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Showing posts from September, 2008

Your Faves at TIFF 08

Yes, my guest from a couple of weeks ago Nick Ashdon of El Greco, did like Slumdog Millionaire. I forgive him because he loves Toronto. Kirk Cooper and I had a wonderful discussion with both Nick and Theo Alexander (also in El Greco) about films and how great Toronto audiences are.

Mark Van de Ven, director of the short film Us Chickens loved the editing in Hunger. I enjoyed what Mark had to say in his own film, and both he and I thought very highly of Denis Villeneuve's award-winning short film, The Next Floor.

As for Kirk Cooper, his favourite film from TIFF is the Turkish film Three Monkeys (Üç maymun). I hope it gets released so that I can have a chance to see what he is talking about. We sometimes, after all, do agree on some films.

Festival-goer and blogger, Heidy M, enjoyed the Korean Western,The Good, the Bad,the Weired (Joheun-nom, Nabbeun-nom, Isanghan-nom). An avid Midnight Madness fan, Heidy also thought Sexykiller kicked butt.

Patrick Age 1.5 was a big hit with The Mo…

donna g’s TIFF 08 Film List and Top Ten Faves

So how did I chose my Top Ten? Emotional response. There are just some films where seeing the title triggers an emotional response and instant images from the film flicker in your head. It was still hard to narrow it down to ten, and I included the short film, Jesus and the Giant in the list because it was such a great pairing with its screening buddy, Medicine for Melancholy, so I guess you could call this my Top Ten and a Half list. The only easy choice was my Number 1 pick, Ramin Bahrani's Good Bye Solo. I love understated films with brilliant performances.

My Number 1 Pick: Good Bye Solo

Souléymane Sy Savané as Solo

1. A Film With Me In It
2. Acné
3. Aide-toi le ciel t'aidera (With a Little Help From Myself)
4. Appaloosa
5. Apron Strings
6. At the Edge of the World
7. Borderline
8. Brabat
9. Brothers Bloom, The
10. Chocolate
11. Control Alt Delete
12. Country Wedding
13. Detroit Metal City
14. El Greco
15. Good Bye Solo**
16. Happy Go Lucky
17. Horn of Plenty (Cuerno de la abundancia)
18. It…

donna g's TIFF 08 Coverage: What I'm Seeing on Day 10 (Saturday, Sept. 13th)

donna g's TIFF 08 Coverage: Canadian, Eh?

I go to TIFF to see films from around the world, but I love Canadian films and always always make a point of seeing what our talented filmmakers have to offer. Besides, Borderline and Control Alt Delete, I had to see C'est pas moi, je le jure! (It's not me, I swear!) by filmmaker Philippe Falardeau. I've been a fan of Falardeau since seeing his films, La Moitié gauche du frigo (TIFF 02) and Congorama (TIFF 06). He doesn't disappoint in his new film about a ten year old boy dealing with his parents rocky marriage and eventual separation. I have never laughed so much while watching a heartbreaking film.

Falardeau does a fine job of bringing us into little Léon's 1960's suburban world. It's polyester and smoking, nosey neighbour ladies and the Catholic Church, but it's also a world seen through the eyes of a precocious boy with a penchant for breaking and entering and suicide attempts. I love the sound of this movie--not just the innocently funny dialogue,…

donna g's TIFF 08 Coverage: Day 9 a.k.a Two for Saturday + Sorry, Brothers Bloom

Canadian or Spanish? The choice is yours tomorrow morning.


First time director, Lyne Charlebois, shows confidence in this tale of a young woman dealing with her sexual addiction and turning 30. Isabelle Blais is outstanding in the role of Kiki Labrèche. I especially love the shots of Kiki at various ages walking side by side with herself or passing herself on the street. This film is one of those instances where nudity and sexuality are an integral part of the script and not simply for titilating purposes. I've had a crush on Jean-Huges Anglade since Nikita, and it was a welcome treat for me to see him on screen.

Final Screening:
Saturday September 13 12:00PM VARSITY 1

RETURN TO HANSALA (RETORNO A HANSALA This is one of my favourite shots in this film.

In 2002, director Chus Gutierez explored the issue of illegal Moroccans working in Andalusia in her film, Poniente. In this year's Return to Hansala, we get the story of an Andalusian traveling with a young woman to h…

donna g's TIFF 08 Coverage: Day 8 a.k.a That's Entertainment


Unlike last year's sex comedy, Young People Fucking, this film is funny from beginning to end, and has a social message that is very current, considering that it is set in 1999 on the eve of Y2K. Underneath the geek humour and man-CPU relations, are themes of social isolation and lack of intimacy. Why not get away from the computers and tuck your I-pods away and have a good laugh with this outrageous romp.

Upcoming Screenings:
Friday September 12 06:00PM AMC 1
Saturday September 13 10:15AM AMC 10


The film's director, Baltasar Kormákur, is also directs for the stage. White Night Wedding is based on Anton Chekhov's Ivanov. While watching this film, I kept thinking that I would much rather see this done as a play. There is something about the editing and pace of the film that doesn't quite work, despite the strong cast. There is one paralell scene with the wife talking to the pastor about her failing marriage that is contrasted with a…

donna g's TIFF 08 Coverage: Day 7 a.k.a Of Bats and Butterflies


Thank you Colin Geddes for finding and programming this film. You were so right in saying the film was about "bats and butterflies." For those who appreciate adult fairy tales, caresses, strong women and gorgeous cinematography. Well worth getting up early on a Saturday morning.

Final Screening:
Saturday September 13 10:30AM CUMBERLAND 1


DON'T GO! You know how I told you yesterday that I didn't like Slumdog Millionaire, and that I was one of the few in a huge theatre that didn't? Well, in Radio Love I was with a huge audience that didn't like the film. One lady on her way out kept saying to her friend "What a disappointment. What a disappointment..." Her friend was in total agreement.


This documentary fits well into the "environmental" category, but it's about so much more. It's about what's lost when you devalue culture. Yes, the salmon run has been reduced from millions per year to thousa…

donna g's TIFF 08 Coverage: Day 6 a.k.a I'm Tired Y'all

My first film of the day and in a packed Press and Industry screening at the Varsity, I think I must have been one in a handful of people who did not like this movie. Great beginning with a great cast of children. Too bad they had to grow up. I have loved Danny Boyle's work in the past and am sure I will films of his in the future. Next.

As I said, lots of people will like this, so here are the upcoming screenings:
Wednesday September 10 03:15PM RYERSON
Saturday September 13 07:15PM AMC 10

Public screening this time round. This doc is an examination of the Nollywood movie industry that has taken over the African continent, the Caribbean and North America. At the forefront of this developing film industry is Peace Anyiam-Fiberesima, a woman determined that as the industry develops, that Nollywood will continue to produce films by and for the African people.

Catch these upcoming screenings:
Wednesday September 10 02:15PM AMC 1
Saturday September …

donna g's TIFF 08 Coverage: Day 5 a.k.a What's in a Face?

Iranian actress, Shohreh Aghdashloo in THE STONING OF SORAYA M.

Bahamian actress, Renel Naomi Brown in RAIN

I didn't plan on seeing The Stoning of Soraya M, but circumstances were such that I found myself at a press screening for the film this afternoon. I promised myself that I would leave if it got too heavy for me to bear. I have known and still know women in abusive situations so guaged my emotional response to the level of violence on the screen--any sensory overload and I would be out of there! Well, it just so happened that I became captivated by Shohreh Aghdashloo. Seeing her on screen reminded me of my one of my favourite actresses, Anna Magnani. The pain in her eyes and the strength of her character drew me in. We know from the beginning that she is Zahra, Soraya's aunt, a woman who remains undefeated despite her suffering. Zahra has the courage to share with a visiting journalist, the story of Soraya, how her virtuous niece was plotted against by a husband who wan…

donna g's TIFF 08 Coverage: Day 4 a.k.a It's a Good Day

I'm not a mid-night blogger, which is why this post is going up Monday morning instead of Sunday night. After wrapping my 5-film day close to the Midnight Madness hour, I realized that my hand-eye co-ordination wasn't going to be at it's best.

My Sunday screenings started at 10:00 am with UNMISTAKEN CHILD. (Yes, those of you who know me, I was out of bed and at the Varsity by 10:00 am on a SUNDAY--I have witnesses!) It's scenes such as the one above that motivated me to get out of bed. I love looking at the landscape of Tibet, and knew that even if the documentary about a monk trying to find his reincarnated master wasn't great, then I would have some visual reward for putting this film on my list. The documentary unfolded as expected with the search, and I loved the landscape but was very conscious of the camera placement, the long shots making me wonder who was filming rather than thinking solely about the story. As the film progressed I found myself getting mor…

donna g's TIFF 08 Coverage: Day 3 a.k.a Can we get an editor on site?

Can we get an editor on site at TIFF to go around and trim some minutes from a few films? Last night I mentioned that It Might Get Loud was in desperate need of an editor. Well, this afternoon I saw a wonderful film that could have been an extraordinary film if a few scenes had been removed. Youssou Ndour: I Bring What I Love, is beautifully photographed, and the subject, Ndour, his griot family, his rise to fame and his controversial CD, "Egypt" do hold your attention, but it's way too long. Yes, I recommend the film, but be prepared to squirm through a few unnecessary scenes. The worldwide concert footage is exhilarating. If you are new to Ndour, you will see why he such a superstar. Watching Ndour remain steadfast in his conviction to sing songs celebrating Islam while some of his countrymen ban his CD based on hearsay, is very compelling. You can't help but wonder how you would react in the face of such negative press when all you are trying to do is praise …

donna g's TIFF 08 Coverage: Day 2 aka The Miscasting of Renée Zellweger


Appaloosa wasn't on my "Must See" list of films, simply because my Festival experience is seeing the films without the big stars that may not get distributed. Appaloosa is directed by my love, Ed Harris (who also stars in the film) and has such notable names as Viggo Mortensen and Jeremy Irons. I love Westerns, and an invite to the film had me in line at the elegant Elgin Theatre. While I enjoyed the Marshall (Harris) and his gun-toting, literate sidekick (Mortenssen) battling it out with the bad guy (Irons), I did not enjoy Renée Zellweger in the role of the woman who clings to whatever alpha male is dominating the scene. I kept trying to re-cast her, but it wasn't until I got home that Virginia Madsen's name popped into my head. Virginia would have been perfect and also luminous. Renée may be from Texas, but I wasn't buying her in this one. If you think I'm being harsh everything I've just written was also said by two guys walking behi…

donna g's TIFF 08 Coverage: Day 1 a.ka. There's Something About Iceland

There's something about Icelandic films that attract me. Maybe it's the austere, beautiful landscape or the sense that I'm watching something that seems close to home but isn't. TIFF Programmer, Steve Gravestock mentioned his penchant for Nordic films when introducing COUNTRY WEDDING (Sveitabrúðkaup),my first and only film on this first day of TIFF 08. Directed by Valdís Óskarsdóttir, the improvised wedding tale benefits from the skills she has honed as an editor for such directors as Lars Von Trier and Gus Van Sant. Shot in 7 days and edited over 8 months, this 99 minute improvised road trip is tightly cut, well-paced, and well-acted by a talented band of theatre-trained actors ( I especially loved Elvis and Grandma). In comparing the similaries between Iceland and Canada, Gravestock believes that "both cultures hold the conviction that the countryside is somehow purer and calmer than the city – a faith that is inevitably called into question the minute huma…

TUFF not TIFF: The Toronto Urban Film Festival Sept. 5-12th

Don't forget to look up in the subway stations on your way to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). The Toronto Urban Film Festival (TUFF) begins airing in 10-minute segments on the LCD screens on subway platforms. The 1-minute dramatic and comic shorts celebrate the urban environment. Support a filmmaker. Watch and vote for your favourite:

Mitch Smolkin's "A Song is Born"

I love storytelling, which is probably why I like Mitch Smolkin's brand new CD, A Song is Born. In Yiddish with a smattering of English along the way, Smolkin's CD takes us on a wonderful aural journey. If you have a chance to see him in concert, even better. As Mitch and I discussed, many of us know a few words of Yiddish (meshuggah, mentsh, nosh etc), but you don't need to understand any Yiddish to enjoy this beautiful CD. Mitch's performance at Harbourfront Centre on Saturday, August 30th also featured guitarist Levon Ichkhanian, Marcelo Moguilevsky and Cesar Lerner from Buenos Aires, Boris Sichon, Paul Brody, and Aviva Chernik whose warm vocals forms a perfect partnership with to Smolkin's.