His car is always immaculate. This remains a curiosity to those who know him as the guy who will ask you to join him for a bowl of Chinese soup at midnight or lead you to some other delicious discovery on a street you’ve never heard of in your own town.
A man who loves to eat never has crumbs in his car. Go figure.
I didn’t marry him for his curiosity but it’s kept us intact these years even thought I refuse to play trivia games with him— it’s no fun having him win every time. That he loves rap tickled the fancy of my children’s peers when Dad was on late night driving duty. None of those kids likely guess that he cries at the opera and has gorgeous cover art of all his favourite operas on his office walls. Once he made me sit in the dark on our sofa to listen to Clifford Brown. We held hands as the music filled the room and our children slept above us. Forget the guy in the tux; paid to serenade table-side at some over-priced noshery. Being married a long time teaches you when to pay attention.
Sitting in the rain to watch soccer isn’t my thing (fair-weather fan, go ahead. Shoot me), nor strategic board games that stretch over cottage tables pass their expiration date. Some passions are solo projects.
I do like going to movies with my man. His entry points into the art form were not mine so we often find traces the other missed.
Here follow’s Peter’s snapshots of films seen over the opening two days.
REVIEWS – TIFF – DAY 1
TONI ERDMANN – Retired German piano teacher, and notorious prankster, Winfried pays a surprise visit on his high-strung, management consultant daughter, Ines. Here is a strained relationship made worse by the clash of personalities. She lives a controlled and rigid existance in Bucharest, trying desperately to climb the corporate ladder.
Enter impish dad who, with the abilities of an amateur imposter, becomes involved in her professional life. What follow are a series of scenes that range from cringe-worthy to hilarious. Sandra Hüller is perfect in her role as the daughter, capturing the anxieties of a woman who sadly lives for her job. There are scenes you will not find in an American film: the sex scene (I’ll never eat petit fours again), The Whitney Houston moment, the office bonding party.
While the film is at times guilty of Euro-randomness, it was a pleasure to watch and a great start to the festival.
FREE FIRE – An all-star cast in a weapons deal gone bad. The most interesting group of bandits since Reservoir Dogs. Great characters and smart dialogue. Director Ben Wheatley, who has quite the following of nerds, redeems himself for his last TIFF offering; High-Rise was a clunker.
Virtually the entire film is shot inside an abandoned warehouse. The first shot is fired early on. From there on, it’s every man (and Brie Larson) for himself. High humour and a fun ride. Loved it.
REVIEWS – TIFF – DAY 2
NOCTURAMA – It starts off with a great deal of promise. A group of young adults, scattered throughout Paris, boarding trains at synchronized times, picking up mysterious packages, hidden guns, keys to parked cars and, the ultimate sign of spycraft, dumping cellphones in garbage bins. So far, so good. They blow up a number of buildings.
For some unknown reason, they have agreed to meet after hours in a multi-level boutique mall. Suddenly the film turns into John Hughes’ Breakfast Club for terrorists. It doesn’t take long to realize that for all their talk about revolution, they love the trappings of western capitalism. But that point is dragged far too long. I found myself thinking where the hell is the French counter terrorist squad to end this film now?
CHASING TRANE – A ninety-nine minute documentary about jazz titan John Coltrane. What’s there not to like? His early life, his formative years with Miles Davis, his own band, Giant Steps, A Love Supreme and everything in between. All praise be to Coltrane.
(Note from Anne: “What’s there not to like?” Me sniffs out a jazz bias. No way you, Mr. Serious Jazz Lover, can see this objectively)
ELLE – This is one of THOSE French films. You know the kind of I’m talking about: everyone is sleeping with everyone else’s wife or husbands, everyone is so open minded, ex-spouses are friends and hang out with their new partners. And it’s all so French.
Except….for the violent rape scenes that pepper the script. It’s the handling of the rape that made me very uneasy through the film. Isabelle Huppert commands the screen as the damaged (long before the rape) protagonist. Proceed with caution on this one. Makes for quite a lively post-viewing discussion.
(Note from Anne: “lively”? Nice catch)
THE BIRTH OF A NATION – A fascinating story about a short-lived slave rebellion in Virginia. While lead actor/director Nate Parker carries every scene in the film, everyone else is a B-lister. Decent script but for all the hype that preceeded the opening, I was disappointed. The film was clearly on a tight budget.
This was most evident with the rebellion. It made up 15 minutes of the film. The final confrontation had a Heritage Moment – War of 1812 celebration ad vibe to it. And you know what happened to the guys that gave us those clips. Worth seeing but not the epic I expected.
HEADSHOT – An Indonesian Jason Bourne. A man is washed up on the shore with no recollection of who he is. Now evetybody wants him dead and only one woman can help him….you get the picture.
Great martial arts fight scenes. Unfortunately not enough expendables. Every fight seems to be between our hero and an important henchman. I wanted more expendables!