Things I learned while screening a double-wide stack of DocFest discs: there's a perilously thin line between superfan and super-stalker. Bacon and Miracle Whip wrapped in a tortilla makes a pretty tasty snack. It's possible to be pro-bird, but not anti-cat. When uttered in the context of The Price is Right, the words "a new car" and "come on down" battle for the title of three greatest in the English language. Read more »
The first thing I noticed about the 2008 San Francisco International Documentary Film Festival was its enormous size. Well, OK, I actually squealed in delight over the inclusion of a Bigfoot doc. Read more »
Earlier this month at the Toronto International Film Festival, I ran into Dead Channels Film Festival director Bruce Fletcher more than once not surprising, considering we were both haunting the same Midnight Madness screenings. This is, after all, the local programmer who brought 1975's Welcome Home Brother Charles with director Jamaa Fanaka in tow to the 2007 Dead Channels fest. Read more »
Having had one helluva good time at this year's festival (25 films in 6 days!), here's an overview that you can use as a nice checklist for the upcoming months.
* Wong Kar-Wai's Ashes of Time Redux amped up his 1994 classic, adding colors galore and some new cello solos by Yo-Yo Ma. Luckily Wong kept intact the complex, existential storylines, which blur characters into memories of the past, present, and future while giving his actors tear-induced melodrama that still radiates 15 years later. Read more »
SPOILER-LADEN TV RANT What's wrong with Weeds? The Showtime dramedy about a pot-dealing MILF is in its fourth season, and was recently renewed for two more but who's gonna keep watching? A few choice moments aside, the once-mighty Weeds has pretty much sucked this season. To recap: at the show's start circa 2005, recently widowed suburbanite Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) "put the herb in suburb," per Showtime's cheeky coinage, by dealing greenage to well-off clients, including her sleazy accountant, Doug (Kevin Nealon). Read more »
Every year, I run into someone at the Toronto International Film Festival who asks me, "How's your festival going?" Your festival is an appropriate term, actually — the event is so huge you could probably pick out a dozen attendees who've seen none of the same films. As I write this, a little over halfway though this year's visit, I haven't yet had a defining Toronto fest moment. Sure, there was the moment I became aware of just how jaded I am — when I passed by a mob of gawkers and flashbulbs and realized I didn't give a rat's ass about which celebrity had incited such a tizzy. Read more »
REVIEW The scariest movie of 2008 so far is, quite possibly, Dorothy Fadiman's Stealing America: Vote by Vote, a stomach-turning look at election irregularities that stretch back as far as 1996, with a special emphasis on the über-fishy goings-on in Ohio circa 2004. Read more »
It's over! Well, for me, anyway -- the festival rolls on through the weekend, but tomorrow I'll be jetting back to SF, watching edited-for-content episodes of The Wire on Air Canada's seatback television. I only had one spontaneous celebrity sighting (Wyclef, scampering into an SUV outside his hotel as I plodded past in search of breakfast this morning). But I did see some enjoyable movies these last two days, plus a few feh offerings.
While San Francisco was having some of its nicest weather of the year, it rained in Toronto. Fortunately, my chief focus was indoors, in the dark, so it didn't matter, really -- soggy socks be damned. I made it to JCVD, Belgian director Mabrouk El Mechri's surprisingly dignified tribute to Jean-Claude Van Damme, and probably my most-anticipated movie of the 2008 festival. Read more »
If you ask me, there's no better way to start your Toronto International Film Festival experience than with a film that contains a money shot revolving around a shredded set of intestines. Ohhh yeah, I knew the France-UK-Belgium co-production Vinyan was gonna be intense when I noted the director, Fabrice Du Welz, had also helmed 2004's Calvaire -- one of those don't-get-off-the-main-road horror flicks that rang more depraved than most. Read more »