Day 8: September 11

Spent a good 45 minutes today in an empty Uptown 1 just video taping walls, seats and stuff. Don't know how it's going to turn out (this is hardly a pro-lit operation) but I figure at least I'll have some visual record of the grand lady before she gets raped and pillaged in the name of condo-dom.

My plans to get fit walking back and forth to the press office have, not surprisingly, gone to shit. Instead, I'm hardly ever there - no doubt a relief to the staff, but I do very much miss the camaraderie you get in that little hive of insanity.

Meanwhile, I'm just stumbling from film to film. Most fest years are top heavy, but this one seems quite extreme. Basically all big films are left, and the only press screening remaining worth seeing is the Brown Bunny tomorrow at 11:15. Mmmm.... fellatioliscious.....

    

Travellers and Magicians
Directed by: Khyentse Norbu
How can I call this film charming without it sounding like crap? Well, it's charming. But not crap.

My first Bhutanese (Bhutanian?) film, it's a coming-to-America tale, filled with lovely clichés that are overwritten by a strong sense of authenticity. Bonus points: a honest-to-gosh Buddhist monk made the film. Travellers could have been fantastically boring and trite, but there's such sweetness in the telling, such compelling performances and beautiful direction that you simply succumb to the charm of the film.
Grade: A-/B+

    

Jeux d'Enfants
Directed by: Yann Samuell

What a wonderful and demented love story! So beautifully French that it harkens favourably to such masterpieces as Amélie without sacrificing originality. A childhood game of "dare" turns into an adult nightmare of manipulation, but the tale is told with such originality and beauty that it remains sweet and captivating. Beautifully shot and executed, it's a dreamy and lovely piece, a surprise hit for me at this year's fest and one of the best of the year.
Grade: A

    

Prey for Rock and Roll
Directed by: Alex Steyermark

Chicks with guitars, baby. Unfortunately, the songs don't click, the performances are trying too hard to be "raw", and, well, Gina's pretty! What can be said, it's obviously a highly personal film made by people who wanted to tell the tale of a struggling rock artiste. Too bad the music sucks and the tale's flat as a board. Bonus marks, however, for naming the band "Clam Daddy".
Grade: C-

    

Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself


A nice little love triangle drama-comedy about suicide and bookstores. It's a "kindly" film, sweet, well shot, well acted. A bit fluffy, but certainly more intriguing than most films in this genre. The tale's a bit forced, but, going with the flow, it ends up being an enjoyable watch.
Grade: B-

    

Gozu
Directed by: Takashi Miike

Beat's back, with another Yakuza flick under his (black?) belt. This one's a bit odd, as it mixes in a horror tale for good measure. The opening sequences are great, and Miike ties the film up nicely, but there's a huge chunk in the middle that simply falls flat. Cut out about 45 minutes and this film would be far better.
Grade: B (made up of a "D" middle hour and a half and an "A+" intro and conclusion)