Tuesday, September 11, 2007

TIFF #8 (Vickie’s Diary) : Ow

Okay, so, somehow and somewhere I must have turned my head in the wrong way and secretly wrenched my neck, because I woke up this morning mostly unable to turn my head to the left. Like, at all, without pain. Ask me how much fun this made watching movies today.

First up was Breakfast With Scot (6/8), a charming comedy about a gay couple – a former NHLer still mostly in the closet (Tom Cavanagh) and his partner (Ben Shenkman) – who find themselves saddled with the world’s most effeminate little boy (Noah Bernett), who prances around in boas and sings Christmas carols at the top of his lungs. It’s a different twist on the coming-out movie, and a film about accepting ourselves as much as we accept other people. It was a nice, warm and fuzzy way to start the morning.

After Breakfast, I decided it was time for lunch. I had a gap between 11am and just after noon, so I thought I’d try to have a substantial meal to tide me over through the afternoon. I opted for what turned out to be a gigantic plate of fresh-made spaghetti with garlic bread...but I got about 2/3 of the way through and suddenly realized I was really, really full. Like, “if I eat one more forkful of this spaghetti my stomach may actually explode” full. I waddled back to the Scotiabank to continue my filmgoing.

I followed that with The World Unseen (4/8), a drama about two Indian women who fall in love – sorta – in 1950s South Africa. I say they “sorta” fall in love because their stories take a backseat to so many others that I kept waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting for the actors (Lisa Ray, Sheetal Sheth) to have scenes together, let alone begin falling for each other. I actually checked my watch at the moment where they finally start to give in to their feelings, and it was around the 75-minute mark. Both women were hot and should have hooked up (however mildly) much earlier, but all the extraneous plotlines about the effects of apartheid on a whole gaggle of characters took up far too much screen time, in my opinion.

Next was Operation Filmmaker (7/8), a terrific documentary that follows an Iraqi film student named Muthana, who’s interviewed on MTV after the start of the Iraq war and whose story so touches actor Liev Schreiber that he invites Muthana to work as a production assistant on his directorial debut Everything is Illuminated. But what begins as an altruistic, humanitarian gesture slowly becomes a huge nightmare, and Muthana – once the grateful, eager young man – becomes an entitled, annoying jerk. It was fascinating to watch him work the film crew, the director (Nina Davenport) and assorted people who cross his path.

In case you’re wondering how other people felt about his behavior, I offer this: after the film, I was in the washroom and overheard two women come in discussing the film. One woman, in a very disgusted voice, said of Muthana, “What a spoiled, narcissistic, egotistical, opportunistic asshole.” Nice!

Last up was King of California (6/8), a quirky relationship comedy about a recently released mental patient (Michael Douglas, channeling Robin Williams circa The Fisher King) who convinces his teenaged daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) to embark on a treasure hunt to find a cache of gold he believes is buried underneath the local Costco. It was a great little story, nicely compact and well-acted, and its ending made me smile.

As a general aside: has anyone else noticed dwindling numbers at the fest this year? I’ve noticed quite a few screenings that haven’t been full, and I’ve chatted with a couple of people who said they noticed the same thing. I imagine part of it has to do with the increase in prices and the elimination of the 30-coupon book (did you lodge your complaint yet?), but it is kind of odd.

As a more specific aside, and a little blast from the past for regular 'Pie readers: today I watched as Mouthy Martha almost, ALMOST, tripped on some stairs. And then felt kind of happy. And then felt like I was probably going straight to Hell.

Celebrity Sightings: Michael Douglas, Laurie Lynd and maybe Julie Taymor (I really can’t be certain it was her, but I’m counting it just in case).

Roger Ebert Sightings: No.

Random Factoid of the Day: Trying to cram a full day’s worth of food into a single meal is a recipe for disaster.

Weather For Tomorrow: Perrrrfect! Partly cloudly, with a high of 19ºC. Bring a sweater AGAIN!

Line Buzz: Good buzz on Fados and great buzz on The Secrets.


Matt said...

I've not heard anything about ticket sales. I do believe there are more screenings this year (many films have three public showings) so there are more seats.

And there are always empty seats the second week, especially during the day. Personally, I think in its attempt to hype its successes, the festival gives locals the false impression that tickets to good films are always hard to get. Many people who ask at the theatre are surprised to hear it's still possible to get tickets.

Oh, and from Monday's "Weather For Tomorrow" you missed "Lightning and torrential downpour at 8:30 pm."

Linda said...

As a future hopeful TIFFer, I find the whole ticket shenanigans to be intriguing. As people clamber to get the tickets on their list (and are sometimes disappointed, per what "box" is drawn)... it sounds like at the same time many screenings are not full.

Is the fest top-heavy? Do all the celebs--and audiences--turn out for opening weekend and then flee town? How realistic is it to just, say, "show up" at the fest and buy tix at the door, especially after the first weekend? And how much is the average walk-up ticket? Just curious!

Operation Filmmaker sounds really interesting... do you think this guy Muthana may wage a one-man campaign to discredit the film if it gets distribution? Was there any inkling what his response to the doc was, if he'd seen it?

As for The World Unseen... what a waste to have two hot actresses and find yourself checking your watch, waiting for them to hook up. ;)

Matt said...

The fest is definitely top-heavy, at least as far as big Hollywood pics go. However, there are still a lot of press and industry folks around (many leave Friday).

If you go to the online ordering page, you'll see you can still get tix for most remaining films. ("O/S" is sold out; if the price is shown it isn't.) And, the lines at the main box offices are noticeably shorter in the second week, so getting more tickets is less of a hassle than the horror stories from earlier. Also, same-day tickets can be bought at the venue.

And having stood a couple of feet from Lisa Ray at the Water premiere, I can say she's just as radiant in person.

Linda said...

Whoooeeee! $19.34 for a "regular" screening! SIFF bumped up to $10 US this year, and that felt kind of tight. ;)

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

Wow, where'd you go for spaghetti by Scotiabank? I usually hit up EAST, on Queen just E of John. Good prices (10% off with TIFF Tix) and their R23 is great (General Tso Chicken).

I've only attended one screening that truly felt sold out, and that was Encounters at the End of the World. They've added more screenings for sure like Matt said, and also 2 screens (additional one at Scotia and Jackman Hall).

I think the fest is top heavy with industry folks, but the final weekend gets nuts with people trying to use up their vouchers.

Lou said...

Sorry about your neck and hope it's better by now. Cool that you saw Michael Douglas. Seems to me there are more bad films than usual.

Vickie said...

Actually, there are fewer bad films overall, but the few bad films I've seen have been REALLY bad. (I'm looking at you, Aaron Eckhart.)

Shannon, I actually marched up to the Atrium on Bay for my spaghetti. It was super-cheap -- $3.50 for a "small" (which is actually not-so-small), and the pasta was fresh made (there was a guy making a new batch when I ordered).

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

Ah, Atrium on Bay - brilliant. That'd be a good spot for by Ryerson too.

Vickie said...

It's my go-to stop between screenings at the Ryerson...and it's especially good during off-peak hours (before noon and after 2pm) when the seating area is nice and empty. Plus, if you're nice to the guy at Vinnie's, he might give you free garlic bread!

Paul said...

It's my washroom destination when travelling between Paramount and Ryerson too :)