Pre-Toronto, Post-Telluride Film Festival Musings
By Meredith Brody
I used to think that everything in life got better (faster, sleeker, cheaper, like computers and cellphones), but travel is definitely getting worse. I sat in the Telluride airport for a couple of hours Tuesday as we watched later-scheduled planes than ours arrive and depart, prevaricating (mildly) about the time ours would show up. This left a scarily-short window to make the plane for Toronto, occasioning a mad dash with Ari Folman, the director of Waltz with Bashir, who gallantly grabbed my carry-on as we sprinted madly right past the gate, as it turned out, because we’d been told to go to the wrong terminal.
We doubled back and arrived just in time to be the last two people to board the plane. During our sprint I confessed that I hadn’t seen his movie, an autobiographical tale of Folman’s role in the Israeli-Lebanon war in the early ‘80s, told in animation, in Telluride, but was looking forward to seeing it in Toronto. Folman, (pictured) who looks like Stephen Sondheim’s taller, handsomer younger brother, promptly said, “If you write about it, I hope you mention that I was your porter.” “It goes in the blog!” I promised.
Folman, of course, was seated in first class. I saw the first few rows offered snacks and drinks before a blue curtain was drawn discreetly between us. I was back in the cattle part of the plane, where I remembered that I’d left a carefully-wrapped steak sandwich (leftovers from Telluride’s traditional Labor Day barbecue picnic, featuring Omaha steaks) back in the refrigerator in the place I’d been staying. The $6 prime rib sandwich I purchased onboard (chilly, mediocre, slightly damp, tasting mainly of the plastic wrap it came in) was a poor substitute.
I’d intended to do some work, but I was distracted by Air Canada’s individual movie screens, with an abundance of offerings that far outweighed the three-or-so-hour flight time: movies, news, TV, games, audio, with multiple categories in each. The movies alone were subdivided into Hollywood, Classics (Charade, Life with Father, Nosferatu), French, Contemporary (which were oddly older than the movies in the Hollywood category, including City Slickers, I Am Sam, and Batman Begins), and a couple of other categories. I was surprised by how many of the recent movies I hadn’t seen (I don’t get out much anymore…!), including Stop-Loss, The Bank Job, Flawless, Vantage Point, The Other Boleyn Girl, Shine a Light, and 10,000 BC. I’d only managed to see Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. Even though it wasn’t a movie I’d ever have chosen to see in a theater, I watched Definitely, Maybe, exactly because it was the kind of movie that would suffer less from not being seen in a theater, but on a 10 by 5 inch (or so) screen, being a slim romantic comedy with little in its aesthetic to recommend it, besides the inexpressive pretty face of Ryan Reynolds and the expressive one of Isla Fisher. I was only mildly distracted by the fact that the girl next to me was watching The Other Boleyn Girl (hey, Ryan Reynolds separated from real-life fiancée Scarlett Johansson by only a couple of inches and five centuries).
I got into Toronto quite late on Tuesday, and went to a press screening at 10:30 on Wednesday of Management because, well, it was the only screening I knew of. It’s another slim romantic comedy with not much going on aesthetically, including the faces of Jennifer Aniston, Steve Zandt, and Woody Harrelson: nobody seemed to be having much fun. I have no idea why it was programmed at Toronto. Of course, there are 312 films (of varying lengths) showing at Toronto this year, and as a friend says, it’s not possible for them all to be good. And it’s not only nice that Miss Aniston, also a producer on the film, will walk the red carpet and be available to do press here, but that her film’s proximity to the excellent Burn After Reading, of which I saw 3/4s at a screening in San Rafael a couple of weeks ago (a 3-car pileup on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, don’t ask) permits such headlines as People’s Look Out Toronto: Here Come Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, where the good people of People state, right up top: “Burning question No. 1 at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival: will exes Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston cross paths?"
I leave these speculations to People people. My burning question No. 1 at this year’s festival, after I pick up my credentials, is how I will manage to see the movies I want to see. Every year the festival makes it a little more difficult for the press, by reducing the number of tickets you can obtain for public screenings. This year, we note, they’ve also reduced the number of press screenings, which included 10:30 pm screenings last year, but now stop at 8, 9, or even earlier. Oh well. As usual, on my first run through the program book, there are a hundred movies I’d like to see. I’ll probably see between 40 and 50.