Allow me, if you will, to say a few words about my festival companion: my wife Kim. Like all our vacations, this couldn’t have happened without her, as she did the heavy lifting in terms of planning (when we actually get on vacation, the roles tend to reverse, with me doing the day-to-day planning. I guess she’s the long-term thinker of the relationship). We both enjoy movies, they’re one of our primary activities, but I don’t think I’m speaking out of turn when I say that I’m more into them than she is, and thus this vacation is more geared toward my interests than hers. When I first proposed it, I had to sell her a bit on TIFF with the promise of celebrities (of which we’ve seen a few, but not the ones I suggested we’d see) and the idea that we’d do a few more things in the area besides just going to movies all day (which, other than the Blue Jays game to start the trip, was a bald-faced lie. And again, a baseball game is more my idea of fun than hers).
Despite that, she’s embraced this vacation and its manic scheduling in full. There’s been the odd hiccup, and a few bad movies, but as a whole, it’s been great. I’ve had a great time sharing this with her (as we always have a great time sharing experiences with one another), and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. She’s also been a big trooper in tolerating/helping me stay on top of this blog (which has been another fun element of the vacation for me), letting me type away while we wait for movies (while she watches movies on her iPod), allowing me to stay up and write instead of insisting that I go to bed with her, and even at times getting the laptop ready for me while I went to use the restroom. If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.
But tonight, we decided to take a break from the hectic scheduling and take a night for ourselves, skipping our screening for American Swing when we didn’t feel like getting up from our nap in time to make it. Instead, we enjoyed a nice dinner at a place called The Corner, which was probably more memorable than the 26th movie of 29 (we’ll now be down to 28).
Read on for musings on What Doesn’t Kill You and $9.99…
What Doesn’t Kill You
Director: Brian Goodman
Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Ethan Hawke, Amanda Peet, Donnie Wahlberg
Written and directed by Brian Goodman, What Doesn’t Kill You is the former thug’s real life account of his life in South Boston. The film was promoted by TIFF as being along the line’s of The Departed and Gone Baby Gone for its gritty portrayal of Southie, with the benefit of being based on a true story, straight from the guy who lived it. The problem is that as a director, Goodman is no Scorsese, and as a writer, he’s no Dennis Lehane. Who knew that both required different skill sets than those of hired muscle? I’m guessing this film got developed because people were swayed by Goodman’s authenticity, and no one had the nerve to mention how laughable the dialogue was, or how predictable the direction was. Worse, no matter how true the story may have been, it wasn’t particularly unique or interesting. There are probably thousands of stories like Goodman’s rather unremarkable life out there, so I can’t see why anyone bothered to make such a lifeless version of it this time.
Verdict: Fail – Nothing to see here folks, other than Mark Ruffalo and Ethan Hawke embarrassing themselves with this slumming effort (and it is embarrassing, believe me).
Director: Tatia Rosenthal
Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Anthony LaPaglia, Samuel Johnson, Claudia Karvan, Joel Edgerton, Ben Mendelson, Barry Otto
A joint production out of Israel and Australia, $9.99 is a stop-motion claymation flick that follows the lives of characters whose problems and location make their lives intertwined, Crash-style. The animation was kind-of creepy in terms of character design, and the overall story and structure bored me to the point of dozing off. So after about 40 minutes or so of the 78 minute picture, we walked out — our first walk out of the festival, and the first time I’ve ever walked out of a movie in theatres. Now, just because this was the first time I’ve ever walked out of a movie, it doesn’t mean that this was the worst experience I’ve ever had a movie. There just wasn’t much reason to stay. I’d already seen 26 movies at that point, and this was a film that just barely made it unto my schedule (and not the sort of film we’d have otherwise made time for). I took a chance on it, and when I realized it wasn’t something I cared for, I decided not to waste any more of my time on it (even if it wasn’t that much time left anyway). It didn’t help that the movie before it sucked too, with the combined effect probably contributing to our decision to skip our planned final screening of the evening as well.
Verdict: Walked Out
Tomorrow: Finishing up strong on the final day of TIFF, I’m confident we’ll make all three screenings, including Thai kung fu, documentary kung fu, and Spike Lee’s take on WWII.