As my eyes opened on my final day of this year’s Toronto Film Festival, I felt something strange… What a good night’s sleep feels like. I stretched, blissfully, and languished in bed for as long as I could. The first film was not until 11am, the 3 hour drama The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby. Leaving the bed at the last possible second, I rushed along the grey Toronto streets, stopping in at a cafe to stock up on coffee and snacks.
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is an interesting experiment. It’s two movies back to back, 1.5hrs each (‘Her’ and ‘Him’), starring Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy as a married couple trying to deal with the death of their young son. Our screening played ‘Her’ first, the more melancholic of the two, with Jessica’s Eleanor drowning in silent grief. Not much is explained, and the character doesn’t talk a lot, which was frustrating at times. You feel sorry for her, but honestly, not interested enough to care as much as you should. ‘Him’ was the more compelling of the two, because James Connor is the more appealing character. He is grieving too, but is also trying to win Eleanor back, pack up their apartment, be available for his father and deal with a restaurant that is falling apart. Thereís more at stake in his story other than personal sanity.
Afterwards, at lunch, me, Nadia and festival pal, the hilarious Stevie Wong, talked about the film, and wondered what it would have been like if ‘Him’ was played before ‘Her’, as it had at the previous screening. Also what Aussie Joel Edgerton would have done with McAvoy’s role if his schedule had allowed him to stay in it. This to me is one of the best parts of any film festival – seeing a movie and talking or debating about it afterwards with film obsessed friends. Added bonus if your lunch is as delicious as our Thai food was.
Later in the day, after doing some work and sitting for a while in a mini food coma, I went to see my final film for TIFF: Hayao Miyazakiís The Wind Rises at the Ryerson University theatre. There’s a funny thing that happens at public screenings, during the film, the audience are as quiet as can be, the cinema a sea of darkness with nobody checking their phones at all. Refreshing. But prior to the film, in the sponsored and warning messages, it’s a game of who can be the loudest and funniest heckler. During the piracy warnings, there are screams of a piratey “aargghhhh”, something that has been happening for years and still gives me the giggles. This year there’s been an ad for Bell telecommunications, which uses the movie line “We’ll get through this” in various scenarios. People have taken to yelling back “No we won’t!” after each of them. And during this screening, in the Loreal ‘Because You’re Worth It’ ad, some plucky young individual screamed, “No you’re not!” to raucous laughter Top marks, you nameless heckler.
The Wind Rises is unfortunately Miyazakiís final film before he retires. The Japanese animator is known for the brilliant Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away and my personal favorite Ponyo. This one features a young man called Jiro, who dreams of airplanes instead of sushi. He goes to work for Mitsubishi, designing fighter jets for World War II, and falls for the lovely Nahoko, who catches his hat, almost lost in the wind. The Wind is rising says Nahoko, quoting poet Paul Vallery, “We must try to live!” finishes Jiro. The love story is beautiful, and the animation as spectacular as always, but the pace feels slow, and the mood is surprisingly somber. It’s not Miyazakiís best work, not the epic you’d like for his final piece, but still worth a watch for fans.
As I headed out to dinner with Stevie and friends, and fielded calls about canceled flights (storms in NY, I didn’t mind as my cheap flight was booked for 6am and that’s WAY too early for anything) I thought back on my time at TIFF. Over the 8 days, I watched 17 films, interviewed 27 people, and hugged eight of them. The past summer of seeing (and, because of interviews, inadvertently promoting) mediocre films was starting to make me disillusioned, but thankfully, the Toronto International Film Festival has given me a much-needed dose of inspiration. The films, the passion, the people. Covering film festivals is my dream job, and I assure you the reality is every bit as incredible as you may imagine.
Thank you everyone for following along on my silly adventures.
OVERVIEW OF ALICIA’s TIFF 2013
What I watched:
The Fifth Estate
The Devil’s Knot
Dallas Buyer’s Club
The F Word
12 Years A Slave
Can A Song Save Your Life
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
The Wind Rises
Who I interviewed:
Denis Villeneuve (director, Prisoners, Enemy)
Bill Condon (director The Fifth Estate)
Peter Landesman (director, Parkland)
Atom Egoyan (director, The Devilís Knot)
Ron Howard (director, Rush)
Peter Chan (director, American Dreams In China)
Matthew Saville (director, Felony)
Who I hugged:
What I loved:
12 Years A Slave
Can A Song Save Your Life
Being the first in the world to screen some of the movies
My film friends
The people of Toronto
Running through the rain
And future husband Jake Gyllenhaal