So, Day 1 is in the books and overall I’d say it was pretty successful. I didn’t really get angry and the movies I saw weren’t cinematic diarrhea so I’d call that 1 for 1.
Day 2 is a full day with four movies and it starts off a little rushed. There’s construction going on in the underground abyss known as the TTC Subway System and there are two stops closed. It’s been messing with my timing getting to a couple of theatres and we almost had a disaster first thing. You know when you’re late for something and there really isn’t anything you can do except say to yourself, ‘Oh god damn, I’m really fucking late’? That’s how late I now was. I’m late and I’m trying to avoid all of the slack-jawed star fuckers on the sidewalk trying to snaps pics with Kristen Stewart or Chris Klein or whichever marginally talented celebrity is coming out of a theatre. Then I bumped into my friend Jill, who’s working at TIFF, and after a surprised ‘Hey!’ and an awkward pause all I could say was ‘I’m really fucking late.’ to which she replied ‘So am I!’ and I never saw Jill again. I wonder what she’s doing now…
My first film was a documentary called The Central Park Five. Back in 1989, 5 black and Latino teenagers aged 14-16 were charged and convicted of the rape of a white woman in Central Park. They each spent between 6 and 13 years in prison for the crime that they did not commit before a serial rapist finally confessed to that crime and their convictions were overturned. That may not seem like enough for a documentary, but when you witness the inept work of the police detectives, the prosecutors, the media and the defense attorneys, your mind gets a little blown. There’s no evidence. None. The crime scene clearly shows it’s one attacker, the DNA left behind doesn’t match any of them and they all have an alibi of committing a less violent different crime at the exact same time that was reported to police and they were charged with that crime too. Messed up, right? All they had were videotaped coerced confessions of a bunch of scared 14 year old kids. None of these ‘confessions’ shared any details. The kids were all promised that if they said what the detectives wanted to hear they could go home. Brutal. While the investigation and trial was going on the actual attacker was off raping and murdering other women. Hooray New York Justice System! Even after the convictions were overturned the prosecutors said ‘Well, clearly all 6 were working together’ and the media were printing articles about how ‘confessions don’t lie’. It’s similar in theme to the Paradise Lost series, but without a Metallica soundtrack or Eddie Vedder.
Back on the subway and off to my second film, End of Watch, directed by David Ayer who wrote Training Day. Normally, I try to avoid seeing things that are coming out in theatres shortly, but it was the only thing that would fit in my schedule. This is a cop drama that pays homage to the TV show Cops. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena star as two officers in the L.A.P.D. who keep making arrests and messing with the business of a powerful Mexican drug cartel. Gyllenhaal’s character is recording everything they do on a handheld camera, so that’s why it feels like Cops. Some of the car chases, shootouts and cop/criminal encounters are very high octane, but I felt like I needed more. In the middle of the film there were two very intense scenes involving the cops on different cases but it didn’t have much to do with the plot, so it felt wasted. There are some very violent and grotesque images and the relationship between the two leads as buddy cops is excellent. They play well off of each other and their conversations in the squad car seem very, very real. There’s a lot of good in this movie, but there’s just not enough of it.
I’ve got some time to kill before my next film, so I went to my favourite downtown Toronto place for wings, it’s called Let’s Wing It and it was fucking closed. Gone. Out of business. Replaced by a Wild Wing. Wild Wing is fine, but it’s kind of a let down at times. I went any way and got the Hawaiian wings. Extra Hot wing sauce with a pineapple curry sauce. They were decent. Beer was cold, so that was the high point.
The next film was a documentary called 9.79. Does that number sound familar, Canadians? This film was about Ben Johnson and 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. There are interviews with all 8 finalists in the race speaking very candidly about the races leading up to the event. Who was doping, who they thought was doping, why they were doping… Seriously though, doesn’t everyone think that 95% of track and field athletes are doping? I do. I don’t care either. Everyone should use performance enhancing drugs. It’s more exciting. Baseball was way more exciting when McGwire, Sosa and Bonds were jacking home runs every night. 9.79 does open up some conspiracies which were interesting and surprising and it’s good to see Ben Johnson honestly talking about it. It’s funny watching Carl Lewis lie through his teeth too. It’s an ESPN film, so this will be on TV soon and you can catch it if you’re interested.
I should point out that 9.79 was at the Scotiabank Theatre, so I gave that fancy Coke Machine another go. I got Orange Diet Coke. Remember, in Saturday’s blog when I said that assholes get Orange Coke? Well, I’m an asshole. Orange Diet Coke made Vanilla Coke Zero taste like liquid rainbows. Why must I fail at carbonated drink flavour combos?
Finally, I checked out Byzantium. It’s Neil Jordan’s new stylistic vampire film. Saorise Ronan and Gemma Arterton star as two female vampires who wreak havoc on an English seaside community. Ronan plays Elenor; a 200 year old vampire who is not out for killing and blood. She wants to blend in and have a life. She wants to go to school and play the piano and write in her journal. She only feeds on those close to death. She’s almost like an angel of death. Arterton plays her ‘sister’ Clara. She’s more of a sexual demon wearing stilettos and fishnets, praying on unsuspecting men and earning money in the world’s oldest profession; birthday clown, obviously. I’ll give Neil Jordan and the screenwriter, Moira Buffini credit. They actually do something a little different with vampires and it’s refreshing. It’s gory and has some great visuals, but it does take some time to get going. If you liked Interview With the Vampire or Let The Right One in, give this a shot when it comes out.
Big day on Monday. Disasters! Thrillers! Rob Zombie!