It’s Toronto Time
I make my annual pilgrimage to the Toronto Film Festival starting tomorrow, and one person at work already has asked me specifically whether I’ll be seeing the Bush assassination movie.
I had DOAP on my initial, broken-down-by-days short-list, and I have the scheduling notes to prove it. There are some plot resemblances to THE DAY OF THE JACKAL, so using an assassination (attempt) on a current named political figure as a fictional premise doesn’t per se trouble me (but more on that anon). And the style/premise — a muck-raking “documentary” set in the future tells the real story of what happened in the Bush Assassination — resembles the great ZELIG, which I think is one of Woody Allen’s two or three best films. In a different world, this is a movie I would, in principle, be interested in.
Unless Noah Cowan’s description is completely bollixed (which would not be unprecedented … in fact in some cases, I’m downright hoping for it), I can’t imagine wanting to see this film at this festival. Most unconvincing line in Cowan’s description — “The film is never a personal attack on Bush; Range simply seeks to explore the potential consequences that might follow from the President’s policies and actions.” Reminds me of George Will’s description of how a negative-campaigning candidate defends his ads: “I am not being negative, I am merely alerting the public to my loathesome opponent’s squalid voting record.”
I won’t relate the specific examples until Bilge puts up my Worst Moviegoing Experiences on the Nerve Screengrab blog, but I have had enough “lone Celtic supporter at the Rangers end” moments to know how art-house and film-festival audiences will consume DOAP which will inevitably color my reaction. At Toronto, “Fidelista” is a term of praise (just read this and weep) and Bush Derangement Syndrome and Christophobia are normal. First example to pop into my head from this year, go to the listing for AMAZING GRACE and ask yourself how you would know, other than a vague and unspecified reference to “man of the cloth,” whether religion might be involved and (more specifically) how, and what the title might refer to (you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a reference to how hot the chick in the picture is).
In this time, at that context, DOAP will be consumed as a masturbatory fantasy and I wouldn’t put a round of applause or cheering. Maybe someday, alone, after the film has died its death and nobody remembers how Karl Rove tried to turn Valerie Plame over to Osama bin Laden in exchange for campaign contributions to pay off Katharine Harris (that IS what he did, right?), I’ll see DOAP Not now.
I dunno why this film hasn’t gotten as much flak. But if DOAP is inherently and a priori distasteful, it’s hard to see why a film called HOW I PLANNED TO KILL TONY BLAIR wouldn’t be. Still, while I’m pretty much past the point of interest in anything the artist/bohemian class thinks it has to say about politics, I will be going to see at least one political doc. THE DIXIE CHICKS: SHUT UP AND SING has the potential to be a HARLAN COUNTY USA (director Barbara Kopple, plus my unfamiliarity with the Chicks’s music, is why I’m interested) or the few minutes of FAHRENHEIT 9/11 that I managed to endure when I finally broke down a few months ago and it was playing on a free channel (Sundance). When I know the personages involved, I try to pay as little attention to the descriptions in the Festival Guidebook, so I’ll approach DIXIE CHICKS with the guarded optimism that is obligatory.
As for my schedule, this year was one of the worst for not getting my first choices — I must have drawn a bad box. For the couple of days, i.e., opening weekend, I mostly got second-choice films (though mostly pretty good ones) and overall missed more than a half-dozen of my first choices.
I didn’t get the single to-the-general-public morning screenings of Gala presentations and likely fall awards-bait VOLVER by Almodovar and Inarritu’s BABEL, the former of which I’m more bummed about and will consider going into the rush line to see if I can get a ticket. After all, Almodovar has reportedly managed to get a tolerable performance from Penelope Cruz, acting in Spanish again and who, like Sophia Loren (a previous generation’s favorite Latin sexpot), is much better in her native language.
Some of the other not-gotten 1st choices, all of which I’m considering rushing:
● There is much anger in me when I not getting much ticket to important Kazakhstani cinema. Will start and joining with campaign against racist film making many funs of great country Kazakhstan.
● I should have known that the title THE PERVERT’S GUIDE TO CINEMA would just be too attractive to too many, even (especially) to those with no knowledge of Slavoj Zizek (apparently playing a Michael Palin-like guide). I hope they choke on the Lacanisms.
● Why the heck would a Kore-eda film (HANA) be a big buzz item? I thought NOBODY KNOWS was a masterpiece, but it was not a crowd-please at all. And while it did win a general release, it flopped.
● No Maddin 06. Like with the Kore-eda I hope it’s because a great filmmaker is finally winning an audience, but man, this would have been a once-in-a-lifetime experience — seeing a silent film with an orchestra, which includes a sound-effects team, a singer and a narrator. The kind of screening a festival is made for.
But I can’t complain too hard. Here is my schedule of the films I got ticket for, and it’s a good mix of foreign and English, my favorite auteurs and buzz titles, austere and popcorn, and a few blind stabs in the dark — exactly what a festival is about:
09:00am 12:08 East of Bucharest (Corneliu Porumboiu, Romania)
Dunno why I got both my 1st and 2nd choices for this time … will sort out later
09:30am The Journals of Knud Rasmussen (Zacharias Kunuk and Norman Cohn, Canada)
11:45am Requiem (Hand-Christian Schmid, Germany)
03:00pm Climates (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey)
06:15pm A Grave-Keeper’s Tale (Chitra Palekar, India)
09:00pm Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show (Ari Sandel, USA)
midnight The Host (Bong Joon-ho, South Korea)
09:15am La Tourneuse de Pages (Denis Dercourt, France)
noon The Wind that Shakes the Barley (Ken Loach, Britain)
03:00pm The Fall (Tarsem, Britain/India)
06:30pm Half Moon (Bahman Ghobadi, Iran)
09:15pm Woman on the Beach (Hong Sang-soo, South Korea)
09:30am All The King’s Men (Steve Zaillian, USA)
noon For Your Consideration (Christopher Guest, USA)
03:30pm 10 Items or Less (Brad Silberling, USA)
06:00pm Fay Grim (Hal Hartley, USA)
09:00pm I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone (Tsai Ming-liang, Taiwan)
09:00am Takva – A Man’s Fear of God (Ozer Kiziltan, Turkey)
11:45am The Pleasure of Your Company (Michael Ian Black, USA)
03:00pm Coeurs (Alain Resnais, France)
05:30pm Outsourced (John Jeffcoat, USA)
midnight Trapped Ashes (Joe Dante, Ken Russell, Sean Cunningham, Monte Hellman, John Gaeta, USA)
09:30am Dixie Chicks – Shut Up and Sing (Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck, USA)
noon Mon Meilleur Ami (Patrice Leconte, France)
02:30pm Little Children (Todd Field, USA)
04:45pm Syndromes and a Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul aka “Joe,” Thailand)
09:00pm Grbavica (Jasmila Zbanic, Bosnia)
noon Breaking and Entering (Anthony Minghella, Britain)
03:00pm The Fountain (Darren Aronovsky, USA)
06:00pm King and the Clown (Lee Jun-ik, South Korea)
09:30pm Red Road (Andrea Arnold, Britain)
midnight Severance (Christopher Smith, Britain)
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