Only in Toronto! Every morning on my 3/4 mile trek up Bloor Street from the hotel to the Varsity Theaters in the Manulife Center, I pass the University of Toronto football field and track stadium between 8 – 8:30. Maybe it’s routine up here, but I do find it surprising and admirable that the Girls Field Hockey team has been out there scrimmaging and practicing at that time of day–even on Sunday.
Today’s gripe: whoever designed the cup holders for the seats at the Varsity blew it. They are way too shallow for most cups and water bottles, so much so that any random contact can result in your drink ending up on the floor and rolling away. Would it have killed them to make ’em a couple of inches deeper? Pretty obnoxious…
More film short takes:
THE IMAGINATION OF DR. PARNASSUS (3-Stars) – A centuries-long contest between the leader of a travelling sideshow magic troupe (Christopher Plummer) and the Devil (a dapper and mischievous Tom Waits) is the focus of Terry Gilliam’s new fantasy and his best film of the decade (though that’s not saying much). Inventive, colorful, and chaotic, the story ultimately falls flat and drags, despite the inspired device of using Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell to replace/supplement Heath Ledger’s final performance as a con man and making it one of the more effective aspects of the film.
ACCIDENT (4-Stars) – When is an accident not an accident? When a team of criminals do murder-for-hire and plan their intricate hits down to every last detail to make them appear to be a freak occurence. But when a job goes disastrously wrong, paranoia sets in and the gangleader begins to suspect that someone else may be pulling the strings for an “accident” of their own. Soi Cheang’s tightly plotted and very cool thriller from Hong Kong was produced by acclaimed HK action master, Johnnie To.
AIR DOLL (2-Stars) – Yikes! What happened here? Hirokazu Kore-eda, one of Japan’s greatest directors (AFTER LIFE, NOBODY KNOWS, and last year’s TIFF favorite, STILL WALKING) adapts a graphic novel about a life-size sex doll who comes to life during the day when her owner is at work. The otherwordly charm of a cute actress playing a blow-up doll and encountering the real world for the first time wears thin, and this is one fairy tale that ends up being flat-out boring. Very disappointing…
SHAMELESS (4-Stars) – Oscar-nominated Czech filmmaker Jan Hrebejk (DIVIDED WE FALL) scores with this smart, funny, and sexy tale of a popular TV weatherman who experiences a turning point in his marriage and begins a series of dalliances and relationships. One of the more irreverent and ridiculous main characters I’ve seen in a long time, and it’s refreshing to see such an intelligent adult comedy about a pre-midlife crisis. This is a winner!
THE VINTNER’S LUCK (2-STARS) – Wow, this one is almost begging for a Mystery Science Theater treatment, Gorgeously shot with handsome production values, Niki Caro’s (WHALE RIDER) period piece is set in 19th century France and concerns an ambitious young peasant winemaker (French Michael York look-alike Jeremie Renier) and his quest to produce a wine like no has tasted before. Along the way there is the love of his life and wife and mother of his children (Whale Rider’s Keisha Castle-Hughes, all grown up), the proudly intellectual Baroness he goes into business with (a frighteningly pale Vera Farmiga ?!), and a homoerotic angel with whom he takes a meeting once a year. No, really. With dialogue full of howlers and pretentious slow motion shots (how many times can a single white feather fall from his wings?), this one is just wrong in so many ways–too bad.