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Picks are in…

So we got back confirmation of what films we’ll be seeing on our film pass for the festival. Unfortunately, we didn’t get everything we wanted – advance tickets are distributed basically by lottery. We got most of our first picks, but three of our movies went to second picks, and two other pairs of tickets either had no second pick, or the second pick was sold out as well, so we’ll have to cash them in when we’re in town.

Tomorrow morning we’re going to buy a couple more single tickets, and we may add some more while we’re in town, but here’s the list so far, in the order we’ll be seeing them:

The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema
This was our second pick – we wanted to see the new BORAT movie, but it sold out. When I was doing our second picks, there were a few occasions where I just kinda shot an arrow into the dark. This was one. I had no idea what this film was going to be about until after I found out we got it. It actually looks really interesting and I’m looking forward to it.

“Cinema is the ultimate pervert art. It doesn’t give you what you desire. It tells you how to desire,” says Slavoj Zizek. It turns out that the world-renowned philosopher and psychoanalyst is also a great film lover. In this three-part documentary, Zizek combines these areas of expertise by supplying his provocative analysis to a treasure trove of clips by his favourite directors.

This was one of those films that I knew I wanted to see from the first time I read about it. I didn’t even need to read the whole summary. It’s a Canadian film by director Andrew Currie about a town where the dead have returned to life and are now serving as household pets. All I needed to hear was that one magical word: Zombie.

We are in Willard, a town forever trapped in the happy-faced façade of the fifties. But this is Americana in an alternate reality, where space dust has brought the dead back to life. To save everyone from having to flee to the nearest shopping mall, mega-corporation ZomCon has patented a “domestication collar” that frees zombies of their brain-munching lust, enabling them to become productive members of society: gardeners, milkmen and boyhood friends.

Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days & 30 Nights-Hollywood to the Heartland
This was another second choice – and although I’m sad to have lost our first choice pick here (Paris, je t’aime), I’m sure this’ll be bloody hilarious and totally fun.

In the fall of 2005, contemporary American renegade Vince Vaughn channelled the spirit of legendary frontier showman Buffalo Bill’s “Wild West” cowboy freak shows and mustered a crack team of comics for a thirtyday, thirty-gig stand-up tour he called “Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show.”

I wanted to see something controversial at this film fest, and this one has been swirling in controversy since before it even went into production, according to the summary. That’s about all I needed to know, but the concept sounds great too:

Shortbus is in fact a film about a peculiar window of time, between the September 11 terrorist attacks and the great blackout of summer 2003. New York City found itself under threat, full of grieving tourists and being tossed around as a political football. New Yorkers, increasingly accustomed to the city’s gentrification and normalization, were shaken from their often cynical, anonymous existence. The result, contends Mitchell, was a sincere reconnection with the world, a pause button on irony that included the flowering of sexual possibility and fantasy. The blackout night was the epiphany for these explorations, when friendliness and frolic abounded.

I gotta be honest, this was one of Danielle’s picks – I don’t know if I’m in love with it, but it has potential:

This utterly delightful May-September romance – or perhaps April-October in this case! – takes on highly charged material and succeeds in beguiling its audience. Mixing lighthearted insouciance with a vein of deeper feeling, the film concocts a powerful cocktail in which adult desire confronts the carefree breeziness of youth. But things don’t play out quite as one might expect.

This is one that Danielle and I both picked – It’s a Belgian film, which I’m sure had something to do with our choice of it (Danielle has Belgian heritage). We probably didn’t pick quite as many international films as we should have, but this is one that we’re both really looking forward to.

The “erotic thriller” is a genre now long since bastardized by Hollywood. But here is the real article: a story in which mystery and suspense are driven by physical compulsions and the narrative catapulted forward by sexual predation and deceit, all – in the end – leading to a bold idea about the nature of love.

The Dog Problem
Another one from Danielle’s pick list, I gotta be honest, I didn’t even read the description until just now. I just figured that if she picked a movie that had something to do with dogs, I’d just go with it. I’ve always had concerns about the fact that she’s not exactly a dog person, and any time she shows interest in improving that, I’m all for it. Aside from that, this seems like it’ll be a cool little movie – it stars Giovannie Ribisi, Lynn Collins, Scott Caan, Mena Suvari, Don Cheadle, and Kevin Corrigan. Ok, so I only really recognize two of those names – whatever. Here’s part of the summary:

The Dog Problem is a clever look at many of the challenges of modern life, especially those arising when people search for meaning within the miasma of hyper-urban living. Using sly observational humour and a keen sense of place, writer/director Caan places Solo, his Everyman, at the centre of a philosophical circle: everyone but him seems to know the secret to happiness, and his frustration at not “getting it” just makes things worse.

Everything’s Gone Green
I love Canadian film, and I love to have a chance to support it at an international venue like this. But all I really needed to know was that the screenplay credit on this flick belongs to Douglas Coupland, my favourite writer ever.

The Dog Problem is a clever look at many of the challenges of modern life, especially those arising when people search for meaning within the miasma of hyper-urban living. Using sly observational humour and a keen sense of place, writer/director Caan places Solo, his Everyman, at the centre of a philosophical circle: everyone but him seems to know the secret to happiness, and his frustration at not “getting it” just makes things worse.

Mon Meilleur Ami
Danielle and I had hoped that we would get a chance to see at least one Gala premiere at the festival. We knew that the bigger star-studded openings would sell out fast and would be near impossible to get into, and that’s fine. We just wanted to see at least one gala, and this is it. It’s a French film starring Daniel Auteuil, who I’m told is a very popular French actor. Not that it really matters though, we just wanted a chance to see something at Roy Thompson Hall, and I think this one’ll be a blast.

Mon meilleur ami is a uniquely entertaining buddy film. The twist? The buddy is missing! François (French mega-star Daniel Auteuil) is a middle-aged antique dealer. He’s got a stylish apartment and a fabulous life, but at a dinner with a group he considers his dearest acquaintances, he is blindsided by the revelation that none of them actually likes him. He’s arrogant, self-centred and harsh, and they don’t believe he even has a friend. His business partner Catherine (Julie Gayet) makes him a bet: if he can produce his meilleur ami, she will let him keep the massive Greek vase he acquired that afternoon on the company tab. If not, it’s hers.

Sleeping Dogs Lie
It’s a movie directed by Bobcat Goldthwait. That’s all I gotta say.

Following the premiere screening of Sleeping Dogs Lie this past January, a strange wave of shock washed over the audience. Perhaps attendees were expecting to see a Bobcat Goldthwait take on a Farrelly Brothers comedy; what they got instead was a tough and brutally honest morality play. The film’s constant questioning of how and when to employ deceit shares a complexity with the difficult Shakespearean comedies; its intellectual tug-of-war between intuitive personal morality and rational ethical behavior echoes the concerns of Scottish philosopher David Hume.

It’s also a very funny comedy about the consequences of a woman admitting to a brief sexual experience with a dog.

Another one we both agreed on, I’m not sure what to say about this one, except it sounds really cool:

Set in Paris in 2054, Renaissance pays homage to the futuristic noir vision of Metropolis and Blade Runner, marrying science fiction with extraordinary digital animation to present a world beyond imagination.

Un Dimanche a Kigali
This Canadian film, based on the book by Gil Courtemanche about a journalist returning to Rwanda after the genocide to find his former lover, was a last minute addition to our list. I came across it when I was putting together our picks, and knew it had to make it in – I read the book that it’s based on, and was deeply affected by it.

“This book is fiction. But it is also a chronicle and an eyewitness report,” journalist Gil Courtemanche writes in the preface to his novel “Un Dimanche à la piscine à Kigali,” upon which this film is based. Un Dimanche à Kigali moves between two time periods – before the genocide and after – and the juxtaposition starkly reveals the devastation that took place over one hundred days.

The Pleasure of Your Company
Ok, so it stars Jason Biggs. But it’s by Michael Ian Black, who is responsible for Reno 911, which I love. Also, this just sounds hilarious:

The film’s jumping-off point is at once zany and achingly dark. Dressed like a campy Cupid, Anderson (Jason Biggs) barges into a busy restaurant where his beautiful blonde girlfriend is dining. In a moment meant to capture the spontaneity of love, he proposes marriage to her. A fragile thing, she collapses of a heart attack and dies on the spot.

This was another of our second picks. I’d actually much rather have seen our first pick here, Fay Grim, but I’m sure this contemporary Australian adaptation will be quite good. This actually made it onto my list the first time around, and although it got weeded out of our first picks, I thought it worth keeping in line just in case.

Contemporary adaptations of Shakespeare are a minefield – all good intentions and, sadly, often torpid cinema. Not here. This extraordinary adaptation of the Scottish Play is not only intellectually rigorous and exciting, it’s also easily one of the best action films of the year.

And here’s a quick list of other movies we’re hoping to find a way into:
All The Boys Love Mandy Lane (got it!)
End Of The Line (Canadian film starring someone I met last week)
Kurt Cobain: About A Son
D.O.A.P. (Death Of A President, the very controversial fake near-future documentary about the assassination of George W. Bush)
Dans les villes
Summer Palace
10 Items Or Less
Kabul Express (got it!)
Love And Other Disasters (got it!)

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