TIFF Afterthoughts

So I’ve been back in San Diego for 24 hours, and I have to admit, I’m kind of sad to be back. Though the whole atmosphere of Toronto seemed to change over the weekend—a very palpable stillness fell over the city as things returned to “everyday life”—I just didn’t feel quite ready to let go and leave. And that’s a first for me—even during my trips to London I’ve been ready to return home when the time came.

Actually, what I think is that I wasn’t ready for the festival to conclude. On Saturday, the last day of the festival, I ran into Girish and Darren, two bloggers I admire tremendously, and in a few parting thoughts after what would prove to be all of our second-to-last film, both expressed that they had reached their filmwatching limits and were ready for the festival to finish. I had purposely kept my viewing schedule on the light side, but as the festival came to a close I found myself rather envying the sense of gluttonous fatigue I could sense from many of my fellow audience members, which I think brought the festival to a natural conclusion for most. One of the many things I learned at TIFF: I might have a greater capacity for consecutive movie watching than I have previously given myself credit for.

But with all said and done, TIFF 2007 was an amazing experience for me, and I relished the opportunity to not only see a number of excellent films, but get the opportunity to meet up and hang out with fellow bloggers and long-time internet friend. I wish I could say that I will certainly be going back come next September, but that likely won’t be the case considering I will just be starting classes for grad school (if all goes as planned). But I think I might just have to find a festival that will fit with my schedule…

Anyway, several new reviews, including the new films from Carlos Reygadas, Kenneth Brannagh, Hector Babenco and Manoel de Oliveira are up at DVD Verdict. I’m slowly getting there!

-jesse

More TIFF

Another update at DVD Verdict. I have consistent internet now, so that should make a difference for the rest of the festival–though I still haven’t figured out how I want to tackle posting on here. I was originally thinking I would do a festival write-up to post here early next week, but I may repost all capsules here when I find the time. Any preferences from my small (but devoted, I’m certain :) ) readership?

Anyway, still having a blast. Taking a break tomorrow (only one screening, though it’s Van Sant); hopefully will have time for a big update!

-jesse

TIFF Update #2

Thoughts on Day Three—and some brief comments on Beyond the Years and Mira Nair Presents: Four Views on AIDS—up at DVD Verdict. Find them here.

Exciting news: this morning I was able to get tickets for Briellat’s Une vieille maîtresse and Van Sant’s Paranoid Park, two of the films I was most disappointed in not being able to get tickets for. Now if only Kawase’s The Mourning Forest becomes available…

I’m going to catch up yet!

-jesse

imminent disaster somehow diverted

Hairspray (Adam Shankman, USA, 2007) is the kind of film for which it is immediately obvious that there is very little margin of error: it’s either going to be unwatchable or an unexpected success, and surprise, surprise, this musical version of John Water’s more gritty, much-loved satire falls in the latter category. By a wide margin, no less. One of the most buoyant theater experiences I’ve had in a long while—it keeps sweeping you deeper into its skewed, candy-colored world until the climactic “Miss Baltimore” pageant is reached and you stare slack-mouthed in disbelief at the way all the storylines and character arcs are being resolved, but it feels just so damn good that all ones wants is for the inspired lunacy to just keep on going, hoping it’ll somehow stumble onto a legitimate way to end all inequality and discrimination, in all its forms.

Much more adept and light on its feet in confronting and examining the defining social issues of the 1960’s America than Dreamgirls ever dreamed of (it gives faces to the pain, not just artistic montages tipping its hat to history issues taking place just outside the window), and even if the songs themselves aren’t terribly inspired–there’s no chance of this being taken as classic Comdon and Green–the cast performs with such enthusiasm and earnestness that its impossible not to buy into nearly every number wholeheartedly. Impeccably cast from top to bottom (I mean, an actress of the caliber of Allison Janney is given what, a half dozen lines?), the casting stunt of having John Travolta play Edna Turnblad, surely the film’s make-or-break gamble, pays off handsomely—he’s irresistible. A joy, and all the more savory because it is so unexpected.

“down endless corridors”… again

Raúl Ruiz’s Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting (L’hypothèse du tableau volé) (France, 1979) seems to be one of the very few films that truly kept exploring territory opened up by Last Year at Marienbad a decade or so before, as the monotone narration, sumptuous rooms populated by living mannequins, the ethereal, shimmering black and white images composed of shadows gradations, lines and light (master cinematographer Sacha Vierny was behind the look of both films) all seem to bear the external influence of Resnais’s landmark film…

But beneath the glassy, elegant surfaces both films share an uneasy, all-consuming desire to arrange the pieces of the present into a past that (most likely) never was. If Marienbad remains the superior film it’s only because Hypothesis seems too distanced from “life” while there’s something about Marienbad that seems to keep cutting through the artifice into something real, something elusive but almost tangible… no, for all of Hypothesis‘s many stunning qualities it never manages to quite overcomes the sensation of being an sophisticated parlor game, a beautiful, almost miraculous little trick of words, paint and celluloid that seems only capable of existing in its own rarified little world of cinema, literature, and art itself.

And if that sounds like a knock, I don’t intend it to be (one of my favorite quotes: “it was art; though remote from life, it enhances life’s values…” E.M. Forster, Howard’s End); it just lacks a certain substance—it’s as fragile, diaphanous as a half-remembered dream. It might be slight, and all things considered it’s rather minor, but I still consider it a treasure.

Update…

Yes, yes, I’m still here! Though just barely, I admit. Since Memories of the Future is entering its third weeks without a new posting I figure an update is in order.

My “disappearance” can be attributed to a number of factors: packing up my best friend and (now former) roommate and sending her off to San Francisco State to start her graduate studies career, then moving out of our apartment and making sure it was ready for the walk-through, figuring out my job situation (long story short: they’re giving me the month of September off), family issues, coordinating my upcoming trip to Toronto and the just the ugly, unavoidable fact I just haven’t been terribly inspired lately, at least as far as writing, film and books go.

I’ve actually been pouring a lot of energy into music lately—I’ve caught 60’s Yé-yé/ Euro-pop fever again and have been subsequently scanning blogs, MySpace tribute pages and the outer reaches of iTunes for new tracks. I’ve managed to get my hands on some rather sublime stuff (or I think so anyway) from everyone from the usual suspects such as Françoise Hardy, Sylvie Vartan and France Gall on down to new-to-me obscurities as Les Flechéttes, Annie Phillipe, Les Roche Martin, Les Poppys, The Orchids and more.

I do have two new reviews up at DVD Verdict: a slightly extended version of my thoughts on Funny Ha Ha and Alain Robbe-Grillet’s rather unfortunate La Belle Captive.

I’m off to Toronto for my first TIFF, and I couldn’t be more excited. The press pass for DVDV fell through at the last minute and by the dust caused by all the confusion cleared I bought a pass too late to take advantage of the Advance Order system, which is disappointing. But I spent some time on the phone with the box office today and got some tips on my best options at this point and spent most of the afternoon mapping out various possibilities. Luckily most of the films I want to see anyway aren’t the ones as likely to fill up as quickly, and so I’m hoping for the best, and whatever happens I’m just excited to be going (it’ll be my first time to our northerly neighbor), meeting up with a bunch of people and spending some time with my boyfriend.

This last weekend I drove up to Los Angeles to meet up with my good friend Kevin from Shooting Down Pictures as well as IMDb Classics Board legend Addison de Witt, who I met for the first time. I had a great time.

Anyway, that’s more or less right now.

-jesse