April 12 – Film Friday – TIFF program 2010

Today I’m giving away the programme from TIFF 2010.  I picked the wrong year to write a post in a hurry.  This was the kind of year you hope for when you crack open the guide (which still feels like Christmas morning to me, these many years later).

I will only write descriptions about the movies you’re not likely to know because there were so many incredibly good films that year.  Also, please note, in addition to the ones I list here there were also lots of good movies that I didn’t see in the festival that year.  It really was one of the best in recent memory.

Off the top

The King’s Speech – The Q&A brought the house down.  I remember Tom Hooper’s reaction to the audience, they had kid excitement, they were all so thrilled that we loved it so much.

Little White Lies – A wonderful French movie.  Kind of The Big Chill made modern and made in French.  From Guillaume Canet, Marion Cotillard’s husband.  She is also in the movie.  Very funny, moving, and tres French.  It will make you long for a summer holiday in the South of France and your closest friends to share a summer house with.

The Town – I liked this movie although Ben Affleck didn’t do a Q&A – boo

West is West– remember East is East?  This one isn’t quite as good, but who can resist revisiting that wonderful family.

Black Swan – I think Darren Aronofsky must have a warped imagination, but aren’t we glad he does and that he makes movies.

Rabbit Hole – proof that Nicole Kidman can act when she lays off the freezing.  Please stop messing with your face and make good movies.  Also, I will never get enough of Aaron Eckhart, I wish he made more movies like this.

Another Year – my favourite Mike Leigh movie.  Real people having real relationships with real joy and disappointment.

Blue Valentine – I couldn’t get a ticket to this during the festival but saw it afterwards.  I just couldn’t leave it off the list.

Beginners – in which Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer teach the world how to tell a story

Incendies – One of the best Canadian movies I’ve ever seen.  I loved this movie, had no idea where it was going and was taken in by the story, the performances, and thoughtful pacing.  Beautifully done.

Client 9 – Great doc about the taking down of Eliot Spitzer.  Damn you Mr Spitzer for not being able to keep it in your pants.  We needed you to keep those greedy Wall St hoodlums under control and look what happened when you gave them the ammo to take you down.

Inside Job – an appropriate partner film to Client 9.  Every grown up should see this movie and vote.  Full stop.

Meek’s Cutoff – Kelly Reichardt’s poetic pioneer painting.  A westward ho 1845 “road movie,” only there were no roads and the women wore bonnets.  This is an intimate movie, made with great actors, and deeply suspenseful even within its dry and quiet pace.  Michelle Williams, Bruce Greenwood, Will Patton (who is so good), Paul Dano, and more.

How I Ended This Summer – a great Russian movie (I don’t say that very often) about a young university student interning for a summer at a meteorological station in Siberia with an old school technician.  It starts with a standard generational clash, precision instruments vs. digital technology, musical differences and no common ground.  It starts to change when one of them gets some alarming news from home.  This movie had us on the edge of our seats and the arctic scenery is as stunning a backdrop as you can imagine.  A really memorable telling of a gripping tale.

The Piano in a Factory – A Chinese movie that told of a divorced Dad, his travelling musical band, his struggles with his girlfriend and moving attempt to keep custody of his daughter and other rambling idiosyncratic rabbit holes.  It was kind of a crazy movie that was a little bit all over the place, but it was so surprising and visually interesting that all of us who saw it loved it.  The program said 119 minutes.  I think it lies, I’m pretty sure it was about 30 minutes longer.

My pick – (King’s Speech was my actual favourite but everyone already knows about it so I’m picking this one…)

Never Let Me Go – A great film from a great book and so beautifully acted.  I loved everything about this.  If you haven’t read the book do, and if you haven’t seen the movie, see it.  Carey Mulligan is subtle and commanding.  She and this glimpse into a future based on medical possibilities and ethical failure will take you by surprise.

March 29 – Film Friday – TIFF program 1994

Mar 29 - Film Friday

Today I’m giving away the TIFF 1994 program.  What a year.  I have to change the format of my post because there are way too many movies to talk about.  I’ve done more of a list with shorter descriptions and followed the programming themes to make it easier.  There were many more movies that year that didn’t even make this list??

I will say I saw most of these movies in the festival but I know of two that I saw later on that year when they got distribution.


Whale Music – For me, one of the many great soundtracks from a Canadian movie, and the first time I understood what an incredible actor Maury Chaykin was.

Eat Drink Man Woman – From Ang Lee.  Beautiful insights into the universal themes that emerge as families age – generation gaps, fears for your children’s future, the absence of a lost parent.  And the dinner table!  A masterful storyteller on only his third feature.

Vanya on 42nd Street – I never saw My dinner with Andre so I didn’t know what Wallace Shawn and Louis Malle could do when I walked into this movie.

Muriel’s Wedding – Has anyone had this much fun in a movie theatre since?  It also made me not hate Abba.

The Burning Season – There are a lot of great movies about South American uprisings and political battles.  They make for some heroic characters and big scale drama. This one is right up there.  Also, it starred Raul Julia.

Bullets Over Broadway – Everyone thinks John Cusack should have had a better career, including Woody Allen.  He was great in this.  Remember, “don’t speak…don’t speak”.  I sat a couple of rows behind John Cusack for this screening.  He’s really tall and blocked the screen a bit, but I didn’t mind because he was so cute.

Special Presentations

Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle – I don’t know if this is as good a movie as it should have been but I’m obsessed with Dorothy Parker and I loved that someone wanted to make a movie about her.

Three Colours:Red or Trois Couleurs: Rouge.  I love Kieslowski and should probably have dedicated this entire post to him and his movies.  This was the last instalment in the Three Colours movies, Blanc and Blu came first.   He also made The Double Life of Veronique and the Decalogue, of which you cannot say enough.  Always say yes if you get a chance to see one of his movies, especially if you love movies, he’s the master’s master.

Perspective Canada

Dance Me Outside – My introduction to Bruce McDonald and I saw it kind of by accident.  It fit an empty time slot and in those days you could do that spontaneously.  Drama and tension on the Rez – also, I just noticed that Mychael Danna contributed the score.  (He just won the Oscar for Life of Pi)

Exotica – Atom Egoyan doing some unsettling story telling…for a change?  I love Bruce Greenwood in this movie.  He’s tense and uncomfortable, so watching him, you are too .  I saw this movie after the festival.  I think when I read about it in the program I was dubious, but the buzz and press compelled me after the fact.  Even now when I look at the program, I don’t know if I want to know this story.

Double Happiness – How great is Sandra Oh when she has something interesting to do.  I don’t know how good the movie was, but she was great.

World Cinema

Heavenly Creatures – Australian girl goes a little crazy.  My first time seeing Kate Winslet and the first Peter Jackson movie I saw.  Still a haunting and unsettling story about what young minds are capable of.

Moving the Mountain – Michael Apted makes amazing documentaries, not just the 7 up series (although I have seen all of those).  This one follows a brave young man during the Tiananmen Square uprising and massacre.  Remember how heartbreaking that ending was after a few months of hope and tension.

Il Postino – What a beautiful movie and I love Philippe Noiret.  I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that it was this movie that introduced me to the poet Pablo Neruda.  A story well told.

First Cinema

The Buddy Factor, better known as Swimming with Sharks.  I loved this movie.  I loved to hate Kevin Spacey and have always kind of hated him in every role I’ve seen him in since.  I loved the insider view of the movie industry.  I loved the revenge factor.  I won’t say what else I loved because I don’t want to be a spoiler.  If you haven’t seen it, do.

Hoop Dreams – I always try to see documentaries about sports, they’re so emotional and suspenseful and you get to live vicariously through an athletes commitment and sacrifice, victory and defeat.  This one is no exception.  It’s a great movie, and if you liked it, you should also see Undefeated which is on Rogers on Demand right now.

Once Were Warriors – So many themes going on in this completely engrossing film about a troubled Maori family living in Auckland.  It will make your family feel pretty calm and healthy by comparison.  A really impressive first feature.

Clerks. – Natural, unaware, funny, and ground breaking, Kevin Smith’s first movie, and maybe his best (or tied with Chasing Amy).  This may be the movie with the biggest “cult” following of all time, it’s probably more of a demographic cohort.

And my favourite

The Shawshank Redemption – can you believe this was a first feature?  Frank Darabont went on to make the Green Mile and The Walking Dead among many other things.  Who hasn’t loved this movie?  It was perfectly paced, emotional, redemptive and believable.  I don’t think I saw it during the actual festival – I’m pretty sure I jumped on the bandwagon later with everyone else.




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