"I mean, the thing is that you spend… you know, you spend enough time doing something, and you focus for long enough, you know, on every little detail, then you start to lose sight of the… uh… uh…"
Daniel Cockburn gave me a blu-ray of his film, You Are Here. It is, I believe, four years overdue. Unless I miss my guess You Are Here played in the Toronto International Film Festival in 2010, i.e. before the festival adopted “You Are Here” as its slogan and You Are Here's maze of twisty little poster designs as one of its ad images, i.e. when You Are Here merely played at the festival, and before it became the festival.Read more
In case you forgot, I don’t need movies to be good. (Here’s some more.) And here’s Jandy’s manifesto from a couple of weeks ago, which I think is bloody brilliant, as it gets to some of the ideas I was trying to talk about, but ended up talking myself away from.
I’m sure it’ll come as no surprise to anyone who’s listened to Mamo! as we’ve moved into the subjective vs. objective portion of the debate (so really, everything since episode 194 or thereabouts) that I’ve held star ratings in a dim view for most of my life. What, exactly, does 3.5 stars out of 4 mean? Does it mean that the movie is perfect, except for one quantifiable mistake? (Roger Ebert memorably docked Thelma & Louise half a star for the abrupt fade-to-white on its final shot - and quite rightly, IMHO.)Read more
I want to tell you about a movie I saw this afternoon, Still the Water. Directed by Naomi Kawase, it concerns two teenagers on an island off the coast of Japan, dealing with death and change in their family, in parallel and together. It is a movie about nothing in particular, really, composed of a series of low-key scenes, and just as often, silent sequences of the characters traveling, or thinking, or sitting. Don’t worry: it is very much the movie I signed up to see, a kind of rural Japanese melodrama with its accompanying piano score and a great sense of the sea and the salt air, and the sound of leaves rustling.Read more
Fighting some kind of psycho-emotional Purge Night as day breaks cold and grisly on the last weekend of #TIFF14. I duck in to Theeb first thing, earlier in the morning than I should be doing this, though I woke up earlier all week for work, so I’m not entirely clear on why my body and mind and heart and soul and all the itty bitty angels are fighting me quite so hard on this. But fight me, they do. The movie is wonderful and the intro and Q&A equally so, and I take the time to dream I’m a Bedouin boy trying to survive on his own in that canyon on pluck and sheer will. Then I dream about what it means to dream about such things. I am no such boy - and yet, it moves.
What we learned yesterday and today: that after-work nap is the fuzzy beige line between this thing working like MechaGodzilla, vs. the whole King Ghidorah going off the rails. I spent a couple of lost hours immediately after work doing other things much further up the priority list than my date with the couch, and felt fine about it till I crash landed in the midst of another midnight in a row. Man! I had this shit wired, not 2 days ago! So I can tell you that What We Do In The Shadows was dandy, for the parts of it I was able to intake. It seemed to me a comfortable B-side to Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive from last year, with the central thesis again being that immortal vampiric life might seem all well and good, but the actual doing of it would likely be an exercise in scarcely-withheld insanity-due-to-boredom. I can’t help but wonder if it wasn’t a bit too on the nose for the Midnight Madness crowd, as subject matter. There was certainly a brightly lit scene at the tail end which, after so much mercurial gloom, nearly made me hiss and claw for the shadows.Read more
Heading into the last turn of TIFF week; it’s all straightaway from here out, after tonight. I finally took myself up on a personal commitment made a decade ago to be intelligent about this thing, and booked myself into a good long massage this morning to iron out a week’s worth of festival seating. The seats at the Ryerson have improved a lot since we moved to the venue in ‘05 but they still do a number on ya if you slouch, as one tends to do at Midnight Madness; especially the ground-floor seats we’ve been gulagged in all week. The recliner chairs at the Scotiamount are insanity on a stick - I spend more muscle strength trying to keep my body in a workable film viewing position than I expend in the average bike marathon. I won’t be in the Elgin this week, or the Winter Garden, and it doesn’t feel like a real festival without them. Another corner of the world taken away.Read more
Wednesday night a repeat of Friday - the rains started around the end of nap time, and persisted. I was reading the Prometheus sequel comic, Fire & Stone (it’s quite good so far), so the LV-223ish gloom was appreciated, and it did better prep this time than last, with my umbrella and waterproof everything. Everyone is bleating about In & Out Burger’s four-hour layover in Toronto tomorrow, so I went to Five Guys and got myself the superior cheeseburger. And they’re here all year round, gang.
Tonight was my double feature of kill-crazy adolescent boys, Goodnight Mommy followed by Cub. I already have a generous terror of boys, having been one myself, and having been bullied by other such ones besides. (Not for a while, don’t worry.) I know what’s going on in there from both sides of the equation, and it’s nothing good.
It happened tonight, for no special reason - no special reason, and every special reason. That thing inside me that’s been coiled up tight since… well, since the last time we had this conversation - relaxed itself and unfurled like a flag in the breeze. I call it “my soul.”
Something about lifting the girl up. Something about 9/9. Something about defending myself against the dark arts, and the bright lightning of cutting the day cleanly in half - *this*, and then *that.* I’m always asleep when the sun comes up; I’m always asleep when the sun goes down. I walked over to the Ryerson tonight listening to the new U2 album that magically instated itself in my iPhone while I was sleeping. U2 and TIFF, bound together in my heart and mind since that perfect night in ’09, in the midst of that mad, neon-bright week. 2009, the TIFF against which all other TIFFs will forever be judged, and found wanting. That night, when I went to the 360 show unexpectedly and free, then dashed across town to catch Symbol at Midnight Madness. One of the eight best nights of my life.
This is phase 2. Creeping into bed at 3 in the morning and up for work all week at 9. Nap at 5, up again at 8, at the movies 9:30 - 2:00 and becoming deeply into the way Church St. feels between the Ryerson and Queen at 2:30 in the morning. When my head hits that pillow my thoughts are clear and clean and focused on only one thing: the stars, but not those stars.
The head cold is the wild card, and I spent the morning fighting my way out of a medication fugue state while trying to set up testing scenarios in a content management system. I shattered a French press, my fifth. Sometimes I’d just stare at twitter, watching the content flow down my screen like an angry little waterfall - something about Rob Ford taking a subway with nobody on it. I’d dare him $1,000 to come ride the Queen Streetcar at eight in the morning on a weekday sometime, but he’d just claim he’d already done it, and then fart “subways subways subways!” again before walking away.
I’m leaky, slimy, snotty and gross. Bloody Sunday is the worst day of TIFF - the first day of the real tiredness burn; the day the festival cold really lands; and it’s always the day, inexplicably, when rave reviews for every film you didn’t pick land all at once on the internet. Plus, it’s the night we lose the balcony at the Ryerson for a week. Why you gotta be that way, Sunday?
It Follows must have worked on me on a level of deep unsettlement, because under a full moon with a September chill in the air I more or less flat-out *ran* across the Ryerson quad to get the hell south after the movie, and home. The movie is disturbing to watch in ways having little or nothing to do with its content - turntable cameras like terrible ticking clocks of approaching death; and a pervasive, roaring dread of a seemingly dead world with a few laggard children left in it. But admittedly, as far as content goes, the spectres of various shapes and sizes (frequently nude, and in one notable case, aimlessly pissing on the floor as she walks) that pursue Jay across the film are the kind of nightmare I’ve been forcibly forgetting since I was a teenager. What does the film mean? I, and it, have no idea what to do with a metaphor so potent as a sexually transmitted demon haunting, and if the film was punishing Jaye’s sexuality, or exalting it, or just plain leaving it alone, I am no clearer on its intent. It didn’t feel like a horror film, unless by horror you mean something else - like the itchy suspicion that once you’ve fucked, you’ve started across the river into death. It isn’t a sure thing, but it made me want to get home. Quickly.