This is my first year going to the Toronto International Film Festival. Read on for some random thoughts.
Here is what I found out by going downtown and standing in line for excessive periods of time:
First film is at the Cumberland theatre. Festival-supplied map shows it at the corner of Bloor and University, but it's actually right next to Bay subway station. Get in line 1/2 hour before show, get let in 10 minutes later. Latecomers can get rush tickets during the next 20 minutes -- seems to be fairly constant for all the later movies too.
Lots of nicely done computer animation with traditional anime-style animation overlaid. Typical plot twists for a Chinese ghost story: evil ghosts, terrified mortal, violent ghost-hunters, beautiful female ghost. Incomprehensible subtitled dialog from the sorcerors.
I liked it but probably not everyone's cup of tea. If you've watched more than 3 Jackie Chan movies and would watch more, or if you are an animation buff, this movie is for you.
Sequel to an earlier trilogy:
Informative documentary / biopic about Martin Luther King. Includes historical footage, interviews with contemporaries, and a good selection of background info. Not as theatrical as it could be, and some attempts at setting a particular mood seem contrived. More like a TV biography special than a movie; co-produced by BBC and A&E.
An African dictatorship is captured in microcosm in the game of checkers. The dictator wants an opponent who can offer him a challenge... but not too much of a challenge. Thuggish troops kibitz and play their own games on the sidelines. Incisively funny.
Got the chance to see the whole admission process beginning to end. Ticket holders needn't have bothered standing in line as they got instant admission at any time up to screen time. People in the rush lineup were counted as they went in, with only so many let in at a time. Managed to get in (with pre-bought tickets) about 15 minutes after showtime; it probably helped that it was 3 shorts rather than one main feature.
Odd interviews with one UFO believer and one professed psychic. Got a bit repetitive considering there were only these two subjects. From Manitoba.
Simultaneous straight and gay romances in Toronto's Greektown. Guy pretends to be something he's not to win girl. Had its moments but nothing especially thought-provoking. Reminded me of that sitcom with Michael Eisenberg(?) and Lally Cadeau.
Former nerds -- including Penn Jillette, Mitch Kabay, and one of the Simpsons producers whose name I didn't get -- recount their awful childhoods, examine their psyches, and explain how they have taken subtle and brainy forms of revenge. Just a stellar piece of filmmaking. (Speaking as a former "Reach for the Top" champion.) A lot of painful honesty from the interview subjects and some hilarious images of childhood torments.
All the men in an African village are in love with young Mossane. She loves a poor student but the shadow of an arranged marriage hangs over their romance. Good performances and an insightful look into West African tribal culture.
This movie is several years old, part of a tribute to director Benoit Jacquot.
Just a wretched, awful, boring movie. All the characters pause for 10 seconds between sentences, as if waiting for you to finish reading the subtitles; by the end of the film, you feel like prescribing amphetamines for them. Plot twists appear but never go anywhere. None of the characters has any consistent motivation or apparent plan. There are three female characters who are difficult to distinguish from each other, and two male characters with the same problem; at the climactic moment I didn't know who was who, and that wasn't some subtle cinematic device, just poor casting and bad lighting.