I am going to start posting reviews of all or most of the 32 films I saw... but for now, I thought I'd post an overall review of this year's festival. I know. Exciting, right?
This is more important than you might think. The weather wasn't absolutely prefect, but while it was kind of hot and humid near the beginning (if you got stuck in a line in direct sunlight) and kind of nippy later in the week (waiting in a line at night), it didn't rain! (more than sprinkles) and was overall neither too hot nor too cold. Yay. With all the waiting in lines involved in the festival, this is key. A few of the days were downright gorgeous early fall days.
Ease of Festivalling: B-
Yes, I made up a new verb. Sue me. I decided to fork out the big bucks to be a contributing member this year. While this didn't mean I got all my picks, I did get 29 out of 30. The only one I didn't get was A Dangerous Method (got Anonymous instead) and based on what I've heard people say... it wasn't that great, anyway. Or at least not as great as everyone expected with the Fassbender, Mortensen, Cronenberg combination. Although rating on imdb is quite good I see...
All of my trips down to the box office went smoothly -- picking up book, dropping off picks, picking up tickets, buying a few single tickets, exchanging a ticket... That members and donors line is AWESOME.
On the other hand, I was annoyed that there were even more premium screenings this year. It was hard to pick films to see in the evenings the first weekend because so many of them were off limits for picks with passes and coupons. I think the festival should add some kind of pass or coupon booklet where you can pre-select a certain number of premium films... I don't like buying a Gala pass (hate seeing movies at Roy Thompson Hall) and found the Visa Screening Room disappointing, too, because you end up with no choice... But why not a 10 coupon book or 5 coupon book for premium screenings... In my perfect festival world, I'd have a 30 film pass where I could pick up to 5-10 premium screenings within my 30.
Okay, this is a pretty personal one, but also important. Back when I used to buy a 50 Film pass, I got a cold every year. I haven't become ill the last couple of years because a) I no longer try to go to 9:00 am screenings. That's just crazy. And b) I make sure I eat better than I used to and drink lots of water. But this year I got a monster zit on my nose, the likes of which I've never seen before... So not an A worthy health year. :)
Line Buzz: C
I noticed that now that everyone has a blackberry or iphone in line, no one talks anymore. Nor are they as likely to chatter with seatmates once seated in the theatre. I miss that. Although I do admit to checking my e-mail and reading on my kindle in lines and in my seat while waiting for screenings, too. Next year I vow to talk to more people (assuming I go again). I've met so many cool people at TIFF over the years and missed that this year. It's fun to hear what everyone else loved and compare notes on films you saw in common. Plus, I get kind of strange when I go 10 days without much human interaction. Scary really. And the big zit didn't help.
Overall Experience: C+
The festival just isn't as exciting as it used to be. Maybe I'm getting jaded, but I think it has to do with the fact I couldn't pick any of the premium screenings and most of the "red carpet" events were deemed premium. Also, I somehow picked quite a few films this year that didn't have a Q&A, even though it was a first screening... and didn't have any of those great surprises when the director or actors show up at a next day screening. I miss that.
I will talk about each film later, but basically I didn't have many that totally blew me away. :( And talking to the few people I did talk to in lines (and eavesdropping) most people felt the same way. That it was kind of a m'eh year for films. Maybe that's why the People's Choice was a Lebanese musical... Although I do hope winning that award will mean the film gets a general release. I don't remember a time when the TIFF People's Choice award didn't go on to be a box office success...
More later. :)