Today is the day that TIFF kicked my ass. Coming off possibly our best day of the fest, this might be our worst. It started with a 12:45 screening, before which we only had a couple pocket pitas that I made to eat. We then had to boot it over to another screening a ways away, without anytime to get anything more than gummi bears to eat. So I’ve been undernourished today, leading to a general lethargy. The movies haven’t helped either.
After that screening, we did have dinner, but it wasn’t that hot. We had time after that to go back to the hotel for a nap, but that might have done more harm than good. I seriously considered skipping the final screening of the night, but pushed through it and now here we are, waiting outside the Ryerson for the 9:00 pm screening of Good. Here’s hoping it is. And to top it all off, we left our last free Red Bull in the fridge.
Read on for musings on Adoration, One Week, and Good…
Director: Atom Egoyan
Starring: Arsinée Khanjian, Scott Speedman, Devon Bostick, Rachel Blanchard, Noam Jenkins, Kenneth Welsh
As a proud Canadian, I always feel like I should make more of an effort to see Canadian films, so of course I had to add Atom Egoyan‘s latest to our schedule. But you know what I wish? That seeing Canadian movies didn’t feel like such an effort. That I had more reasons to want to see a movie than the fact that it’s Canadian (you know, like a plot I care about). It’s not easy making films here in Canada, simply because the medium is expensive in nature. So filmmakers have learned to replace things that they can’t afford with uniqueness, but the result is that his films, and many of the acclaimed films in Canadian cinema, are more arty than enjoyable, or simply weird. Adoration isn’t as bizarre as some, but it did rely on a certain unusualness that’s common in Canadian films (even if it isn’t all that common in Canadian life). Mostly, it’s a fairly blah examination of loss that probably would’ve been more effective if it didn’t choke on Egoyan’s attempts at politics. It’s too bad. If he focused a little more on connecting us with the characters and less on his standard “nothing is as it seems” (a theme he admitted himself while introducing the screening), he might’ve achieved something truly profound. Instead, he ended up with something, well, Canadian.
Verdict: Meh – Not a bad film, but I can’t think of a single reason to recommend it either. It’s not good enough to justify its stately pacing.
Director: Michael McGowan
Starring: Joshua Jackson, Liane Balaban, Campbell Scott
Another Canadian film, but one with much smaller ambitions than Egoyan’s, One Week is director Michael McGowan‘s ode to Canada, following Ben (Joshua Jackson), a young man who sets out on a trip across Canada on a motorcycle after being diagnosed with stage four cancer. As someone who has done a cross-Canada trip of his own (albeit not on a motorcycle, but I did go coast-to-coast, unlike Ben who only went from Toronto to Vancouver), you’d think I’d have felt a connection to this film, but mostly, I thought it sucked. The film was basically the final montage of Elizabethtown (which was probably the worst part of a heavily flawed film), transported north and stretched out over an hour. A loosely assembled collection of iconic Canadian road images, set to a Canadian rock soundtrack, and pieced together with poorly written, intrusive narration by Campbell Scott. The film felt like McGowan made a list of Canadian things he wanted to show in a movie (perhaps after seeing one of those list specials on CBC), then found ways to cram them into his film, be it the Sudbury nickle, the Wah-Wah Goose, Tim Horton’s, Canadian Tire, Banff, Drumheller, the Stanley Cup, or the Northern Lights (which I’m not exactly sure how he was able to see, given that it seemed that he was taking a southernly route). I agree with McGowan that Canada deserves its own great road movie, but unfortunately, we’re still waiting.
Verdict: Fail – The film had nothing profound to say either about the Canadian identity or the human spirit.
Director: Vicente Amorim
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Jason Isaacs, Jodie Whittaker, Mark Strong, Gemma Jones, Anastasia Hille
At this point, the last thing the world needs is another WWII Nazi movie, so if you’re going to produce one, it’s best to have something new to offer. Unfortunately, Vicente Amorim‘s Good (adapted from the C.P. Taylor play of the same name) does not, and instead offers the same old, indifferently-directed, middlebrow melodrama that we’ve seen many times. I’m starting to believe that plays make for awful movies, unless the director is willing to completely rework the script and settings to better fit the change in medium, because I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a non-musical adaptation from the stage that works as a movie. In any case, not even the talents of Viggo Mortensen or Jason Isaacs could salvage this typical, dull yarn (although Isaacs does manage to bring life to his scenes), so stay away (as I’m sure most of you would have already).
Verdict: Fail – I’ve been fighting this whole write-up to avoid making a pun based on the title, so I best quit while I’m ahead.
Tomorrow: Charlie Kaufman’s directorial debut, Paul Dano and Zooey Deschanel meet cute, and we finally see that Zac Efron dude I’ve been hearing so much about. Plus, we have to try and make another change to our schedule (and hopefully not for a movie we end up skipping anyway).