In with a bang, and out with a whimper…That’s how I’d describe my TIFF experience this year. At the start is was all jacked-up, testosterone- fuelled machismo. Next, came lighter lady fare and, finally, quiet and clever understated films. At least the ones I saw!!
I skipped out on Thursday night’s screening of Franco-film “A Happy Event” – which is a real shame. It’s about all the happiness and joy having a baby brings – except of course, when it doesn’t. According to those who were there (ie not me), it was moving and awesome and a must-see movie for those with (or wanting) children. That was followed, in an odd programming move, by “Hysteria” – the one about the invention of the vibrator! Apparently, it too was, um, a pleasure.
What I did see, however, was “The Awakening” a bone-chilling ghost story that had my mother nearly crapping her drawers! We’d heard it was a terrifying gothic thriller. It was. We arrived thinking there was no way we’d be sitting through anything remotely frightening – until we heard the director, Nick Murphy, speak. Charming and funny, he made us want to see his film. And guess what? Despite – or maybe because of – our reluctance, we both loved it. Great performances all-round, especially by Rebecca Hall and the little boy from Game of Thrones (Isaac Hempstead Wright). The whole thing was super smart, atmospheric, and creepy in all the right ways, “The Awakening” is definitely one not to be missed.
Next up was Jennifer Hudson as “Winnie” (Winnie Mandela, that is). I couldn’t wait to see JHud. In my mind, I discovered her years ago on Idol when (again, in my head) I cast her as Effie in Dreamgirls. She’s also my Weight Watchers hero. And a no show. Grrrr. But handsome Terence Howard worked the room quite nicely, dazzling everyone in his path….
Despite being denounced by Winnie Mandela herself, people I know who saw it, liked it. Personally, I haven’t a clue. Gutted by Ms. Hudson’s absence, the maven left the building.
Finally, the closing night. It’s a well-known secret among film goers that the final gala film is usually a dud. In this case, a British (gasp) television movie was selected to close out the fest. Written and directed by (Sir) David Hare it’s a veritable who’s who of UK cinema: Bill Nighy, Michael Gambon and Rachel Weisz star, with appearances by Ralph Fiennes, Ewan Bremner and Judy Davis (Aussie….but close enough). This time, it was a spy flick!!
In “Page 8”, espionage and intrigue reign supreme as a secret file threatens to take down Her Majesty’s government. My Man and my Mom loved it. Thought it was gripping and smart with a cool, jazz-hand soundtrack. I, on the other hand, was so consumed fending off a carb-coma that I got lost somewhere on the wet grey streets of London….Useless (me, not the film).
All in all, good times had by all….HUGE thanks to photographer extraordinaire, Rosemary Goldhar. If you think these pics were good, you should see her REAL work….
For now, it’s ta-ta, TIFF….And hellooo fall TV….. Are your PVR’s ready?!