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

Thursday, September 05, 2019

10 Not-at-TIFF Movies to See

It’s back! That is, the Toronto International Film Festival, TIFF, “(t)he starting gun for awards season”, as the esteemed pages of Vanity Fair once deemed it, begins today. Masterpieces will come in waves; career-bests will be declared for people mid-career; legends will be pronounced in the present; and every standing ovation will be described as “thunderous.” It’s what they call the Film Festival Bubble, a wonderful place to be, I know, I’ve been in it, but a little irksome for those outside of it, like me, and probably like 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 fifth year in a row, Cinema Romantico will curate our own film festival to run concurrently with TIFF to see if a movie not playing at TIFF during TIFF still makes a sound.

10 Not-at-TIFF Movies to See

1. Anvil! The Story of Anvil. If TIFF is opening with the Robbie Robertson documentary, “Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band”, we will open our Not-at-TIFF Festival by screening the 2008 rockumentary about a death metal band whose sphere of influence improbably runs deep, a sort of this-is-real Spinal Tap but if Spinal Tap was to its field as, say, Afrika Bambaataa was to hip hop.

2. Bachelorette. The daily brou-ha-ha on Twitter last Friday concerned an asinine Reuters headline ostensibly celebrating Kirsten Dunst receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame by referencing her most famous role as being Spider-Man’s girlfriend. This is stupid, obviously, but didn’t prevent people from defending it on the grounds that Spider-Man is Kiki’s highest grossing film. If this is merely more of that horseshit I have lamented before about entirely equating something as wonderful and ineffable as a Movie Star with something as uninteresting as receipts, it also fails to simply acknowledge what Dunst actually is – a hellaciously talented actor. And while there are innumerable Dunst films we could choose, we’ll go with one of 2012’s best, in which she never allows her character’s valorous insistency to override her unlikable abrasiveness; it’s called dimension, people, and Kirsten goddam Dunst, understand, is the dimensioniest (sic).

3. Murder at 1600. Faithful frustrated readers know how much in these days of the MCU I pine for disposable 90s thrillers because I mention it, like, every fourth post. And so our third day of Not-at-TIFF will screen a 35mm print of this perfectly disposable Wesley Snipes 90s thriller…

4. The Shadow Conspiracy. ...to be followed by a 35mm print screening of the other disposable White House conspiracy movie from 1997. That’s how bad this blog is jonesing for 90s thrillers.

5. Night Train to Munich. Did you read this Vice article from last week about how Disney, having merged with Fox, is not letting independent theaters screen films from the 20th Century back catalogue? Fuck that shit. I’m sending in my elite Archival Film Print Retrieval Squad to save Carol Reed’s 1940 thriller.

6. My Cousin Vinny. My squad will also claim the canisters for “My Cousin Vinny.” I’m not letting those corporate vultures abscond with Mona Lisa Vito. Come at us, Mouse.

7. A Walk in the Clouds. Over the weekend, Debra Messing, aka Beth Lookner, became an official Enemy of the State, and so I went looking for a Debra Messing film to screen at Not-at-TIFF. If I’m being honest, though, not a lot in her oeuvre was really doing it for me. And as I scanned her various credits, I remembered she was in “A Walk in the Clouds.” And seeing as how Summer 2019 became the Summer of Keanu, it’s only appropriate for Not-at-TIFF 2019 to screen a Keanu movie. Granted, you often see allegations that Keanu was “miscast” here, but I heard those same allegations about Christian Slater in “The Wife” which were woefully off base, and Angelica Jade Bastién’s thoughtful essay on Reeves’s acting from 2016 that I only read for the first time this summer has got me wanting to watch this performance anew anyway. The performance and the northern California scenery, that is, which in these rueful days places like a good place to disappear.

8. The Kitties Are Sleeping. During the whole “Cats” movie trailer imbroglio last month, most cultural commentators seemed to be forgetting one of David Letterman’s greatest contributions to the culture – that is, his appreciated improvement on “Memory.” And on the eighth day of Not-at-TIFF, which is our designated day of rest, we will make this brief video the only mandated screening.

9. Bruce Springsteen Live at the Capitol Theatre. As fervent disciples of E Street, the one TIFF must-see if we were there would be Bruce Springsteen’s concert film for his most recent album “Western Stars”, a lot of which has grown on us. We will try to match that by simply showing in its entirety what some Springsteenphiles have labeled his pièce de résistance at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, New Jersey in 1978. If you ask “The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?” then I answer “Why 1978 Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band of course.”

10. Bowfinger. It has not gone unnoticed, believe me, here at the blog that in the unrelenting 1999 in Film retrospectives no mentions have been made of that year’s classic comedy-about-Hollywood “Bowfinger.” But Not-at-TIFF won’t forget. No, we will close our faux film festival with “A Rocky Horror Picture Show”-ish screening of “Bowfinger” in which all patrons are encouraged to dress as their favorite characters and get up during the movie act along with their favorite parts, which means I can finally live out my dream of saying to a roomful of people “We’re not doing anything traditional here. We’re working in an entirely new style. We’re working in Cinema Noveau.” I can’t wait.

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