So, I arrived in Toronto fairly early on Sunday, but extremely tired. My impression of the city is pretty positive – it IS as clean as they say. I’ve only been here once before, and it was many years ago, so I had no idea if that would hold up. (Although it’s clean, it is NOT clean enough to go walking around barefoot – as some little chippy on the street next to us thought. Eewww!) I got my credentials and I’ve managed to actually see a movie already. I’m actually really interested in quite a few movies that are here. It’s an interesting mix of big and small, N. American and foreign. The theatres are good, too.

Know what was surprising? That there are plenty of volunteers on hand – and they actually seem to know what’s going on! Every festival has volunteers, and they should all be lauded and thanked upon spotting because no festival could last without them. But let’s face it, not all volunteers really know everything they should (shockingly, not every customer service operator you get on the phone is interested in helping you with your problem, either. I hate to be the one to tell you that).

We haven’t figured out the food, yet. I mean, what is Canadian cuisine? We had maybe the world’s worst Mexican food today. By people who have never SEEN anything Mexican beyond the fake pinata from the party store they have hanging from the ceiling. We had to show them how to make the margaritas better (um, if that’s what we were drinking – which is clearly NOT what we were drinking, of course). So we plan to explore a bit more, gastronomically. The lunch at the English pub yesterday was really quite good (and the cider we did NOT drink was tasty, too).

Films I’m looking forward to: NEVER LET ME GO; THE BLACK SWAN; LET ME IN, BEAUTIFUL BOY and maybe, just maybe L.A. ZOMBIE (if you know it, you know it. lol)

Stay tuned. And check out the statue of Winston Churchill. He looks like a crotchety old man swearing at kids to stay off his lawn.

UPDATE (9-14-10):

The weather in Toronto is a bit psychotic. Blazing hot one minute, threatening showers the next.  I feel like a pack mule – schlepping my  “oh so cool” aviators alongside my umbrella. What I need is my own Farnsworth Bentley to walk beside me and hold an umbrella over my head.  But my FB would never get a chance to talk!

UPDATE (9-15-10):

HENRY’S CRIME probably won’t win any awards, but it was a nice change of pace from the uber dramatic fare of festivals. Keanu Reeves, Vera Farmiga, and James Caan make for a cast with fun chemistry. It won’t make anyone’s Best of the Fest but I’m glad I saw it. I will say that, in a theater of over 1,200 people, I have never heard such a number of ridiculous questions asked by any group who are not 6th graders. I mean, really people.

UPDATE (9-17-10):

One thing mroe I can say about Toronto – it has had great films. We’ve seen a good amount of them, and it was pretty easy. Usually, if you don’t have tickets when you arrive to a big festival, you are likely out of luck. But, Toronto has been surprisingly easy. We have managed to see every film we wanted. The biggest challenge was just getting out of bed (but that’s just typical for me). The festival is run smoothly, and everything has been easy. In fact, we kept arriving to films really early because we were sure that “this one” would be the one with crazy lines, etc. Never happened (and we often looked silly lined up so early. Like those guys in Seattle who waited in line for 2 weeks for Star Wars – episode 51a). The films, we’re really pleased with them.  I don’t often rave about a film. Usually, like most film people, I stay ambivalent so that, when I give my opinion, all my film snob friends can’t then say they hated it and make me feel stupid. (aahhh, good times). But I have to say that I loved, LOVED, BLACK SWAN. Darren Aronofsky has made a film so intense, so beautiful, so well crafted that I want to use words like “tour de force” and “revelatory” – you know, strange critic speech.

Seriously, I don’t think I’ve been so amazed by a film in recent years.  I came out breathless and exhausted.  I like Natalie Portman just fine, but I never knew she had THIS in her. This performance is better than any I’ve seen by an actress this year. And yes, we’re not done with the year. I know that there are holiday films coming and maybe one will be great. But she deserves a Best Actress nomination, and right now, she deserves to win. Period. However, there are nay-sayers. I haven’t heard of anyone saying they didn’t like the film. But there has been talk about whether the film is “too intense for an American audience”.  ???? When did we become such a soft, namby-pamby country that we’re too sensitive for a film ABOUT BALLET?  Really people.  It is crazy intense, it’s a bit frightening and surreal – but it’s a movie. If our American sensibilities are too fragile to appreciate this film, then we need to stop calling ourselves a Super Power (we might want to do that anyhow, but….).

So there you have it. I’ve said it. I think this is Aronofsky’s best work – even better than THE WRESTLER (though I nearly hurled at times from scenes in both). Anyone who doesn’t like it, come see me. I have a diaper I want you to wear.

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