…and the quest to see everything

Posts tagged “2009

In The Loop


Armando Iannucci‘s In The Loop, a condensed version of his BBC series “The Thick of It,” is very masculine about the events before the War in Iraq. It also begs the question – how did Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi), the Prime Minister’s  Director of Communications, get into power? Did he intimidate the PM or ‘demonstrate’ what he could do others? The funny thing is, Tucker’s bravado and invasive methods also calls into attention how we’re only seeing ministers, directors, secretaries and generals. They in turn tell their lowers and the interns that war is good and that’s what the heads of government think is best. There’s skepticism in my part at least, the real powers that be are faceless, and Tucker and crew use that quality to do what they want.

I try to up the voices I hear within the movie. Nationality? It’s funny enough to watch thrice, but maybe it’s because hearing curse words in a Scottish accent or whispered in an English accent than is better than doing so in an American one. Capaldi layers the torture quip, breathing life on Tucker’s un-bottled energy and exasperation. Or maybe gender is the sharp knife to cut the roast? Maybe not, with Judy Molloy (Gina McKee), at one point telling Malcolm ‘Do you like how I’m telling you what’s going on where you are.’ She’s gentle yet strong despite of Malcolm’s bellowing, refusing to play the game unlike US. Assistant Secretary on Diplomacy Karen Clark (Mimi Kennedy) and one of her aides, Liza (Anna Chlumsky). Liza, by the way, uses too many hand gestures and widening her eyes showing how overwhelmed she is with her situation, being the one who has written an unwelcome paper outlining the likely negative outcomes of the war. And the thing is, it’s not Karen or Liza that comes out unscathed, it’s Judy.

The more I watch In The Loop and get to its ending, the more it makes me feel like crap because on the surface level it lets the loudmouthed bad people win. Politicians. Maybe I’m just seeing a disconnect between then and now, the movie not foreshadowing the consequences for the people who pushed the war. But what about Liza, being reluctant about her paper because her career is on the line. Judy’s boss, Minster of International Development Simon Foster (Tom Hollander), is an equally spineless climber, stumbling into an anti-war quotable and becomes ambivalent about it after Malcolm ‘bollocks’ him. The movie intentionally the movie doesn’t have a good guy with any fortitude, neither.

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Cool Story Bro: “Antichrist”


Showing up to screenings two hours before the movie starts, I headed off to the rush line at the Ryerson Theatre. An hour later an older man sells a pair of tickets to whoever wants to see Antichrist.  I raised my hand a second later than someone behind me, who happens to be a French woman who is also pregnant. Dammit. I’m pretty sure this woman lives a twelve-hour drive from Cannes Why didn’t she just see it there?

Half an hour later, she comes back and says “Mai hazzbahnd won’t cam zee eet.” Obviously. Why the fuck do you? Or me? “I want feeftee dallarz for zeez teekehts.” (I am so racist). Fine.

I join the ticket holders’ line and find kids from my university, the ones who make fun of the slightly special needs kid in the film studies department or talk about how Amanda Seyfried was ‘The most BEAUTIFUL woman I’ve EVER seen…” because that’s what sexy hipsters talk about. We eventually headed to the doors where the most beautiful hipster tells some security guard “This film will win People’s Choice.”

It was one of the most fucked up movie I have ever seen.

Later, the most beautiful one tells us that she gave the movie a 3. “He’s a master master master master master master but…” I can’t remember what she said but it’s something like how gruelling he is.” I tell them that I bought my ticket off a pregnant woman. ‘You saved a pregnant woman and her child.” Imagine someone giving birth while watching that movie.

I have no idea how notorious that screening was compared to others. Watching it at Cannes might have been an experience. There’s another fest somewhere in middle America where the audience chanted “CHAos REIGNS!” Apparently someone vomited during the Toronto première but I was probably drowned by my own reactions to hear someone retch.

Days later, in other screenings, I meet industry guys before the Micmacs where the cuter business guy kept saying “That scene where she hammered his BALLS and I’d cross my legs every time he said ‘balls.’

I have new goals during the festival while writing for myself and others – next year’s choices will be actress-y because of Nathaniel. But because of that first movie during that first real TIFF, one of my goals is to see the grossest movie ever. Last year’s is Black Swan and LA Zombie. This year’s is Lovely Molly. Swear I’ll do the best I can to catch the Midnight Madnesses.


Reel Asian: Piercing 1


I tweeted earlier that Liu Jian’s début movie Piercing 1 is like “Beavis and Butthead Do The 2008 Economic Collapse And Its Effects On China.” The animation is like Mike Judge’s early work – gaunt two-dimensional figures, the movements are pretty one-two. But it also adds its own spin to a seemingly primitive, 90’s era take on the visual medium. It’s as if there’s no air in this fictional universe – flags and lamps don’t move but smoke rises up in the air. And the palette, lacking the colours yellow and purple, is dour and dark, which seems right with its depressing and scary subject.

Among the handful of characters that it follows are two men who have moved to Beijing. After a boss beats one of them for allegedly stealing, they hang out on a public space. Their litanies in their first scene together resonate with younger people and/or immigrants, as one of them is more defiant against returning to their small town, not even considering if their lives have been better or stable there. It’s like this refusal of an alternative because it feels like a million steps back. The more defiant youth also seems attracted to the trappings of capitalism. The money, the clothes, the promise of women – of which there are only two in the movie who aren’t sexually pursued – the exciting day and light lives, the population.

It loses steam after that scene, as it’s littered with Kafkaesque accusations and assaults. It’s as if every person they meet is misanthropic because of the anomie-inducting big city. The beaten youth comes back to his boss and asks for ‘mental damages’ and gets beaten. While eating noodles, he sees a woman get hit by a motorcycle only for that woman’s police officer daughter to beat him again. It’s like Jia Zhangke and Sion Sino collaborated and made an animated feature, the former’s portrayal of ghostlike modernity mixes with the latter’s theatrical violence. The last scenes veer into ridiculous heist movie territory since i this movie’s world, all Chinese businessmen are also sketchy money dealers. But I do give the movie credit for going into unexpected places.


TIFF Hangover: Fish Tank.


Sleep deprivation in 2009 would probably have made me wonder ‘What is this HORSE doing in Fish Tank?!’ But the day before this year’s festival’s kickoff might be the perfect time to watch this to prepare for Michael Fassbender and Andrea Arnold‘s new works. This movie also has the funniest one liners and might be the only Criterion that features a Cassie song.

Nick wrote that Katie Jarvis should have been nominated for an Oscar, which my friends doubted because she was playing ‘herself’ here. I’ll never know what ‘herself’ is, but it’s probably the only time I’ll see an actress convey emotion even when her back is towards the camera. Her performance, the imagery and even the horse adds to its novelistic feel.


Writing about Past and Future Oscar Films


Sandra Bullock is serious business at my guest post at The Film Experience.

TIFF just announced their Gala and Special Presentations line-up which had many lovers and some doubters, but over at Anomalous Material I chose around ten of the fifty films that they announced. I suppose I could have written about more films that I was excited for, but I believed that it wads better to write about the why as much as the what. Although I’m ambivalent about not including Eye of the Storm, the image of Chloë Sevigny‘s friend Charlotte Rampling is captivating enough as her character, Elizabeth, chooses everything about her life including her ‘society’ and her own death. I then hesitated because of that synopsis but a cast that includes Judy Davis and Geoffrey Rush are good enough for me.

I’m equally ambivalent about Hick, a coming of age story where a young Chloë Moretz finally plays a real person in a movie and Blake Lively might become a great talent, as potential and hype about her was around for a TIFF release two years ago, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee.


3 Idiots


Three men look for their mysteriously estranged college mate, Ranchoddas or Rancho (Aamir Khan), and coming along later in the journey is his on-and-off girlfriend Pia (Kareena Kapoor), their ex-headmaster’s daughter. Rancho is so memorable to these characters because of the joy he has brought to their younger selves,  since most of these other characters are prone to suicidal thoughts, mental breakdowns and quarter life crises brought on by the general competitiveness of middle class, college life. ‘Life is a race,’ but Rancho thinks that a musical number is decent cardio too. Standing between the binaries that this film and its context present, he’s Western because of his idealistic view on education and love, Eastern because of his altruism and anti-materialism. What’s also admirable about this film is that it lets Rancho be wrong sometimes, its most heartfelt moment is when the headmaster, teary-eyed, tells him that he can’t be right all the time.

There’s also Pia, who, by learning how to stand up against her former fiancée as well as her father, is a woman more feminist than a Deepa Mehta protagonist. And since we’re comparing movies about India, the film also echoes the triumphalism of Slumdog Millionaire, the but the ride is wilder this time, taking characters to opposite emotional cliffs and back.


Indefensible: Observe and Report


Jody Hill’s (“Eastbound and Down”) dark comedy Observe and Report got a lukewarm reception at the box office mostly because of unfortunate timing – Warner Brothers released the movie about a mall cop three months after the Kevin Smith ahem, blockbuster vehicle Paul Blart: Mall Cop and suffered for it. Thankfully, Criticize This writer and Indefensible founder Andrew Parker and Exclaim!’s Will Sloan are ready to make us believe that this movie is a masterpiece. The film’s star Seth Rogen won’t be at the Toronto Underground Cinema at both this Friday and Sunday screenings, but for us gays and girls who like our guys ‘Rogen size,’ Torontoist‘s John Semley will come to Friday along with CinemaScope’s Adam Nayman – unconfirmed –  to trash the movie. I have no idea what size Mr. Sloan comes in. Then this Sunday, NOW Magazine‘s Norman Wilner will introduce, defend Observe and Report and show its similarities to another film showing at the Underground that night – Taxi Driver.

I have cheese factory duties on both screening times so I won’t get to see Rogen and his apparently career-best film performance. Neither will I see the great Celia Weston, nor apparently the greatest fight scene in an English language film, nor the longest full frontal scene ever – not a pun. Nor will I be there to snark that ‘I hate malls, I like boutiques better, I hate the suburbs, I live in Toronto.’ I will be there in spirit. Supporting cast includes Anna Faris, Ray Liotta, Patton Oswalt, etc. Both screenings start at 7PM. Proceeds go to the Organization for Bipolar Affective Disorder.