TIFF 2008 - Day 1, Thursday, Sept. 4
Pity the poor Torontonian who just wants to get from work to home, or buy a pair of Classic Fits at the Gap -- the one at the corner of Bay and Bloor. Every street in this posh Yorkville district seems to be under construction, there are giant holes in the ground and steel skeletons going up every other block to make way for new lux condos, swankier hotels, sleeker boutiques (no recession in this part of town!). And down on King Street, the Bell Lightbox is erecting -- future headquarters and screen venue for the Toronto International Film Festival.
In the meantime, TIFF '08 goes on with Press & Industry events, news conferences and Reese Witherspoon lookalikes (pretty sure it wasn't really her) at the Sutton Place Hotel. Day One of the Toronto International Film Festival: Italian journos scurrying to get their accreditation, film buyers from Britain, festival programmers from San Francisco, Japanese entertainment reporters, studio execs, publicists, directors, everyone fried a bit from the travel getting here, and everyone running to the Varsity complex, where a dozen screens are turned over to the credentialed throng from 8:30 in the morning til the cows come home.
First screening was RocknRolla, Guy Ritchie's remake of the last Guy Ritchie movie --English thugs and mob types playing cross and doublecross, shooting guns and lookin' cool while the camera whirls and dives and flashes fast-forward around colorful corners of London Town. 300 hunk Gerard Butler (soon to be shooting a new movie in Philly) stars, and Thandie Newton looks lovely, and Tom Wilkinson goes slumming, playing an old-school, no-class gangster. Engaging for a while, but then, well, you can't help but start wondering if Mr. Madonna has no other tricks up his sleeve.
Then L'Heure d'été (Summer Hours), Olivier Assayas' very grown-up and ultimately very moving look at a family coming to terms with the death of their septugenarian matriarch (an elegant and beautiful Edith Scob). Assayas (Irma Vep, Clean), ends his movie (which stars Juliette Binoche and Charles Berliner)with thwacking hip-hop, bouncy French rock and a cover of an old Incredible String Band hippie-ditty -- not where you expect the film to go, and it works.
Luckily (or not), I've already seen Ghost Town, with Ricky Gervais as a New York dentist who can see dead people -- like Greg Kinnear, for instance. Reportedly there was a major snafu with the digital projection early on, and suddenly the English comedy star was walking in front of green screens, interacting with people that really weren't there. Ghostly!
And as triple-crossing con artist pictures go, The Brothers Bloom, with Adrian Brody and Mark Ruffalo as scamming siblings and Rachel Weisz as their mark (or is she?), goes from charming to UNBELIEVABLY ANNOYING in less time than it takes to buy a sandwich at the Varsity concession stand. (Not long -- they're efficient here in Canada.)With quirky '60s pop songs thrown on the soundtrack a la Wes Anderson, and moments of inspired eccentricity and whimsy (a cat with one leg walking on crutches, a montage of Weisz's character's mastery of "hobbies" -- including juggling power saws on a unicycle), The Brothers Bloom aims to please in oddball ways, and then you start hating these guys and their globe-hopping stunts.... Did I say UNBELIEVABLY ANNOYING?
Buzz for Claire Denis' 35 Shots of Rum and the Turkish pic Three Monkeys, and in the theater before Rian (Brick)Johnson's The Brothers Bloom got off to a late start, wags waggin' about who's going to be cast in the movie about a highschooler who gets pregnant by her boyfriend, decides to have the child, and Mom gets nominated to be Vice President. It's Juno Goes to Washington.