Another day looms at TIFF 2008, replete with cinematic treats. Rather than look at Tuesday as a whole, though, wouldn’t it be fair to concentrate on the evening’s films? After all, most Torontonians have to be at work—and Tuesday is definitely a time for toil until 5 pm for most of us.
So, what’s on in the evening? The Brothers Bloom screens at the Ryerson Theatre at 9 pm and the film is terrific. I’ll review it at length when it comes out commercially in a few weeks, but suffice it to say that this Adrian Brody-Rachel Weisz—Mark Ruffalo starrer is a delightful con-artist comedy, with enough twists and turns to satisfy any lover of absurd, intricate plots.
Kathryn Bigelow, the subject of this year’s In Conversation (Isabel Bader Theatre, 7:45 pm), is a tall woman (6 ft. 5 in.) operating in a shorter, male dominated world. She has made brilliant genre films—the sci-fi Strange Days, cop drama Blue Steel and brooding vampire thriller Near Dark—but has never achieved a broad commercial success. A painter and former teacher, Bigelow is in Toronto to premiere The Hurt Locker, a film about the US military presence in Iraq, giving TIFF programmer Noah Cowan the opportunity to have a career-ranging talk with her. Their conversation, which should cover politics, art and sexuality, is bound to be fascinating.
Before Tomorrow, the new film from the Igloolik Isuma filmmaking team responsible for the award-winning Atanarajuat, is an intense period piece produced by the women’s collective in the group. Shot and created in Nunavut, the film, like all of the Inuit production’s features, is set in the past. Based on a novel by Danish writer Jorn Riel, it deals with the tragic effect that the Western civilization wrought on these original people.
Ningiuq, a grandmother (played by co-director and co-writer Madeline Piujuq Ivalu), has two great loves in her aging life, her grandson Maniq (Paul-Dylan Ivalu) and best friend Kutuujuk. The three depart for a trip to an island during the Arctic’s brief summer, leaving the rest of their tribe behind.
Plans were for them to be picked up as the winter approaches, but that never comes to pass. Kutuujuk peacefully passes away on the island. A journey back to the tribe’s summer home reveals the terrible truth: everyone has died from a virus contracted from visiting white men. Returning to the island, Ninquig and Maniq fight off an attack by savage wolves. As winter approaches, the two face an uncertain future.
Before Tomorrow is a tough, poetic film. It’s the kind of cinema that TIFF followers should embrace. Less impressive are the Newfoundland feature Down to Dirt and the Irish comedy A Film with Me in It. Each embraces a folkloric approach to Gaelic life, with lots of low comedy, swearing, drinking and mordant philosophizing. Which can be fun—provided there’s something original added to the mix. Some will enjoy these films—and there’s little doubt that seeing them at TIFF is the best possible time to view them. Personally, I think I’ll read a bit more Flann O’Brien and be done with it.