Saturday, September 06, 2008

TIFF '08, Day 2 - Lost sons, lost daughters, lost dogs

Have already seen the Coen Brothers' screwball Burn After Reading, so go to 9am screening of Last Stop 174, Bruno Barreto's tough, gritty, grim tale of two kids who share similar names, and who run drugs and rob citizens in the anarchistic crazy-quilt shantytown on the hills of Rio. Yup, another Brazilian bummer about children with guns, about missing fathers, about moral compasses spinning out of control, about poverty, power and powerlessness. The final shot: a mother and one of the two Sandros standing over a grave.

Next up: Still Walking, Hirokazu Koreeda’s quiet, observant portrait of three generations of a family in Japan: the retired, grumpy physician and his faithful but sniping wife, their daughter and her doofus husband and two children, and the second son and his wife (a widow remarried), with her son. Lots of walking and talking, and the rigorous, everyday rituals of the Japanese. The aching loss of the elder couple’s first, favored son – a drowning – hangs over everything. One of the final shots: standing over a grave.

See The Duchess at the super-fancy screening room (leather sofas, side tables with lamps, butlers with cigars – OK, maybe not) at the new Hazelton Hotel, which seems to have supplanted the Four Seasons down the block as the top spot for fans to gawk, scream and try for autographs, while Toronto bike cops pretend to check the crowd but are really checking out the "talent" breezing in and out ringed by flacks. Keira Knightley is fitted in an amazing array of 18th century Euro-noble couture in this based-on-the-true-story of Georgiana Spencer, the Duchess of Devonshire. Ralph Fiennes is drolly despicable as the stuffy, randy Duke, and Hayley Atwell hangs in there as the woman who becomes his mistress -- and kind of becomes the Duchess’ too. Slated to talk to Ms. Knightley and director Saul Dibb on Sunday.

Head down Yonge Street to the new, gigantic AMC Yonge Dundas 24, across the street from a huge plaza where a TIFF concert stage is set up and a band’s getting ready to rock. (And where a guy is standing in the street, in the midst of cars, cyclists and pedestrians, pissing into a grate as if he was all alone in the middle of the woods.) It’s a little jarring to see a modest, blown-up-to-35mm indie that will end up at the Ritz Bourse when it gets to Philly debuting in a cavernous, multi-tiered, giant-screen theater totally sold out, and that’s the deal here: 700 TIFF-goers packed in to see Kelly Reichardt’s heartbreaking Wendy and Lucy. Reichardt made the sublime Old Joy, and this is another shambling Pacific Northwest tale, but a sadder one: Michelle Williams as a neo-hobo, sleeping in her car, shoplifting for food, with only her golden brown mutt, Lucy, for company. Williams is amazing, totally convincing, as Wendy’s world falls apart: her car breaks down and she loses her dog, stuck in a small, busted-down Oregon town. No standing-over-a-grave final shot, but, jeez, I need a good comedy.


Anonymous Icecreamman said...

Would you please give Keira Knightley a hot fudge sundae when you see her?

4:44 PM  

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