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The Balanced Equation: TIFF 2008 (Part 3)

Monday, October 13, 2008
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TIFF ‘o8: The Conclusioning

As promised in comment and post proper, here I present my closing thoughts on the festival that was Toronto 2008.  And only one month to the day after festival ended, which means one month and nine days after such a review would be useful, because really, what use would someone’s opinion about the quality of a film festival be at any point after that festival has begun?  What good’s a film review once it’s too late to see the film?  laebmada gets existential

First, the rundown:

Chocolate: 4 out of 4 Cadillacs
Religulous: 4 out of 4 Cadillacs
JCVD: 3 out of 4 Cadillacs
The Wrestler: 3 out of 4 Cadillacs

Martyrs: 2 out of 4 Cadillacs
Not Quite Hollywood: 2 out of 4 Cadillacs
The Burrowers: 2 out of 4 Cadillacs
Vinyan: 2 out of 4 Cadillacs
Tale 52: 2 out of 4 Cadillacs

The Sky Crawlers: Not Enough Information out of 4 Cadillacs
Blood Trail: Undefined out of 4 Cadillacs

With only ten (-ish) films seen (out of 249 total played), I can’t really make any grand statements on this year’s general quality, nor could I on that of any previous year.  I can only go on what I saw, as well as on the buzz of the festivalgoer community.  And since I have no knowledge of the festivalgoer community buzz, I’ll have to base it only on my own experience.  What I’m saying is, this opinion piece will be limited to my own opinion, and for that I’m sorry.

It wasn’t a great year — look up at that list; the only thing on there that comes anywhere close to being a personal classic favourite is Chocolate, and that’s a stretch.  Religulous is good stuff, but not amazing (a second viewing in a less-populated, less-festival theatre maintained the quality, lessened the impact), and JCVD … well, I really need to see that one again.  I go back and forth as I ponder it, but I tend to think I short-changed it in the Cadillac department.  Either way though, I don’t think it’s a classic.

When I say classic, I’m harkening back to some of the previous TIFFs, with their Oldboys, their Ong Baks, their Requiems for Dreams, their Ichi the Killers, their Versuses, their Saves the Greens Planets.  This year’s Best of the Fest™ aren’t insults to these fine films, but they aren’t shoo-in additions to their ranks, either.

Perhaps this year’s a bit disappointing, but then perhaps I’m just looking at the past through my eBay-bought rose-tinted glasses.  After all, even the lowest of 2008’s selection shines gloriously over the decaying mess of last year‘s low points, and in 2003 I did see Underworld.  Seriously, Underworld?  I saw Underworld at the Toronto International Film Festival?  Seriously?

So, the lack of extreme highs and the lack of extreme lows balance out to an extreme average.  An extremely so-so and decent enough year at the festival, leaving me extremely content about it all.  Considered in the only terms that matter, Cadillacs, I would say:

TIFF 2008: 2.5 out of 4 Cadillacs

A wee tad less than last year.  Now, for some trailers, because mixing them in with the original write-ups would’ve been too easy.

Chocolate

Religulous

JCVD

There don’t appear to be any trailers for The Wrestler, so …

Martyrs

Not Quite Hollywood

The Burrowers

Vinyan

Tale 52

The Sky Crawlers

Blood Trail

And that’s it for 2008.  What will 2009’s gimmic be?  Star charts?  Pig latin?  “If this film were a style of shoe, it would be ________”?  Whatever the gimmic is, rest assured it’ll be detrimental to clear, honest appraisal.  Adieu!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. James17930 permalink
    Wednesday, October 15, 2008 9:35 pm

    Oh for fuck’s sake — Chocolate, really? They’re actually priding themselves on how there were some pretty serious real injuries? And how old is that girl? Isn’t that some type of abuse?

    Honestly — showing footage of the injuries in the trailer for the movie — that is just disgusting.

  2. James17930 permalink
    Wednesday, October 15, 2008 10:02 pm

    Oh wait — she’s 24. Holy shit. Okay, so it’s not like it’s exploitation or something.

    But I stand by my injuries comment.

  3. Wednesday, October 15, 2008 10:53 pm

    Yeah, I’m not really sure why they’d include bloopers and such in a trailer. (As is commonplace for martial arts movies, they do line the closing credits with them.) I guess they’re trying to show us that this shit is real. Except of course it isn’t — the injuries are fuckups, definitely not what they want to happen on set. What we’re seeing in the actual movie is the takes where everything went right.

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