Day 2: September 10, 1999


3:00 pm

Moloch

Alexandr Sokurov
Russia/Germany, 1999
Cast: Elena Rufanova, Leonid Mosgovoi, Leonid Sokol, Elena Spiridonova
Synopsis:

I've read Albert Speer's memoirs that describe the tedium of weekends with Hitler at the Eagle's Nest. Why Sokurov thought it would be a good thing to make into a film eludes me. Shot entirely with soft focus and fog, it does a good job of conveying the stifling, soporific mood of the place. So much so, I wanted dearly to nod off for a while, just for a change of pace. It reminded me of a Guy Maddin film, without the charm. Make of that comparison what you will.

6:00 pm

Une Liason Pornographique

Frédéric Fonteyne
Belgium/France/Luxembourg/Switzerland, 1999
Cast: Nathalie Baye, Sergi Lopez
Synopsis:

We've got a microphone at the front of the house. Who's here? [It turned out that no one was here. It was just left over from the previous screening.]

As "Moloch" was deathy dull, this film was intense and immediate. It passed in seeming moments. Nathalie Baye. Mmm. She and Sergi Lopez play a couple who meet as strangers to perform an "act of love" -- what it is, I won't say. Baye plays a woman in love most fabulously.

It's a cautionary tale about desire and love. And choices we make. Simple, spare, no guff. Wow.

I have this suspicion that I've scheduled nothing but films containing sexual themes this year. And I'm here alone. What sense does that make? I hope I live to see the end.

8:45 pm

Bajo California -- El límite del tiempo
(Under California -- The Limit Of Time)

Carlos Bolado
Mexico, 1998
Cast: Damián Alcázar, Jesús Ochoa, Fernando Torre Laphan, Claudette Maillé, Gabriel Retes
Synopsis:

I hate writing about pointedly visual films like this. Being tired and feeling inarticulate doesn't help either. But here's my attempt to describe it: "A Beautiful Film About A Man's Quest For Peace." There. Good enough to anoint a movie poster with. You could say it's a road movie, but it really isn't, so you'd be wrong.

The main character is haunted by memories of a car accident in which he believes he killed a pregnant woman. In an effort to find some peace, he journeys south from his home in L.A. to the village in Baja California where his grandmother is buried. All the while, his wife back home is about to give birth. he sees rock paintings and gets bitten by a snake. See? this is why I don't want to write about this film -- I can't do it justice or describe the almost dream-like progression of tis man through his pain.

Some particularly nice visuals: Time lapse shots of the night sky showing comet Swift-Tuttle, and the old zoom-and-dolly trick made new again by doing it out the front of a car (it's very disorienting).

The director was there, and thanked us for coming, especially after he read a review of the film in NOW (a free Toronto newspaper). "I was just -- what? That's not my movie!" he said. In the Q&A, there were the usual dopey questions, but somehow the evolution of the script came up. He said that originally it was 40 pages, and he couldn't get anyone interested in it. "They wanted more narrative, so I had him talking into a tape recorder. I wrote all these voice overs... It was much more pretentious." But then when they actually started shooting, the actor said, "This isn't working." [His words might have been closer to "This is stupid" -- my memory is fuzzy.] And so all the philosophical voice-overs were dropped.

Bolado also said that there were a lot of changes made in the editing process, whch he did himself over a period of 6 months, every day, all day. "I had an Avid in my house. I'd wake up and the computer would be there. I'd go out [for groceries] and when I came back, the computer would still be there."

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