Daily Archives: September 9, 2011

Urbanized – Second movie September 9

Puff Puff – just got to my seat as they were introducing the director Gary Hustwit of this great documentary. This was the third film in a series of movies about design. I had seen one before – Helvetica. Yes a whole movie about a font. It was brilliant and this one was even more brilliant and about urban design. It hit on every element of city living and design that Toronto is currently looking at and that Rob Ford is trying to corrupt. The movie had us all cheering as he visited designers and planners in cities around the world, Cape Town, Brighton, Rio, New York, and Bogota. It spoke to the increasing populations of cities the need to address the infrastructure needs, the need to get away from a dependence on cars and build the kinds of neighbourhoods and human size living spaces. The film spent a while with the current mayor of Bogota, one of the most enlightened, funny, intelligent people I have ever seen interviewed. The city of Bogota has been changed, revitalized and has done all the things and protected all the things that Toronto is about to lose or mess up. The audience cheered and applauded throughout this part of the movie. At the end there was a standing ovation and during the Q and A, the first questioner asked Mayor Ford to please stand up and be recognized. Funny thing was – he wasn’t there. The director knew about Rob and Doug which surprised and delighted the crowd especially when he pointed out that what this city really needs is a giant Ferris wheel.

Le Havre – September 9

This was the premiere of a lovely French comedy. It came with a bit of an annoying element however. A side note for those who do not do the Festival – most crazy fans like me have our schedule. It is often timed to the second. Movie 1 is 93 minutes and it is 21 minutes to the next theatre and the next movie. Movie 1 starts at 1PM and ends at 2:33PM. Movie 2 starts at 3PM and I have 21 minutes to get there. I will arrive at 2:54PM just in time to make movie 2. Now what is really annoying to fans like me is when Movie 1 starts late, even five minutes late. Le Havre started 15 minutes late!!! About 20 percent of my fellow queuers (is this a word?) were very cranky and would have to leave Le Havre early. This was my situation. Sigh.

Anyway I managed to settle down and stayed until about 10 minutes before the end but I had to leave early. I did manage to stay long enough to see how the movie would end. The charming thing that calmed me down was the presence of the star of the film, a wonderful French actor Andre Wilms. The film speaks to the increasing presence of illegal immigrants in Europe. The protagonist, Marcel Marx is an aging and poor but happy shoe shine man who has about him a loving wife and collection of friends who see him as a bumbling charming member of their community. While we learn about him and his circle of friends a group of illegal immigrants is discovered in a shipping container on a wharf in the harbour. They are going to be sent back to North Africa where they were smuggled from but one, a young boy, escapes. He and Marcel connect and Marcel decides to rescue him, hide him from the police and find a way to get him to London where his mother is waiting for him. He manages this while we learn that his wife is discovered to be terminally ill. While all this sounds pretty depressing, somehow it ends up being charming, witty and fun. Must be the French. At any rate I highly recommend this movie to everyone and I suspect it will show up in Toronto sometime in the near future. However at the end, or rather near the end, I leapt up with 20 minutes to get to my next movie. I walked from the Jackman Theatre at the AGO to the Ryerson Theartre at Church and Gerrard. Got there with 5 minutes to go.

Werner Herzog and Into the Abyss – September 8

I attended my first film of the Festival last night and… well I left early. I left Werner’s last documentary last year Cave of Forgotten Dreams (see last year’s reviews)as well. I clearly have a love/hate relationship with this guy. I loved The Bad Lieutenant and Encounters at the End of the World but I really disliked this movie, the Cave and My Son, My Son, What have you done? The last two were at TIFF last year along with the Bad Lieutenant. Not sure what it is but I may not be able to stay away from his next film just in case it’s good.

Meanwhile last night we saw the premiere of his newest film at the Ryerson Theatre which is huge and was jammed with Herzogies. The man was there and got a standing ovation even before the film screened. The movie is a documentary about two men who commit three brutal murders just to steal a car for a joy ride. One is given a 40 year sentence and the other is on death row and is interviewed just a week before he will be executed. It is all set in Texas. In theory this is about capital punishment and Herzog introduced the film by telling us he does not believe in the death sentence and that he had no real argument for his position, only that he lived in postwar Germany and grew up with the Nazi legacy over his head. He claimed the Nazi’s had no problem killing people for trivial reasons as well as practice genocide and that no one of his generation, coming out of this history, would agree with capital punishment. He does interview the executioner who has killed 125 people in his career and points out that this man who clearly has no problem with execution, also has no real argument to support his position or his job other than that he does it.

This lack of argument or insight into one’s position echoes throughout this movie. The minister who stands with the executees, the family and friends of the murder victims, the police, the murderers themselves, no one has any insight into what they did, what happened to them or what is happening to them. The characters, who are all real, are from the more destitute and downtrodden members of Texas (American) society. I left the movie because it was clear that I would learn nothing about capital punishment or the human condition and I had this bad feeling that Werner (who conducted all the interviews) was quietly mocking the people he was talking to. The lives they lived were sad and pathetic and hopeless and Werner had the audience laughing at them and their answers. I am not sure Werner is a very nice man and this movie went a way to confirming that judgement.