After pounding out a final 4 films on Thursday I wrapped up my 17th year at TIFF. I was a young lad of 20 my first time here. I think 1995 was the first year it was called TIFF. It used to be something ridiculous and pretentious like ‘The Festival of Festivals!’. Many of the films were at the old Uptown Theatre. I loved, loved, loved that balcony. Four Rooms had it’s premiere in 1995 and still remains the one film I didn’t get into when I used to rely on the rush lines. I did see Leaving Las Vegas and To Die For that year though as well as my introduction to Midnight Madness with Tokyo Fist. It was also the year that ‘The Gasman’ was born. Big year! Moving on…
The first movie I saw was a little ditty from the U.K. called Sightseers. Directed by Ben Wheatly (Kill List), this film is about a much less sexy and much more nerdy Bonnie & Clyde. A frumpy couple in their mid-thirties head off on a road trip through the beautiful English countryside only to turn it into a murderous killing spree. How they get to that point is rather funny. Yes, it’s more of a comedy than anything else. It all starts when Chris accidentally runs over a litterbug and Tina seems completely unfazed by it, in fact, it boosts their sex life and the danger really gets them going. It’s disturbing and twisted and really quite funny. The only draw back of this screening were the people sitting behind me who commented on everything that happened on the screen throughout the whole movie. For example: A dog dies and the people behind me said ‘Oh the dog.’. Just awful. Shut your faces.
After some confusion at a hot dog cart with the Genie-nominated Jay Cheel, I ended up with a free hot dog and we went to our next screening which was Barry Levinson’s found footage film, the Bay. You’ve all seen a Barry Levinson film. Either Good Morning, Vietnam or Rain Man or the excellent Wag the Dog. This one takes a different turn for him. A seaside town in the midst of it’s summer festival, celebrating the 4th of July in style with crab-eating contests, dunk tanks and street vendors, it becomes the home for an underwater terror. Two scientists find a high level of toxic material in the town’s water, but it seemingly goes ignored by the city until it’s too late. A plague is unleashed turning the townspeople into carriers of a parasite that eats it’s way into the body and hatches into an even deadlier creature that eats it’s way out. Lots of thrills and chills follow. It’s one of many found footage films that has popped up in the last couple of years. It doesn’t bring anything new to the genre, but it’s not awful either.
I was supposed to meet up with my friend Matt at this point for lunch, but he was ‘stuck in a meeting’. Knowing Matt, ‘stuck in a meeting’ probably meant getting a handy from a Church St. prostitute. Real classy, Matt. Real classy. I hit up Chipotle again anyway and after eating I decided that Jay’s girlfriend Megan had the better choice in burrito bowls. Pork trumps chicken this time.
Next up was a documentary that I had been looking forward too. Room 237. This is about a few cinema nerds and their obsession with Stanley Kubrick’s the Shining. They discuss conspiracy theories and hidden meanings in the film. Whether the film is about the oppression of Native Americans or the evils of Nazi Germany or even Kubrick’s admission of helping to fake the first lunar landing. Crazy, right? Not so much when you see all the hidden stuff in the film. Some of these obsessed people have not only watched the film frame by frame, but have watched it backwards and forwards at the same time! It’s absolutely insane and fascinating at the same time.
The last film of TIFF for me was the new film from one of my favourite directors, Brian DePalma, who directed the excellent Carlito’s Way as well as Carrie, Scarface and the Untouchables. His new film is called Passion and it played at the Scotiabank Theatre. You know what means…one more shot at that insane Coke machine. This time I went for Vanilla Barq’s Root Beer and it was a home run. Outstanding! Back to Passion. De Palma over the years has borrowed a lot from Alfred Hitchcock. He does it again and fills this movie with more melodrama than you can shake a stick at. I don’t know what that means, but it’s not often a good thing. Passion is about a couple of ad execs. Rachel McAdams, playing what seems like a grown up version of her Mean Girls character, and Noomi Rapace, the original Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. They seem like the best of friends, but when one takes credit for a successful project that the other did solo all hell breaks loose and this story becomes a tale of revenge with twists and turns and sinister plots. I really wanted to like this film, but it’s so over the top, it’s disappointing. What a shame.
Well, that about does it for me at TIFF. The Iceman and Room 237 were the best of the fest. Thanks Kris for letting me use your apartment as a crash pad. It’s a shame I only saw you once when I got the key. Thanks for reading the blogs everyone, now go get a Vanilla Barq’s.