"Thus open the gates of paradise."

In this issue
TIFF 2000 Day 10

Day 10: September 16

Scout Man

Masato Ishioka
Japan, 2000
Cast: Miku Matsumoto, Hideo Nazikumi, Shiro Shimototo, Yuri Komuro


What's a scout man? It's someone who tries to recruit new actresses for the adult video market. They chat up candidates, promising them easy money, and offer them work. Simple as that, really.

A young couple has just struck out in the big city (Tokyo, presumably). They have run out of money and have to decide: do they go home, or find jobs. He falls in with some scout men, while she is befriended by a young woman who escorts and pimps and whatever else.

It's based on reality. There really are scout men. During the Q&A, director Ishioka was asked whether the police routinely arrest scout men for harassment. If the woman is under 18, and if it's done right in front of a police officer, or they are grabbing or obstructing traffic, then they get a slap-on-the-wrist type of punishment, he said. Otherwise, there's not much they can do.

Q: Why did you show so much nudity when other similar films do not?

Ishioka: Nudity is very much a part of their life. I didn't think it was necessary to avoid it.

Faintly titillating, mildly interesting.

Interlude: Bloor Street

It's the last day of the film festival.

Six hours sleep has restored me my youthful vigor. Popped into TheatreBooks to read some Beckett. Film critic Roger Ebert will be there in an hour to sign copies of his new book. Overheard people trashing Brian Johnson's book Brave Films, Wild Nights, a "big bad press release" of a book that "will be on sale at Indigo for $4 in six months."

Walking down Bloor Street. It's the last day of the film festival. Had tried to nick an "Aberdeen" poster last night from a construction site barricade, but by the time I got there, it was gone, replaced by flyers for Reg Hartt. Must have passed it a dozen times in the week. This morning I was on the other side of the street and saw that it's the facade of the old University Theatre that they're demolishing. I imagine it will be all gone by dusk. It's been going, one bit at a time for several years, but as it was the place I first saw "2001" all those years ago, it still makes me sad. It used to be the place to see 70mm films, now gone. It's the last day of the film festival.


Shinji Aoyama
Japan, 2000
Cast: Koji Yakusho, Aoi Miyazaki, Masaru Miyazaki, Yohichiroh Saitoh, Sayuri Kokusho, Ken Mitsuishi


This is the kind of film a festival works up to: a 3 hour long, black and white film with Koji Yakusho (star of "Shall We Dance" from a couple years back.) This is also the film I brag about to friends and loved ones in order to prove my devotion as a cineaste. It's nice to see I'm not completely wasting my life here.

The film starts with a hostage taking aboard a bus. After a shootout with the police, only the driver (Yakusho), and two children are left alive. What follows is three hours of a quest for meaning that masquerades as a road movie. A quest to understand why they have survived, and an attempt to answer the question: "What now?"

I'll bow to the Festival progamme guide whose summation is spot-on: "Eureka is long - almost four hours - but there are no wasted moments." That's a neat trick.


Conor McPherson
Ireland, 2000
Written By: Samuel Beckett
Cast: Michael Gambon, David Thewlis

Michael Gambon and David Thewlis in this Samuel Beckett play about a man and his valet (son?) in a room. There is no more. No more dogs, no more nature, no more painkillers. Outside is gray. You know -- bright black. It's surreal and unsettling, and exactly what I wanted. Gambon is fabulous as usual. You can lose yourself in one drawn-out syllable if you can squeeze your way in, if your attention will span that moment.

And then it's done. No more films. I'm writing this outside the lobby of the Varsity Cinemas with no more tickets, nothing more to see. Thirty years ago, I'm in a supermarket, riding a coin-operated mechanical horse that will gallop for a dime. Up and down on a rubberized piston, then stop. I nudge its dirty white flanks, but it does not move. Dismount.