TIFF 08: Day 5

Now that we’ve been at this for four days, we’re settling into the routine pretty well. We wake up and have a little something to eat at the hotel (since we have a kitchen in our room), then head out to the first screening. When we have back-to-back screenings (which are generally separated by an hour), we’ll grab something portable for lunch/dinner and eat it in line for the next screening. At some point, we’ll have time to come back to our hotel for a nap (or simply relaxing while still being awake), then head out to the final screening (taking the subway to each location, as we’re right on the line and most of the theatres are as well).

But there’s also a routine to the screenings themselves, which is of more interest to you, the reader. We’re generally seated 20 minutes or so before the film is due to begin (today I’ve been using that time to write this stuff on my laptop… like I’m doing right now, whereas previously the laptop stayed at home while Kim and I played Scrabble on our iPods). The films never start on time, as they want to give enough time to sell tickets to people in the rush line. Then the festival programmer comes out to introduce the film, thank the sponsors, tell us to turn off electronic devices, and introduce the director/producer who is in attendance (every screening thus far besides Passchendaele has had a representative, generally the director, except in the case of the multi-director effort covered below). The director gives a short intro to the film, and if it’s a premiere, will also introduce the cast in attendance. They then sit down (or leave if they’re not sticking around), the lights dim, and the anti-piracy message comes on screen (to which those in the audience in the know reply “Arrrr”). We get a Bell Lightbox ad (that’s the new festival location that they’re building), then a Universal NBC message thanking the festival volunteers (for whom we in the audience applaud), an annoying Motorolla ad I’m more than tired of, and a Cadillac people’s choice award ad I’m also tired of (but less so than the Moto one), and the film begins.

If it’s a premiere, the toadies in the reserved seats will applaud for the studio/distributor banners of whomever they work for. Generally, the audience will applaud for anyone mentioned in the credits who was announced to be in attendance (whereas toadies will also applaud for people like the DP or others mentioned in the credits that we don’t know). When the film is over, there’s more applause (maybe even a standing O, generally induced by the toadies), and a short Q&A. If Kim and I have another screening to get to, or didn’t particularly like the film, we don’t stick around for that (which is why at TIFF, aisle seats are king. We’re sitting at the aisle right now, in two seats separated from the rest of the row. These may be my favourite seats yet). As we leave the screening, we hand off our ballots for the People’s Choice Award, rinse, repeat.

Read on for musings on New York, I Love You, Ashes of Time Redux, and Plastic City
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POST #32: Movie Review: After the Sunset (2004)

Sadly, not a sequel to Before Sunset.
After the Sunset (2004)

Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Salma Hayek, Woody Harrelson, Don Cheadle, Naomie Harris

Directed By: Brett Ratner

I watched this one a few weeks ago on Movie Central HD. It’s not the sort of film I’d normally seek out to watch, but for free? Why not. Plus, I’d been watching a lot of dour flicks that failed to impress me, so I figured I’d give something flashy and populist a shot, in the hopes that it would entertain me, if not impress me.

Judging it from that standard, I’d say it did its job… with qualifications. Directed by faux-teur Brett Ratner, After the Sunset is a slick, fast-paced heist flick shot at the gorgeous Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas. It is certainly a pretty good looking film, if not particularly innovative.

The plotting and staging of the flick are pretty pedestrian, but push the right buttons for fans of the genre. Pierce Brosnan is the dazzling thief, Salma Hayek is his sexy partner, and Woody Harrelson is the meddling lawman determined to bring them down. The chemistry between the actors is solid, and Hayek is as gorgeous as she’s ever been. Honestly, the scenes with her in bathing suits and lingerie are reason enough to watch the movie.

In many ways, the movie play’s like a poor man’s version of the phenomenal heist flick Out of Sight. Brosnan is a poor man’s George Clooney, Hayek is an improved Jennifer Lopez (at least in terms of looks, but not really in terms of character or performance, but that’s where the storytelling comes in), Harrelson’s character is an extended version of Michael Keaton‘s cameo, Don Cheadle is, well, Don Cheadle, and Ratner is a hobo-version of Steven Soderbergh.

Sadly, the energy that sustains the movie’s first half, making you look past its flaws and enjoy the ride, starts to wear off as the film progresses. Ratner’s hackery starts to show when he takes the early comedic cat-and-mouse chemistry between Brosnan and Harrelson, and go too far for laughs. It takes the slick sheen off the relationship and movie, and devolves the characters into comedic characters, almost cartoon-like in their presentation. It’s as though they were shooting a action/suspense movie, then decided to change it into a buddy flick. They try to switch gears in the end back to the suspense, but by then, the atmosphere is broken and the movie never quite recovers.

In the end, it’s a fun diversion, but trips over itself and diminishes what was shaping up to be a pleasant surprise. If you come across in a similar fashion that I did, and have the time, then you should get a decent enough 97 minutes of entertainment. But I certainly don’t recommend you seek it out, unless I had you at “the scenes with her in bathing suits and lingerie are reason enough to watch the movie”.


Movie Review: X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

We all owe Joel Schumacher a bit of an apology.
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin, Kelsey Grammer, Rebecca Romijn, James Marsden, Shawn Ashmore, Aaron Stanford, Vinnie Jones, Ben Foster, Ellen Page, Patrick Stewart

Directed by: Brett Ratner
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