Ten from Toronto from top to bottom

I’ll try to write more about these titles in some format somewhere… in the meantime…

1. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Christian Mingu) – believe the hype. Best written, best acted, best directed film I saw at TIFF.

2. Useless (Jia Zhangke) – of his films so far this is perhaps the lightest on its feet, but by no means lightweight — a fascinating, shape-shifting look at the clothing industry in China that overturns your expectations every half hour.
3. Profit motive and the whispering wind (John Gianvito) – a conceptually simple and unexpectedly moving meditation on 400 years of of social progress in America (and by proxy, the world), visualized chiefly with shots of the gravesites of nearly 100 martyrs and activists across the country.

4. Secret Sunshine (Lee Chang-dong) Cindi and I talked about this film more than any of the others. I have plenty of misgivings about the bad behavior-riven second half but the first half is a near flawless set-up. The acting is superb.

5. My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin) one of Maddin’s more laudable efforts, containing some of the most inspired false memories of any personal documentary.

6. Eat For This is My Body (Michelange Quay) shockingly audacious visionary trip through a post-colonial Haiti of the mind.

7. The Princess of Nebraska (Wayne Wang and Richard Wong) – Wang’s attempt to understand contemporary Chinese America has a youthful infusion of energy thanks to Wong’s often inventive cinematography.

8. Mourning Forest (Naomi Kawase) – Wonderfully observant first half gives way to less inspired and plot-driven second half. Acting is really great though.

9. The Man from London (Bela Tarr) – Tarr’s long takes are luxuriously sinuous as always, but film feels insubstantial given its genre trappings and lack of layers.

10. A Thousand Years of Good Prayers (Wayne Wang) – good intentions, mediocre execution.

Last year Toronto was a revelatory funhouse; this year it was a welcome relief from the pressures of my current life and a much stronger signal that I need to steer my life to allow for more exposure to such environments. I really need to be involved in the world of professional cinephilia on a deeper level than I am now. In any event it was great to see many friends and acquaintances again — I was especially glad to meet for the first time: my longtime festivals editor Michelle Carey of Senses of Cinema, Adam Nayman of Eye Weekly, Girish Shambu of his much-feted namesake blog, Sean Axemaker of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and others I’m probably forgetting…

Author: alsolikelife

This is my pet project

  • ryan tracy

    One of these days I’m gonna get myself up to the TIFF. The wife tried to plan a trip up a few years back, but I had already planned a New Hampshire get-away that very same week, the get-away on which I proposed to her. Let me tell you, after the ring and the wedding and the honeymoon, we’ve just been too damn poor to afford a Toronto excursion. At least I’ve got the DC film festival.

    I’ve sure been hearing a lot about 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS AND 2 DAYS lately, all of it good. I’m a little leery about trusting it though, especially if it’s as hateful and ugly as that other well-received Romanian film, THE DEATH OF MR. LAZARESCU. (Apologies, I know you’re a fan.)

    I’m really surprised that you even bothered with the Wang films. Was there nothing else playing that day?

  • http://www.memento-films.com/www/upcomings/mfi_newsfilms_eat.html michelange quay

    Hi! Thanks so much for putting my film on your list! I was at Toronto TIFF – a first time for me, with a first feature, and the feedback from film lovers and critics was very validating – for a film that so many people had told me up to then was too crazy to be worth writing, impossible to finance, and impossible to shoot. Thanks, thanks, thanks – We need you guys! – Michelange Quay, director “Eat, For This Is My Body”

  • zetes

    I’m almost depressed that Guy Maddin brought yet another new film to Toronto – means I’ll have to wait another two or three years to see it, if it gets a release on DVD at all. We were supposed to get Brand Upon the Brain, but never did. I think the arthouse success Once (which I really liked) pushed half a dozen other films off Landmark’s schedule, including Maddin’s.

    One other blogger I’ve been reading walked out of The Princess of Nebraska.

    You didn’t get to much this year, did you?

  • CodeKnown

    I hope to see Tarr’s effort at the London Film Festival this year, yet at the same time i’m wondering how much his style is an affectation.

  • zetes

    What “style” isn’t an affectation? That’s almost the definition of “style”.

  • ryan tracy

    Fret not. I just read on indieWiRE that MY WINNIPEG was picked up by IFC Entertainment, the same folks who gave THE SADDEST MUSIC IN THE WORLD a decent release.

  • http://edwinmak.com Edwin

    Looking forward to the write ups, am quite glad that the London Film Festival will have some of these titles at least.

  • alsolikelife

    Ryan/Samourai – yes I think you’d have a great time at TIFF. I hung out a bit with spinninginvertigo when I was up there and he seemed to be enjoying himself a good deal.

    I think you will like 4/3/2 more than LAZARESCU if only because it has a somewhat more triumphant tone (or at least less bleak) at the end, though the now notorious moment in the bathroom near the end is as liable to turn you off as anything. If anything, it’s an hour shorter than LAZARESCU.

    I could have watched SILENT NIGHT with those Wayne Wang films, but I’m a Wayne Wang supporter and I’m not sure when I’d get to see them elsewhere. I’ll catch SILENT NIGHT at NYFF.

  • alsolikelife

    Michelange – How wonderful and unexpected to hear from you here. Your film has generally been regarded as the discovery of the festival among my colleagues, and it was a pleasure to attend your world premiere. Please keep me posted on where your NYC premiere will be. Congratulations!

  • alsolikelife

    zetes – the 10 films I saw in 3 days actually beats the 9 films I saw in 4 days last year. What I won’t be getting to as much will be this year’s NYFF – no more than 10 screenings if that, mostly due to being in Italy for the last week of screenings.

  • http://www.memento-films.com/www/upcomings/mfi_newsfilms_eat.html michelange quay


    again, thanks for your support. I’m waiting for news about NYC, but in the meantime, good news for “Eat, For This Is My Body”, is its coming presentation at Sundance 2008 as well as Rotterdam in Competition. If you or friends are going to either of these events, let me know. It would be fun to meet up! Have the greatest new year you can muster up! 2008 – yes! =)

  • http://tosluts.com toronto escorts

    Wonderfully observant first half gives way to less inspired and plot-driven second half. Acting is really great though.