kenmorefield

TIFF 2016

43 posts in this topic

Andrew, how do you do with slooooow cinema? I watched Death of Louis XIV a few days ago. By Serra's standards, it's relatively audience friendly, but I can imagine it generating a lot of walkouts. Just fair warning.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Since I've been to TIFF ten times, I was thinking about a blog post about my 10 favorite TIFF experiences. (Not necessarily 10 best movies, but ten favorite movie experiences at TIFF). Not sure if I'll get around to it, but in no particular order, I think they would include:

  • Persepolis
  • Pervert's Guide to Cinema
  • Lourdes
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • An Education
  • Tyrannosaur
  • 2 Days, 1 Night
  • Still Walking (My Little Sister is a better film, but I loved how Koreeda stood in lobby of ScotiaBank and spoke to *everyone* who still had a question after Q&A.
  • Over Your Cities, Grass Will Grow (I was so-so on movie, but we got there just in nick of time and rep gave us reserved seat next to Sophie Fiennes. Plus Cindy loves Anselm Kiefer's work and that was the one year she was with me.)
  • Blue Valentine / Artifact (BV was better movie, but I have never seen the Ryerson go apes--t crazy quite like the way it did when Jared Leto came out for Q&A.)

    Honorable mention: playing disc golf with Doug C on island in Toronto Harbor. Still not sure how I managed to carve out an afternoon *away* from the movies back then, but I'm glad I did.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Darren:  do you happen to know if Jean-Pierre Leaud will be attending the screening of Death of Louis XIV?  Truth be told, the chance of seeing/hearing this actor in person is the driving force for seeking out this screening.  But I also dig French history, so I'm game for this aspect of Serra's film, too.  I'm not a particular fan of slow contemplative cinema, being more of a narrative- and character-driven viewer.  (Unless you count Ozu as slow cinema, then I'm all about it.)

Ken:  I, for one, would love to see such an article.  Those memories are at least as important as the films themselves.  During my two years, such experiences would include chatting in line for Spotlight with you, my wife Jessica, and the retired Toronto journalist; dinner with Doug and Katie; playing the flaneur across the length of the downtown (I've only used public transportation once); watching Mamoru Hosoda interact with kids after his film's screening; being in the presence of Charlie Hebdo journalists; hearing Werner Herzog talk about seeking the 'ecstatic truth' in filmmaking; Q&A with Patricio Guzman after The Pearl Button; seeing my wife swoon when Idris Elba stepped onto the stage prior to Beasts of No Nation (she's endured plenty of subsequent teasing for that one).  Those are the ones just off the top of my head.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Andrew, I don't think JPL is traveling much these days. Let's just say that he's very believable as a dying man in the film. His name isn't on the guest list.

What a fun game! Most of my fondest memories now are meals, drinks, and parties shared with friends, or interviews with heroes, but here are the first eleven, great, in-a-theater moments from my trips. In no particular order:

1. Arriving late to Tomorrow We Move and discovering only after the film ended that I'd been sitting beside Jonathan Rosenbaum. When Chantal Akerman came up for the Q&A, he and I both asked questions. That was at my first TIFF in 2004--my first festival of any kind--and I couldn't believe Akerman was right there, answering my question.

2. Seeing Colossal Youth, Still Life/Dong, and Syndromes and a Century over a four-day span. I'd never seen anything by Costa, Jia, or Apitchatpong before. 2006 was by far the strongest festival lineup I've ever gotten to enjoy.

3. Sitting a few feet from Michael Snow during a screening of Wavelength. Basically, my love of a-g cinema was born then.

4. Weeping during The Loneliest Planet. Like, crying so hard I was afraid the strangers sitting around me would become worried. (It's a long story only partly related to the film.)

5. Listening to Tsai Ming-liang talk about his love of Grace Chang musicals after an archival screening of The Wild, Wild Rose.

6. When Jeanne Moreau walked by me, close enough that I could smell her perfume.

7. All the times I got see films by Nathaniel Dorsky and hear him talk about them.

8. Watching 35 Shots of Rum for the first time and feeling the energy in the entire room change when "Night Shift" came on.

9. Ousmane Sembène spontaneously inviting everyone at the Isabel Bader theater outside to continue the conversation about Moolade.

10. Listening to Agnes Varda talk for nearly an hour after an archival screening of Le Pointe Courte.

11. Theo Angelopoulos introducing The Weeping Meadow: "This is to be the first of three films about the life of a Greek woman who manages to survive the 20th century. This film is about the human condition.”

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ken, I've never been very good a predicting your tastes, but I watched A Quiet Passion last night and quite liked it, which is rare for me and Davies.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for head's up, D.

*****

Of course, under negative experiences I might include:
 

--Standing in intermittent rain until soaked for rush line of THE HOST only to call it as line started moving. (Have never forgot to bring umbrella since then.)
--Being stranded overnight in New York due to thunderstorm and missing first four movies (as well as sleeping on airport bench...fly direct, I guess.)
--Idiot couple sitting next to me who sat through 95% of House of Tolerance and got up to leave at the very end, ***stopping*** directly in front of me and blocking my view of screen at the shocking climactic moment of the film.

--Being late for a screening b/c subway was shut down by pro-Jesus parade only to have every third person on Yonge stop me and ask if I wanted to be saved. (I do, but...)
--Farewell to Language ... oops, we forgot the subtitles.
--Getting an e-mail from prospective employer 30 minutes before flight saying I needed to get a documented notarized and spending 1/2 a day wandering around Toronto looking for a notary.

--Nobody (especially Kazuo Insiguro) coming to the second public screening of NEVER LET ME GO because audience at red carpet Q&A was apparently belligerent.
--Sleeping with window open at B&B and realizing someone was doing a drug deal 10 feet from where I was lying in bed.

Honorable mention: Russ snores like a locomotive. (Though, really, it's always such a pleasure to see Russ...)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, kenmorefield said:

Honorable mention: Russ snores like a locomotive. (Though, really, it's always such a pleasure to see Russ...)

This is most certainly true.  The first sentence, I mean.  The good news is that the roar is significantly less intense now that I've misplaced some weight, but the bad news is that my nose and throat seem determined to retain my Permanent Snorer status, which is something that I really need to start disclosing to people in advance of falling asleep in their proximity.

 

If there's a bright side, I think you only ever had to endure one or two nights consecutive in the din.  I've only ever stayed in TOR at the Clarence Castle, the bunkbeds-and-granola bars hostel that Doug introduced us to.  Over the course of the five or six trips that I made this arrangement became troublesome bordering on creepy from the Wooderson Effect-- I kept getting older while the rest of the hostel's occupants stayed the same.  The year that I went for a week--2009--I reliably left early every morning for movies while the rest of the room slept and came back close to midnight.  I only ran into my "roomates" a couple times, and near the end of the week one Euro guy, seemingly egged on by others being in the room, wanted to passive-aggressively start something with me over the snoring.  I felt bad.  I'd been trying to sleep on my stomach to make it better, but I guess it didn't work.  I felt certain that I was gonna get Private Pyled, but it didn't happen.

 

Miss you, Ken.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

 I only ran into my "roomates" a couple times, and near the end of the week one Euro guy, seemingly egged on by others being in the room, wanted to passive-aggressively start something with me over the snoring.

I will now see Russ in my head every time I listen to Michael Jackson's "You Wanna Be Starting Something?"
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An excellent festival this year.  I only have one more review to post on my blog, but here’s a quick summary of the dozen movies I saw, from best to worst:

-          A Monster Calls – JA Bayona – deeply affecting fable of childhood grief

-          Into the Inferno – Werner Herzog – an excellent addition to his catalogue; it was neat to see WH’s interactions with the crowd afterwards – always nice to discover that one of your artistic heroes also seems like a fine human being

-          The Death of Louis XIV – Serra – won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I thought it was a superb meditation on mortality (and a reminder of how falsely most onscreen deaths are portrayed)

-          Things to Come – Hansen-Love – excellent post-divorce drama with Isabelle Huppert

-          Manchester by the Sea – Lonergan – psychologically rich family drama, with a mostly effective balance of tragic and comedic moments

-          Toni Erdmann – Ade – a seriously weird-ass father-daughter tale, with abundant surprises and uncomfortable humor

-          Graduation – Mungiu – another solid realist drama; during the Q&A, Mungiu showed himself to be one of the most philosophically articulate directors I’ve encountered

-          The B-Sides – Morris – a surprisingly low-key and tender doc from Errol Morris

-          Frantz – Ozon – a solid Hitchcockesque tale

-          Mascots – Guest – certainly derivative of “Best in Show,” but still hilarious; and Guest and his cast were a hoot during the Q&A

-          The Red Turtle – Dudok de Wit – good enough, but still a dip in quality from the usual caliber of Ghibli film

-          Daguerrotype – Kiyoshi Kurosawa – the one dud of the bunch; Kurosawa tries and fails for Hitchcock, with subpar acting from the two leads and a lousy script

 

It was great having lunch with Ken, after “Manchester” – fun to compare festival notes and engage in some banter over the Coen Bros and John Carney.  It was nice waving to Darren as I hustled past in the line to see “Red Turtle.”

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, Andrew. Always a pleasure to see you and Jessica.

For the last three years or so I've found myself increasingly tired coming home from TIFF, saying "maybe it's time to put a break on this tradition." It comes at a difficult time in the school year, I have a few more academic writing projects, blah, blah, blah. So right now I'm feeling like it's time to give TIFF a rest. 

Of course, I have felt like that the before, and things can change between now and next June. So we'll see. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry we didn't have time to chat, Andrew. I'm glad to hear you had a great fest.

I've ranked the TIFF features I've seen so far on Letterboxd, and I can't quite make sense of the results. Everyone seems to agree that The Unknown Girl is the Dardennes' worst film, but it was my favorite since The Son. I generally don't like Terence Davies, but I loved A Quiet Passion. The Daguerrotype totally worked for me, despite its obvious faults. And I ranked thirteen films ahead of the consensus film of the year, Toni Erdmann.

On average it was a very strong year, but I wish I'd come away from TIFF with one feature that I loved unconditionally. Bonello's Nocturama is as close as I came. The actual highlight for me was in the Wavelengths shorts program, a 25-minute piece called As Without So Within, by Manuela De Laborde. Kevin Everson's short, Ear, Nose and Throat, also wrecked me for the rest of the day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, Darren H said:

Everyone seems to agree that The Unknown Girl is the Dardennes' worst film, but it was my favorite since The Son. I generally don't like Terence Davies, but I loved A Quiet Passion. The Daguerrotype totally worked for me, despite its obvious faults. And I ranked thirteen films ahead of the consensus film of the year, Toni Erdmann.

Yes, I hear you.

I think the Dardennes are victims of their own consistency. Hasn't that complaint--lesser Dardennes, worst film, etc.-- been attached to every film from Lorna on? Kid With a Bike and Two Days are more hopeful at the end and some critics accuse them of being facile, Unknown Girl returns to a harsher, more exacting conclusion, and people are unsatisfied with that. I told Doug the other day that I don't think the Dardennes' films are *clever* enough for most critics. These days, a critic has to either be first or smarter than everyone else and the film to boot. Said it before and I'll say it again...nobody ever earned a critical reputation by saying, "me too!" 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hearing that both Ken and Darren liked the new Dardennes' film gives me hope--I'd read some of the middling-to-negative reviews from Cannes, but the film's premise and structure still intrigues me. It sounded from reviews like folks were somehow disappointed that the Dardennes went a more conventional noir-ish route, but this doesn't sound like a "conventional" film to me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the thing that is an interesting development for the Dardennes is this:

--Structurally and psychologically, the film reminds me of L'Enfant or La Promesse. There is an attempt to exorcise guilt. But through much of her actions, Jenny seems reminiscent of protagonist of Les fils or The Kid With a Bike. She goes beyond cultural expectations or requirements of a good person and in doing so makes us realize how exacting are Christian standards (or how low the bar is for expectations in Christian society). The objects of guilt seem deep and obvious in La Promesse and (especially) L'Enfant. Here Jenny treats a momentary lapse or moment of pique as analogous to some of the worst actions in the Dardennes' universe (selling a child, betraying a neighbor). Is she scrupulous? Puritanical? How do we feel about her guilt? Do we think there is something excessive in her response  because there *is* or merely because feeling so makes us more comfortable with the realization we might well slough it off if we were in the same position? It's almost like the episode on the soccer field in Two Days, One Night gets expanded and intensified into its own story.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll add that the one through-line I can find in many of my TIFF favorites is expert, classical filmmaking. (I had a long conversation with my friend Girish a few days ago about this, and he was adamant that I use the word "classical" instead of "conventional.") Aquarius was such a thrill to watch, but I can't point to a single image or sequence that made me gasp. Same with Daguerrotype. Likewise, the Dardennes don't do anything especially new or surprising, but each cut is so precise and efficient, like a poem that's been trimmed of everything non-essential. At this stage of my life as a cinephile, that's become one of my favorite pleasures.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, kenmorefield said:

It's almost like the episode on the soccer field in Two Days, One Night gets expanded and intensified into its own story.

This comparison really excites me.  The soccer field scene is pretty amazing.

Edited by Russ

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My festival report for NCFCA.

Stock Up: La La Land; A Monster Calls; Manchester By the Sea.

Hold: Rooney Mara; The Salesman

Stock Down: Voyage of Time; The Birth of a Nation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ken wrote:

Here Jenny treats a momentary lapse or moment of pique as analogous to some of the worst actions in the Dardennes' universe (selling a child, betraying a neighbor). Is she scrupulous? Puritanical? How do we feel about her guilt?

I thought of your comments, Ken, when I read this quote from Luc in the press notes:

Jenny feels culpable, responsible. She refuses to do nothing, she refuses to say: “I didn’t see anything, I didn’t hear anything…” Jenny is possessed by the unknown girl, and this is what makes her so determined and so patient in her search for her name. It’s not a supernatural possession but a moral possession. That’s what interested us.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now