"Thus open the gates of paradise."

In this issue
TIFF 2000 Day 2

Day 2: September 8, 1999

Blue Velvet

David Lynch
USA, 1986
Cast: Kyle MacLachlan, Isabella Rossellini, Dennis Hopper,
Laura Dern, Dean Stockwell

Canadian director Lynne Stopkewich ("Kissed") presents her favourite film. It's been ages since I've seen it, and then it was on video tape, which is as satisfying as a glass of water is to a drowning man. So I was delighted to see the Festival was screening it as part of the "Dialogs" series where a director or actor presents some film they especially like.

She wore blue velvet,
Bluer than velvet was the night.
Software than satin was the light
From the stars.

Lynn talked about how she had stalked Lynch for three years before meeting him on the set of "Mullholland Falls", a project which she said never really came together. She talked about Lynch's love of film as opposed to video, the way he demands final cut on all his pictures (a reaction to "Dune"); the way he does his own sound editing, the way he casts by looking at still photos and bits of demo reels, cold-calling the actors at dinnertime, asking a few banal questions ("What are you having for dinner?") and then offering them a job without the usual audition process; about the thing on the wall in Jeffrey's bedroom in "Blue Velvet"; and how she isn't nervous about showing her films unless she knows there's a director in the audience -- like when she knew Atom Egoyan would be watching and how sick with nerves she was.

"The man on the fire engine who can't stop waving. Kind of like the Queen" -- Lynn Stopkewich

The Goddess Of 1967

Clara Law
Australia/Hong Kong, 2000
Cast: Rose Byrne, Rikiya Kurokawa, Nicholas Hope, Elise McCredie

They showed one of the 25th anniversary shorts before the film -- the one by Mike Jones with Mike, Andy, and Cathy Jones, entitled "Congratulations." Mike and Cathy were on CBC Radio's "This Morning" this morning talking about the short which also opened the first gala on Thursday night. They made it for just about no money -- none of the Jones were paid -- which happily meant they didn't need completion insurance. And that meant that no insurance person could say what risks the actors could and couldn't take. So when it came time to do a helicopter scene, they actually got to get in and take a helicopter ride. "The ride was better than getting paid," Cathy said.

To "The Goddess of 1967": The film starts with a young Japanese man typing on his computer: "I want to buy a Goddess". The Goddess is the pet name for those in the know of the Citroen DS, a lovely looking car with a very smooth ride. The man travels to Australia to buy one from a couple with one for sale. But when he arrives, they couple are dead, their blood splattered on the walls and ceiling of their house, and their cousin -- a blind girl -- minding the house. And the Goddess. She asks him to drive her into the outback, and so begins a road movie.

The film has a saturated, contrasty look which lends it an almost storybook feel. Fitting since this is a story which itself contains stories within stories. The movie certainly does not hurry and lets the tales unwind at their own sometimes languorous pace. This s not a film for showing on commercial television unless the ads were clumped together at the middle or end. It's worth watching with patience and attention.

I met Rosie at the film completely by chance. She loved it, and thought the Japanese man was very agreeable. "What's not to like about a Japanese man?" I asked.

La Verticale De L'Eté

Tran Anh Hung
France, 2000
Cast: Tran Nu Yen Khe, Nguyen Nhu Quynh, Le Khanh, Ngo Quang Hai, Chu Hung

Video Clips: (Click here)

A new film from the maker of "The Scent Of Green Papaya." This is an equally lush, beautifully photographed film. It follows three sisters -- or was it four -- through a year or their lives, starting and ending with the annual memorial dinner for their deceased mother. It's light on structure, and is episodic, but is lovely to look at. I had trouble keeping track of who was who because my ear for Vietnamese names is quite inexperienced, and I'm still not very good at distinguishing Asian faces, let alone those who are supposed to be sisters. Does your opinion of me suffer from this admission? Do you hat me for wanting a subtitled character gloss on-screen at all times? Or hats. They could all wear different coloured hats until I become a little more savvy.

Seeing this film and "The Goddess of 1967" back-to-back was not a fortuitous choice of scheduling. Pick one, see it, then go home and sit quietly for a little bit. Have an orange, then go to bed.

Side note: I think Liv Ullmann was showing her film "Faithless" in one of the adjacent theatres. When I came out of "La Verticale De L'Eté," there were security people and camera hounds everywhere, and the alternate murmur and applause of a Q&A session could be heard behind closed doors.