Saturday, September 08, 2007

Three out of Four? Not bad.

(Note: This TIFF entry was originally posted on The Film Experience, as part of my guest blogging duties during the festival. I am reprinting it here for archival/linking purposes.)

Caffeinated products consumed today: 4
Solid food products consumed today: 0.5

So guys and gals, listen up. Not only did I get to fulfill my celebrity-sighting dream yesterday; I was able to do it twice, both times in close succession! First, I got to see the ethereal Tilda Swinton in all her statuesque glory during the introduction to The Man from London screening at 6pm. Director Bela Tarr spoke first (offering up the expected thanks and appreciation to the festival programmers for including the film and to audience members for attending), and called this effort "straight from the heart." Then... he brought Tilda up to the front. (If you must know Nathaniel, she was rather conservative this time around in a black knee-length dress with her hair swept back as usual.) She talked about how she was thrilled to do this film even though she only appears for about four minutes or so (actually, I'd say it's more like seven to nine, but more on that later.) She ended off with calling this latest project of his "medieval, but truly modern in a super-sonic way." Thought it was strange at first, but now having seen it, I couldn't have said it better myself. Oh Tilda.

She was unable to attend the Q&A session following the film, since Michael Clayton was enjoying its North American premiere at Roy Thomson Hall at roughly the same time. I happened to walk by the venue after the London screening (around 8:30-ish) and miraculously caught sight of her again inching down the red carpet and posing amidst the blinding flashes (although I had to strain considerably to do so, on account of the huuuuuuuge crowd that had gathered outside with cameras in tow.) I wish I could find a picture right now; perhaps one will be up in the next couple of hours on the TIFF website, or the in today's newspapers/on-line magazines (I'll use an older one for now.) I will be watching the Tony Gilroy film tomor-- yikes, in a matter of hours! Films that play at the RTH usually have a smaller-scale screening the next day at the Ryerson, so do you think I'll be lucky enough to see her again? Celebs usually skip early morning to noon-ish time slots on account of partying hard the night before, but Tilda is not just any other celeb, as you know. Imagine a triple-dose of the Swinton in one festival! Last year, I had that streak with James McAvoy.

So what was on the itinerary today? I spent the entire day at the Scotiabank Theatre (formerly known as the Paramount), heading outside only for coffee breaks and to stretch my ever-cramping legs.

My day began early with You, the Living by Roy Andersson; you can read my full-length review over here. You may recall that he won the Jury Prize at Cannes a couple of years ago for Songs from the Second Floor. I haven't seen that film, but I wasn't too impressed with his latest effort... the many segments (starring a cast of dozens and dozens) are entertaining enough in parts, but randomly assembled and barely hold together.

Also, my review for Barbet Schroeder's disorienting (in a good way) L'Avocat de la terreur [Terror's Advocate], a documentary about Jacques Verg├Ęs, the outspoken French lawyer who defended a host of disreputable figures, from terrorists to war criminals... why?

California Dreamin' (Endless) is on a lot of people's minds right now, not only because the attention is on Romanian cinema these days, but because of the project's tragic behind-the-scenes history. About a year ago, the film's director Cristian Nemescu died unexpectedly in a car accident (along with Andrei Toncu, sound designer, and the taxi cab driver in the driver's seat.) Thematically, the film deals with the issue of border-crossing and how this relationship between national powers is not always reciprocal and marred by unequal power dynamics and double standards (specifically between the United States and most "Third World" countries.) I will pass on writing a review (for now), only because my handwritten notes go on for yards, and there's simply too much to cover. Suffice it to say, it is a shame that this talented writer-director will not be able to follow up in the future. The length is somewhat of an issue (which will not be tampered with, since this is the cut that Nemescu left us with) , but overall I was excited to see that his critiques are subtle and well-articulated. Highly recommended, and I'll report back with more thoughts once I think it through a little more. B

Finally, my review for The Man from London should be up in a couple of hours. (Pst, it's a B as well.)

So, three out of four isn't bad at all for Day One. I've had worse starts to the festival in previously years.

Celebrity sightings of the day: Tilda Swinton, Bela Tarr and Jamie Elman (one of the leads of California Dreamin')

The Rest of the Fest:
For thoughts on Michael Clayton and Juno, click here.
For thoughts on Nothing is Private, click here.
For closing thoughts on the final set of films I watched, click here.

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