had been handing out the wee bags to customers and store visitors)! Free snacks, just delivered without me even asking! I told them about the Army, and then thanked them for being at the other end of the line-up spectrum, citing the snack gesture as the source for some inevitable good karma coming their way.

The movie was The Pleasure of Your Company (7/8), a wonderfully sharp romantic-comedy written and directed by Michael Ian Black. Given MIB’s aridly dry sense of humour, it was no surprise that the movie was brilliantly written and funny. It stars Jason Biggs as a guy whose girlfriend drops dead the moment after he makes the world’s most embarrassing marriage proposal. So, after a year of idealized mourning and the relentless pleading of his best friend to get on with his life, he makes a spur of the moment decision at a diner to propose to his waitress (Isla Fisher). All that happens within the first 10 minutes or so, and the remainder of the film follows the duo and their assorted friends and family as they cope with the repercussions of her actually saying “yes” to his on-the-spot marriage offer. The leads were great, the supporting cast was wonderful and the whole movie was refreshingly smart.

The post-film Q&A was just as good, with Michael Ian Black and several cast members fielding questions and answering in their signature style (i.e., funny!).

And that concludes day four for me. Good grief, it's 12:30 a.m. AGAIN! Thank goodness it's a bit of a later start tomorrow, with my first film not scheduled util 10:15.

Celebrity Sightings: Alex Pettyfer, Alexander Payne, Margo Martindale, Zach Braff, Rachel Bilson, Jacinda Barrett, Tony Goldwyn, Schuyler Fisk, Fisher Stevens, Gabriel Macht, Paul Haggis, Jason Biggs, Michael Ian Black and Michael Weston.

Crappiest Crap I Consumed Today: Three (two fresh, one very stale) Tim Horton’s triple-chocolate cookies.

Line Buzz: It was hard to get any buzz around the Army, but I did hear from a couple of people later on that Babel was excellent.

Weather for Tomorrow: Partly cloudy. High near 17C.


Angela said...

Baaaabyyyy shark! Do do do-do do-do...

Summercamp! was everything Vickic said it would be! I laughed my @$$ off. And I brought 5 tissues plus some toilet paper I wadded up in my pocket from my trip to the loo just before the show, and I used them all. Could have done with one more tissue.

It was cool that the director and campers/counselors came to the opening night screening. What was even cooler is that they all stuck around for the second screening on Sunday morning! Yep, Cameron and Holly were there! And even their moms came on stage to answer some questions during the Q&A.

I'll never look at chickadees the same way again.

Linda said...

Unsurprising that Christopher Doyle's short film was confounding. A glorious cinematographer as he is, he should definitely stick to helming the lens. I found his directorial feature debut Away With Words (which I found on eBay) completely baffling, and oft annoying, despite being lusciously filmed. Oh well.

And, oh my, what up with the mean playground antics of the bullies in line? Why do adults act like that? I'd like to say that I'd give them a good, swift kick in the ass, but people in Seattle are know to be extremely non-confrontational to others, unless it involves someone leaving their dog in a car (I'm serious... practically saw a brawl on a sidewalk over that one). Anyways... hope you don't run into them again! :(

The_Voice said...

After regetfully not doing more with the line budders for Penelope, I would've probably doubled my efforts on those guys in double form:


2) Loudly calling over a headset person mentioning that they were scalping... I'm sure the festival doesn't take kindly to that and the guys would be removed or at least silenced. People like that aren't prepared to get caught doing something illegal.

AlmostFamous said...

Every year without fail I have been offered a ticket or two to a screening that a fellow fester cannot attend for one reason or another. Ofetn it's after a pleasant line-up conversation, but there have been times where someone has just walked up to me on the street and said "Hey, d'you want to see a film?".

I should add that these people have never asked a dime for their tickets.

Asking for any extra cream on top of face cost really isn't in the spirit of what this festival is about...and it's really too bad that girl had to be taunted like that.

Ten bucks says The Army of the Odiously Obnoxious ended up not even liking the movie anyway.

Anonymous said...

The lieutenant was an asshole. Unfortunately, I had only slept an hour the night before so I couldn't even really comprehend what the Captain of the Army was saying to the Girl with the you, I wanted to say something but I was too weary...I got the gist of the situation only because my brain digested bits and pieces...were you the blond/approx. 3rd-in-line in the Ticket Holder Line?

Vickie said...

anonymous, you have no idea how much I regret not taking action. And I'm not sure exactly how close we were to the front of the line, but definitely within the first 10-12 people.

Anonymous said...

Vickie, I thought the Army was standing behind you. Was it the skinny-faced guy or the ipod guy who the bigger ass? hehe I was at the "Pleasure..." screening too.

Vickie said...

Yep, they were behind me, but I don't remember how many were in front of us. I think there were four of five people ahead of us in line...? More people started joining the line, and we all started clumping by the time we went in.

I think the ass was the guy you're referring to as "skinny-faced." I just remember thinking he looked Euro-trashy...fake tan, gold chain, coiffed hair worthy of a Gotti brother. He was thin, though. (Don't remember the iPod guy, I don't think.) And there was the blonde girl who was with them.