Sunday, September 18, 2005

Festival Movies and Sucky Writing

The Toronto International Film Festival closed its doors yesterday, but not before duping me into watching one of the films.
Don't get me wrong, some of my favourite films started off as festival films (along the lines of some of my friends are...), but I tend to be very cautious about the type of movie I go see in festivals. Quite honestly, most of them suck.

Yesterday, I had the displeasure of watching Festival. Yes, yes, a film in a festival called Festival. Should have been my first warning. Actually it was, but the ticket was free, so I figured, what the heck.

As writers, and as readers, you're about to cringe when I tell you all offenses the movie has committed. Such basic mistakes.
  • First of, the movie has no plot. The whole bloody movie was bits and pieces of disjointed parts of obscure conversations, sex scenes (don't get excited, they weren't good), people hanging out, stand-up routines and fringe theatre acts.
    If these pieces had ever come together, I'd be more forgiving. But nothing. That's why I can't even give you a synopsis, but only tell you that the movie is about people who come to perform and judge in a fringe festival in Edinburgh.

  • Second, the characters. My goodness, I shudder at the thought. There were too many of them to be developed. The characters that were more central were flat and stereotypical - a couple of assholes, a spiritual priest, a virginal goody girl, a going-for-the-top ho.

  • The movie combined comedy and tragedy in a way that was unnerving. For example, one of the characters, a lonely person, dies alone, and the scene was comical - beats me why!

  • Fine. I'd still be a hell of a lot more forgiving if it wasn't for the fact that the movie committed the worse offense - it left the audience with a sense of - so what? There was no resolution, no issue resolved, no sense to anything. Completely unsatisfying.
Just to prove to you that I like festival movies, I'll give you two other festival movies I liked.

The first is Broken Flowers. A Jim Jarmusch movie that won the Grand Prix in Canne this year. While not the best Jarmusch (but also not his worse), Broken Flowers is able to artistically combine the funny and the sad. The main character, Don, played by Bill Murray is developed and layered, as are the other characters, especially the brilliantly funny neighbour played by Jeffrey Wright. There is a plot, a conflict, some sort of resolution, all done in the Jarmusch understated way.

Another festival movie that became a cult movie is Napoleon Dynamite. The plot is minimal, the movie is slow paced, and yet there is character, evolution, resolution and even a cathartic ending.

From Napoleon Dynamite, I will leave you with one of the best speeches ever, Pedro's speech for presidency:

I don't have much to say.
But I think it would be good to have
some holy santos brought to the high school...
to guard the hallway... and to bring us good luck.
El Santo Nino de Atocha is a good one.
My Aunt Concha has seen him.
And...we have a great F.F.A. schedule lined up--
and I'd like to see more of that.
If you vote for me, all of your wildest dreams will come true.
Thank you.


Cavan said...

Gosh! That Festival movie sounds like a decroded piece of crap!

Trée said...

My former neighbor use to do a lot of work on the Toronto Festival. If she is still involved I could understand why it's crap--LMAO.

Napoleon Dynamite, guess I'm going to have to finally break down and rent this movie. ;-)

Jennifer said...

The sad part is there are quite a few movies out there big and small that lack one or all of the qualities you just mentioned.

Does sound like a waste of time :)

Never been to a Movie Festival (probably cause I'm no where NEAR one) but I've always been interested in visiting one and seeing what it's all about.

Melly said...

LOL Cavan.
Actually more like ROFL.

Melly said...

Oh, but you must, Tree.
And when you do, promise you'll watch at least twice. Once isn't enough. Really.

Oh, yeah, and thank that ex-neighbour of yours on my behalf. Maybe you can spell plot for her.

But I shouldn't nock the whole festival. I'm sure some of the films were good.

Melly said...

Jennifer, you're not missing anything.
Movie festivals are just a big fuss. All it is, is going to the cinema, but not watching big Hollywood movies. Is all. Oh, and you have to stand in big lineups if you didn't buy tickets ahead of time.
And then the movies are crap and the ones that aren't come to the big theatres after so you really don't miss anything.

Sometimes, if you get really lucky, you might spot a celebrity. But with my luck it would be Eugene Levy and not Brad Pit.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Melly,
I guess the best movie would have been a movie of you watching the movies.

The sad part is that the moviemaker who really does something special has lost an audience because they've let the festival be as you described.

Melly said...

LOL, Liz.

Don't get me wrong. The festival was good, in fact, I believe that The Toronto International Film Festival has been gaining reputation as one of the best in the world. It's only this movie that I've seen that wasn't. My own luck.