Day 8 report from TIFF (inc Johnny To's Mad Detective)
15th Sep 07
TIFF Day 8 (Thursday)
Thursday was the last full day of P&I screenings, although the schedule wasn't quite as heavy as it was at the start of the festival. Nevertheless, with fewer films to choose from this meant that each screening was busy - noticeably busier than the last couple of days at least.
P&I screening schedule boards at the Varsity
I didn't get up in time to see Ernie Barbarash's Canadian horror They Wait, although from what I'd heard from the FrightFest team it was nothing special. So instead my first film of the day was Johnnie To & Wai Ka-fai's Mad Detective.
The prolific Johnnie To (his output is surpassed only by Takashi Miike one would imagine) has been on somewhat of a roll recently, delivering Triangle, Exiled and both Election films within the last two years and has become one of the leading figures in HK cinema today. Sadly his latest flick Mad Detective is one of his weakest. It's a fun concept - cop is able to detect killers by seeing their inner personalities - and makes for some amusing moments as the titular character really does live up to his name.
However, again the plot is rather pedestrian and never injects enough intrigue or excitement to keep the viewer's attention. There's a few nice visuals - multiple personalities being reflected in a broken mirror - but these never compensate for the story's shortcomings.
Twitch head honcho Todd Brown and Me
I bumped into Todd from Twitch as I came out of Mad Detective so we decided to get lunch together. We'd talked briefly at a couple of the Midnight Madness screenings but it was nice to have an hour or so to just relax and exhange opinions on everything from Hong Kong cinema, Doctor Who and British comedy. A hugely knowledgeable and likeable chap.
My other movie of the day was The Passage from first time Brit helmer Mark Heller. Joining the ranks of the traveller-in-peril sub-genre this one has two backpackers, Luke (Stephen Dorff) and Adam (Neil Jackson - who also wrote the script) on holiday in Morocco. Luke hooks up with a local girl Zahara and the two of them go off on a trip up to the hills where a maze of interconnecting tunnels link the local residences. The romance between Luke and Zahara seems implausible given the setting, yet Sarai Givaty gives a captivating performance and you can instantly see her allure.
Heller gives some tense and effective scenes as Luke explores the tunnels with using a handful of candles and the flash from his camera to light his way. But the outcome is all too predictable and in the end The Passage comes off as an aneamic version of Paradise Lost without the pacy action which that film had.
Coming out of The Passage I bumped into Ian, so caught up with him and made arrangements to meet up before the Midnight Madness party.
Ian, Ant and Me at The Social
The Midnight Madness party took place at The Social on Queen Street West and was a very informal, laidback affair. Ian and I arrived just as Jake West and his friends pulled up in their rented Mustang. One of their party, Lorry, was celebrating her birthday so that was even more reason to knock back the free beers! It was the best party I've been to during my time at TIFF with lots of our new friends all there, Colin Geddes and his right hand man Chris working the room as the hosts with the most.
Alexandre Bustillo & Julien Maury, directors of A l'interieur
I caught up with Russ Fischer who writes for Chud (another genre website) and his pal's Ned (a film programmer) and Troy (who directed the short film Latchkey's Lament, screening at the festival). Adam Mason and his crew then arrived so I had a short chat with Andrew Howard who plays the lead role in The Devil's Chair - the poor guy was suffering badly and was booked for some emergency root canal work in the morning. He begins filming on Adam's new film Blood Rivers in Nevada shortly, and they should be casting next week.
Jake chatted to me about his forthcoming film Doghouse which is currently in pre-production, based on a story by comic artist Dan Schaffer, then introduced me to Alexandre Bustillo, one of the directors of A l'interieur. I spoke to him at length about the merits of his film and especially the performance of Beatrice Dalle, and he revealed that she enjoyed working on the film so much and wants to be involved in all of their future projects, even if she just has to play a dead body!
Johanna, Paul, Chris, Ian and Me
We were joined by Paul and Johanna later who'd been over at George A. Romero's house for a few drinks and I chatted with Diary Of The Dead's line producer Paula Devonshire and Josh Blankman who worked as George's assistant on the film.
The party started to wind down around 10pm so we then jumped into a cab and headed over to The 5th Element on Bay Street where there was another party happening for Time To Die, one of the Polish films screening at TIFF. By the time we arrived it was very quiet but they were still serving free wine, so we grabbed a table outside with Ant, Russ, Ned and Troy. I knew I'd regret mixing wine with beer and spirits in the morning, but when in Toronto...
Having already seen Flash Point the day before, we skipped the Midnight Madness screening (although sadly missed seeing director Wilson Yip and star Donnie Yen who were in town) and stayed out drinking until they closed the bar. It was an excellent evening, tinged with a little sadness as this was the last night for the majority of our party. Tomorrow most of them fly home, but yours truly will be sticking around until the bitter end... so I'll be back again tomorrow, hangover and all.