9:00 pm - Before round two of avant-garde shorts as my nightcap, I hit up two Wavelengths features, differently, Molussia and The Lebanese Rocket Society. The former is by Nicolas Rey (not a typo, also the other guy’s dead), and is a rigorous, shag carpet confrontation of tyranny, technique, and machines. For one thing, it is at least noteworthy for its bold formalist stroke that ensures that every audience will have a unique experience with it: comprised of nine 16mm reels, the order in which the reels are projected is randomly chosen by the projectionist using a kind of lottery system. As if to underline the non-narrativity of it, that the film could still work in the 362,000+ possible configurations is an indication of what you’re in for (a few in the audience at my AGO Jackman Hall screening were clearly frustrated, perhaps even provoked by the 9 different title sequences that popped up). Not even Benning’s RR or 13 Lakes/Ten Skies would be quite as stunning if the shots were randomized. I’d kill to be in the screening of this film that assigns the ‘Interlude’ to the beginning of the film, for the sheer WTF absurdity of it.
To be brief on Rocket Society, it was pretty middle-of-the-road formally, and as interesting as its subject matter is, the homogeneity of the history of the titular society doesn’t lend itself well to the feature-length format; it’s all rather same-y and becomes a muddle. Great animated epilogue, though. [Blake Williams]
4:45 pm - 90 Minutes might be the coldest, most disturbing, heartless film I’ve seen in quite some time. Chronicling the wits end of a trio of characters who feel they have nothing left to lose, the film shows Hanake’s influence in tone and aesthetic throughout, depicting violence as a heinous act devoid of entertainment. This theme was proven by the fact that nearly half of the audience walked out in groups triggered by a variety of bluntly horrific scenes. On the lighter, but no less bleak side, More Than Honey outlined why European and American bee colonies are dying off (which could potentially lead to the death of the human race through lack of crop pollination) by contrasting several different styles of bee keeping from around the world. The information presented is nothing particularly new, but the micro-photography from the inside of hives is quite stunning. Sadly, like everything else on the consumer market, it comes back to the simple fact that cash is king. [Jordan M. Smith]
3:25 pm - I’ll have to be the minority opinion on Derek Cianfrance’s follow-up to the beautiful and utterly devastating Blue Valentine, as his new, epic drama The Place Beyond the Pines is also an epic disappointment. From the very first shot, it’s clear that Cianfrance is putting his film in conversation with the Dardennes brothers, mirroring the famous opening long take from Rosetta. The rest of the film, though, plays more in the territory of The Son than any of the French brothers’ other films, going through great strains to set up an operatic tragedy among fathers and sons. The film is filled with twists and turns (only the first hour is anything like what I had expected), but all of it feels off – false, even. Emory Cohen’s character – his Long Island accent, and overall persona – is but one example of someone who doesn’t make a lick of sense in the film’s universe other than as a plot device. Character’s behave irrationally (stupidly might be the best adjective) so that every dramatic conflict that arises (and there are many) can only elicit a face palm from the viewer. I should add that the ultimate theme of the film is forgiveness, which is perhaps my favourite theme in all of cinema (the only one that can get me close to the point of tears, anyway), so the fact that Cianfrance fumbles his attempt at it in such a go-for-broke fashion likely has much to do with the immediate, vitriolic reaction I had here. [Blake Williams]
11:30 am – After sitting, drenched from the lovely Toronto rain, through what is my early guess for fest favorite this year in The Place Beyond the Pines, Derek Cianfrance’s phenomenal, risk taking saga of generational misgivings, I’ve got quite a full day planned. The Norwegian 90 Minutes is my next plan of action, and with it’s supposedly shocking examination of senseless violence it may be a highlight of this year’s Vanguard Programme. Following that is a pair of docs, More Than Honey, a film I hope does more than merely retread the path that Vanishing of the Bees has already forged, and Liz Garbus’s star studded tribute to Monroe, Love, Marilyn. Topping off the night, I’ll be baring witness to a film that’s been dubbed a transsexual rock opera in Peaches’ directorial debut, Peaches Does Herself. Here’s to hoping it’s as wild as it sounds. [Jordan M. Smith]
8:00 am - Saturday night Tom Tykwer, Andy and Lana Wachowski preem what will commonly be referred to as the most ambitious adaptation of 2012 in Cloud Atlas. Curious to see how the grand themes will play out on film, and I’m also curious about how cinephiles might receive another book to screen translation in David O. Russell‘s Silver Linings Playbook – which is in the same vein and perhaps better than Flirting with Disaster. [Eric Lavallee]