Day 3: September 11

9:30 am

Me Myself I

Pip Karmel
France/USA, 1999
Cast: Rachel Griffiths, David Roberts, Sandy Winton, Yael Stone, Shaun Loseby, Trent Sullivan

I hate going to movies in the Uptown 1. When we arrived, the lineup went around the block to the parking garage entrance. But we still got not-really-horrific seats, so I should just shut my big mouth. Director Pip Karmel was there to introduce the film, saying "Thank you for coming on this -- what day is it? Morning, which was more than the Festival programmer managed." (She worded it a little more gracefully than that.)

Rachel Griffiths is wonderfully watchable. Just fabulous. That's almost all you need to know. That the film was well written and put togther was icing on this first film of the day. A woman wonders what her life would have been like had she not let "Mr. Right" go, those 12 years ago.

Now, you can't even think about a film like this without mentioning "It's a Wonderful Life," "La Double Vie De Veronique," or more recently "Sliding Doors" or "The Man With Rain In His Shoes" (a.k.a. "Once Upon A Yesterday"). And having mentioned them, I think I'll just move on because there really is enough in this story to stand on its own.

Very warm reaction from the audience. Kip: "I saw the film with an audience for the first time on Sunday. I've seen it maybe four times since then, and I'm becoming adicted to it [the experience]."

Q: Did you find Rachel or did Rachel find you?
A: I found her. I looked long and hard to find someone the audience could like.

Q: Why did you use a hand double for Rachel?
A: Purely logistics. We did some small pick-up shots. I cringe when I watch one shot where it's obviously not Rachel's hands. [I didn't notice, so it couldn't be that bad.]

Q: Will it have a wide release?
A: I hope so. [Sony Pictures Classics has picked up the film.]

1:15 pm

Interlude: The Giver Should Be Grateful

While writing down the Q&A for "Me Myself I", a street person asked me for 80¢ for a cup of coffee. I offered to buy him the coffee instead. He accepted, changed his order to pop, and asked for a sandwich too. "Some people only think of themselves, like they won't need help some day." He then became quite serious, saying, "We all go to Jerusalem first, to be judged, before going to heaven." I was about to mention that I had already been to Jerusalem (summer 84), but instead just shook his proffered hand, hand went off to get his lunch.

2:15 pm

Yojimbo The Bodyguard

Akira Kurosawa
Japan, 1961
Cast: Toshiro Mifune, Eijiro Tono, Tatsuya Nakadai

Yo! Jimbo!

Lawrence Kasdan introduced what he called Akira Kurosawa's most popular and fun film. No lie, that. it's a hoot, and it's easy to see why "It's been ripped-off hundreds of times." There's the humour, the look of the film, the funky music (a very peculiar mixture of what you might think of as traditional Japanese music combined with horns and harpsichord that would not be out of place in an episide of "The Prisoner" or "Secret Agent".)

Kasdan really likes the wy Mifune moved. For him, it was all about power, and his contact with the earth. When you see him fight, he wins not because he has great big Arnold Schwartzeneger muscles (which he doesn't) -- he wins because he moves faster than anyone else because he is stronger and more powerful.

"Look at the composition," Kasdan noted. "Most filmmakers would be content with 10 minutes of great shots. Kurosawa got an hour and fifty minutes of them."

He said that he had met Kurosawa once, and that it "mad his life complete." When asked how news of his death last year was received in Hollywood, he said there wasn't anyone he knew who didn't take a moment to reflect that thank Kurosawa for his work.

Q: What's with modern young film makers who don't know anything about Akira Kurosawa's work?
A: It's dangerous to generalize. [There are some who know it.]

Q: There are a lot of long shots in the film. Just following him around. You don't see that any more.
A: no. Studios today have the mistaken idea that the audience will get bored if you don't cut five times in ten seconds. Kurosawa lets the scene play out.

Q: Comment on Ted Turner's colourization of black and white films.
A: It's horrific. Black and white is beautiful, but if you tell someone you want to shoot in black and white, they [stop listening]. So almost no one does it, except for "Schindler's List."

6:00 pm

The Cup

Khyentse Norbu
Bhutan, 1999
Cast: Orgyen Tobgyal, Neten chokling, Jamyang Lodro

The cast could not come, Kay Armitage said, because they were in Australia where the film had just won some big award. And so we had the executive producer Hooman Majd who was a very polite fellow in a suit. He said he really liked the script when he read it, had not known anything about Tibetan Buddhism, but that he had learned a lot about it in the last year.

The film looks gorgeous. The director of photography (Paul Warren) really earned his money because it all looks great. The colours are saturdated and vibrant.

This is the story of some Buddhist monks who want to watch the '98 World Cup. It's full of humour and Buddhist philosophy. Very good indeed.

9:00 pm

(Set Me Free)

Léa Pool
Canada/Switzerland/France, 1999
Cast: Karine Vanesse, Miki Manojlovic, Pascale Bussières, Nancy Huston

Léa Pool and Pascale Bussières were there (along with line producer and producer). While obviously well-crafted, it just wasn't my thing. That said, I want to list all the particularly good things about it:

Karine Vanesse, the lead actress. What a great performance. In the Q&A someone asked Pool about her. "I auditioned her and she was very good. I said come back in two weeks and we'll do another test. I didn't hink she could be as good again. She came back, and she was [as good]. I thought she probably can't dance because I need someone who can dance. She can dance! OK -- I need someone who can hold her breath underwarer for a long time, someone who can swim. She can swim! I'd knew I had found her."

Q: What was the significance of the bicycle?
A: It's [very concrete]. When I was a child, there was someone -- probably studying opera -- who would ride around and sing. When he was done, he'd go off and ride somewhere else.

Pascale was asked how she felt about playing a mother, she being so young (around 30). She said it had been "different" and joked that in her next film, she'll be playing a grandmother.

I have to mention what Pascale wore to the screening, stupid as it is: a brown shirt that met in the front at the sternum for a button or two. Above and below, it pulled away to show a fair bit of skin. Imagine the Honda logo (a stylized "H") and you've got it. I was fascinated.

An audience member drew a number of comparisons between this and one of Pool's short films, but not having seen it, commenting is tricky.

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