Day 8: September16


12:00 p.m.

Est-Ouest

Régis Wargnier
France, 1999
Cast: Sandrine Bonnaire, Oleg Menchikov, Sergueï Bodrov Jr, Catherine Deneuve
Synopsis:

Peronne fair la tristesse comme les Français. Soviet era Russia does not come off well in this film -- it starts with a family immigrating at the end of W.W.II, and the arbitrary brutality of The System. Sandrine and Oleg are very good as the couple who have left a posh life in France for one of unadorned squalor. By the end, Mom was in tears. But whether it's a happy or sad story depends on your perspective.

Régis introduced the film, but didn't stay for the Q&A. He apologized for Sandrine and Catherine who couldn't make it to the screening because they were giving interviews. Their loss.

What's Régis said:

CanCon: A character escapes to Canada with full citizenship. At this, the audiences spontaneously applauded and cheered.

I'm surprised by the degree to which Oleg Menchikov reminds me of Gabriel Byrne. Maybe there's an iron mirror beside the curtain.

3:00 p.m.

8½ Women

Peter Greenaway
UK/Netherlands/Germany/Luxembourg, 1999
Cast: John Standing, Matthew Delamere, Vivian Wu, Amanda Plummer, Polly Walker, Toni Colette
Synopsis:

I miss Michael Nyman's music. "8½ Women" has almost no music at all, and I think it suffers for it. Reminiscent of "A Zed And Two Noughts," if only for its form: two men, a variety of women, sexual oddities hinted at. None of the visual pyrotechnics seen in "The Pillow Book," and is instead more philosophical -- grieving, money vs. happiness, the importance of place, and inevitably, power. Sometimes it's the person who offers service that has the real power.

Vivian We really does something for me in this film. Could it be the glasses? The severe hair? The dark suit?

It's a pity Greenaway himself wasn't here because I'm curious to know what he thinks of this film. Did it turn out the way he'd wanted? How does the initial vision compare to the final product, on this film in particular, and on his others. And where did the half woman come from?

6:30 p.m.

Canadian Short Film Program

Synopsis:

Wedding Knives
Jason Mercer

An hirsute man shaves himself on his wedding night. Shaving with a straight razor. Gives me the willies.

Second Date
James Genn

"Where did you get your inspiration?" Genn was asked. "I've had a couple first dates. And some second dates, but none as bad as that [in the film]. It was a weekend project, shot with acting friends, that I could shoot in my apartment."

Eve Meets Feliz
Heidi Gerber

Girl meets guy in garage. Starts and ends different films, I thought, but not bad.

Karaoke
Seéphane LaFleur

"Accelerated clouds. I love seeing that." (from the film)

pamplemousse
tink

My favourite of the lot. Looked great, got the idea out, finished. Many features could learn something here.

Babette's Feet
Harry Killas

When fetishes collide (or just meet), it must be magic.

Don't Think Twice
Sarah Polley

Sarah Polley's film. She's tiny! And 20 years old, and in life, seems very much like a 20 year old. But she plays these world-weary characters on screen. It's all an act, I realize, then thing: Well duh.

While I didn't like the film much, her comment after made me laugh out loud: "I've always found people falling down stairs really funny."

Décharge
Patrick Demers

Hated it. The audience went ape. Didn't like the look or the frailest of story. The director said they shot over a weekend, improvising situations which might have some potential, then edited it together, writing the story as he went. And it showed.

Celebrities in attendance: Directors of all of the films, Atom and Arsinée, Tom McCamus, Stephen Rea (he's shorter than I am ?!)

9:00 p.m.

Dreamtrips

Kal Ng
Canada/Hong Kong/China, 1999
Synopsis:

Possibly one of the best-looking films at this year's festival. But watching it is like being on a date. Your partner is charming, smiling, engaging. You're at a café where the service is decent and the coffee is fresh. And then you get a whiff of a sharp, pungent odor that makes you check the underside of your shoes. And you realize it's not you -- it's your friend's body tremendous body odor. But then the wind changes, and you don't notice it any more. Perhaps it was from someone else. And then you get another gagging snootful. Nope, there's no doubt. They have a serious B.O. problem.

I could have easily walked out on this turkey any number of times, but each time I was ready to leave, the film put up some astoundingly beautifully image that made me stay. And then after a couple of minutes, I'd notice the howlingly uneven acting, the bad sound editing, the mortified pace (imagine someone reading A Tale Of Two Cities in 12 word burst, every 30 seconds),. Every so often, the plot's ghost would float by, and I'd feel its ache at having been forgotten by the living. And then: Ooh! Look at that. Pretty...

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