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TIFF Brody Diary Day Six: The Universal Panacea, Silent Snow White; Out of Harmony with Ugly & Vulgar 'Spring Breakers'

Festivals
by Meredith Brody
September 13, 2012 4:16 PM
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'A Late Quartet'

I will also probably see “A Late Quartet” again, a first feature directed by Yaron Zilberman, because it is right up my father’s alley, who played French horn for years in various woodwind quartets and quintets, and was the doctor to numerous Bay area musicians.  The psychological undercurrents that both sustain and tear apart a famous string quartet after 25 years will ring true to him.  I quite enjoyed the give-and-take among the world-class actors: Christopher Walken (so different from his winsome-yet-troubling small-time gangster turn in “Seven Pyschopaths,” playing here in Midnight Madness, which I saw some time ago and quite anjoyed, although not as much as Martin McDonagh’s debut film as director, “In Bruges”), Catherine Keener, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and the less-familiar Russian/American actor Mark Ivanir.  A tiny note:  I loved Catherine Keener’s wardrobe, and was not surprised to see an end credit for The Row, the Olsen twins’ high-end fashion line. Her performance dress was Yves St. Laurent, but I did adore those chic layered neutral outfits.  If only I had several tens of thousands of dollars that wasn’t working.

Afterwards, a small (both literally and figuratively) French movie, also recommended to me by Denis D, who knows my weakness for French films. “Les Nuits avec Theodore” starts out with documentary footage about the glorious 19th-century Parisian park, Les Buttes Chaumont, and segues into a très Parisien story about young lovers who meet at a party and afterwards conduct most of their affair in the park after dark.  At first the story films Rohmeresque, like his early short films, but it takes a dark turn.  I love the vintage footage that is interspersed with the modern story, perhaps more than I like the actual narrative.  Denis doesn’t know that when I lived in Paris I had a boyfriend whose single favorite thing to eat was a fresh waffle covered with whipped cream dispensed from one particular stand in the Buttes, so I actually spent quite a bit of time in the park. I’m happy to spend another 67 minutes there.

I’m hot-footing it from one venue, the Bell Lightbox, to the Scotiabank theaters a few blocks away, whe I run into my hosts, Martin Knelman and Bernadette Sulgit, who are hastening toward the Lightbox for their screening.  Martin invites me to join them – they’re going to the premiere of “Show Stopper: The Theatrical Life of Garth Drabinsky,” and they have an extra ticket.  Drabinsky was a famously larger-than-life Toronto producer and entrepreneur, who not only made movies and created theatrical extravaganzas, but gave birth to the multiplex with Cineplex.  He eventually imploded in dramatic fashion, imprisoned after taking liberties with his creative bookkeeping.

A24 "Spring Breakers"

I am tempted.  What better place to see the movie than in Toronto, where there will be knowing chuckles at his peccadillos?  But it seems TOO fun to me.  I’ve already had an easy, rather conventional movie day, and I’m headed to see “Spring Breakers,” by Harmony Korine.  I have never liked any of his movies, in fact, I find the earlier ones actively disagreeable, and I also have a vivid memory of his self-consciously enfant terrible behavior at a festival dinner here, years ago.  But last night several people at dinner were extolling both the movie’s virtues and his – “He’s 40, he has a kid, he isn’t on heroin anymore” – so I decline with thanks and press on.

Two minutes after they leave I come to my senses and run after them – choose fun! – but they’ve disappeared into the red carpet madness.  I trudge northwards, get into the “Spring Breakers” line, which because there is precious little Press and Industry alternatives at this hour stretches on long beyond the theater’s 231 seat capacity, and get in.

Which proves to be the high point of the evening.  I am not happy.  The movie is vulgar (way beyond its vulgar subject matter of beer, tight bodies, grass, gangsta rappers, guns, money, and humiliation), disjointed, noisy, ugly.  Harmony Korine and I are just not in harmony. I do not know what my dinner companions of last night saw in the movie. I question their sanity, and my own, because I stay put. I stay put while three different people occupy the seat next to me (there are some overflow stalwarts that wait patiently outside overbooked theaters to be let in when  someone exits, as they inevitably do); they all fall asleep.

Martin and Bernie return home after I do.  They had a wonderful time.  
 

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