Monthly Archives: October 2008

TIFF-Tastic Film Reviews, By the Numbers

If you’ve read my previous posts on the Toronto International Film Festival, you’ll see that, unfortunately, much blood, sweat and tears go into securing tickets to the festival. I was lucky enough to be able to take 3 days of vacation to attend this year’s festival and saw a total of 14 films. There are several package options, including 25, 30 and 50 tickets, which I can hardly imagine. It’s recommended that you get to your films at least 45 minutes early because the lines get really long. While waiting for “Ashes of Time”, the official TIFF survey people came by to get stats on some of us in line. I overheard the two people in front of me say that they had purchased the 50 film package. Holy snow, Batman! One couple even flew in from California for the event – they stay in T.O. for 14 days seeing all 50 movies. The man directly in front of me was from Whitby, Ontario – a Toronto ‘burb – and he pays to spend 11 nights in T.O. and sees 55 movies! I basically knelt down before them in awe.

What this means for those of us who don’t have the bum cartilage to make it throughthis heroic feat is that you literally start your first film around 9am and see movies literally all day through to the “Midnight Madness” film that starts at 11:59pm. Including trasnit time, you likely don’t get home until around 3am and start all over again the next day. By the numbers, that’s no fewer than 5 films a day for 10 days straight. *That*, my fair readers, is dedication. I asked if they had any recollection of the films they’d seen at the end of the 14 days and they shared with me that they write notes after each film and also include a rating from their very own little rating system. In keeping with that spirit, here are my reviews for the amazing (and not so amazing) films I saw at TIFF08.

Rating System:
***** – Excellent/Do not miss
**** – Great/Highly recommended
*** – Good/See it at a matinee
** – Fair/ Rent the DVD
* – Bad/Don’t waste your time or $

1. Dean Spanley – with Peter O’Toole ***
2. $5 a Day – with Christopher Walken ****
3. Wendy and Lucy – with Michelle Williams *
4. Ashes of Time Redux – a Wong Kar Wai film ***
5. Birdsong * – DO NOT SEE THIS FILM! You will feel regret for the rest of the live long day.
6. Is There Anybody There – with Michael Caine ****
7. Easy Virtue – with Jessica Biel and Kristen Scott Thomas *****
8. Pride and Glory – with Edward Norton and Colin Farrel *****
9. Che, Part I – a Steven Soderbergh film with Benicio del Torro ****
10. Zack and Miri Make a Porno – a Kevin Smith film with Seth Rogen *****
11. Il y a Longtemps que Je’Taime – with Kristin Scott Thomas ****
12. Slumdog Millionaire – a Danny Boyle film (kicking ass since 1994!) (Trainspotting) *****
13. Gomorrah **
14. The Wrestler – a Darren Aronofsky film with Mickey Rourke ****

My TIFF08 Experience, By the Numbers
$225: 10-ticket package + 4 additional movies purchased as singles
$64.97: Snacks at 7 of the 14 films (excluding turkey sand hastily scarfed down between shows at Varsity and apple found at bottom of purse)
$21.97: Visine, Tums, moist face towelettes to wipe crust out of eyes, and 79 cent bottle of water
$3.09: Small Diet Coke at ScotiaBank Place
125: # of minutes spent standing in line to a) pick up booklet and order form, b) drop off order form and c) pick up tickets
56: # of minutes spent watching commercials for approved TIFF sponsors and TIFF produced promo
7: # of times I traded tickets after hearing how crappy “that” movie was

To see all my TIFF pictures, click here.

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Filed under TIFF, toronto international film festival

The Most Classic of All Canadian Experiences

There are many things Canada is known for – mounties, moose, igloos (yes, I jest), etc. – but this weekend, I experienced the ultimate of Canadian activities. I was invited to spend the night with my friend at her house in the Durham Region (sort of like our “county” in Houston) about 40 minutes outside of Toronto. We had planned to have her boyfriend grill his fabulous steaks, drink some wine, watch “Sex and the City” and cause general debauchery. We also watched her dog eat corn straight from the cob. Normally I would say “only in Texas”, but in this case, it’s “only in Durham”.

The next morning, her son had hockey practice, so after having homemade pancakes with Nutella (thanks Rob!), we bundled up and headed to the arena. When we pulled up, there were about 1,000 SUVs in the parking lot with both parents and kids hauling their 200 lb bags of hockey gear and sticks in and out of the arena. When we walked in, scores of people were rushing around and the temperature was about 5C. There were 4 pads of ice in total. On one side, the figure skating pad filled with – no kidding – 3 year olds who appeared to be barely walking but with these itty-bitty tiny skates glued to their feet and helmets on their head. They were holding onto orange pylons and scooting slowly around the rink. Seriously, I think Canadian children come out of the womb with skates on their feet. There’s really no other explanation.

On the opposite side of the building were the hockey ice pads. These tiny little boys looked just like the pros but were all of 5 or 6. It felt like the entire town was at the arena that morning and I was told that the same scenario was happening all over the GTA that day, like every Saturday. Once hockey begins in September, practice and games are a weekly event that occur until April of the following year. Holy crap — that’s a lot of weekends spent bundled up in North Face drinking Timmy Ho’s. Not to mention, it’s not exactly cheap for your kid to play hockey, averaging $450 just to join the team and not including equipment, travel, etc. Wow.

While we were waiting for my friend’s son to change into his gear, we scurried over to the ubiquitous Tim Horton’s to get a coffee – the MOST Canadian of all Canadian institutions. There must be more Tim Horton’s coffee consumed per capita in Canada than all the Starbucks in the universe combined. There is literally not an hour that goes by without seeing someone holding a Tim Horton’s cup in hand. I’m convinced they spike their coffee with something to make you come back for more (crack?)

By the way, did I mention the very good looking dads at the arena? Definitely the place to spot hot guys. But I digress. Once we got back to the arena, practice was starting so in we went. It was, of course, even colder inside and I had stupidly only brought my light scarf and coat. So there I sat – in Whitby, Ontario on a saturday morning, Tim Horton’s in hand, watching little boys and girls play hockey and ice skate at the local ice rink. It was one of my most memorable Canadian experiences.

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Filed under durham, hockey