Surveying myself in the mirror, I recoiled with surprise. I looked so tired, I gave myself a fright. Each morning since I’ve been here I’ve stood in the bathroom and watched my eye bags grow. Each morning I think, ‘It is just not possible to look any more tired than I do now…’ But then the next morning the evidence is staring right back at me in the mirror. It’s my own fault of course, a steady six nights of 2 or 3am finishes and 7am starts will do that to a person, but thank goodness for concealer, which I liberally slathered on before running out the door with Nadia towards the cinema.
Getting up early was well worth it for the much buzzed about ’12 Years A Slave’. I’ve long been a fan of director Steve McQueen, especially after ‘Shame’, which remains one of my favorite films in the last few years, despite how uncomfortable it is to watch. But now I’m convinced he is some kind of evil genius. ’12 Years A Slave’ feels like a gut punch to the heart. The story, based on true events, about a free man being sold into slavery, is unfathomable in its awfulness. The acting, especially from lead Chewetel Ejiofor, is astounding. The cinematography is beautiful and the choice of shots and length of them is interesting. The score and sound design is perfect. The brutality makes it tough to watch, but also, so important to watch because of that. Believe the hype, ’12 Years A Slave’ deserves any and all award nominations. I won’t be surprised if we see it nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Chewetel, Best Supporting Actor for Michael Fassbender, and Best Supporting Actress for newcomer Lupita Nyong’o. Start learning how to say that name now.
Next, I went to interview the director and actress (slash Chinese supermodel) from ‘American Dreams In China’. This film has been described as “The Chinese ‘Social Network’” as it shows young guys setting up a company, then being sued down the track after it was successful. The actress, Du Juan, was breathtaking in person. I can’t imagine being that elegant. And TALL. And so… eye-bag-less. Director Peter Chan spoke intelligently about the influx of Hollywood films in China, and how unfortunately, he doesn’t think it will ever go the other way.
My second film screening for the day was Richard Ayode’s ‘The Double’, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wakowska. This was somewhat similar to ‘Enemy’, with Jesse’s character going a little crazy thinking he has a double who is the opposite of him. It’s based on the Fyodor Dostoyevsky novel, and like Ayode’s last film ‘Submarine’, it’s depressing but brilliantly designed. I liked some of it, the idea is interesting and Jesse was great at playing the two characters who seem to be the two sides of him – the awkward bumbler, and the slick smart fast talker. But a few times, I caught my head trying to nod itself off to sleep, which is obviously not such a good sign, though I could never fall completely asleep thanks to Mr Angry Shouty Guy.
Mr Angry Shouty Guy was watching ‘The Double’ and was (understandably) upset that a few people were using their phones during the screening. The bright light is distracting, and it’s a shame people can’t last 2 hours without looking, but Mr Angry Shouty Guy was causing way more of a ruckus by yelling out “TURN OFF YOUR PHONE!!!” from the middle of the cinema every single time. Each time he yelled, I’d jump out of my seat in fright. I’m sure you’ve read about the 911 story which happened over here (Google if not) and it seems people are getting quite stabby over the issue. And in general. Today we had to line up in 90 degree heat outside the cinema, because yesterday there had been a shoving match in a queue and the cinema had enough of it. It’s just movies, everyone, not life or death! Calm your tits, as my bestie Maude Garrett would say.
Before I got stabby myself I went back to the apartment for a quick nap, which fixed me up enough to head out to a one non-TIFF event: a baseball game. “This is my first baseball game ever!” I told my buddy Ben, who had organized tickets, “I feel so American!” To which he reminded me that we were actually in Canada, not America, something I keep forgetting when I’m surrounded by all the people I usually see in LA and New York. I of course had planned on an early night, but after the game there was a party… then another party… then suddenly I was eating a cheese quesadilla at 3am, giggling as I set my alarm for 7:30am. Bloody night version of Alicia Malone (Malicia Alone, she is called) she seems determined to keep those eye bags.