By Leonard Klady

Confessions Of A Film Festival Junkie – Part 3

Toronto is one of the fastest growing cities in North America, increasing population by 200,000 a year on average in the past decade with no sign of letting up. The downtown core can’t cope with mounting traffic and new subway routes to alleviate congestio are unlikely. And for locals and visitors alike, it was tougher because six blocks of King Street West (where the TIFF Lightbox sits) were turned into a pedestrian mall with food trucks, vendors, live concerts and teeming crowds. They’ve been doing it for at least three years and there’s no question it adds to the general festival experience.

But shutting down a major downtown thoroughfare has been miserable this year and the city will almost certainly not renew the policy in 2017. I’m told the mayor’s office has already begun to map out alternative space downtown as an alternative to present to fest reps at their next meeting.

On the second day of the Festival I met up with James Villeneuve who is the Canadian Consul in Los Angeles at an Ontario Film event. The first words out of his mouth were “I miss L.A. traffic.” Yes, getting around Toronto is a “bear.” I’ve been walking to venues I would normally hop into a cab to get to because it’s faster.

There were a lot of ripped from the headlines movies in the TIFF lineup including the relatively high profile Snowden on the whistleblower-forced expatriate with filmmaker Oliver Stone leaning to the left. The sentiment might be familiar but there’s not a lot of the narrative razzle-dazzle that we’ve grown to expect from Stone. Like Jobs last year, the events surrounding the personality have been well documented.

On the flipside was Denial, about the 2000 trial of Deborah Lipstadt, was charged with libel by historian David Irving for “disparaging” his research in her book “Denying the Holocaust.” The film gets extra points simply because it was a case with modest media coverage. And for a certain type of geek the detailing of British law and court procedure will be engrossing. It, like Snowden, is a well-crafted, highly dramatic production with first-rate performances throughout. All things, considered the advantage falls to the story we don’t know.

And that brings us to The Limehouse Golem, a seeming retelling of the Jack the Ripper saga that isn’t actually based on a historic murder investigation. In London of the 1880s a series of horrific murders have the city in an uproar and Inspector Kildaire (Bill Nighy) pursues a trail that involves Karl Marx and the top music hall performers of the era. The painstaking detail to the milieu along with real life characters is truly inspired and makes the picture one of the great surprises of TIFF.

And a quick note about La La Land, filmmaker Damien Chazelle’s follow-up to Whiplash. Arriving with buzz from Telluride, his film is another attempt to resurrect the classic Hollywood musical. It is a lot of fun with dashes of a wide swath of films including Singin’ in the Rain and A Star is Born as Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone come to Hollywood to make it in music and the movies. It’s a familiar yarn and a one-off movie as opposed to a breakthrough.


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“I remember very much the iconography and the images and the statues in church were very emotional for me. Just the power of that, and even still — just seeing prayer card, what that image can evoke. I have a lot of friends that are involved in the esoteric, and I know some girls in New York that are also into the supernatural. I don’t feel that I have that gift. But I am leaning towards mysticism… Maybe men are more practical, maybe they don’t give into that as much… And then also, they don’t convene in the same way that women do. But I don’t know, I am not a man, I don’t want to speak for men. For me, I tend to gravitate towards people who are open to those kinds of things. And the idea for my film, White Echo, I guess stemmed from that — I find that the girls in New York are more credible. What is it about the way that they communicate their ideas with the supernatural that I find more credible? And that is where it began. All the characters are also based on friends of mine. I worked with Refinery29 on that film, and found that they really invest in you which is so rare in this industry.”
Chloë Sevigny

“The word I have fallen in love with lately is ‘Hellenic.’ Greek in its mythology. So while everyone is skewing towards the YouTube generation, here we are making two-and-a-half-hour movies and trying to buck the system. It’s become clear to me that we are never going to be a perfect fit with Hollywood; we will always be the renegade Texans running around trying to stir the pot. Really it’s not provocation for the sake of being provocative, but trying to make something that people fall in love with and has staying power. I think people are going to remember Dragged Across Concrete and these other movies decades from now. I do not believe that they will remember some of the stuff that big Hollywood has put out in the last couple of years. You’ve got to look at the independent space to find the movies that have been really special recently. Even though I don’t share the same world-view as some of my colleagues, I certainly respect the hell out of their movies which are way more fascinating than the stuff coming out of the studio system.”
~ Dallas Sonnier