Archives For I Wish

I think I need to preface this list by saying that I hate lists. I’ve discussed this before. I had ranking films. It’s the worst thing ever, and it’s almost always arbitrary. I could labour over my rankings for hours and then be switching things back around the next day. But hey, it’s the end of the year and if I’m going to talk about my favourite films, might as well put them in a list, rank them, and earn some praise and scorn.

(As a side-note, I tried to leave off films from TIFF that haven’t gotten a theatrical release yet, but there are a few exceptions in cases where I really wanted to highlight them.)

Also, I think it’s appropriate now to comment on what kind of year 2011 for film. Well, I think it was a pretty phenomenal year, but also an odd one. There weren’t really any films that stood out as obvious #1s, but I think a lot of that is because there were so many amazing films that were all great for very different reasons.

To give you an idea of just how good I thought this year was, while my top film is pretty well solid, any of the films in my 2-15 would likely have been Top 5 level any other year. In fact, there are a couple of films that just missed my Top 20 from earlier this year that I swore would make my Top 10. It’s been THAT good a year. Anyway…

On to the list! Click to read more


TIFF’11: The Great Wrap-Up!

September 23, 2011 — 4 Comments

Well, after about a week’s distance, I think it’s time to take stock of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. There were highs and lows; there was a lack of sleep; there were friends and beers; there was plenty of malnutrition; there was a ton of waiting in line-ups.

All in all TIFF’11 was the best TIFF year for me so far. The primary reason for this was not the films, though there were a few good ones, it was the friends. Prior to the festival, Courtney Small, from Big Thoughts From a Small Mind, invited me to a monthly Toronto film bloggers meet-up. Through that meet-up, and another during the festival, I got to enjoy drinks with a ton of really awesome film bloggers. The result was that, other than a couple of screenings, I did not see any movies by myself. Many of the people I met were actually at several of my screenings. Here’s a list of some of the people I got to hang out with:

Ryan McNeil, from The Matinee (@matinee_ca)

Bob Turnbull, from Eternal Sunshine of the Logical Mind (@TheLogicalMind)

Shannon the Movie Moxie (@MovieMoxie)

Sasha James, from Final Girl Project (@FinalGirlProj)

Matt Brown (@tederick) and Matthew Price (@mattmovies), from the wonderful Mamo Podcast

Julian Carrington, from a Healthy Disdain (@aHealthyDisdain)

James McNally, from Toronto Screenshots (@toscreenshots)

Leora Heilbronn (@leoraheilbronn)

Shane McNeil (@come_back_shane)

Andrew Parker, from Criticize This! (@AndrewJParker)

Titania Plant, from Classic Flick Chick (@classicflikchik)

Danielle D’Ornellas, from blogTO (@ellstar)

That’s quite a list of people. I might have missed a few names—I probably did—so if you feel slighted, just leave a comment and I’ll add you. And to all of you, I say thank you. Sincerely, I mean it. Thanks for making this my first real social TIFF experience. It was a lot of fun, and I cannot wait to do it again next year, along with all the monthly meet-ups in between.

As for the festival itself, the movies are the movies. Some were great, some were terrible. C’est la vie.

I’d like to do a list of Best and Worst from TIFF’11, but first I will simply list off all the movies I saw, with links to my reviews.

A fair number of films and one heck of a festival.

Continue to the next page to read my choice for the TIFF’11 justAtad Awards!

TIFF’11 Review: I Wish

September 21, 2011 — 3 Comments

Going into I Wish, I had never seen any films by Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda. Coming out of it, I swore to try and watch as many of his films as I could get my hands on. I Wish is one of the most beautifully heartfelt films dealing with the topic of children and divorce I have ever seen. Kore-eda brings reality to the film, but not in a needlessly stark fashion. Instead, I Wish is a celebration of children and family, even while it mourns the troubles of parenthood and marriage.

The optimistic viewpoint of the film no doubt comes from its focus on children. The main characters are two young brothers who now each live with one parent in different cities. Their greatest wish is for their family to be reunited and live together once more. Kore-eda does not indulge this fantasy, or even romanticize it. Instead, he shows us the reality of their lives for a number of months as the kids cope with their new lives.

The main plot of the film has the brothers making a plan to meet each other along the new bullet train line and make a wish as two of the trains pass each other. But through the film they also make new friends, learn lessons from their parents and grandparents, and we even get a glimpse at the lives of some of the other children. The relationships between the kids and the adults in the film is wonderfully rendered. The children don’t know much about life, but in some ways, neither do the parents and other authority figures around them. What Kore-eda shows us in I Wish is that in the end we are all just trying to find the best way to cope with life, and the most valuable thing of all is the families of people we create around us.

This could not be more clear than in the last half-hour or so of the film. The brothers, and a bunch of their friends, do meet up in a small town to wish on the passing trains. Through some very funny circumstances, they end up staying with an elderly couple who are very happy to have the company. As we see the bond re-form between the brothers, between their friends, between them and the older couple, and even later, between the kids and their parents, the messages of the film take hold powerfully. So powerfully, in fact, that I spent that last section of the film in various states of emotional wreck. Not because it was sad, but because the sense of loving melancholy Kore-eda crafts in those scenes was palpable. Even writing about it right now I am beginning to be overcome with emotion.

That’s the power of I Wish, and I could not recommend it enough. The love of humanity present in the film is as strong as in any I’ve ever seen. Kore-eda has made a masterpiece of a film, and I don’t say that lightly.