Friday, 5 September 2008

TIFF'08 Day 1 - Thursday September 4, 2008

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TIFF'08 Day 1, let the excitement begin! The first day of TIFF is always a late start with public screenings only beginning in the evening hours. I usually end up at the Varsity on this night which always has interesting line ups with various queued off areas and sometimes people waiting for more than 1 film in 1 line. The good news is, it's easy to find someone direct you to where you need to go and they update you frequently in terms of how and when the line will go in.

A few interesting things to note, there were 6 promotion type trailers ahead of the films but overall they took up only about 2 minutes time so that was nice. People started clapping for the volunteer one before you could even tell that was what the promo was, I think because the sound is so recognizable.

To hear and see about Day 1 check out my TIFF Vlog for Day 1.

Ocean Flame / Yi ban hai shui, yi ban huo yan
Dir: Liu Fendou
Cast: Liao Fan, Monica Mok, Hai Yitian, Lam Suet, Simon Yam
Hong Kong/China

Reason to see: A gangster/romance? I had to check it out.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from a film that was part-gangster part-romance, other films of this genre mix that I've seen have been more along the lines of sleek crime flicks and Ocean Flame is quite soft and beautiful in comparison. Using scenes that feel almost truncated we are not always let in on what is really happening which adds to air of mystery in a world already filled with themes of control and trust. But for each moment of tenderness there are many moments of pain which made it challenging to watch at time. But the compelling and creepy performance by Liao Fan as Wang Yao along with a unexpected use of suspense, I wouldn't even consider not seeing the whole thing through. Ocean Flame was a excellent film to see to kick start the festival, it is skillfully crafted with strong performances and certainly pushes the boundaries.

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The line up at Ryerson moved so quickly I only had a second to catch a (half) fuzzy picture of the great poster for JCVD.

JVCD
Dir: Mabrouk El Mechri
Cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme, François Damiens, Zinedine Soualem, Karim Belkhadra
France/Luxembourg/Belgium

Reason to see: It's Van Damme! I've been looking forward to this film since even before I knew it would be part of the Midnight Madness this year. Talk about excited when was included in the titles on announcement day! It may very well be the film I was most looking forward to. Did it deliver? Oh yeah it did!

This film is the one film that appeared to be on everyone schedule this year and you could tell as the line up weaved to around and around the block outside the Ryerson theatre. The film is awesome. Not only is it just awesome to see Jean-Claude Van Damme in such a fantastic film, but he delivers a beautiful performance that includes the action side that we've seen so many times before but also the tender side of him which reminds us that we are all human. It's amazing that woven into the film is commentary on stardom, expectations all to the back drop of a personal journey and a suspense story. An overwhelming accomplishment.

Richard over at TIFF Talk has a great synopsis of the Q&A that followed the screening, complete with spoiler warnings. Check it out here.

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Midnight Madness Programmer Colin Geddes (left), JCVD Director Mabrouk El Mechri (centre)

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The sold out house for the midnight screening of JCVD. Were you there?

The Toronto International Film Festival 2008 runs from September 4-13/08 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

4 comments:

Richard said...

I was on the balcony, just out of frame to the right in your photo. Great movie, and both funny and moving!

The Mad Hatter said...

Seems to be one of the most talked-about titles. Something tells me I'm gonna be sorry I skipped it.

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

Aw, sorry you didn't make it into the picture Richard! I'm surprized it came out so fuzzy!

It really was a great one Hatter, and the screening today (Fri) went RUSH early today. The director did mention his plans for the DVD so if it doesn't make a theatrical release I'm sure it will eventually be available.

Paul said...

JCVD! "I hope you get a kick out of the film"... oh, funny midnight madness people ;)

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