The Wind Rises
Hayao Miyazaki's swan song is a gorgeous piece of art, and likely his most straightforward movie. Miyazaki is a huge airplane nut. He wrote a multi-issue manga in a Japanese model airplane magazine a while back, and now it's a full movie.
It's basically a fictionalized biopic of an amalgam of his two favourite airplane designers. Young Jiro dreams of airplanes at the dawn of widespread aviation. He enters a dreamland where he speaks to his idol, Italian Aeronautical Engineer Giovanni Caproni. Awakening, he decides to become an Aeronautical Engineer himself.
And he does. That's pretty much the plot of the movie. Jiro goes to school, gets a job, and designs the Zero Fighter. Along the way he meets a girl, has a vacation, and works a lot, occasionally returning to his dreams to speak with Caproni. Evenly-paced is an accurate term here.
Now, the movie is gorgeous, funny, and has mildly fantastical sequences in the dreamland, but isn't Miyazaki's standard fare. A few people heading out after the movie voiced their disappointment, but it's a well-constructed film and truly worth watching for the artistic merit alone. But don't go in expecting an adventure of any sort.
Short Cuts Canada - Programme 5
It's been a while since I've been to a short film program at TIFF, but this year they had a number of movies that grabbed my attention. This just happened to be the group with the most of those.
Kicking it off was Bruce Alcock's Impromptu - an animated piece about an impromptu dinner party. Done from the main character's point of view, entirely in line drawings, and in 3D, it's a visual treat for a relatively everyday tale. I love Alcock's At The Quinte Hotel, and this keeps him in my good graces.
Then came The End of Pinky - the tale of a Montreal night where a man aims to kill his friend for betraying him. Claire Blanchet has created a beautiful 3D work of a dream-like noir Montreal, taken from Heather O’Neill's short story.
The Chaperone 3D was the funniest of the night, recounting the tale of a teacher in 1970's Montreal who took on a biker gang mostly by himself. Mixed media, 3D, with a charming narrator providing nuggets of wisdom as he describes his dismantling of some disruptive bikers at a church dance. The crowd was in stitches, as Fraser Munden and Neil Rathbone threw everything they could think of at the camera.
Next up was the shortest film of the fest - CRIME: Joe Loya, the Beirut Bandit. A quick 3-colour animated telling of Joe Loya's first bank robbery and how it kind of went awry. It's amazing how much can be fit into 2 minutes.
Numbers & Friends was described as "an art film about fantasy sports." Told through still photography with some subdued movement added to the scenes, it's the story of an immigrant coming to North America and learning about the importance of baseball, hockey, and fantasy sports in connecting with the male psyche in his new country. Though visually interesting, I found it hard to stay focused on the story being told.
A night at an arts supply store goes odd in Roland, when a man wants to use the employee restroom and refuses to take no for an answer. We were assured it was a true story, with perhaps the mood altered a bit for film. An amusing "yah, that could happen to anyone" tale with a bit of "be careful how you relate your stories" lesson thrown in.
Finally was An Extraordinary Person - which deals with a party guest who is having a pretty rough couple of days and finally loses it on her fake friends. Full of actresses who are well-known in Quebec (read: I didn't recognize any of them), it does an admirable job of creating well-defined characters in only 29 minutes, albeit not a single one that is likeable. This is a good thing, because the things said would seem cruel to anyone you think of as a good person.
15 screenings down. 5 to go. 4 days left.