Friday, September 12, 2008

Toronto Dispatch, part 2

The last few days of the Toronto festival settle down. The crowds thin out and because the high profile films are front-loaded, the last few days give you a chance to look at films you may not have otherwise. Back in Nashville now, I'm looking forward to a few weeks from now when the weather approaches Toronto levels of pleasantness. Here's the log for the last half of this year's Toronto film festival, again with varying degrees of objectivity...

CHE - Part 1
In which Che takes the eastern half of Cuba. Cinemascope: such a wide world! So many possibilities

CHE - Part 2
In which Che leads a failed revolution in Bolivia. 1.85: Now hunted, Che's world narrows!

Mickey Rourke as a washed up wrestler. Director Darren Aronofsky shows off some new tricks he learned from the Dardennes. Rourke astonishes.

Japanese Midnight offering in which mushroom-haircut countryboy with a love for cheesey pop finds himself as an idolized satanist frontman of a death metal band bound for a face-off guitar collision with Gene Simmons. Yes, really.

Wherein a boy raised by his grandmother is scooped up and taken to an Argentine "paradise", but all I saw was a lot of rain.

Poor boy from the favela gets rich girl from Impanema. Yes, really.

Biopic on Chess Records' founder Leonard Chess

Those French horror guys sure are angry...and suitably deranged.

Bill Maher, half-Catholic half-Jew, does his best to preach the Gospel of Doubt. He succeeds.

Another director of economy Kelly Reichardt (OLD JOY) delivers another tale set in and around Portland, OR, this time with Michelle Williams as an introverted Vagabond-like girl with car issues and a lost dog. Would make a great double feature with THE DARK KNIGHT as Williams' introvert contrasts beautifully with Ledger's troubled Joker considering that they were made at roughly the same time in their lives, post-seperation, mirroring what may have been Williams' frame of mind against what certainly was Ledger's.

Midnight offiering wherein Jean Claude Van Damme plays himself, loses gigs to Steven Seagal and gets sucked into a robbery in his native Belgium.

The true story of an ill-fated informer playing the Brits against the IRA. With Ben Kingsley, who seems to be everywhere lately: A British agent in this one, snogging Penelope Cruz in ELEGY, taking bong hits THE WACKNESS. Hopefully soon to be seen battling Darth Whosit with a bullwhip in some Spielberg/Lucas hybrid. Or maybe playing himself losing gigs to Steven Seagal.

Follows a 3-day music festival centered around the "Rumble in the Jungle": the Ali/Foreman fight in 1974 Zaire. Performers include Miriam Makeba, the Spinners, Franco & OK Jazz, Bill Withers, Afrisa and peak-form James Brown.

Doc centered around the making of and world tour of N'Dour's "Egypt" record, a brave defense of his Islamic faith in the wake of 9/11.

A horror film for linguists and radio personalities

Davis Guggenheim gets Jimmy Page, the Edge and Jack White in a room, but all summarizes their careers. Some nice footage of rural Franklin, TN in the process...

Other observances:

- The Manulife building where the press and industry screenings are held has a rooftop bar with an amazing view. I always find the cool stuff on the last day in town.

- Common threads: cross-referencing of IRA figures in HUNGER and FIFTY DEAD MEN WALKING. Muddy Waters' first cut of "I Can't Be Satisfied" with just guitar and an upright bass is dramatized in WHO DO YOU LOVE, then heard in actuality in IT MIGHT BE LOUD.

- A Youssou N'Dour performance has a formula: 3 upbeat songs, 1 synthy ballad, 3 upbeat song, 1 synthy ballad.

- Elizabeth Banks: LOVELY, STILL and ZACK AND MIRI. I saw these two back-to-back by accident. She's purty.

- Toronto's street hot dog kiosks beat the hell out of any dog in Nashville. The city is also an enviable model of diversity and harmony. And the human beauty quotient is quite remarkable as well.

- Film execs go to strip clubs named the Brass Rail and Zanzibar, who are evidently owned by the same "really nice guy". No word on the Brass Stables' owner, but I've invited them to Nashville to find out.

- Kevin Smith is now a considerably larger man than Michael Moore. Much much larger. Much.

- Think Atlanta's bad? Toronto sprawl encompasses even more municipalities, some of which can be seen from the top of the Manulife building.

- A few of the films at Toronto have been secured for dates at the Belcourt, but for fear of the jinx, I can't tell you which. Keep an eye to the website.

Signing out...

Toby Leonard


Josh said...

That sentence about bookings makes me quite happy - there's a lot of those Toronto flicks that sounded great. I'm really hoping for JCVD, Martyrs, and The Good, The Bad, and the Weird. And, of course, Che, but who knows if that would ever happen.

Toby said...

CHE got picked up by IFC who also has GOOD BAD WIERD, so very likely. The manner of the release has yet to be seen. My problem w CHE is that, though Part 1 could stand alone, Part 2 doesn't hold up. If they decide, as is rumored, to play them a week apart, then that would be unfortunate. Let us hope otherwise...

wraith7000 said...


mr. pink said...

Did you see NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD, and is there a chance of you all getting it? (With an Australian grindhouse retro, of course....)

Toby said...

Didn't catch NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD, but I hope to soon...

The first of the Toronto films is dated: Mike Leigh's HAPPY-GO-LUCKY will open on 10/31 at the Belcourt....

Zan said...

Arggh..I wish I'd known about that rooftop bar. Thanks for the heads up; I'll have to add to to next year's to-do list.
I went to the fest for the first time this year and fell in love with Toronto.
Fav film was "Rachael Getting Married" -- it is superb.

Zan said...

So, hey, how about selling those Toronto-style hotdogs at the Belcourt, especially the spicy Italian ones? I think I became addicted while in Toronto. Total Yumness.