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TIFF 2010 begins - Mostly, it is...

Sep. 12th, 2010

08:14 am - TIFF 2010 begins

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A year when I not only didn't volunteer at, but didn't even see a single event at any of Toronto Fringe, Summerworks (similar to the Fringe in format, but juried), or Inside Out (queer film festival), seems like not a bad one to go back to the Toronto International Film Festival after years of absence. Especially when they're doing their big transition to the year round format at their new permanent facility opening today. Actually, the biggest reason was none of those, Tracy Wright's (Toronto actor I last saw at the Tarragon re-mount of Daniel MacIvor's "A Beautiful View", around when Cinematheque Ontario was doing their retrospective) memorial ceremony was Monday. Finding out that she co-starred in MacIvor's most recent screenplay (directed by Bruce MacDonald) alongside Molly Parker… I just thought that I should go.

The way I do TIFF is the way I do most festivals. Intensively. I'll probably be skimming people's ljs rather than reading them for the next week. (Yes I've been reading. I'm just uncomfortable saying the obvious and easy, whereas the nuanced and more complete, that I would be comfortable saying, takes a long time, so I'm really bad at commenting.)

That said, I started late getting into it this year. I only got my program book the day after the start, as opposed the weeks or months ago that would have made more sense. Reading and selecting prospects took about nine hours, not including breaks. Fitting them into the schedule and ordering what I could took another two hours. Since new tickets get released at 7:00 morning of, I'm unfortunately going to be waking up early, (or as tonight, not going to sleep), after having been out late, and snatching naps where I can.

I may be doing some off the cuff tweeting by text message at ljseabream during the festival, though I probably won't read replies 'till I get back home.

Yesterday I saw easy A. A commercial big studio film, with a name cast, not much time before wide-release. A high school teen comedy by John Hughes fans.

Let me start by saying that I'm not a non-spoiler critiquer, though the odd time that I do reviews, I can manage. If I'm going to analyze something, I prefer doing it as a whole piece. I also should say that I can admire a thing done well, even if I might not value the type of thing it is. Meaning, for example, that I could admire an amazingly prepared lobster dish, even were I allergic to shellfish. Or in this case, an above average high school teen comedy movie, though it's not really my type of thing, and I would have rather it had explored some more adventurous territory considering the subject matter.

Interestingly the people who were most responsible for the script, as well as the lead actress, didn't really go through a full length American High School Experience (not that there's one single such thing). In the Q & A, they sort of said that their understanding of the environment was strongly informed by the 80s John Hughes movies. So it sort of has that feel, updated with even more witty dialogue, and a touch of John Waters over the top-ness.

What I particularly liked about the film was the way that, unlike in too many semi-coming of age comedy stories, the protagonist's parents are actively positively present and not oblivious others. Their scenes don't move the plot as such, but they make clearer where Olive comes from.

I really did take issue with the lack of examination of the cultural assumptions though. The gender based double standard could have stood to be at least remarked upon and acknowledged, even if not challenged (though that would have been nice too.). Particularly when it is so central to the whole dynamic of the situation. I mean if it was just a movie thematically centered around identity and reputation, they could have picked something different for Olive to lie about. But having chosen this, it's such an elephant in the room (to me anyway). Tied in with that too is the way that sex with multiple partners is presented as being in and of itself wrong. I mean, the words 'ethical' and 'slut' have been associated with each other for quite some time now. They didn't have a single person who even alluded to the possibility. While there's some positive queer content (the screenwriter is a gay man BTW), sigh.

I've got other things to say, but the next screening I'm going to is in 65 minutes, and I'm not even dressed yet. Hopefully I can keep this up.


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