#TIFF14 Blog: Stop The Madness!! - Tusk

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Film festival horny; and haunting DVD stores like it’s going out of style (which it is, making my decision to do so all the more questionable); and trolling the long corridors between the Ryerson and the Bloor and the Lightbox and back again like an endless march. Wearing head-to-toe mufti; I’m not here to impress anyone. With my hood up I’m a ghost - I blend into the rock wall behind me, invisible to the CHUDs and all the psychotic hangers-on.

When I sent Price my picks a few weeks ago he wrote back a note of congratulations, saying that my far-flung choices had successfully made his rarities and oddments look like the very center of the Hollywood mainstream. Today - Dukhtar, followed by Flapping in the Middle of Nowhere - was the payoff of the decisions I made around what to focus on at #TIFF14. Foreign (Pakistan and Vietnam, respectively), both directed by women, both first-time directors, both films with female protagonists, neither particularly likely to see the silver screen again in this part of the world. The experience of them as films was secondary to the experience of them as objects of contemplation, places to visit, rhythms to feel and languages to hear. The bubbling skitter of Urdu. The bellow of the train through the slums of Hanoi. The stark blue mountains in Pakistan, towards which three people run; and the small mounds of Huyen’s breasts as she realizes she is pregnant, and tries to scrub the encroaching darkness out of her nipples.

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#TIFF14 Blog: Stop The Madness!! - Big

Young Maxwell Price, 14 years old, attended his first Midnight Madness tonight; and Onni Tommila of Rare Exports returned to the fest, also 14 years old. Their voices are deeper, but not all the way to the bottom yet - the last time in a man’s life his voice can still be called “sweet.” Tommila returns with Big Game, the one where the kid finds the President of the United States wandering around Finland, while he’s out on a wilderness adventure. Tommila is the best thing about the movie, which means yes, he is routinely upstaging Samuel L. You Have To Cock It Motherfucker Jackson. I love that kid.

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#TIFF14 Blog: Stop The Madness!! - Tokyo

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I attack the Ryerson from the east and my senses sharpen as I close on the tail of the first line of the year. Already an ebullient nerd is screaming to the woman next to him in line in that way that only ebullient nerds can, as though they have ear buds playing loudly, permanently lodged in their heads. Al Pacino and Nic Cage and something. It’s all hyperextended displays of personal excitement on day 1 of the Toronto International Film Festival, as the great flock tries less so to prove to everyone else how important this is to them, and more so to prove it to themselves. Twitter has already proclaimed six masterpieces and eleven turkeys; the “must see at TIFF” pieces in the major publications are on round 3 (i.e. the responses to the reactions to the original puff pieces); and the Ryerson freight train has already gone off the rails, on film two. Of three hundred and twenty.

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Go Bag (How To Pack For An Asskicking, #TIFF14 Edition)

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Mamo recording setup (a.k.a. iPhone)

Bluetooth keyboard, iPad, charging paraphernalia

Swedish Sensationsfilms: A Clandestine History of Sex, Thrillers, and Kicker Cinema by Daniel Ekeroth

Picture of Price, in case for any reason I can’t see his beard 

Water

Protein bars

3” Timothy Dalton vinyl figure

Substream Midnight Madness button

Personal lubricant for some reason

Ream of tickets

Green business cards

Gum

The list

Loose change, assorted valuables

Bright orange TIFF-branded ball-point pen

TARDIS notebook - to keep score

The fork in the socket

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The other day I had a moment of clarity about one of the ways my mind reinforces and amplifies anxiety. The model I came up with was so simple and substantial that I literally sat down and drew an infographic of it on the spot. An infographic of my head, just for me! To be used as a tool in the war against my mind! Aside from the clinical relief this new self-awareness brought - and that was not insignificant - the giddy joy of the infographic itself put me in a good mood for the whole damn weekend.

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Not It

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I write things on the internet, like a lot of people. I’ve been doing it a long time - so long, that when I started, most people didn’t understand why I was doing it and/or were appalled by the sharing. I’m not sure any of them are any more convinced, now; but at least, now, when you say “I write things on the internet,” it can get filed away in a big cluster of that somewhere in those peoples’ brains. They may not get it - I’m still not convinced I get it - but they know what it is.

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Notes from a summer without twitter

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It was a summer, and it was not a complete success, in terms of the goals set out previously. I did not find a new thing to do with my time or my mind while waiting in the line at the Shoppers Drug Mart; if smartphones have completely rewired our brains in this regard, then the rewiring is either permanent or requires a much more drastic measure on my part to undo. Nonetheless, here were the reactions and observations from my summer without twitter and Facebook:

Other venues went up. The first thing that happened when I went off twitter and Facebook (and Vine) is that my use of Tumblr and Instagram spiked by something like 300%, which for the most part rendered the whole experiment moot. (Oh: and Letterboxd. I started Letterboxding like a fiend.) Whatever part of my brain was looking to express itself in the online world just went there, albeit under vastly more constrained circumstances. Nonetheless, it was a pretty instructional experience, especially on Tumblr, where I started putting a little more time and thought into the content - and more specifically, into the flow / “story” of the content on a daily and weekly basis. You probably wouldn’t be able to detect it externally, but there was a method and meaning to the connection between the posts day by day, rather than just outright randomness. This, at least, was part of what I was trying to get to (with twitter at least), as it feeds into what I’m doing with social communication at my day job. I’m not sure if it’ll have any impacts for my personal content, but if I were to write a next-gen social media strategy for myself in September 2014, it would include this idea of longer-term content narratives and communications flows. Like the professional social media buffoon I am!

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Stop The Madness!! - TIFF ‘14 prework

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Here we go again for the first time, for the last time. Cracking the book and there’s that smell - because only the TIFF book smells like that. Last book? Could be. I was a few pages into the Masters, sitting on a park bench, when I was approached by a delightful woman who has been attending the Toronto International Film Festival since 1985 - and doing 50 films a year until just a few years ago. We reminisced. Yes, it’s changed. No, it’s not like it used to be. No, neither are we. Yes, we’re still going.

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Watched: McCabe, Mrs. Miller, and the end of all things

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"I got poetry in me, dammit."

I don’t think I’ll ever watch McCabe & Mrs. Miller again. This isn’t anything to do with the film. I think it’s wonderful; I think it’s one of my favourites. I’ve written papers about it. I’ve seen it, I think, three times straight through, and a handful of other times, other ways. I saw it again at the Lightbox last week, on real 35mm, and man, it looked amazing. And it really got to me, too, you know? That stupid, ineffectual man. That absolutely castrated male ego. All the things that means. All the things that, in a frontier setting,  points towards. America. Manhood. Me.

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Filmmaking: It’s Fantastic.

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So Mark and I used to say in our heyday, which is now - hey! - around twenty years ago. Well, no matter. Filmmaking is still fantastic.

Here’s what I like about it: it’s three-dimensional problem solving in real time. And it’s not the irritating-as-fuck non-solution problem solving that follows me around at my day job like dryer lint; it’s tactile, and practical, and real, and it has immediate, visible results. You start any given day of any given shoot with a series of problems that need to be solved: logistical, conceptual, creative. And you take them, one by one, till you get to the end. Some days, you solve all of ‘em; some days, you solve none of ‘em. But you piece out, one step at a time, taking each specific challenge in turn until you arrive at the moment of truth. And when it’s done you have a Result. If you’re on your shit, that result is a movie.

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