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The Engineer

The Life and Times of Donald F. Simmons

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Film Festival

Man it's been a while since I've posted. Film Festival eating up most of my free time. Everything I've seen so far has been great.

Started off with The Lives of Others, set in East Germany in 1984. A career Stasi man is sent to watch a famous playright for any sign of subversive activity, learns he's only doing this because a higher-up wants the guy's girlfriend, and starts seeing a world outside his own. A completely brilliant performance by Ulrich Mühe, and maybe the best closing scene I've ever seen in a movie. The producer told us that Muhe had himself been monitored by the Stasi since he graduated from university, as "even thugs can recognize genius".

Got to the Elgin late, with the lineup wrapping around three sides of the building. My seat was right at the back of the main floor, and I was worried that the overhanging balcony was going to cut off the picture, but it stopped right at the balcony edge, nice work by the projectionist.

Friday saw Jade Warrior, easily the best Finnish-Chinese martial-arts co-production I've ever seen. :-) The movie took place equal parts in Finland and China, and damned if they didn't make it work. The director said that after six years getting it made, he was actually kind of sorry he couldn't just keep it all to himself.

Midnight Madness that Friday was The Host, which I really, REALLY, wanted to see, but it was sold out by the time I managed to get on-line to buy a ticket for it (the afternoon they went on sale). As Jade Warrior started at the Paramount at 9:30 PM, was planned to scurry over to Ryerson as soon as it was over and get in the rush line, although by then I didn't think I'd have much chance.

Then, a few minutes before it started, this girl started talking to people sitting behind me, about how she could take their Host tickets and sell them in the rush line. Piping up, I ascertained that they had two such tickets available, and quickly exchanged currency for them (their first choice being two tickets to the re-showing of the Borat movie, which was being re-shown that midnight due to the projector blowing up 20 minutes into the film the day before). I then called Dave on my cell (which was almost dead) and told him to meet me at Ryerson. As soon as Jade Warrior ended, I raced out into the pouring rain (thank God I had my umbrella) met up with Dave, and we got in.

After all that, I'm pleased to say that The Host rocked. The monster was almost as scary as the dynamics of Korea's most dysfunctional family (including an archer who freezes up in competitions, and an unemployed college grad who apparently majored in urban warfare) who have to deal with the loss (or not?) of a daughter to the creature, while receiving no help whatsoever from the authorities (Korean or American), who have their own ideas about how to handle the situation, and stick with them no matter how much evidence to the contrary piles up. A lot of black comedy, satire on Korean society, and genuine shocks and sorrow.

The only down side was that the translator they had for the director wasn't very good. She rarely managed to complete a full sentence, and considering all the laughs from the Korean speakers in the audience (maybe 1/3 all told), it was clear that the rest of us were missing a lot.

Will follow with a bunch of good Canadian movies!