Eleven days, twenty-seven screenings, more friends than I can count, less sleep than I require.
Sounds like doing a pure cinematic speedball, doesn’t it? It is, but just like any vice it comes with certain side effects – namely making a bad call. Just last night, when I posted a photo of all my tickets on The Matinee’s Facebook page, my aunt asked me how I choose which films I see. I somewhat summarized my method, but the truth is that there’s a lot of dumb luck that comes along with selecting any quantity of films…and inevitably, you’re gonna miss the boat on something.
So as I begin my eleventh festival, come with me through ten years of The Matinee’s Golden Pan Awards: Handed out annually to the one that got away…
Technically, this one shouldn’t count. I really had no idea what I was doing my first time around, and also had a wickedly small window to work with (three days). Still, looking back now and seeing that I could have gotten in on one of the decade’s best shows how tough the whole thing can be on rookies.
Good news! Widening tastes and time off from work allows me to make the most of the festival for the first time. Bad news, I still can’t get things right. Despite being moved by gems like TALK TO HER and PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE, I still find myself an amateur wasting time on big studio offerings like PHONE BOOTH and THE FOUR FEATHERS. The next spring when this film rocked my world, I felt that much more of an amateur.
Yeah…I know…a lot of people dislike this film. I love it, and can’t believe I didn’t jump on it.
Yeah…I know…they shouldn’t let someone like me run a website, should they?
I’m going to guess that some of you reading this haven’t seen this film either, and that some of you reading this haven’t even heard of it. It’s an amazing Canadian film by director Jean-Marc Vallée who directed one of my favorite 2011 films, CAFE DE FLORE. Believe it or not, at the time I skipped the movie because I actually hadn’t yet honed my taste for Canadian films. When I watched it and realized how wickedly up my alley this film was, I felt that much dumber. The whole matter was made worse by the fact that my wife suggested I see it and I shrugged her off. bad idea, right? It got worse the next year…
Yup – it got this much worse. In perusing the guidebook during the week we were cobbling together our selections, Lindsay must have mentioned this film at least half a dozen times…and even more times as the festival unfolded. I said at the time (and this is a direct quote) “It doesn’t sound like my sort of thing”. Upon seeing the film that December, I couldn’t believe how grossly I’d misspoke – an error as of yet unmatched, which is why the award is named after this particular bit of stupidity.
The lesson: Listen to Lindsay.
By 2007, I’d largely learned my lesson. Looking back, this might have been one of my best festivals wall-to-wall and included my introductions to JUNO, EL ORFANATO, CONTROL, and NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. Still, you can’t see ‘em all, and as I started catching up with the ones I’d skipped, this gut-punch from Julien Schnabel hit hardest.
This one pissed me off. I count myself a massive fan of this film since first seeing it in the summer of 2009, but at TIFF 2008? Not even a blip on my radar. What pisses me off is that with only so much time to cobble together a schedule, sometimes you lean on the visuals in the program to draw you in. See that humdrum still I’ve embedded? That was the promo image TIFF decided to use to hype this ballad to modern warfare. Are you kidding? Did the courier lose the still-frame of Evangeline Lilly on the phone? Suffice it to say, when I caught up with it, I couldn’t believe I’d glossed over it.
Notice the asterisk? It’s not there because TIFF 2009 tested positive for PED’s, but it is there for a reason. As mid-summer approached, Lindsay and I had more pressing concerns than movies…namely our upcoming wedding. So rather than drop the few hundred dollars that we usually do, we decided to bite the bullet and sit out the festival. However, before the dust settled, along came little brother with an offer: pick any film, and I’ll get you a ticket for it out of my allocation.
TIFF 2009 came stacked with a lot of films I’d go on to capital-L-love. AN EDUCATION, A SERIOUS MAN, THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ALICE CREED, and A SERIOUS MAN just to name a few. But to narrow it down to one? Yikes. In the end I chose a White Stripes concert doc to get the experience of seeing it in a theatrical environment. However, if I could do it all over again knowing what I know now, I’d have to go with this deeply moving Argentinian selection.
I think I must have been jacked-up to be back at the festival, because by-and-large I nailed it when it came to filling out my selections. Only one eluded me, and that ain’t bad…
Last year was just an embarrassment of riches. Sure, I could have caught up with CAFE DE FLORE or TAKE SHELTER faster, but what should I have sacrificed? THE ARTIST? SHAME? THE SKIN I LIVE IN? TYRANNOSAUR?
I can’t see ‘em all, but I do sorta wish I’d found the time to see this.
…So place your bets gang? What will be the film I miss this week that I immediately regret when I finally catch up with it in the weeks and months ahead?