TORONTO 2007

TIFF Day 7: The End is Here!

by
September 15, 2007

Toronto International Film Festival

Yesterday (Friday) was my 7th and final full day at the Toronto International Film Festival and I will without a doubt say I am beat. There have been many sleepless nights, many hours spent traveling on the subway or in cabs, and many, many movies screened. In the end I saw a total of 20 films here in Toronto and I will say unfortunately that it was not a great experience. This festival is one of the most poorly organized and poorly executed festivals out there and is so mainstream and so public that it's almost annoying to go to screenings.

I'm working on a full look at TIFF and both the bad and the good sides of this fest. You can expect that article in the next few days, but in the meantime I'll provide this quick wrap-up of all the films from TIFF that I've seen (including those that I saw at Sundance or prior to arriving in Toronto). They're organized by order in which I screened them, with Sundance films (that have a *) of course being at the very top.

TIFF Films Seen:
*King of California - 9/10
*Smiley Face - 4.5/10
*Son of Rambow - 8.5/10
*The Savages - 8/10
Michael Clayton - 9/10
The Brave One - 8.5/10
In the Valley of Elah - 7.5/10
The Assassination of Jesse James... - 9/10
Rendition - 7.5/10
Juno - 8/10
Young People Fucking - 9/10
Lust, Caution - 8/10
Diary of the Dead - 5.5/10
Lars and the Real Girl - 7.5/10
Redacted - 4.5/10
Across the Universe - 7/10
Into the Wild - 6.5
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - 8.5/10
Paranoid Park - 5/10
Reservation Road - 7/10
Married Life - 6/10
Ping Pong Playa - 9.5/10
Sukiyaki Western Django - 6.5/10
Death Defying Acts - 7/10
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead - 6.5/10
The Tracey Fragments - 8/10
Terra - 7/10
Chrysalis - 7.5/10

A good haul of some fairly strong films, but a small amount that were actually great. Maybe I missed a few really great ones (like No Country for Old Men), but I decided to in turn catch a bunch that weren't going to be coming to theaters for quite a while (if at all).

I'm curious to hear what you guys thought of the fest and our coverage? Is there anything that you're now looking forward to seeing because of the response and buzz coming from TIFF? Is there anything that you really want to hear my feedback on or want an opinion on?

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  • http://www.rottentomatoes.com Jen
    I can't believe you liked the extremely overrated (and bad, I dare say) King of California more than a great piece of cinema like Lust, Caution. Or that you gave a lukewarm piece of poo like Death Defying Acts a (slightly) higher score than a film as bold and kickass as Miike's Sukiyaki Western Django. Sigh. What am I going to do with you boys? :)
  • http://www.firstshowing.net Alex Billington
    What?! King of California was great... but Lust, Caution was amazing, too, I'll admit that! It just didn't have any buzz at the fest, what the heck?! And Death Defying Acts wasn't bad, but Django was boring. I could've walked in 1 hour in and watched from that point forward and enjoyed it much more... What are we going to do with you? Crying in all those movies... :P
  • Victor
    I find reviews mostly subjective (especially ratings) so I won't dispute your numbers even if they don't jive with my opinions. However, I do want to address two of your complaints. "poorly organized and poorly executed" - I think it's the other way around. It's highly organized and extremely well-run. It can be, however, very complicated as a moviegoer to attend (and by attend, I also include the process of obtaining tickets, etc). I think because it's such a public event (I'll get to that next), there are extremely tough logistical challenges to overcome to accommodate both public and press/industry people into the same festival. The TIFF does strive to provide information, materials and services to help people navigate the festival. Is it the most user-friendly? Not yet. I have seen progress over the years though. Perhaps if you had a chance to talk to some veteran public attendees, you might be able to get a wider perspective of its growth. "so mainstream and so public that it's almost annoying to go to screenings" - The irony is that in your list of movies attended, at least half I would contend to be mainstream (they're produced by a big American studio and coming out in the next couple of months) and yet there are a selection from literally a couple of hundred other movies you could have seen that were either foreign or non-mainstream. Now, there are plenty of press/industry screenings that are set aside for non-public viewings. And if you couldn't get into those... well, that's between you and the press credentials approval people, I guess. The festival was created FOR the people by film-lovers. So when you say that it's too public, you're saying that the genesis of the festival was for the wrong reasons. If you don't like the public screenings and you can't get into the industry screenings, you may just want to stay home next time. The public screenings is where people get a chance to talk to one another, from a layperson's perspective, not from a critic's. Many of these screenings are attended by film-lovers and a film lover - to me - is mutually exclusive of a critic's role. That is not to say a critic can't be both but sometimes you have to leave the badge and the spurs home. I'll just say lastly that there are many festivals that feel very elitist. The TIFF strives not to be among them.

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