STYLE AND SUBSTANCE at the film fest

Rating: NNNNNJust a few thoughts in the aftermath of the Toronto International Film Festival.• Everyone's going gaga over Wong Kar-wai's.

Rating: NNNNN

Just a few thoughts in the aftermath of the Toronto International Film Festival.• Everyone’s going gaga over Wong Kar-wai‘s In The Mood For Love, which picked up the directing award at Cannes. I’d be more convinced of Kar-wai’s genius if every frame of his films didn’t scream “Look at me! I’m a great director! Tremble before the creaminess of my tracking shots. Bow to my awesome framing!”

By way of comparison, my two favourite films of the festival, Ang Lee‘s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Terence Davies‘ extraordinary Edith Wharton adaptation, The House Of Mirth, lock onto their material and devote themselves to it. You don’t notice the direction.

Of course, both Lee and Davies are working with strong stories, while Kar-wai’s is a relatively banal tale: two neighbours discover that their spouses are cheating and, through endless pregnant pauses, ponder an affair of their own. Kar-wai has devised a story that nestles into his style rather than finding a style for his story.

• Other favourites: Kathryn Bigelow‘s The Weight Of Water and Anthony Minghella‘s adaptation of Samuel Beckett‘s Play, a 15-minute sensory assault starring Alan Rickman, Juliet Stevenson and Kristin Scott Thomas.

• To me, watching projected digital video is like watching something through a screen door. “Almost as good” as film just doesn’t cut it. Gary Burns‘s waydowntown, winner of the best Canadian feature award, was shot on digital. We must stop encouraging this sort of thing.

• The short Preludes were a terrific idea executed with varying degrees of success. I was fond of Don McKellar‘s A Word From The Management, in which he angrily recalls his days as the festival’s theatre coordinator while panning and dissolving across rows of audience members. I also liked David Cronenberg‘s strange, shot-on-video meditation on acting, cinema, aging and death.

• The longer the row, the tougher the walkout. JH

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