We don’t see ourselves covering Toronto anytime soon â€” a good thing, because when we look over the festival we’re seized with an overwhelming sense of panic. So! Many! Movies! We imagine rushing around trying to fit in seven screenings a day and staying up all night attempting to write them up, and by day three turning up dead in a Canadian gutter, the paramedics forced to use the Jaws of Life to pry the laptop out of our cold hands.
Fortunately, there’s plenty of Toronto coverage out there. Lots of snippets:
At indieWIRE, Anthony Kaufman writes that "With many of Hollywood’s biggest offerings bombing here in Toronto (stay away from ‘A Good Year’ and ‘All the King’s Men’), critics have sought solace in half a dozen already proven Cannes favorites (‘Volver,’ ‘Climates,’ ‘Babel’) and a number of smaller, newer foreign discoveries and documentaries." That seems to be the general sentiment at the festival midpoint; Kaufman highlights three death-centric films, Bahman Ghobadi‘s "Half Moon," Roger Michell‘s "Venus," and Danish newcomer Peter SchÃ¸nau Fog‘s "The Art of Crying."
Wesley Morris at the Boston Globe finds the prevailing message of the festival seems to be less death than the fact that "The world is a mess"; he’s one of many greatly (and surprisingly, given the relatively good reception at Cannes) unhappy with Alejandro Gonzalez IÃ±Ã¡rritu‘s "Babel." He’s also not alone in disliking Marc Forster‘s Charlie Kaufman-lite "Stranger Than Fiction" and speaking well of "Shortbus." At the Globe‘s Movie Nation blog, Scott Heller‘s also reeling from the Forster film, but recommends Guy Maddin‘s "Brand Upon the Brain!”: "It’s very very Maddin (inky B&W, a Grand Guignol plot, overheated dialogue, juvenile jokiness) but delicious nonetheless."
David Poland is disappointed by the whole festival: "there just aren’t enough festival films to fill the schedule with quality right now." Peter Bowen at the Filmmaker blog also feels the malaise, allowing that "It is not that the films are bad; just not exciting."
At the Risky Biz blog, Anne Thompson reports on Michael Moore‘s "Sicko" preview, which was plagued with technical difficulties: "Word is, Moore was so angry with what ["Borat" director Larry] Charles called their ‘bad techno-karma’ that he treated the Toronto staff rudely and refused to speak to fest director Noah Cowan."
Speaking of "Borat," the premiere that wasn’t has been well documented: Jason Chow at the LA Times has a full account of Sasha Baron Cohen‘s always-in-character entrance and press encounters:
Are you propagating bigotry in the film? "Yeah." How will the movie affect Kazakhstan’s international reputation? "I hope it will help the people know about Kazakhstan and know that we are now a civilized country like everyone elseâ€¦. Homosexuals do not have to wear blue hats and the age of consent has been raised to 11 years old."
Projection problems halted the film less than halfway though: "[Michael] Moore, a former projectionist, went up to the booth and attempted to solve the problem, but the filmmaker soon left the booth shaking his head, saying there wasn’t much he could do."
Back at the Risky Biz blog, Sheigh Crabtree posts two video clips from the "Rescue Dawn" Q&A with Werner Herzog and Christian Bale. Brian Brooks at indieWIRE reports that MGM has acquired all North American rights for the film.
Mack at Twitch reviews (and likes) teen horror film "All The Boys Love Mandy Lane," which MovieWeb notes was picked up by The Weinstein Company for its Dimension Films arm. The Weinsteins also bought the rights to doc "Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show." Elsewhere on the otherwise relatively quiet doc front, TIFF’s Doc Blog has a note from the premiere of AJ Schnack‘s "Kurt Cobain: About a Son":
Cobain‘s impact on our culture could be felt in the line-up outside, as fans waited for hours in the rush line hoping to see the film. Inside the theatre, the presence of [journalist Michael] Azerrad and photography legend Charles Peterson echoed their tremendous support for the project, as did the contributions to the amazing soundtrack for the film. Azerrad, seeing the film for the first time tonight, said that one thing this film does do for him is give him a sense of closure.
Arthur Spiegelman at Reuters reports on the premiere of Gabriel Range‘s controvery-courting "Death of a President," which depicts the assassination of George W. Bush in the style of a TV documentary. "The 93-minute film’s subject matter has led to many protests in the United States, especially from conservatives. Range said he has received five or six death threats." Range claims to be on the verge of closing a US distribution deal for the film.
A few more reviews: Dave Kehr on Manoel de Oliveira‘s "sequel" to Bunuel‘s "Belle de jour" ("another of the great Portuguese directorâ€™s memory films"); Kehr on Jia Zhang-ke‘s "Dong" ("a companion piece to his fictional feature ‘Still Life’"). Girish Shambu reviews Nuri Bilge Ceylan‘s "Climates," Corneliu Porumboiu‘s "12:08 East Of Bucharest" and Aki KaurismÃ¤ki‘s "Lights In The Dusk."
And at the Miami Herald‘s Reeling blog, Rene Rodriguez writes "The best movie I’ve seen in Toronto thus far isn’t even playing at the festival." He caught a sneak preview of Scorsese‘s "The Departed": "[T]his is Scorsese’s best and most invigorating work since the underrated Casino, if not GoodFellas, as well as his most sheerly entertaining."
An update: Newmarket Films (who also distributed "The Passion of the Christ") bought the US rights for "Death of a President" for a reported $1 million.
+ "Half Moon," "Venus," "Art of Crying" Focus on Death; "Escape" and "Fire" Get Political (indieWIRE)
+ At Toronto film fest, some nuggets amid the overhyped (Boston Globe)
+ Toronto Day 3 (Boston Globe: Movie Nation)
+ September 11, 2006 (The Hot Button)
+ OH CANADA! (Filmmaker Blog)
+ Toronto Diary (Risky Biz)
+ Splashy Entry, but About That Exit, Borat… (LA Times)
+ BORAT II (The Hot Blog)
+ My TIFF So Far (FilmFreakCentral)
+ Video: Herzog, Bale in ‘Rescue Dawn’ Q&A at TIFF06 (Risky Biz)
+ "Rescue Dawn" Flies to MGM for North America (indieWIRE)
+ TIFF Report: All The Boys Love Mandy Lane Review (Twitch)
+ Weinstein Buys Up Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show and All The Boys Love Mandy Lane (MovieWeb)
+ Kurt Cobain Speaks Out at TIFF (TIFF Doc Blog)
+ Controversial "Death of a President" film debuts (Reuters)
+ Belle Toujours (Manoel de Oliveira, 2006, Toronto Film Festival) (DaveKehr.com)
+ Dong (Jia Zhang-ke, 2006, Toronto Film Festival) (DaveKehr.com)
+ Toronto Journal 1: Climates, etc. (GirishShambu.com)
+ A dazzling "Departed" (Miami Herald: Reeling)