Wow…though my eyes are starting to blur a bit and my feet are slightly dragging, I’m still makin’ it to all the screenings I’ve got on the docket.
First of the day was Terrence Malick’s TO THE WONDER. You might remember that THE TREE OF LIFE earned the title of most walk-outs in NEON history…and I think this film might give TREE OF LIFE a run for its money. This visually lovely and poetic film is quite experimental…and it not only feels like a follow-up to TOL, it feels repetitive. With identical shots from TOL, some similar “plot” lines and similar tone, this film will have both fans and detractors. I heard one woman late this afternoon say to her friend, “I saw TO THE WONDER this morning. It’s the worst movie I’ve EVER seen.” The film is a rumination on relationships. It has some wonderful moments, but I ultimately found the film to be tedious. If I had to watch Olga Kurylenko skip through one more wheat field or twirl around down one more grocery store aisle, I might have to end it all (see below). Ben Affleck seemed to phone in his performance (or perhaps he just wasn’t given much to do), and Rachel McAdams is certainly not the lead of this film (regardless of the marketing you might see).
Next I saw STILL – a Canadian film directed by Michael McGowen…starring James Cromwell and Genevieve Bojuld (Bojuld made a surprise appearance during the introduction of the film – it was a delight to see her). This film is about how an elderly man is building an accessible home on his land for himself and his wife…and how the authorities keep handing him building violations. The reason the man is building the house is because of the deteriorating health of his wife. The director talked about how he read about this story from the headlines…and how he worked directly with the family in order to bring the film to life. It’s a lovely, quiet film with great performances, a great score, and a wonderful backdrop of the Canadian landscape.
PEACHES DOES HERSELF was next on the list. This film is the a record of a performance done by the rock star/performance artist Peaches. Originally from Toronto, Peaches has been a part of the Berlin art scene for years. This transexually charged performance had its highs and lows with some moments that had me (as well as a few folks beside me) in fits of hysterical laughter (some of it was like a train wreck), but it wouldn’t work well at all in a traditional engagement. That said, it might find an audience at midnight screenings – especially for fans of the Peaches catalog.
My last screening of the night was SUICIDE SHOP – a life-affirming, French, animated, musical film about suicide. Huh? It’s true. This sweet and funny film was directed by Patrice LeConte (RIDICULE and GIRL ON A BRIDGE), and it’s about a shop that sells anything needed to end one’s life. Due to the recession, sales are up, and the gloomy family are happy to help folks find their preferred method of exiting the world. The arrival of a new son throws the shop into a tailspin. Why? Because he’s too darn jovial. Though I saw the film in 3D, it’s absolutely not necessary. Unfortunately, I thought the film lost a little steam in the second and third act (and it’s only 80 minutes). In addition, I don’t know who the film is for. It’s full of adult themes, but the narrative arc is rather slight. That said, I’m still glad I saw it…some of it is wonderful.
Tomorrow I’ll see 2 or 3 films…and then I’m going to a non-TIFF-related event. I’ll see Madonna in concert, and I have a great seat.
More to come.
Thanks for reading!