TIFF-Day-One Carefully, I peeled open my eyes, one after the other and waited for the pounding to start. Yep, there it was, right on cue. Though what did I expect after that many margaritas? Squinting at my phone, I saw the time: 5:53am. I have to get up. I have to go to the airport. I also saw I had ten or so texts. Ah yes, it was my birthday the day before, and for two days my phone did not stop buzzing. I have the best mates. Some who apparently insist on taking me out to a Mexican dinner and feeding me margaritas. My favorite. I hazily recalled a dessert coming out, a loud song, and celebrities at the next table joining in. It was the most bizarre timing, my friends had just been talking about seeing ‘Lovelace’ and how they thought Amanda Seyfried was great, when I looked up and said, “Oh, here is Amanda Seyfried now…” She was with Justin Long and they had joined in the singing of my birthday song. And then we told her on the way out that we gave her rave reviews for ‘Lovelace’… Oh dear.

 

But anyway, back to the task at hand. I steeled myself for the oncoming headache, and got myself together enough to get to the airport. In the taxi, trying not to throw up, I remembered that I didn’t actually have anywhere to stay. The hotel me and my festival buddy Nadia had booked was DODGY. Like, the most terrible reviews you could imagine (drugs in room, hookers outside, terrible smell) that I definitely should have read before I booked it. So I had cancelled. “Oh Leash,” a friend had said the night before, “Something always has to happen to you when you travel!”

Luckily by the time I landed the Air BnB place I had reserved drunkingly at midnight was approved, and it did look cute and close to everything. In the Toronto airport, I spotted some production people waiting for their bags. “Alicia!” they said, then, surveying my appearance, “Wow, we don’t usually see you so… so… casual.” “Birthday margaritas.” I replied by way of explanation, and rushed past so they couldn’t get a closer look at my hideous face.

After checking out the place (great! Thank god!) and grabbing my pass, I headed off to movie one of four for the day. This is my third year at TIFF, and one of the best things about it is that I now know so many people. Other reporters from near and far, some I see only at film festivals. We sit next to each other and gossip. It makes a foreign place seem familiar.

So, movie number one was ‘Don Jon’. Written and directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, it premiered to great reviews at Sundance. He stars as a Jersey Shore type who loves going to the gym, hanging with his boys… AND WATCHING LOADS OF PORN. I really dug his filmmaking style, the way he repeated actions and shots, the look of it, the subtle messages about sexualization of women in media, seeing JGL and Scarlett Johansson doing the accents. It’s all very funny and cool. I recommend seeing ‘Don Jon’ for some fun, and really can’t wait to see more from Joe the writer/director/actor!

Between movies one and two I had just enough time to scoff down half a salad and an iced coffee, and say hi to more friends. Number two was ‘Prisoners’, starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal. WOW, this movie is incredible. It’s a really intense thriller about two families whose young girls go missing. You can’t guess what is going to happen, even after watching the trailer. The film twists and turns and is unbelievably tense. I couldn’t watch quite a lot of it. One girl was squealing involuntarily. ‘Prisoners’ clocks in at almost two and a half hours, but besides REALLY needing to pee (but not willing to leave to do it) I didn’t notice the time at all. The actors are amazing, the pacing incredible. I can’t rave enough. Commence buzzing about Oscars… NOW.

On my way to movie three I slurped down some soup, burning my tongue in the process, and rethought my outfit choice of Jaws tee and converse shoes. It was the opening night shindig and premiere of ‘The Fifth Estate’ and I was way under dressed. Ah well, with no time to get changed, I set about owning my “look” and settled in. This is the film based on Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and his partner Daniel. Another two hour number, I really did notice the time here, and it felt slow. There were a few moments where I guess director Bill Condon was trying to make computer coding seem interesting, so he jazzed it up with surreal sets and special effects. Those scenes jarred, and I felt, took away from the realism of the film, but overall it’s a fascinating enough story to keep you in the chair. Benedict Cumberbatch did an excellent job at tackling Assange, and I thought his Aussie accent was good! Not distracting like most pretendy Aussie ones are.

After that, I ate some hastily purchased pretzels and raced to my final film of the day - ‘Enough Said’. This is now known mainly for being James Gandolfini’s last movie, and it is bittersweet to see him on screen. He had such a twinkle in his eye, it’s hard to believe he is gone. Anyway, I describe ‘Enough Said’ as “love in the middle ages”, with Julia Louis Dreyfus as a massage therapist who gets involved with Gandolfini, finding love with an unexpected person… and then completely ruining it. It’s a sweet, amusing, yet slight movie.

Four films down and looking extra worse for wear, I headed back to the apartment for a glass of wine, a bath, and a look at tomorrow’s schedule. It is PACKED with interviews and screenings, and of course they happen to be all at the same time. How will I make this work? Have they mastered cloning yet? Stay tuned.

Alicia Malone - For more from Alicia visit her official website here or follow her on twitter here.