Today I’m giving away the TIFF 1994 program. What a year. I have to change the format of my post because there are way too many movies to talk about. I’ve done more of a list with shorter descriptions and followed the programming themes to make it easier. There were many more movies that year that didn’t even make this list??
I will say I saw most of these movies in the festival but I know of two that I saw later on that year when they got distribution.
Whale Music – For me, one of the many great soundtracks from a Canadian movie, and the first time I understood what an incredible actor Maury Chaykin was.
Eat Drink Man Woman – From Ang Lee. Beautiful insights into the universal themes that emerge as families age – generation gaps, fears for your children’s future, the absence of a lost parent. And the dinner table! A masterful storyteller on only his third feature.
Vanya on 42nd Street - I never saw My dinner with Andre so I didn’t know what Wallace Shawn and Louis Malle could do when I walked into this movie.
Muriel’s Wedding – Has anyone had this much fun in a movie theatre since? It also made me not hate Abba.
The Burning Season - There are a lot of great movies about South American uprisings and political battles. They make for some heroic characters and big scale drama. This one is right up there. Also, it starred Raul Julia.
Bullets Over Broadway - Everyone thinks John Cusack should have had a better career, including Woody Allen. He was great in this. Remember, “don’t speak…don’t speak”. I sat a couple of rows behind John Cusack for this screening. He’s really tall and blocked the screen a bit, but I didn’t mind because he was so cute.
Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle – I don’t know if this is as good a movie as it should have been but I’m obsessed with Dorothy Parker and I loved that someone wanted to make a movie about her.
Three Colours:Red or Trois Couleurs: Rouge. I love Kieslowski and should probably have dedicated this entire post to him and his movies. This was the last instalment in the Three Colours movies, Blanc and Blu came first. He also made The Double Life of Veronique and the Decalogue, of which you cannot say enough. Always say yes if you get a chance to see one of his movies, especially if you love movies, he’s the master’s master.
Dance Me Outside – My introduction to Bruce McDonald and I saw it kind of by accident. It fit an empty time slot and in those days you could do that spontaneously. Drama and tension on the Rez – also, I just noticed that Mychael Danna contributed the score. (He just won the Oscar for Life of Pi)
Exotica – Atom Egoyan doing some unsettling story telling…for a change? I love Bruce Greenwood in this movie. He’s tense and uncomfortable, so watching him, you are too . I saw this movie after the festival. I think when I read about it in the program I was dubious, but the buzz and press compelled me after the fact. Even now when I look at the program, I don’t know if I want to know this story.
Double Happiness – How great is Sandra Oh when she has something interesting to do. I don’t know how good the movie was, but she was great.
Heavenly Creatures - Australian girl goes a little crazy. My first time seeing Kate Winslet and the first Peter Jackson movie I saw. Still a haunting and unsettling story about what young minds are capable of.
Moving the Mountain – Michael Apted makes amazing documentaries, not just the 7 up series (although I have seen all of those). This one follows a brave young man during the Tiananmen Square uprising and massacre. Remember how heartbreaking that ending was after a few months of hope and tension.
Il Postino – What a beautiful movie and I love Philippe Noiret. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that it was this movie that introduced me to the poet Pablo Neruda. A story well told.
The Buddy Factor, better known as Swimming with Sharks. I loved this movie. I loved to hate Kevin Spacey and have always kind of hated him in every role I’ve seen him in since. I loved the insider view of the movie industry. I loved the revenge factor. I won’t say what else I loved because I don’t want to be a spoiler. If you haven’t seen it, do.
Hoop Dreams – I always try to see documentaries about sports, they’re so emotional and suspenseful and you get to live vicariously through an athletes commitment and sacrifice, victory and defeat. This one is no exception. It’s a great movie, and if you liked it, you should also see Undefeated which is on Rogers on Demand right now.
Once Were Warriors – So many themes going on in this completely engrossing film about a troubled Maori family living in Auckland. It will make your family feel pretty calm and healthy by comparison. A really impressive first feature.
Clerks. - Natural, unaware, funny, and ground breaking, Kevin Smith’s first movie, and maybe his best (or tied with Chasing Amy). This may be the movie with the biggest “cult” following of all time, it’s probably more of a demographic cohort.
And my favourite
The Shawshank Redemption – can you believe this was a first feature? Frank Darabont went on to make the Green Mile and The Walking Dead among many other things. Who hasn’t loved this movie? It was perfectly paced, emotional, redemptive and believable. I don’t think I saw it during the actual festival – I’m pretty sure I jumped on the bandwagon later with everyone else.