' ' Cinema Romantico: 10 Not-at-TIFF Movies to See

Thursday, September 06, 2018

10 Not-at-TIFF Movies to See

“The starting gun for awards season”, as the esteemed pages of Vanity Fair once called the Toronto International Film Festival, is being fired again today for the 43rd time. Any film yearning for an end-of-year prize will be screening, each one yielding a torrent of 140 280 character Twitter reviews, and those 140 280 character Twitter reviews yielding all manner of instant Oscar buzz, and that instant Oscar buzz yielding instant denouncements of the instant Oscar buzz as an unfortunate byproduct of our everything now culture, and so the circle will go, onto into forever, looping back around to meet at that point where I get a headache. And I can save everyone else headaches, frankly, by simply telling you what’s going to win Best Picture come next February — that is, Lady Gaga’s “A Star Is Born.” Duh. So put a sock in it, prognosticators. It’s all over but what kind of legendary ensemble from the Cleopatra VII Philopator Collection Her Gaganess is gonna sport to the Oscars. Deal with it, why don’t you.

And anyway, it’s not like I’ll be in Toronto, and so I won’t really have any frame of reference for any of this, and neither will most of you, faithful frustrated readers. And so what good are those 10 Movies to See at TIFF lists to us? That is why, once again, for the fourth year in a row, Cinema Romantico will curate our own film festival to run concurrently with TIFF.

10 Films Not at TIFF to See

1. Macbeth (1948). TIFF’s opening night film is the Chris Pine fronted “Outlaw King”, chronicling the rise, fall and re-rise of 14th century Scottish King Robert the Bruce. Fair enough. But this is 2018, son, where we are in the midst of a slow-burning apocalypse, or threabouts, savvy? These are the days for a different Scottish King, and I think you know which one I mean. So let’s dial up the Orson Welles version of my favorite Shakespeare play, a movie with which the prodigy was not satisfied, two layers of tragedy baked in which feels just right.

2. Dodge City. I was tempted to pick a different de Havilland/Flynn joint, “Adventures of Robin Hood”, since, hey, we are on the verge of yet another “Robin Hood” movie that will go undoubtedly go to show that absolutely no further Robin Hood movies were necessary after “Adventures of Robin Hood.” But this is 2018, people. And so I thought, no, “Dodge City” where, amongst other details, Olivia’s character is in a fight to defend the freedom of the press, was more appropriate.

3. Magic Mike XXL. Gees. We started off this theoretical fest dark, didn’t we? I apologize, kind of. After all, movies, I am sometimes told in the wake of penning a negative review, are just movies, man. People go to them to escape, man. Right you are. So let’s escape down south to to Rome’s place, where love trumps hate and dance-offs come true.

4. Christmas in Conway. With all due respect to all the excellent line readings in “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again”, the film’s most striking line reading, by far, is Andy Garcia’s gravelly warning that a storm is coming. Ask My Beautiful, Perspicacious Wife who has suffered this summer through my myriad pitiful attempts to mimic this line reading whenever so much as a semi-threatening single cloud appears on the horizon. This has left me desperate for more Garcia verbal gravel. And because Cinema Romantico traditionally likes to include a Hallmark Channel offering in its Not-at-TIFF slate we will include “Christmas in Conway” where Garcia, as a “very cranky guy” (per IMDb), is miraculously allowed to issue all manner of gravelly instructions as he crankily goes about erecting a ferris wheel for his terminally ill wife (Mary-Louise Parker) in their backyard.

5. Malice. It is, of course, the 25th anniversary of this much beloved casually forgotten Nicole Kidman/Alec Baldwin thriller. In celebrating, I returned to the review of the late great Roger Ebert who, in commenting on the fact Baldwin’s hotshot surgeon would need to rent an upstairs room as opposed to just, like, buying his own home, wrote this: “Now hold on a moment. We already know that Jed is one of the best surgeons in the country, a medical school star with a sterling reputation. I don't care what plans Hillary Rodham Clinton has for the nation’s health care, the day will never come when ace surgeons live as boarders in rented rooms in other people’s houses.” Boy, little did ol’ Rog know that very fear would one day drive the entire GOP healthcare agenda.

6. The Pelican Brief. Let’s stay in 1993. After all, this blog spent August delving into 1990s thrillers and so what’s one more? Plus, it will give us a chance to reminisce about that one time Julia & Denzel, both of whom will earn rightful stars on the (never to be built) New Hollywood Walk of Fame, were actually in a movie together. Did you know that in all the years since they have not appeared together in a movie again? Hollywood is run by goddam imbeciles.

7. The Finest Hour. One of the perks of still subscribing to cable is having things like the MGM channel at your disposal so you can scroll their listings and stumble across cinematic entities such as “The Finest Hour” which stars a mustachioed Rob Lowe as someone called Lawrence Hammer in one of those 1991 attempts to cinematically capitalize on the Gulf War. I have no proof, but I bet this movie was not screened for critics.

8. Maddy/Archer Bar Scene in Blood Diamond. With every film festival you inevitably hit a wall when you just need to chill out and re-charge. This will even be the case with our faux-film festival, no doubt, and so let’s take the eighth day to just re-visit a movie scene that has grown larger in my mind even as the movie from which it is culled has only receded. It’s not that the issue of blood diamonds isn’t significant, of course, but that strictly cinematically speaking I would give anything for a “To Have and Have Not”-ish adventure film where Jennifer Connelly and Leonardo DiCaprio spend the whole time trading bon mots like they do in that Freetown bar.

9. Blue Streak. Let’s say Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” wins the Best Picture Oscar. Because if it did, the Best Picture winner would therefore contain brief footage of our current POTUS in all his ignorant non-glory. And that would in all likelihood lead to a Presidential tweet in response, something where the President would call Spike Lee totally overrated or third-rate. And if he did, and he absolutely would, then let’s imagine some reporter actually asking the President, who apparently would know enough about Lee’s oeuvre to make a judgment on it, to name one, just one, Spike Lee movie other than “BlacKkKlansman.” What do you think the President would give as an answer? My guess: the wacky Martin Lawrence comedy “Blue Streak.”

10. Sudden Death. Can you believe that in re-visiting the 1990s by way of thrillers I never saw I forgot to include the Jean-Claude Van Damme 1995 epic where he thwarts a terrorist plot at the Stanley Cup Finals? I can hardly live with myself. We’ll pencil it in for closing night.

1 comment:

Alex Withrow said...

Love this idea and I really dig your choices. Gives me a reason to check out Malice again. Baldwin is such a sly beast in that movie.