In three years of living in Toronto, I have never once attended anything being screened for the Toronto International Film Festival. I know...it doesn't make any sense. It would be like if Tiger Woods moved next door to the greatest miniature golf course in the world* and was never once compelled to challenge Michael Jordan to a high-stakes game of rolling it through the windmill.
But this year, I'm biting the bullet and attending as many of the films I'm interested in seeing as I possibly can. Now, I won't be able to see *all* of them (I mean, TIFF is half-over already), but a few of the ones on my list are still playing in the next week. You've got....
--- Synecdoche, New York. Charlie Kaufman's directorial debut. I know literally nothing about it other than Phillip Seymour Hoffman is in it, but if Kaufman is involved, it's got to be awesomely awesome. If you've ever wondered why I don't professionally write film reviews, the use of phrases like 'awesomely awesome' is high on the list.
--- The Wrestler, Darren Aronofsky's serious (I'm serious) look at pro wrestling (seriously). The unbelievably craggy-faced Mickey Rourke apparently delivers a performance that's getting Oscar buzz as a washed-up old wrestler looking for one last big match. I've always thought the inherent backstage drama and seedy underbelly of wrestling made it a great topic for a movie, and I'm glad someone like Aronofsky is approaching the subject with a dollop of seriousness. Even better, looking at the cast list, the main villain of the film is being played an old WCW wrestler, Ernest 'The Cat' Miller! Good lord! I remember this guy from watching wrestling back in the day; his gimmick was originally that of a karate expert, but then changed to a James Brown wannabe who used to win matches by kicking guys with his loaded red 'dancing shoes.' I wish I could make this up.
--- Zack & Miri Make A Porno. Kevin Smith's latest work, about two friends (Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks) who decide to....spoiler alert....make a porno. I'm hoping for an upgrade over Clerks II, though this film already has an advantage given that Rogen and Banks are actual actors, and not just Smith's buddies.
--- Me & Orson Welles, Richard Linklater's film about....well, I'm actually not sure what it's about. I just know Linklater's directing and it involves Orson Welles in some way. Fun fact: remember Vincent D'Onofrio's cameo as Welles in Ed Wood? D'Onofrio was a dead ringer for Welles but he couldn't get the voice down, so the voice was actually provided by noted voice actor Maurice LaMarche, best known for his role as The Brain in Pinky & The Brain.
--- It Might Get Loud, a documentary about three great guitarists. Well, two great guitarists (Edge, Jack White) and Jimmy Page. Sorry Jimmy, but c'mon, you're really going to let Leona Lewis push you around at the Olympic closing ceremonies? Fuck that. The old Jimmy Page would've turned the amp up to 11 and cranked out a searing solo that would've brought everyone in the Bird's Nest to tears, while Lewis stamped her feet in a snit like Veruca Salt. Not the band Veruca Salt; one might think they'd be on Page's side of this rivalry.
So that's five films to see, and just over a week to see them. And this week also includes work commitments, personal commitments, etc. Can Mark complete his quest? Tune in next week to find out, same Mark-time, same Mark-channel. Also, uh, how does one actually get tickets to these shows? I told you, I'm really a newbie at this.
* = Everyone knows the greatest mini-golf course of all time was, in fact, located at Masonville Mall in London in the mid-90's. It was phenomenal. Each hole was designed to mirror an actual classic golf hole from around the world, complete with actual water, sand, and varying kinds of turf to simulate fairways, greens and even rough. You had the coffin bunkers from Oakmont, the "Principal's Nose" par three from St. Andrews, Amen Corner from Augusta; it was like a dream golf vacation in one simple swing. And brother, was it ever goddamn tough. This was no fly-by-night operation where you're bouncing your shots off the concrete border around the holes. You had to calculate your shots like you were an actual player, taking into account the sand, water, taunts from people standing around the course watching and sipping their Orange Julius drinks, etc. It started out relatively easy, to lure you into the web, but by the end you were a weeping, broken mess.
For those Western students who are more familiar with the modern Masonville, the course was located on the south wing of the mall, approximately laid out around the corner where the Shoppers Drug Mart, Hysel's Music Store and I believe a clothing store are currently located --- the mall's been refurbished enough that the layout is hard to exactly place. The course was removed, of course, since Masonville felt that valuable retail space was being wasted. I call bullshit on that one. What other mall can boast about a world-class putter golf course? Masonville needed to think outside the box. These are the kinds of gimmicks that the Galleria should be employing --- lord knows there's enough free space. And the place is so empty that it actually sounds like your average golf gallery anyway. I'll bring all of this up when I run for mayor of London. Ball's in your court, Anne Marie.