Picking Up the Pieces

As TIFF winds down, we look for other films to distract us from the departing superstars, international sensations, failed Oscar bids and so forth. Here’s the skinny:

Drive“: Stripped-down genre product rarely feels as assured and as knotty as it does in Nicolas Winding Refn’s confident thriller about a morally flexible man (Ryan Gosling, nicely measured) who picks a side and pays dearly for it. Albert Brooks will get an Oscar nomination, but as I’ve said, he’ll get it for his scenes with Bryan Cranston.

Gainsbourg“: Oh, la la, Serge Gainsbourg. Really, I don’t think writer-director Joann Sfar thought it through any further than that.

“I Don’t Know How She Does It”: If “she” is Sarah Jessica Parker and “it” is “continue to be perceived as an interesting screen presence despite a decade of increasingly vapid and shallow performances”, then yeah, I don’t know how she does it either. But apparently that’s not a proper interpretation of the title. Anyway, Susan didn’t much care for it.

“Straw Dogs”: Apparently Rod Lurie’s intention in updating Sam Peckinpah’s tricky revenge thriller was to make a “watchable” version of the story. Which only tells me he didn’t understand what Peckinpah was up to the first time around. Peckinpah’s version just came out on Blu-ray. Why not start there?

6 thoughts on “Picking Up the Pieces”

  1. Quick TIFF question about projection. I saw Damsels In Distress at the Elgin (like an old friend back in town, still a little odd but you love them for it) and I thought the film really looked awful. Just trying to figure out why – was it source print maybe still needing work? Digital projector? I’ve generally had no complaints this fest, but the stuff at the Elgin hasn’t seemed as crisp as, say, the screenings at AMC.

  2. I’ve only seen two movies at the Elgin this year. Kid with a Bike was projected on film, not digital (it’s the only film projection I’ve seen at the festival this year), and looked pretty soft with a little bit of wear. The next day, Jeff Who Lives at Home was projected digitally in the same theater and looked fine. So I’m guessing that the movie you saw may have had a source issue, rather than a projection issue.

    Just a guess, of course. I haven’t seen Damsels in Distress.

    The best presentation I’ve seen this year was Samsara projected in 4k at the Lightbox.

  3. I think you are right. Checked the TIFF schedule and both of the screenings I thought were problematic are listed as 35mm format (I’m a little ashamed to say the other one was Trespass). Damsels In Distress was the worst of the two. So besides some issues with the actual print, is it safe to say that digital projection is now more reliable, if not better quality, then film projection?

  4. I think “Damsels” ended up being a digital projection — it was definitely screened digitally for the press a couple of weeks back, and when I talked to Stillman the other day he said he thought the Elgin screening looked terrible, but the audience seemed to enjoy it anyway. (He was much happier with the presentation the next morning at the Scotiabank.)

    I haven’t seen anything at the Elgin this year, though in recent years it’s been the sound that irks me more than anything else. Have they finally solved the echo issues? Halls built for live performance rarely accommodate Dolby Digital all that well …

  5. I think the sound still suffers from weird echo, but then I’m usually in the balcony or mezz, so I may not be the best judge.

    Glad to hear Stillman was aware of the problem, though a comment might have been nice at the Q & A. When I saw Headshot at the Scotiabank, they mentioned the film was darker then intended due to a bulb issue.

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