Monday, September 11, 2006

TIFF 2006 #7: Where Has the Rogers Cable 10 Festival Coverage Gone???

I’d like to begin today’s entry by asking the above question. Seriously, what happened? Used to be, Rogers would air wall-to-wall, 24-hour coverage of the fest for its entire duration. You could turn on cable 10 at any hour of the night or day and be treated to a press conference, symposium session, random interviews or tons of red-carpet shenanigans. It was all TIFF, all the time, for ten days straight. And it was FABULOUS.

But this year, not so much.

This year, the coverage has been scaled back to near non-existent status. They’ve gone from airing just about every press conference available to airing two per day and then repeating those two, like, six times in four hours. And I know it’s about four hours because they’ve also cut down on Rushes, Reel to Real and all extraneous happenings. No more symposiums. This year, TIFF coverage has been relegated to a few hours per day, and the programming in those hours is a repetitive loop. Last night, over the course of maybe 2 ½ hours, they ran the press conference for Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show three times! This morning I turned it on, hoping for something new, and it was an episode of Goldhawk Live! What the hell?!

So I ask: why? Who made that call? Who thought it would be a great idea to take one of the greatest television resources during TIFF and trim it down to nothing? Apparently, press conferences are now available through Rogers’ “on-demand” service, but guess what? Plenty of people don’t have that service. I know I don’t. Do hotels here get it? I dunno. but if they don’t then Rogers is also giving the finger to a ton of visiting press and industry folks…many of whom have complimented the coverage in years past. And that kind of sucks.

But onto movies…

First up today was Werner Herzog’s new drama Rescue Dawn (6/8), which stars Christian Bale as real-life PoW Dieter Dengler, an American navy pilot captured and tortured in Laos during the Vietnam War. The film co-stars Steve Zahn (in a wonderfully strong non-Steve Zahnian role) and Jeremy Davies as two of Dengler’s fellow prisoners, who conspire with him to escape. Like Bale’s last TIFF flick, The Machinist, this one required him and his fellow cast members to lose a dramatic amount of weight. Davies, for one, looks frighteningly emaciated. The movie was pretty good, sticking to the standard PoW format (capture, torture, adjustment to camp life, etc.), and the fact that the story is based on true events makes it strangely effective and unbelievable.

Before the film started, the random TIFF staffer assigned to intro the film said very clearly that there would not be any Q&A, since no one from the film was in attendance. Cut to the end of the film, as the closing credits begin, when a voice came over the P.A. system to say that there would be a Q&A if we wanted to stick around. So many of us did, and were treated (?) to Jeremy Davies being dragged onstage after his presence must have been detected in the theater. He looked like answering questions was the last thing he wanted to be doing, and he spoke so softly and mumbly that it was sometimes hard to understand what he was saying. It felt very thrown-together, and I kind of felt bad that he was being forced to stand up there when it seemed like he’d much rather have been napping somewhere else.

Next on the card was 10 Items or Less (7/8), the newest film from writer-director Brad Silberling, whose Moonlight Mile was my absolute favourite film of TIFF 2002. While this one didn’t quite live up to the festivial magnificence of its predecessor (and, really, how could it?), it was still really, really good. It’s essentially a two-person character study about the day-long friendship that develops between a big-time movie star (Morgan Freeman) and the spirited grocery store clerk (Paz Vega) he meets while researching a project. Both Freeman and Vega were excellent, and the movie – like MM -- was quietly affecting. It was funny and touching, and it had a sublimely perfect ending. Since it was the film’s world premiere, and the first time the actors were seeing it (as per Brad’s introductory speech), both Freeman and Vega were there, which was nice for a 3:30 afternoon screening.

In line beforehand, I also chatted with two TIFF first-timers, who were there for their very first TIFF film ever. I congratulated them on this new adventure.

My last film of the day was also the one I was looking forward to least. I picked it only because I didn’t get a ticket to Little Children. So, instead, I went to see Scott Caan’s sophomore directorial effort The Dog Problem (4/8).

The screening experience didn’t get off to a great start because, even though I arrived almost an hour before the scheduled start time and had foolishly assumed the film wouldn’t be much of a draw, the line already stretched around the corner onto Church Street. I was shocked! There was also a rush line, which was even more amazing. Who knew? I thought this one would be poorly attended, but no. There was actually a CROWD.

The movie was supposed to start at 8:30 p.m. When I looked at my watch and saw that it was 8:25 p.m. and there was no sign of us being let in, I knew we’d be very late. And we were. They finally let us in just before 9, and the movie didn’t start until around 9:15. Sadly, it was just as meh as Caan’s first film, Dallas 362. After the world’s longest and most needlessly elaborate opening-credits sequence (seriously, it just went on and on and ONNNNN), the film unfolded to tell the story of Solo (Giovanni Ribisi) on a quest to do…something. Find meaning in his life. Get money. Get a girl. Get a dog. The latter provides the impetus for the action, and the dog was actually the best thing about the whole film. Supporting players included Caan, as Solo’s best friend, and Lynn Collins, as the stripper who winds up entangled in Solo’s life. Not much happens in the film, but holy hell is it ever WORDY. Characters take pages and pages to say anything, and after a while the relentless banter (much of it empty and repetitive) got annoying.

But that Scott Caan is one likable fellow, I tell you. Because, once again, he held court for a highly entertaining Q&A alongside Ribisi and co-star Mena Suvari (who plays a very Paris Hilton-esque rich girl turned dog trainer). They were funny and self-deprecating, and they made it worth my while to stick around.

The day’s done and now I am supremely sleeeeee-PEEEEEEE. Tomorrow is my five-movie day and I am afeared that I won’t make it. Five movies, back to back, starting at 8:45 a.m. and ending just before 11 p.m.

Oh, and just because Mother Nature sometimes likes to make me cry, the forecast for tomorrow is rain, and four of those five movies will feature outdoor line-ups.


Celebrity Sightings: Jeremy Davies, Paz Vega, Morgan Freeman, Brad Silberling, Scott Caan, Giovanni Ribisi, Mena Suvari.

Crappiest Crap I Consumed Today: While not technically “crap” because of its nutritional value, my breakfast of a GeniSoy protein bar was decidedly disappointing.

Line Buzz: Still more good word on Babel.

Weather for Tomorrow: RAIN. Boo! High near 18C.


the_voice said...

Actually, at the world premiere of Rescue Dawn on the Saturday night, there was a Q&A with the director, Christian Bale and Davies, and Davies was just as nervous, sccatterbrained and mumbly. I think he's a shy one, and they really shouldn't have had him on for the second showing if he didn't want to. Maybe he toughed it out because he didn't want to dissapoint people who enjoyed the film.

Matt said...

As for Rogers, they're always at the Ryerson interviewing people on the red carpet, so it's silly that they're not showing the content more widely. Rogers On Demand is only available to their digital cable subscribers (and probably doesn't work with wacky hotel TVs).

Denette said...

Would you like to know why Rogers isn't airing more from the festival? Because I am on maternity leave from TVG, where I used to have to write all the endless, monotonous copy for all the press conferences, etc. and have to stay there until it was finished and uploaded for the digital boxes. Of COURSE they lightened up the programming the year I wasn't doing it. Of COURSE. F-word.

Vickie said...

There is only so much they can demand of your inept replacement(s), Denette. ;-)