Friday, September 01, 2006

Thoughts on Toronto

I thought I would refrain from talking about the upcoming film festival in Toronto for a few days, precisely because I still have no idea what I'm going to see. I can speak endlessly about my anticipation for the new Kim Ki-Duk or Werner Herzog films, but what is the point if nothing is for sure yet? But then again, this does not prohibit me from talking about what I would like to see, even if first dibs end up going to other people. The system works like this: if you've bought coupon booklets way in advance (like I did), you get a primary round to make your selections before the public can buy individual tickets. Your picks are then placed in a random draw; how well you do here can greatly influence whether you have a fantastic time (i.e. you get all your first choices) or a miserable one (you get one or two.) So until advance draws begin late next week, I have no idea whether I'll be able to see everything I want to. If all else fails, I can definitely resort to deperate measures and join rush lineups outside the theater. I've had good luck before (getting into "sold out" screenings such as Dogville, Brokeback Mountain, etc.)

Right now, I have the festival programme and order booklet in front of me, trying to choose from a wealth of potential treasures. It is frustrating, because sometimes a film fits into your schedule, but begins across town exactly at the time another of your choices finishes. It's tricky trying to factor in commuting, director/programmer intros, question and answer sessions, delays, etc.) I remember two years ago, a screening of The Machinist (which was supposed to begin at midnight) was pushed back for an hour-and-a-half. It was about three in the morning when we were let out.

As always, the programmers have done a fantastic job picking and choosing the most high-profile (as well as the hard-to-find) titles enjoying buzz right now. We have everything from Oscar bait (All the King's Men) to foreign extractions. Surprisingly, David Lynch's Inland Empire failed to make an appearance on the film list, which is strange considering Mulholland Dr. had its North American premiere here. Strange anomalies like this show up from time to time. More missing from the slate: Marie Antoinette, Hollywoodland, Children of Men and The Black Dahlia.

I know for sure that Volver, The Fountain, Little Children, Offside (Jafar Panahi), Time (Kim), Syndromes and a Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul), Jindabyne (on Glenn's recommendation), and The Magic Flute (Kenneth Branagh) are musts right now (even though some are slated to open not long after in the Toronto market.) I know I could potentially wait for something like, say, Little Children which opens in October, but I don't think I'll have the willpower. Plus, if I get to see Kate Winslet in person, that is worth every extra penny on the ticket. I'm also adamant on making a screening of Mira Nair's The Namesake; many of you know I have been waiting to see this more than a year. However, the situation has changed: the release date has moved from this November to March of 2007. I'm scared this will become one of those films that keeps getting pushed back until everyone has lost interest - Nair needs excellent reviews here to ensure Fox is 100% behind the film.

Sadly, I won't be able to make For Your Consideration, which is playing at inconvenient times (read: I have class - sucks, yeah.) In an interesting bit of trivia, the film is an hour and thirteen minutes long! That's almost shockingly brief - what's the idea, Chris? Usually his films have extra footage galore, but apparently not here. Also sadly missing out on I Don't Want to Sleep Alone (Tsai Ming-liang, director of The Wayward Cloud, the best film you will never see this year), The Journals of Knud Rasmussen (Zacharius Kunuk, Norman Cohn), Manufactured Landscapes (Jennifer Baichwal), A Few Days Later... (Niki Karimi), After the Wedding (Susanne Bier) and so many more.

Anyways, here is a tentative list of what I am hoping for; in any case, I will update on Monday about what I will be seeing for sure.

The Magic Flute (Kenneth Branagh)
The Wind That Shakes the Barley (Ken Loach)
Big Bang Love, Juvenile A (Takashi Miike)
Time (Kim Ki-Duk)
Brand Upon the Brain! (Guy Maddin)
Volver (Pedro Almodóvar)
Penelope (Mark Palansky)
The Fall (Tarsem Singh)
Stranger Than Fiction (Marc Forster)
Babel (Alejandro González Iñárritu)
Pan's Labyrinth (Guillermo Del Toro)
Offside (Jafar Panahi)
Little Children (Todd Field)
The Last King of Scotland (Kevin MacDonald)
Shortbus (John Cameron Mitchell)
The Fountain (Darren Aronofsky)
The Namesake (Mira Nair)
Starter For Ten (Tom Vaughan)
Breaking and Entering (Anthony Minghella)
Bobby (Emilio Estevez)
Infamous (Patrick McGrath)
Jindabyne (Ray Lawrence)
Syndromes and a Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
To Get to Heaven First You Have to Die (Jamshed Usmonov)
Times and Winds (Reha Erdem)
Cashback (Sean Ellis)
Rescue Dawn (Werner Herzog)
Outsourced (John Jeffcoat)

EDIT: I also have the option of "wasting" a ticket on an evening with Michael Moore, who will discuss his filmography and show sneak peeks of Sicko. What do you all think?
EDIT 2: Made some slight changes to the list here and there... Sorry, because Blogger is on crack and decided to be difficult about html tags (wtf?), all your comments were deleted. To respond: I wish all of you were coming too, and I will be updating as much as possible with capsule reviews, grades, pictures and other gushy celebrity gossip.


jesse said...

You must see The Namesake. I'm glad it's your first priority.

Out of the list I've seen Volver, which I can heartily recommend.

Off your list, I'd most want to see The Magic Flute (but where the hell is As You Like It?), Little Children, Shortbus, Starter for Ten, Breaking and Entering and To Get to Heaven....

I didn't like Capote at all, and so that kind of turns me off to Infamous, but the cast (Paltrow? Davis? Stevensen? Rossellini?) seems to indicate a much more interesting film than the one we got last year.

Ali said...

I was all gung-ho on The Namesake as soon as I heard it was screening here, but the release date delay has made me even more determined. If I don't get in now, I'm lining up three hours prior in the rush queue.

I'm very jealous you got to see Volver; I presume you did this while in the U.K. Are you going to be posting thoughts, pictures of your trip soon?

As You Like It does not have a North American distributor, and judging from what I've heard, it will probably make it here on DVD (if that.) It's not like it's still in post-production; I read test screening reviews several months ago.

I still don't get your dislike for Capote, especially the talent in front of the camera. I prefer that film's cast to the one here (although I am trying not to judge, and am instead going in with an open, curious mind.)

Nick M. said...

I forgot to tell you -- I nearly booked a flight headed and bought a pass for Toronto last week. The trip would have only cost me roughly 750 dollars (including film fest pass and airfare). My friend is going (and his parents are paying for his hotel), so lodging would have been free -- or, you know, I could have slept in the movie theater overnight.

After informing my parents that I would miss the first week of school, the trip was quickly cancelled. Pssh, priorities, priorites. Such nonsense.

(Speaking of academic obligations -- skip your class and go see For Your Consideration)

Ali said...

It's the first week, and especially in the case of fourth-year seminars, if you miss a class, you're thrown out immediately. As much as I love Christopher Guest, I'm not willing to mess up my schedule for the next year. FYC will release eventually, I am sure.

Your friend's parents are paying for his hotel? Wow, if only I could convince my dad to do the same thing...