Friday, September 12, 2008

Having a TIFF

So the great TIFF experiment was a rousing failure. First of all, tickets to every one of the five films on my list were sold out, with the exception of Zack & Miri Make A Porno. I could've bought said ticket to the special screening that probably been present for a panel discussion and Q&A with Kevin Smith and company, but the ticket cost $40. Considering that I could probably see this movie for $4 at the Rainbow in a few months, I decided that the extra bonus of the Q&A probably wasn't worth it. Besides, all my questions for Kevin Smith would probably just be asking him if Jon "Giant Spider" Peters actually is that crazy.

Ergo, the rush line it was. Given my work schedule this week, only one film really fit into my wheelhouse, and that was Synecdoche, New York (or, as most people called it, Charlie Kaufman's Movie, since nobody could pronounce Synecdoche. Sin-Eck-Dah-Key, right?). Plan one was the rush line on Tuesday night's screening down at the Winter Garden at Yonge-Queen. I was told to be there at least a couple of hours before the film started, and sure enough, even by the time I got there early, the line was already stretched around the corner down Queen. So I got a bag of Kernels from the Eaton Centre to pass the time and patiently chewed my way through the next two hours. I struck up a nice chat with the two women in front of and behind me in line, respectively. The woman behind me was from New York state and was attending the festival on her vacation from work. My innocent question of 'So, what have you seen so far?' ended up making me feel like quite a douchebag, as she promptly whipped out a duotang containing her elaborately-planned schedule of movies. She was averaging about five films a day, and was still standing in line for Synecdoche since she wasn't able to score tickets in her original order. In the face of such hardcore fandom, I was shamefully forced to admit that it was my first festival in three years in Toronto, and I'm even a film student to boot. Sigh. Anyway, my hopes were kept up by the fact that even though our line was quite long, it contained both people waiting for Synecdoche and for Che, which was starting a half-hour later. I theorized that we could split some of the Che people out into their movie and then we'd have plenty of opportunity to get into Synecdoche.

Sadly, it was all for naught. At around 9 PM, with only about 10 people left in front of me in line, the volunteers came out and said that the theatre was full. It was disappointing. My first TIFF experience was three hours in a line and no hours sitting in a theatre. On the bright side, I got to stand out in the fresh air of.....uh, Queen Street and inhale car fumes for three hours. Toughens up the lungs. My second chance to see Synecdoche came Thursday morning, but I totally overslept and couldn't make it down there in time.

But next year it'll be different. (Note: I have experience with this sentence given my time as a Maple Leafs fan.) Next year I'll plan ahead, get tickets in advance and possibly hit up some of my friends who work at publicity companies that have access to gala passes. In exchange, I can get them....uh.....Blue Jays tickets! *crickets chirping* Okay, I'll work something out. My backup plan, if all else fails, is just to hang around Yorkdale and see if I can arrange a chance run-in with some major star, who will take pity on me after they read the printed copy of this blog post and I'll be freely passing around. This major star will hook me up with tickets to every show I desire, and then perhaps even hire me as their personal assistant. The rest of the story will then come close to the events of My Favorite Year.


The 1980's 'Worst Best Picture' poll is complete, and we have our first tie of the competition. Both Out of Africa and Driving Miss Daisy scored three votes, and thus I'll either have a one-off playoff to determine which advances, or hell, both movies are pretty mediocre, I might just advance them both to the final Group Of Death. DMD is notable in Oscar history for two reasons: it is just the third movie ever to win Best Pic without its director (Bruce Beresford) getting even a nomination for best director, and b) Dan Aykroyd* got his one and only Oscar nomination for the picture. Canada, representing! Anyway, the rest of the vote broke down as follows: Amadeus and Platoon** with two votes each, and there was one vote apiece for Terms Of Endearment and Gandhi.

Whereas the best pictures of the 1980's were a weak crop, the best pictures of the 1970's were arguably the strongest group in Oscar history. Definitely a few all-time classics to be found in this decade. BTW, I changed the poll title to 'worst of these movies,' since I thought that 'worst best picture' was perhaps a bit misleading. It's a poll based solely on quality of the film --- not quality of the Academy's decision. Anyway, vote!

* = Okay, this story is almost assuredly bullcrap, but it's too good to not be repeated. A friend of a friend of mine was once in downtown Toronto with a buddy of his, and the two were taking a cab home from the clubs. While on the ride, they realize that they're out of money and can't pay, thus they decided to just dash. So when the cab stops, the two of them just take off. Now, somehow, the cab catches up with them and corners them, which strikes me as the most implausible portion of the story, but stay with me. Anyway, just as the driver is swearing violent restitution and the two guys are worried, who should ride up on a motorcycle with a twentysomething blond riding sidecar but Dan Aykroyd? He hops off the bike, asks what the problem is, and that's when one of the kids says, "Hey, Dan Aykroyd! You know my dad!" Apparently the guy's dad is a caterer or trucker or sound techie or something, but anyway has worked on a few of Aykroyd's movies. Aykroyd says, "Oh yes, how's your dad doing? Tell him I said hi." Anyway, Aykroyd pays off the cab driver, and then says "Now you two have a good night. I need to go take care of a bit of business," as he nods towards the young blond. Aykroyd then drives away into the night like Spadina Ave's answer to Ghost Rider. There is not a word of truth to be found anywhere here, but man, if only it was true.

** = Story number two! For a project in Grade 12 English class, we had to show a clip from a film and discuss it in front of the class. I think my clip was from Citizen Kane, but no matter, that's not where the joke comes in. My buddy Trev, usually a pretty level-headed chap, decides to show the clip from Platoon of the soldiers destroying the Vietnamese village. This five-minute clip featured an old woman being shot in the head, Johnny Drama beating a boy to death and roughly 5400 uses of the f-bomb. It was a bit intense for a high school English class. Our teacher (who, for the record, was pretty laid-back and probably the best teacher I've ever had at any level of education), found it a bit much and had a few bemusedly sarcastic comments for Trev afterwards. This incident was second only to the time that we were supposed to present and analyze a poem to the class, and one guy went up there with a Tupac rap.

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