What an incredible city we live in!
People travel from all over the world to experience TIFF, and I’m sad to admit that despite living in midtown for several years, this is the first time I’ve attended any festival screenings. It was such a blast that I intend to make it a priority next year!
We flew by the seat of our pants this time around, buying single tickets online the day they were released to the public, and picking up a few more for hard-to-get shows when new tickets were made available at 7:00 a.m. each day. This lottery system really worked out well for us!
I unfortunately had to miss the first movie we selected, “Hateship Loveship”, because I was committed to attend a house inspection with a client. My wife had no trouble finding a friend to go with, and not only did they love the movie, but they were thrilled to find out that Kristen Wiig was in attendance! Thankfully that screening was my only conflict, and we found ourselves in the TIFF Bell Lightbox theatre with Toni Collette at “Lucky Them” the next day!
The movie was terrific, the theatre is one of the best movie venues I’ve ever been in, and the popcorn was also out of this world! 🙂
Our next film choice was the documentary “Burt’s Buzz”, about the founder of Burt’s Bees cosmetics, Burt Schavitz. To our surprise he attended the premiere with us, and despite being nearly 80 years old, hammed it up for the cameras as well as the Q & A afterwards.
Our luck at seeing celebrities ran out at this point, although we had hoped to get a glimpse of Dame Judi Dench at the showing of “Philomena”. This was our first time visiting the Elgin Theatre, which was a really elegant and lovely setting in which to experience this deeply moving film. Personally it was my favourite of the entire festival, and I can’t recommend it highly enough!
We had to rush over to the Princess of Wales Theatre to make it to the second show of the day, which was “Gravity” with Sandra Bullock – and my first time viewing a 3-D movie. Although the special effects were incredible, and despite Sandra Bullock’s excellent mostly-solo performance, the plot was pretty thin. I think we could have waited for the theatrical release of this one.
The movie we were most excited to see was the one it was hardest to get tickets to, “August: Osage County”. It was sold out and unavailable right from day one….until one of those magic 7 a.m. windows where we were able to grab two tickets. We stumbled upon the crowded red carpet event for the press conference the night before, and stood in a crush of people waited for Julia Roberts to make an appearance. A cameraman stepped in front of the view of Dermot Mulroney, and then we decided to leave before the crowd got even rowdier.
No stars attended the morning-after screening at the Elgin, but we had great balcony seats to an absolutely gripping movie. Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep both delivered Oscar-worthy performances that were just outstanding!
The remainder of our festival experiences were hit and miss, with the worst one being “The Art of the Steal” at Roy Thompson Hall. Tickets were $45 regardless of where the seats were, and the view from the second balcony was terrible. It’s just not a great venue for movie-watching, and the movie itself was so bad that we walked out when it was just half over.
We were surprised by how much we enjoyed “Words & Pictures” with Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche, which was heartwarming and inspiring. “The Love Punch” and “Face of Love” were both disappointing, requiring too much suspension of disbelief. This was a shame, since the latter was another gala with the star in attendance. At least we can say we rubbed shoulders with Annette Bening!
We had the opportunity to grab premium tickets to Jennifer Aniston’s “Life of Crime” premiere at Roy Thompson Hall, but the price of $205 each (seeing as how it was the closing gala) sent us running for the $45 regular-priced tickets at the Elgin for the same night. Thank heavens we didn’t pay more, because we were hard-pressed to stay for the entire plodding, unoriginal show.
Thankfully our final festival choice was a great one, and quenched our thirst for a solid action movie. The South Korean “Cold Eyes”, with subtitles, was also not likely a movie that would find mainstream theatrical release, so this was likely our only chance to see it. The cinematography was exceptional, with unique camera angles that really elevated the suspense and pace of the movie. The balcony seats at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema are very small and not all that comfortable, but it was still a great way to end our 2013 TIFF experience.
Can’t wait for next year!