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.

February 22 – Film Friday – TIFF program – 2000

Feb 21 Film Friday

Today I’m giving away the 2000 TIFF program guide and introducing a new feature – Film Fridays.  I have about 20 program guides dating back to 1990 (I must have pitched the ones from the 80’s). They’re quite large and I don’t want to hang on to them any longer so every Friday for the next many weeks I’m going to highlight one of the programs and my favourite movies/discoveries from that year’s Festival.

The 2000 festival was pretty rich.  It was their 25th anniversary, according to the cover, and they had a tribute to Stephen Frears who made many of my all-time favourite movies including The Grifters and Dangerous Liaisons.  But the new movies screened were amazing and had a lot of great aha moments for festival goers.  My best impressions and strongest memories were of…

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon a flying fighting movie of no compare from the impressively versatile Ang Lee

Sexy Beast, where we saw Ben Kingsley un-Gandhi himself and we fell in love with Ray Winstone

The Dish another quirky funny movie from Australian Rob Sitch who also directed the quirky funny The Castle

You Can Count on Me revealing Kenneth Lonergan and, even better, Mark Ruffalo and Laura Linney, all of whom I didn’t know up to that point.  I think they all had a following for great stage work but I’m a movie person and didn’t know them.

Memento Christopher Nolan’s writing feat, which I think I didn’t see in the festival but watched later after all the buzz.  Remember how much we all loved Guy Pearce?  People watched that movie backwards and forwards.

Billy Elliott the first feature of Stephen Daldry who went on to make The Hours and created the stage version of Billy Elliott with Elton John – just a little bit of talent there.

Requiem for a Dream an in-your-face horrifying slippery slope drug story.  Darren Aronofsky did more in two hours than 8 years of Just Say No.  Again, I don’t think I saw this in the festival but later on the advice of my filmy friend David.

And my favourite…

Before Night Falls  It was directed by Julian Schnabel, whose first feature was the incredible Basquiat, and it starred Javier Bardem, Johnny Depp (in drag) and Sean Penn.  Javier owned every inch of that movie and haunted you aftwards.  He played Reinaldo Arenas, a Cuban poet and writer, who was jailed by the government and had a crazy persecuted life until he was able to leave Cuba and move to New York.  It was programmed by Kay Armatage, one of my favourite programmers while she was at the festival, and she described his performance as “a stunning combination of flash, nuance and intelligence.”  He was smokin’

I’m giving the programs to the Toronto Film School who seemed really excited to get them.

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