TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
One interesting change this year is that
there is a lot more digital projections. Pictured at left is the new Djgital
Theatre projector sitting at the back of the theatre at the ROM. 10,000 ansi
lumens no less (ergo, really bloody bright). The image is very good, but there
is still a little bit of pixellation. By next year, it should look really good
for video source material.
It's not film. It doesn't look like film.
But it does look clear and bright, fine for most things. It's not like Farelly
Brother's movies depend on a 70mm look. Then again, Farelly Brother movies
hopefully will never play the festival.
Jumping back in time, a film from the late
days of silent films screened yesterday. Last year's fest saw the premiere of
Shadow of a Vampire. This year, the Toronto Symphony and the fest joined
together to present Murnau's original Nosferatu at the Elgin. The
orchestra sat in the pit, while the film played on the screen. It was my first
time to see the film, and I can't think of a better way to see it. The print
was in remarkably good condition considering the age of the source material.
Over the top and campy at times, there is nonetheless a tremendous amount of
craft and skill evident in the film. It wasn't as shockingly good for me as
Caligari was, but the presentation alone made the film a tremendous
pleasure to view.
Self: (Portrait/Fulfilment) A Film By the
Directed by: Brian Stockton
A four minute
introspective first-person diatribe from the perspective of a play-dough green
mound with big eyes. Ridiculous but amusing.
This year's Canadian Film Center short, this clever 20
minute piece shows strong story writing and cinematographic skills. Well paced,
an amusing and intelligent piece.
Directed by: Normand
An affable film about a failed marriage. The short struck a
good balance between humour and pathos, as a man finds out just why he was left
by his wife.
Directed by: Jason Buxton
A terrible, terrible
film from the Maritimes. Overwrought acting and high-school film project
production values make for a painful half-hour. Both boring and
Directed by: Graham Tallman
riff on divorce and the manipulation of the children from the marriage. Some
subtlety was achieved through the use of the costume's colour scheme, as each
parent tries to shape the child's perspective to match their
The Topic of
Directed by: Ramiro Puerta
A funny (!), warm
look at the bowels of colon cancer. We are treated to funny vignettes intercut
with actual intestinal surgery and video of a colonoscopy. The film comes
across as a little bit preachy, but it's clear it is the product of someone
going through the cancer that the lead acts out - there is a great sincerity
and sensitivity in the portrayal. The film could really resonate with a lot of
Universal Clock - The
Resistance of Peter Watkins B-
Directed by: Geoff
This film brings the total amount of time I have devoted to
Peter Watkins this festival to 7 ½ hours.
That's just nuts.
A Canadian doc, this is much less a making-of film than it is an expose
on televisual documentary form. The film uses global devastation as a metaphor
for cultural hegemony. Desert scenes mix with the Cannes Television festival
where docs are bought and sold, both areas bereft of life, it seems.
The title refers to a set amount of time that broadcasters require for a doc,
so that stations around the world can program for a set duration. This
"globalization" of content is distressing to some, a positive step for others.
Clearly, Watkins' film does not fit the mold of the Universal Clock, a point
emphasized over and over by this doc.
Universal Clock derides the push
for standardization, saying it doesn't allow for something with the scope of La
Commune. The point fact that ARTE in France put it on television late at night
is also meant to challenge the status quo. However, no one suggests when a good
time to show the film might be - this, in fact is a glaring omission of the
doc, as it is content to be critical without being itself progressive or
positive in its arguments.
If La Commune is an artistic and creative
success at 6 hours, it's certainly not a popular or populist success. There is
nothing revolutionary about being really long - to swing the masses, you can't
regale in intellectualization and diatribes. To reach more people, Watkins'
film could have fit the Clock, a subversive cancer in the programming system,
fitting the mold while criticising it. As it is, La Commune reveals itself to
be a film-geek movie, while the documentary about it comes across as a petulant
footnote to the larger work.
Directed by: Hsiao Ya-chuan
semi-comedic film about the claustrophobia of relationships and the operation
of a pawn shop. The characters are somewhat fun to watch, but the story doesn't
really go anywhere very interesting. The strangely abrupt ending comes,
thankfully, some 80 minutes into the running time.
Directed by: F.W.
This seminal Horror film is presented at
the Elgin in all its tinted, gory glory. It's clear to see why this moody,
stylized film won the acclaim it did. To see it for the first time under such
conditions, while the Toronto Symphony played the underscore, was a privilege.
The accompaniment sounded wonderful, but there were some moments where the
score was obviously meant to be synchronized with the picture, and was either
late or early. This criticism aside, to see Max Schreck's shadowy arm clutch
around the heart of his victim In a beautiful theatre like the Elgin was
Ichi the Killer
Directed by: Takashi
Who would have thought that this would be
my first (and probably only) A+ film of this year's fest?
Let's start with the fact that we were handed out Ichi barf bags
before the film started. Always a good sign.
This is a strange
Frankenstein-meets-Yakuza film, where the monster is a child-like boy with an
almost accidental rage. The violence is so supremely brutal, so comic-book over
the top that it simply becomes rediculous. There are meat hooks and razorblades
and weapons in boots, walls soaked with blood, and body parts slewn throughout
a room. But there's also a sweetness, a child-like innocence, and a sense of
regret with all the violence. Ichi is being used, and he knows it, but cannot
seem to stop his nature.
Philosophical? Hardly. Think about this one
too carefully and it'll simply be sick. But as a ridiculous release from a
country that has significantly less problems with physical violence than we
here in the west, Ichi works wonders. A stunning gore flick, exemplary
in one primary respect - I was exhausted when the screening started, and
I didn't nod off once during the screening, and I felt less tired after it was
all over. The sign, in the end, of a perfect MM film.