Died And Went To Movie Heaven
Darren's got me looking forward to the Toronto International Film Festival and looking back in nostalgia. I just realized that it'll be my seventh year heading up north in the fall. Life has its uncertainties and its confusions but this annual trip has always remained the most reliably fun week of the year.
In the first few years, my enthusiasm almost got the better of me. I picked up press credentials and covered the festival at length, pushing myself to catch five or even six films a day. In this direction lay insanity (or at the very least, silliness). In the last couple of years, I've cut back to a leisurely three films a day with plenty of time in between to lounge in cafés with friends, stroll around downtown Toronto, and shop for used books and CDs.
The nostalgia I mentioned? Here it comes, a handful of random memories:
Watching half the audience walk out of Gus van Sant's Gerry, after which van Sant gets up and graciously apologizes for "boring" the audience. (A trancey and minimalist movie starring Matt Damon and Casey Affleck. I liked it a lot).
Witnessing filmmakers you admire introducing their newly born movie-babies, nervously, to their first audiences. Some of them are humble (Claire Denis, Tsai Ming-Liang, van Sant), some respond to puzzled questions from audiences by calling them a bunch of dolts (Bruno Dumont, 29 Palms), and others are so articulate that you think, that's not fair — they're North Americans too, how do they get to sound smarter than us (Atom Egoyan, David Cronenberg, Guy Maddin)?
Realizing that the maker of films as intimidating and yucky as Fat Girl and Anatomy of Hell is a gentle, soft-spoken, refined woman (Catherine Breillat).
Discovering a new director (Kiyoshi Kurosawa) hitherto unknown in the West, and seeing seven of his films, one every day for a week. Watching him evolve from making pink (Japanese softcore) films to thrillers to metaphysical horror films and sociopolitical allegories.
Running into an incredible movie, and elated, giving away your tickets for the rest of the day. Sometimes, one movie a day is all you can handle. (La Captive, Code Unknown).
Getting to the scene in the new Claire Denis movie (Beau Travail) with Denis Lavant on the dancefloor, and thinking, "This is ridiculous!" and then a couple of minutes later, as the scene continues, it dawns on you, "This is amazing!"