Wednesday, September 22, 2004

TIFF 2004 Wrap-up

After 34 capsule reviews of each films, here are my favorite films of this years Toronto Film Festival. I did see a heck of a lot of asian films at this years festival, and the top three were from Japan, S. Korea, and China.

#1: Vital - Because I not only liked the ideas explored in this film (i.e. flesh as a record of the spirit and memories), but the look of the film, the music and story was spot on perfect. Definitely not for all tastes, but this one rang my bell.

#2 3-Iron - Because a good storyteller can tell capture the characters complexity without a word of dialogue between them. It has genuinely humourous moments and walks the line between fantasy and reality. There is real depth to this film.

#3 House of Flying Daggers - Because I'm a sucker for great cinematography (all the top three films excel in that dept) and keep falling for chinese melodrama. The wu xia choreography and the talent of the actors bring this to a level that only the recent art-fu films (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero and King Hu's Come Drink with Me and A Touch of Zen) were able to achieve.

Most Inspirational - Moolaade's tale of a woman standing up to the tribal leaders so that the girls of the tribe will not have to undergo genital mutilation makes you want to stand up and cheer. It is a passionate cry against fascism of any kind.

Best Puzzle Box Film - Primer is a real mindbender. If you like a mental workout while watching a film, this is best of breed. Saw was, surprisingly, a close second.

Best Midnite Madness Film - Kontroll's depiction of the Budapest Subway system as a small world of pure anarchy stands out. Even though it was not as extreme as the midnite movies typically are, it was a great ride. Overall it was a very strong year for the midnight program.

Best Funny - A two-way tie between the Kung-Fu chaos and CGI mayhem of Kung-Fu Hustle and Zebraman, the gentle satire of 70's Japanese Action heros. Both films made fun of their genre while being a stand-out film with it at the same time.

Worst Film Overall - 9 Songs was an experiment by Micheal Winterbottom that can be regarded as a failure on nearly every level. I'm glad he did it though, here is hoping his next experiment is a success. In the meantime, avoid this film like the plague.

Over the course of the Festival I was Snapping the occasional photo, here is a sampling. (Sorry if they are boring, but most of them are actors or directors in front of a movie screen with a microphone!)

Zhang Yimou (one of my favorite directors) was at the TIFF for his newest: House of Flying Daggers

Olivier Assayas and Maggie Cheung: Ex-husband and Ex-Wife that can still make movie magic together. Clean is a fantastic piece of world hopping cinema.

The lovely ladies of Kung Fu Hustle put on a funny show both on the stage before hand, and their performances in the movie. Trivia: the older lady had a small part (a long time ago) in James Bond: Goldfinger.

The Woodsman: Kevin Bacon the Star, Lee Daniels the Producer, Nicole Kassell the Director give good Q&A.

Just how far back you can be at the Ryerson? The Machinist was experienced from a least a 1/2 km away from the screen. Fortunately, we had people in line and never had to sit this far away again. Oddly, it worked for this particular screening, because The Machinist is about distorted perception from lack of sleep and disconnection from reality (the could sum up the entire midnite programme). The tiny man on stage is Midnite Madness director Colin Geddes, who is given huge props for giving me a free Ghost in the Shell: Innocence ticket after I lost mine running down to the Ryerson theatre from the previous screeing in Yorkville.

Cast of Silver City on the Elgin Stage. Kudos that nearly everyone showed up (minus Richard Dreyfus, Tim Roth and Thora Birch). Note how much taller Daryl Hannah is over Chris Cooper. Special note about the Elgin, they were giving out FREE BEER this year, and were very generous to provide three rounds of Sleeman Cream Ale on one particular visit.

Gordon Pinsent knows how to give a great intro speech for the (Canadian Restored) movie he wrote and starred in from 1972 (The Rowdyman)

Ousmane Sembene and Translator stayed for a 45 minute discussion of the barbaric practice of female circumcision in 34 of the 58 countries in Africa. He is over 80 and made it up to the Festival. Good on 'im.

Wim Wenders, his writer Michael Meredith and the star of Land of Plenty, John Diehl give a political commentary about the state of america under George Bush and the lack of any constructive debate between the Right and Left for the past 4 years.

The Festival happens in Toronto, but doesn't take over the city by a long shot, it rather blands into the hustle and bustle of the downtown core. Here, revelers pack the streets after Canada wins the World Cup of Hockey. I was seeing Kung Fu Hustle and still believe I got the better deal. One of the guys who was joining us for the film bailed when he got tickets to the Hockey game at Air Canada Center. Rob, it was your loss!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What are you talking about?!?!?! The best Midnight Madness film had to be Dead Birds!!!

Just kidding ... I've probably built it up way too much and you're probably gonna hate it now. I think that Kontroll probably edged it out anyway.


9:10 a.m.  
Blogger grace said...


11:58 a.m.  

Post a Comment

<< Home