Today I’m giving away the 1990 program from The Festival of Festivals (TIFF). Another good year, although, I have to admit that my memory is not as strong as later years. Funny, what I do remember is less the movie itself, more how I reacted to it. That old adage, people don’t remember what you said, they remember how you made them feel, is true here.
So, here are my pics…
Cyrano de Bergerac – Not the Steve Martin version, the beautiful french film with Gerard Depardieu (before he lost the plot). The director introduced the movie and told us that the subtitles had been written by Anthony Burgess. It would have been an incredibly difficult thing to do because the original dialogue was all in verse. I remember being frustrated that my French wasn’t good enough to understand the original, but I loved the movie anyway, and thought he did an amazing job. GD won best actor at Cannes for it.
Trust – The second installment in my devotion to Hal Hartley – I don’t have the program for 1989, my discovery year with The Unbelievable Truth, so I will fawn here. He is a real festival circuit, indie kind of film maker. His movies are low budget, intimate and specific. He develops layered characters who communicate in deadpan, staccato and odd dialogue that can only come from one of his movies. His earlier films had more conventional narratives, and Trust is in that camp. He casts great combinations of people too. Trust featured Adrienne Shelly, Martin Donovan, and Edie Falco – that’s a typical representation of a Hartley ensemble. Every TIFF year, I look for something from him. I know a lot of people who feel the same.
Metropolitan – Another great indie director, Whit Stillman. This was his first feature. More deadpan, funny, story telling from a really unique voice. He later directed The Last Days of Disco and Barcelona, also favourites for me. This is a movie about the people you thought you wanted to be until you were old enough to know better.
Eight Taels of Gold – I picked this one mainly because I love Sylvia Chang, a fantastic Taiwanese actress, director and writer. She was in a number of movies in the festival that year, but I chose to see this one. I remember being struck by her, and by another story of China trying to reconcile its traditions with its future.
And my favourites (a tie)
The Grifters – This might be a top 10 movie for me. I loved everything about it, the story was gutting, Anjelica Huston, Annette Bening, and John Cusack gave the best performances of their lives, and Stephen Frears made it flawlessly. This is about as good as it gets.
An Angle At My Table – Directed by Jane Campion, this is the story of Janet Frame, an Australian writer and the most unusual, quirky, confounding and human character. This was the first time I saw Kerry Fox, who played the lead. She went on to star in Shallow Grave among other things, Danny Boyle’s first and awesome movie. She does a lot of Australian TV now so we don’t see much of her anymore, too bad. Jane Campion went on to direct The Piano and later, Bright Star. Two more favourites.
To have two movies of this caliber in the festival was what struck me looking back. I was really wowed by both of them.