The Odds and Ends of TIFF’12
When you get finished covering your favourite films and least favourite films from the festival, it’s time to talk about all the other stuff. The surprises. The disappointments. The people. The good times. The random thoughts. All that jazz. So stick with me as I run through all this miscellaneous crap.
The Best Performances
Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman from The Master are the obvious choices, and indeed the most deserving.
Doona Bae is pretty fantastic in Cloud Atlas, particularly in the role of Sonmi during the futuristic storyline. Also excellent in Cloud Atlas are Tom Hanks in all his multiple roles, and Jim Broadbent and Ben Whishaw in the Frobisher story.
Alice Lowe is terrific and weird in Sightseers.
Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker are wonderful doing Shakespeare in Much Ado About Nothing.
Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts both pull off exemplary performances in Rust and Bone.
Finally I succumbed to the charms of Greta Gerwig. She’d never done much for me before, but I loved her to death in Frances Ha.
Stories We Tell being more than just a solid documentary was enough of a surprise, but that it was easily one of the best films I saw all year was a huge surprise. Sarah Polley had announced herself before, but Stories We Tell is the film that establishes her as one of the truly great directing talents to watch out for.
Sightseers was a film I had an inkling I might like, but that I absolutely loved it and immediately wanted to watch it again surprised the hell out of me.
The online ticketing system and package selection. Say what you will about the lines to pick up tickets, at least the system online went off without a hitch. I got everything I wanted, and it was easy as pie. Certainly a surprise after previous years.
I want to be clear. I think To the Wonder is a very good, if flawed film, not unlike The Tree of Life, though not quite as good as that film. That said, it was a huge disappointment for me. Going into it, even knowing the more experimental nature of the film, I was hoping for a return from Malick to the smaller, more grounded filmmaking of something like Days of Heaven. As it turns out, To the Wonder is still heavily concerned with those larger themes of his last effort, and I think the film suffers for it, which is a disappointment to me.
The lack of drinking. I feel like last year, almost everyday I was out at bars with various people, chatting about the movies and having a fun time. I certainly chatted with a lot of people this year, and there were effectively two pub nights I went to, but somehow, running from film to film every second, it felt like I got less of a chance to settle in and just enjoy the company. I might have to rethink how I do that next year.
Best Overall Experiences
Jason Reitman’s Live Read of American Beauty was pretty incredible. I mean, come on, I was seated only a few feet away from the stunning Christina Hendricks and Bryan “The One Who Knocks” Cranston as they totally nailed the script for a really good movie. How could it get any cooler than that?
Hanging out with all sorts of cool people. Matt Brown and Matt Price, Ryan McNeil, Lindsay Ragon, Leora Heilbronn, Bob Turnbull, James McNally, Sahsa James, Courtney Small, Dave Voigt, Andrew Parker and all sorts of other Toronto people I see fairly regularly were all around town at the festival, which helped make it a lot of fun. On top of those people, there were a few people who came in from out of town, including Andrew Robinson, Andrew Johnson, Sam Fragoso and Tom Clift. Getting to meet these guys who I only knew from the Internet was really awesome and I hope they all come back soon.
A Word on Projection
As I mentioned earlier in this article, I saw films projected in a variety of formats. 3 in 35mm, 1 in 70mm and the rest in either 2K or 4K DCP. Well, I have new opinions on the best way to project movies. In general, for regular movies shot either in 35mm or digital, the best projection for pure quality is 4K or 2K DCP. It is, of course, with the caveat that the projectors are calibrated properly and nothing goes wrong, but that’s true of 35mm as well. In fact, the only serious screw-up in projection I saw at the fest was during Motorway, which was shown on 35mm. That said, in the cases of Motorway and Berberian Sound Studio, the 35mm presentation was fitting for their more analog nature. Those films just “feel right” in 35mm, but I admit they’d be just as enjoyable projected digitally.
The truth is, I no longer have any allegiance to 35mm as a projection format. Digital done right simply looks too good, too clean and too bright to deny. It’s great quality and in general it’s the best way to present most films unless the specific qualities of celluloid add a sort of atmospheric or nostalgic effect.
70mm is the exception. It’s not a regular format, but holy hell does it look amazing. The Master just looked so damn crisp and so damn bright in 70mm, and there is no way in hell that even a 4K DCP would do the film justice. 4K would be acceptable, but 70mm just blows the digital format right out of the water.
So I guess what I’m saying is that as of now, where I stand on projection is: 70mm>DCP>35mm. Controversial, I’m sure, but after seeing 29 films in a row it’s the conclusion I’ve come to.
So, there you have it. That was my TIFF’12. It was a great year. I saw a lot of great movies. I had tons of fun. Now it’s over and time to look forward to the hopefully excellent Fall slate and the tiring-but-fascinating awards season.
Cheers and see you on the other side!