Day 4: September 7

Got a chance to see Francis Coppola today. He was showing his film One From the Heart. Missed a chance to get my Vinyl soundtrack signed. Alas...

His talk was quite informative and candid, and he went out of his way to include other elements, such as a brief look at Tom Waits' involvement in the film, some responses to the original film distributors, etc. Funny to see DVD extras presented at a film fest, by the director himself. In all, a well presented Dialogue session.

Schlepped up to Yonge and Eglinton for a strange hybrid of test screening/press screening for School of Rock. Sure, it's coming out soon, but JACK BLACK. Cummon.

Cigarettes and Coffee, the Jarmusch film, suffered from what appears now to be some form of print damage. From what I could gather, the technical staff at the Uptown moved heaven and earth to make the screening as good as possible. With the likes of Cate Blanchett, Iggy Pop and Francis Coppola in the audience, the pressure was certainly on. While from my front row position the focus did seem unstable, I've certainly been through worse (though not generally during the fest, when actual projectionists are hired, rather than some poorly trained operator who pushes a button.) Kudos to all the staff who obviously stressed big time so we didn't have to. Sorry to Jim J. for a sour experience.

Mind you, I did get a T-Shirt from him. Wasn't all bad. That, and the movie was great.

MM was a big letdown, especially after last night's, but overall a pretty good and productive day!


One From the Heart
Directed by: Francis Coppola

A flawed film, to be sure, but one certainly ripe for reexamination some 20 years on. It's got shades of Moulin Rouge meeting Brando's Streetcar Named Desire. A musical where the characters don't actually sing, there are some moments of technical bravura that are astonishing. Failure or not, you can't take away the fact that Francis is a brilliant cinematic technician. Very worthwhile contribution to this year's fest.

Grade: A-/B+


School of Rock
Directed by: Richard Linklater

The film that rocks your prep-school socks off.

Jack Black teaches gradeschoolers the joy of rockin' out. It's preposterous and sweet, with JB in fine form. Joan Cusack is excellent in the flick, and the whole thing plays like the best parts of High Fidelity mixed with, say, The Wedding Singer. This is one of those great, Hollywood feel-good comedies that actually kinda work and make you feel good while watching them. School's certainly better than it ought to have been, and I recommend it highly. For those that brought us the Rock, we salute you.

Grade: A-


Coffee and Cigarettes
Directed by: Jim Jarmusch

The film starts with a 5 minute riff between Roberto Begnini and Steven Wright (the Yin and Yang of verbal comedy, no doubt). This sequence, shot in '86, provides the style - a pair (sometimes three people) discussing, well, something whilst consuming the twin poisons of coffee and cigarettes. Some sequences are better than others (I think Alfred Molina's is the show stopper) but they're all great. Lovely black and white, with projection problems aside 'twas an absolute pleasure to see on the huge screen of Uptown 1. Jarmusch continues to be one of the most intriguing and compelling filmmakers of the age.

Grade: A-


Haute Tension
Directed by: Alexandre Aja

After the rush of last night's knees-and-elbows perfection, you knew this slasher film was going to be a downer. Sadly, it was worse than I feared. If you're going to make a horror film, I'd recommend ensuring that a) it makes some logical sense, and b) it ain't really fucking boring. It failed on both these counts, but isn't a total failure because of the use of a concrete-cutting radial saw by the bad, uh, guy. Didn't even bother with the Q&A.

Grade: D-