Saturday, September 19, 2009
Black Sheep @ TIFF 2009!
And here it is - the last day of the Toronto International Film Festival. The winner of the Cadillac prize for favorite audience film has been announced and I am happy to say that it is PRECIOUS: BASED ON THE NOVEL "PUSH" BY SAPPHIRE. Now a lot of people have speculated that PRECIOUS might win but these same people are just as quick to point out that no film this year has captured the hearts of filmgoers like last year's winner, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, which we all know went on to dominate awards season and take the Best Picture Oscar. The first time I ever saw SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE was actually at TIFF last year and I if you read my blog at all, you pretty much know how I feel about all the love people bathed that movie in. I had told myself that I wouldn't talk about it anymore but apparently, as a lot of you out there haven't gotten over it yet, I must. SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE was an audience favorite because it was contrived and constructed to manipulate sympathy out of its audience and that ending with that fantastic closing credits dance sequence was designed to leave you feeling damn good as you tapped your feet to "Jai Ho" on your way out. Again, I reiterate that I don't hate the Danny Boyle film; in fact, I did like it. I just don't think it deserved its Best Picture win. As for PRECIOUS, it may not have connected with audiences the way SLUMDOG did but this one floors people in a way that SLUMDOG never could. Lee Daniels's film is honest, brave and unflinching and it features some of the most revelatory performances of the year. This TIFF win will mean Oprah can stay home a little more because it is now guaranteed to get noticed as its November release date approaches.
I have one more movie to catch before the festival ends this evening, Jason Reitman's follow-up to JUNO, UP IN THE AIR, starring George Clooney. If you don't mind, I'm keeping that one to myself. I'm not taking notes and I'm not even going to review it until its actual theatrical release, this December. No, I'm just going to sit back and enjoy it. Well, I hope to enjoy it. Whether I do or not, I will be sitting back anyway.
In the meantime, I will share my final TIFF experience with you. To talk about this experience, I need to talk about an experience from when I was 14 years old. It was spring and I can't recall how I convinced my mother to let me do this; I'm sure there must have been some lying involved but regardless, I somehow ended up getting her to drive me to the theatre so that I could catch Madonna's documentary about her Blonde Ambition tour, TRUTH OR DARE. It was the middle of the day and the audience was pretty bare, save for me, a couple of other male-male pairings and some random creepy old men spaced out across the theatre. Today, I caught TRUTH OR DARE for free outdoors in Dundas Square. There weren't too many people there - me, all by myself, and then a few other couples or small groups of gay guys and a few old men. At the time, the film by Alex Keshishian was not taken too seriously by the general population but critics considered it to be one of the stronger documentaries that year and were generally surprised when it didn't get any Oscar love. I haven't seen the film in at least four or five years and it is just as I remember it - an intimate portrayal of one of the world's biggest superstars with a persistent seed of doubt in regards to its authenticity throughout. The black and white backstage footage makes the contrasting color concert footage explode off the screen and allows Madonna to show why it is people have put up with her all these years - because she knows how to push people and she is one hell of a performer.
Of course the most ironic thing about watching it in Dundas Square, downtown Toronto, was when the scene in which Madonna plays Toronto came on and she is almost arrested for lewd behavior. Apparently, guests from the night before complained that when Madonna simulated masturbation on stage during "Like a Virgin", they were offended, and the police were there to inform her that if she did it again, she would be arrested. Now, here I am, 18 years later watching Madonna simulate that same masturbation number under a brilliant blue sky in the epicenter of Toronto where anyone and their children could walk by and watch for free. Oh, how the times have changed.
Thank you so much for following Black Sheep's TIFF coverage. I saw a lot of great movies and got a lot of great response from you. I'm a lucky guy just to be here and having had the opportunity to enjoy such great films surrounded by so many other great film admirers. Before I go, here is a full list of all Black Sheep's TIFF reviews one last time. Just click to read ...
THE BOYS ARE BACK
THE DAMNED UNITED
LOVE AND OTHER IMPOSSIBLE PURSUITS
THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS
PRECIOUS: BASED ON THE NOVEL "PUSH" BY SAPPHIRE
THE PRIVATE LIVES OF PIPPA LEE
A SERIOUS MAN
THE YOUNG VICTORIA
YOUTH IN REVOLT