Sunday night was all about celebrating blood, boobs and bombs as the Midnight Madness pirates stormed the bastilles, er, whatevs, and we were introduced to Mark Hartley’s self-proclaimed “rockumentary” Not Quite Hollywood – about Ozploitation cinema – that is to say – the non-existent Australian film industry doing whatever it could, back in the late 1960’s and 70’s to get even a modicum piece of the Hollywood pie.
Thinking they were at the edge of a wave of a global revolution that was really only happening on a farm field in Woodstock, the Aussies took to disrobing like it was the job. Then, when a little horror and post-acid-trip surrealism was the where the registers were clinking, the blood was introduced, in bucketloads. Add some semi-retired bona fide Hollywood star power to the mix and you had to have a recipe for cinematic world domination, rendering such masterpieces as Turkey Shoot (aka Escape 2000 in the US), Dark Age (really bad alligator horror flick), The Man From Hong Kong, and ultimately Long Weekend and Mad Max.
The beauty of it all of course was that there really were no scruples. It was – whatever it takes to get the shot, even if it meant firing live ammo at the actors (I guess squib explosives attached to rock-faces were out of the budget range?) or hoisting a guy 70 feet in the air on a cherry-picker without anything to fall back on (um, no pun intended?) since helicopters were definitely out of the question.
But as Quentin Tarantino, who claims the lion’s share of the commentary in this doc states – Aussies can shoot car chases without equal. Their cars look nicer than American cars, their chase scenes are way more fucking crazy, and the shots are without equal.
Anyway, it was a good romp, director Brian Trenchard-Smith was in attendance and the audience applauded at the suggestion that a revival festival should be erected at Cinematheque (as opposed to grindhouses) for this pioneering ouevre.
The Rock-U’s visual effects were terrific, the pace was good, we laughed, we cried, we missed Russ Meyers.
My only question is – 8am screenings – what?
Friday September 12 | 06:15PM | VARSITY 2
Monday night – the Ecstasy Films Inc. party at Empire in Yorkville was bloody crowded. That’s about all I can say about it, except for the free drink ticket and Bedouin Soundclash who sounded amazing despite the fact that we ultimately had to enjoy their set from outside in the rain because literally, not a deflated blow-up doll could fit in that room.
As I mentioned previously, Ecstasy, adapted from the book by Irvine Welsh (who wrote Trainspotting, in case you are just on a short stay to planet Earth) is a film about to go into production directed by Rob Heydon and set to star Richard E. Grant (yes he of Withnail and I), Billy Boyd (of hobbit fame) and Erica Durance (of Maxim cover fame).
In non-TIFF film news – the very long awaited sequel to Boondock Saints that will star the original cast and be directed by Troy Duffy himself is gearing up for production. Holy f$%in s%$^!!!
In festival speak a “party” means a select number of people and their significant others, agents, producers, assistants, best friend from high school and the dude they just met taking a piss in the alley outside the Gala screening are the only ones who get into a room.
Sometimes the room is beautifully decorated, at great expense, one-night-only, with Dionysian opulence, twenty foot ice sculptures pissing Stoli into crystal tumblers. Sometimes, a room is just that: a room.
But at TIFF, a room is never just, a room.
Three years ago I traveled with Heather Graham in an SUV down Bloor St. to Holt Renfrew where my friend who worked there had invited us to stop by for the Vinyl party. We wore jeans and took it really casual. Until we got there to find the street closed off with (literally) red velvet rope, a red carpet running the length of Toronto’s busiest intersection, and white gloved doormen opening the car doors for us. Over the course of the next half hour, we managed to go from the main fiesta to the VIP room to the VVIP lounge, to finally, the VVVIP room, which was essentially a small stocking room for fur coats where Heather, Paul Haggis, the person claiming to be JT Leroy and Michelle Trachtenberg stood around wondering what the hell was going on.
OK, so in that case the room was just, a room.
But a few days later I went to party on Cumberland and ran into an old friend of mine – music video director Rob Heydon. We were just two dudes wandering in and out of whatever we could get into and he mentioned a new project he was working on and would I be interested in reading it. Few years later, and he is inviting me to his own TIFF party at Empire on Cumberland for the very same film – Ecstasy – an adaptation of the novel by Irvine Welsh (who also wrote Trainspotting) starring Richard E. Grant, Billy Boyd and Erica Durance that is about to go into production (Canada/UK) and with any luck will be a TIFF ’09 screening. In fact, Mr. Heydon even mentioned there might be a sweet little role in it for me. Per the press release: “500 VIPs and film celebrities will be invited for a night with DJs and Juno award winning band Bedouin Soundclash.”
You don’t know these things going in. All you can do, is just turn up and see what comes of it. A lot of the time its just a bunch of bullshit, overzealous door-people and paparazzi. But weird little things happen. No, its not networking or shmoozing so much as it is just watching things grow, or die on the vine. Its an amazing experience and one that makes the festival just that – a festival and not just a bunch of screenings.
Festival parties are not easy to crash. Or at least not fun to crash unless you are with someone who the parties will want to be seen with. ie. famous people. So don’t even try unless you have that key with you. Or an invite of course. But don’t despair!
Clubs will host parties in tandem with the fest, to capitalize on the high profile company wandering the streets; you can see some pretty cool stuff in more intimate venues than usual as they endeavor to draw some of the fest’s glitterati into their midst.
For example here are the details on TIFF-related parties open to the public:
Thursday, September 4th, 2008
Molson Rocks presents EDWIN
Location: 567 Queen Street West
Jackfish River: 10:00pm (opening act)
SD+R Fashion Show: 11:00pm
Tickets: $10 at door
Monday, September 8, 2008
Event Name: TIFF 08 ABSOLUT MOVIE LOUNGE @ ROCKWOOD
Promotion Company: Kleen Media
Music: House, Hip-Hop, R&B, Rock,
Dress Code: FASHIONABLE ATTIRE
Notes: ARRIVE BEFORE 11:00PM
In the event, however you feel like attempting to crash a party, or have said golden key person with you here are a couple of bona fide TIFF industry parties. Pick your celeb of choice and then go see if you can catch a glimpse:
Sunday September 7th
Canadian Film Centre Annual BBQ
Venue: Canadian Film Centre
Hosted by: Norman Jewison