My TIFF Picks

dir.Danny Boyle
Slumdog Millionaire is a film directed by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting) and written by Simon Beaufoy (The Full Monty). The film is based on the bestselling novel Q and A by Vikas Swarup. Release date is on November 28, 2008.
Premise: An illiterate Indian streetkid from Mumbai wins the jackpot on Kaun Banega Crorepati, the Hindi version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? He had gone onto the game show to reach his missing girlfriend, whom he knows watches the show religiously. When he wins the jackpot, he is suspected of cheating.
The film had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival, and received very positive reviews. Boyle announced that he made minor re-edits before its screening at the 33rd Toronto International Film Festival, where it went on to win the Cadillac People's Choice Award, voted on by festival audiences. It is set to close the London Film Festival next, on October 30 before its wide release. (Wikipedia)

dir.Kevin Smith
Zack and Miri Make a Porno is a 2008 comedy film written and directed by Kevin Smith. It is scheduled for October 31, 2008 release.
Plot: A comedy about two lifelong platonic friends who have managed to trudge into adulthood with a satisfying lack of accomplishment. However, a high school reunion and dire rent problems spark the novel moneymaking idea of pulling together an amateur porn enterprise with their friends. As the film begins shooting, however, Zack and Miri realize their feelings for each other might be more than just friends.
In an interview with MTV.com, Seth Rogen commented "It's a really filthy movie. I hear they are having some problems getting an R rating from an NC-17 rating, which is never good". He continued, complaining that "They [fight against] sex stuff. Isn't that weird? It's really crazy to me that Hostel is fine, with people gouging their eyes out and shit like that... But you can't show two people having sex — that's too much". On August 5, the rating was successfully appealed to an R with no cuts. It attained the rating for "strong crude sexual content including dialogue, graphic nudity and pervasive language".
A poster for the film, released in September 2008, which shows the two characters in split screen as they perform oral sex on each other, was banned for use in U.S. theaters by the MPAA, and will only be used in Canada. (Wikipedia)

Smith's old Clerks star gets shit on his face in a crude scene - & so do the cult director's fans with a movie that blows so hard it makes actual porno look like Fellini. (NOW Magazine/Sept.4-10 2008)

dir.Saul Dibb
The Duchess
is a film based on Amanda Foreman's biography of the scandalous, 18th-century English aristocrat Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire.
While her beauty and charisma made her name, her extravagant tastes and appetite for gambling and love made her infamous. Married young to the older, distant Duke of Devonshire, intimate of ministers and princes, Georgiana became a fashion icon, a doting mother, a shrewd political operator and darling of the common people. But at the core of her story is a desperate search for love. From Georgiana’s passionate and doomed affair with Earl Grey to the complex ménage à trois with her husband and her best friend, Lady Bess Foster, The Duchess is a very contemporary tale of fame, notoriety and the search for love.
The film received mixed, but mostly positive reviews, gaining 67% out of 21 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus that "Keira Knightley squeezes into a corset again, and pulls off another worthy performance in this sumptuous and emotional period drama, that serves parallels to the Duchesses descendent Princess Diana."
Most reviewers have highly praised Knightley's and Fiennes performances. Both Fiennes and Knightley have already generated Oscar buzz for their roles in the film.
Marketing: Studio executives wanted to use digitally altered images of Keira Knightley in promotional materials. The alterations were specifically aimed at enlarging her breasts. However, Knightley objected to the alterations and they were not used. (Wikipedia)

dir.David Koepp
A misanthropic dentist (Ricky Gervais) gains the ability to communicate with ghosts after a near death experience in which he dies for seven minutes during a colonoscopy and is then miraculously revived. Ghosts begin to pester him, particularly Frank Herlihy (Greg Kinnear) who wants him to break up the impending marriage of his widow Gwen (Téa Leoni), putting him in the middle of a supernatural love triangle.

dir.Guy Ritchie
RocknRolla is a film directed by Guy Ritchie. The film stars Gerard Butler, Thandie Newton, and Tom Wilkinson. It was filmed in London and released on September 5, 2008. It hit No.1 in the UK box office in its first week of release.
Premise: When a Russian mobster sets up a real estate scam that generates millions of pounds, various members of London's criminal underworld pursue their share of the fortune. Various shady characters, including Mr One-Two, Stella the accountant, and Johnny Quid, a druggie rock-star, try to claim their slice...
In contrast to the mostly negative UK reviews, reception post screening at the Toronto International Film Festival was glowingly positive. The general public, also appeared to receive the film in a positive manner with the Rottentomatoes user rating coming in at 88% .
Guy Ritchie is planning to extend RocknRolla into a trilogy if enough people like the first one, following characters still alive at the end of the first film. (Wikipedia)

dir.Steven Soderbergh
Che is a 2008 film about Marxist revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Benicio del Toro as Che.
Che was screened on May 21 at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival reportedly running over four hours. Del Toro won the Best Actor Award at the festival for his portrayal of Guevara in the film.
In his review for Esquire, Stephen Garrett criticized the film for failing to show Che's negative aspects, "the absence of darker, more contradictory revelations of his nature leaves Che bereft of complexity. All that remains is a South American superman: uncomplex, pure of heart, defiantly pious and boring". (Wikipedia)

This is the more adventurous work of the two halves. Its fragmented chronology lets us appreciate the tiny changes Del Toro works on the development of Guevera's unflappable persona - but those tiny changes are all we get. The movie doesn't really let us inside Che's head, preferring to view him as the icon he's become rather than the man he had to have been. (NOW Magazine/Sept.4-10 2008)

dir.Steven Soderbergh
Just as he did in Part 1, Del Toro plays Guevera as a man so committed to his cause that he's cast everything aside - family, friends, his own physical & emotional needs - to bring "the revolution" to the world. His Zen calm is impressive, but it means we spend a lot of time watching him sit around the jungle telling young hotheads to chill out. (NOW Magazine/Sept.4-10 2008)

dir.Ari Folman
An animated memoir set in the Middle East, this film tells the wrenching story of one man - specifically, filmmaker Folman - trying to come to terms with his experiences as an Israeli soldier in occupied Lebanon in the early '80s.
Folman's decision to tell his story, & those of several other veterans, through stylized digital animation is both visually striking & dramatically inspired. The medium let's him plug us directly into the mindset of his 19-year-old self, all bright colours & loud noise, while also allowing him to film a number of stunning sequences that would be entirely unwatchable if they were presented in live action. (NOW Magazine/Sept.4-10 2008)

The film took 4 years to complete.
The Guardian called it "an extraordinary, harrowing, provocative picture". (Wikipedia)

dir.Davis Guggenheim
Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), the Edge (U2) & Jack White (The White Stripes, The Raconteurs) recall their fondest memories of playing & listening to the electric guitar in this slick but chaotic love song - or maybe elegy.
Page is dapper, Edge is deep, & White is endearing - still humble, still dreaming. But together they lack chemistry, & the much-hyped conversation among them yields little besides an entertaining jam session. (NOW Magazine/Sept.4-10 2008)

Guggenheim directed and produced Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" and the TV series "Deadwood."
I, for one, can't wait to see this movie. The jam session alone is worth the price of admission. Getting to watch three masters of their craft at work is always a pleasure. Having three generations of guitarists go toe-to-toe is icing on the cake. (Lehigh Valley Movies/May 2008)

Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/33rd_Annual_Toronto_International_Film_Festival

TIFF's Hottest Movies: tiff2008.sympatico.msn.ca/gallery/HotMovies.aspx?cp-documentid=591584


Evangeline Lilly

Kiera Knightley

Kate Beckinsale

Matt Damon

Brad Pitt fans

Pics #1-4 by George Pimentel
Pic #5: (flickr.com)

flickr TIFF group


TIFF 2008

Keira Knightley

Matthew McConaughey

Jessica Simpson

Jessica Simpson

Jon Hamm

Aishwarya Rai

Brad Pitt

Jonathan Rhys Meyers



Helena Bonham Carter

Christian Bale

From Wikipedia:
The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is a publicly-attended Film festival held each September in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The festival begins the Thursday night after Labour Day (the first Monday in September, in Canada) and lasts for ten days. Between 300-400 films are screened at approximately 23 screens in downtown Toronto venues. Annual attendance at TIFF exceeds 300,000 from public and industry audiences.

Founded in 1976, the TIFF is now among the top film festivals in the world. The festival is centred around the Yorkville, Toronto neighbourhood, an upscale area in the downtown core. It is a part of town with several luxury hotels, movie theatres, popular restaurants and cafes as well as one of Canada's and North America's priciest retail streets.

The festival is considered a launch pad for many studios to begin Oscar buzz for their films; for example, Taylor Hackford's "Ray" premiered at the festival and garnered much attention for Jamie Foxx's portrayal of Ray Charles (for which he ultimately won the Academy Award for Best Actor).

Many notable films have had their global or North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, including Chariots of Fire, The Big Chill, Husbands and Wives, Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould, Downfall, American Beauty, Sideways and Crash.
THEY came, they ate our food, they left.

Tonight is the last night for TIFF. I pay homage to this annual event with my "Celeb Gallery" which is comprised of pics I took using the Solari feature on my cam phone, of magazine & newspaper pics I've collected over the years. I love great photography, & when I see something I like, I keep it. I've also got editorials, ads, magazine covers etc. in my collection, which I plan to feature in future posts.

So, the celebs were here, along with a few hundred new movies. I didn't bother to check out any of them in person (the celebs or the movies), but I'll highlight some of my movie picks in an upcoming post, based on reviews, buzz & personal interest.

Celebs are great, aren't they? They attract a lot of attention, tie up traffic, get the best tables in town & free shit they can afford, travel, consume, complain & IF we're lucky, they may actually do something entertaining. These days, they don't have to be talented to entertain us - *cough* Jessica Simpson/Lindsay Lohan/Paris Hilton etc. - just crash a car, say stupid shit, show up at some lame party & get their ass on a magazine cover. That's all it takes, sadly enough. Tell you what, I'll start "celebrating" these media darlings when they pay my bills, fix my mouldy ceiling & contribute to my retirement package. How about that?

TIFF's firmly established on the movie festival circuit, a prime destination for industry insiders. My neighbourhood, Bloor-Yorkville, played host to numerous parties, screenings & press conferences. Lobby (on Bloor St.W) & The Hazelton Hotel were packed solid every night of the festival, abuzz with activity as witnessed by yours truly from a safe & non-envious distance.

But aside from those relatively few hot spots, life went on same as always for 90% of Toronto's population. It's not like we hosted the Olympics, for chrissakes. If it weren't for the media telling us how "important" TIFF is, it would be just another bunch of people with common interests hanging out, laughing, gossiping, striking deals, drinking, snorting & fucking way more than usual.

Very little of this event affected my daily routine. I saw a friend from LA who stops by once a year for the festival & that was it. He's a pro at the schmooze: firm handshake, set phrases, congenial attitude - it's a dance between buyers & sellers. His world's foreign to me & I thank god for that - the stress alone would kill me in a heartbeat.

My friend went back to LA on Thursday & I was sad to see him go; he's one of the coolest people I've ever met. For me, he put a human face on the festival that has nothing to do with the glitterati. If there's any reason for me to appreciate TIFF, he's it because if it weren't for this event, I never would've met him.

Festival Tower
AMC Centre


The Centres

Shoppers Drug Mart sells sweet ass - Hudson's Bay Centre

handbag boutique - Hudson's Bay Centre

Alex Farm Products Delicatessen - Manulife Centre

Converse display - Holt Renfrew - Holt Renfrew Centre

Zara display - Holt Renfrew Centre

(I wouldn't be caught dead in this)


Manulife Centre - LCBO (left) & Indigo (right)

LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) - Manulife Centre

Indigo Books & Music - Manulife Centre - Bay St. entrance

Indigo - Canada's largest book retail chain


teuscher - located in William Ashley China

William Ashley China - Manulife Centre - Bloor St. entrance

William Ashley China - North America's largest tableware & gift specialty shop

view from Panorama - Manulife Centre, 51st floor

From Wikipedia:
Hudson's Bay Centre is an international style office skyscraper in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Completed in 1974, it stands at 35 floors at 135 m in height. The former Bay flagship store still anchors the site.
Along with The Bay department store, the complex includes the Marriott Hotel, RBC Royal Bank, apartments, condominiums, and an extensive retail concourse with over 45 specialty shops, boutiques, services and eateries. The building is connected to the Bloor-Yonge subway station, the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission)'s major east-west transfer point.
The centre has 1,200 spots for cars in its underground and aboveground parking. The building has multiple entrances located on Yonge, Bloor Streets, Park Road and Asquith Avenue. It is surrounded by several parks and the Bloor-Yorkville neighborhood, known for its shopping.

I'd like to add to that description by saying be careful as you make your way through the Hudson's Bay Centre's concourse during rush hours: zone out for a second & you'll get crushed by a mob of commuters. You learn quickly that no one cares about you when trying to get from points A to Z. Numerous times I've bumped into people with a hearty "Sorry!", so by now I've become more adept at traversing the busy thoroughfare: the key is to be quick, serious & confident while circumventing dawdlers & toddlers. And take note: with its narrow, windowless hallways, this place isn't for the claustrophobic.

The food court in HB Centre leaves much to be desired in both meal selection & decor. Some sketchy types like to hang out there so I always bypass the place on my way upstairs to my condo. I've overheard one guy say to his friend "This place smells like ass!" Yes, ventilation is not a strong point around the court, so hold your breath. Booster Juice was supposed to set up shop here & all summer long I eagerly awaited fresh smoothies but to no avail. I think they're weighing their options - not the best location for a quality establishment, imo.

I love the bag boutique (see pic above) which will remain nameless until I can bother looking for its sign. Their selection rotates frequently & prices can be reasonable on select items. The other day I bought a bright red fake-patent leather-looking handbag for $35 & I can't wait to wear it: it's just the thing to brighten up a sombre winter outfit.

MAC Cosmetics has a counter in HB Centre & another one upstairs in The Bay department store. I get my concealer & brushes from them & I like the company's sleek, black packaging. Their service is usually helpful although if they're busy, you can sometimes stand around waiting awhile feeling rather foolish.

Rafters gift & decor store (mentioned in my previous post) is across the hall from the bag store. Very nice people work there & I always feel welcome.

Ardene is down the hall & good for cheap, funky jewelry, hairbands, socks etc.

The Source by Circuit City sold me my obnoxiously loud alarm clock & my phone's memory card so I can upload these award-winning pics. The guys are nice enough considering I'm usually the only female in the store & I keep pestering them with questions.

Laura Secord tempts me with their ice cream counter everytime I walk by. I used to get a single scoop Maple Nut in a sugar cone (delish!) but I've cut sugar from my diet - hardest thing ever! I miss ice cream a lot as I wait in vain for a quality brand made with stevia & no dairy (sigh).
(Updated Oct.3-2008: I've since found out that I'm gluten intolerant so I can probably have the ice cream but not the cone. Still sighing.)

Steps away form Laura Secord is Tea Market which, the proprieter tells me, migrated from another retail complex upstairs (I've been to this complex once & it's sunny but a little off my beaten path). He's a nice man who's introduced me to lovely Le Marche (rooibos + cinnamon) & Provence (rooibos + lavender) teas. Next, I want to try the lemon flavour for a pick-me-up in the morning.

Now on to The Holt Renfrew Centre. American Apparel has a store here. And here's my note to AA staff : it's a job, not a club. A pleasant smile & a "Hi, may I help you with anything?" is not asking for too much & yet you fail at it time & again. Do you want repeat business? Well then, get it right. Remember, you get what you give, which means if you're nice to me, I'll be nice to you & keep coming back for leggings (they got a hole the 2nd time I wore them), leotards (the only tops that give me a smooth fit under a tight, highwaisted skirt but also vpl from hell), & house clothes (comfortable stuff I wouldn't be caught dead in on the streets).

HMV (=His Master's Voice - I didn't know that!) is across from AA. They just renovated & while it looks ok (not that much different from the original design, imo), I don't know if it's going to increase sales. Does anyone under 30 buy CDs? I haven't bought one in God knows how long & these days, I only stop in for the latest Will & Grace DVDs. (Note to self: get seasons 7 & 8 stat!)

I've been to Zara a few times & never found anything I like so I've no idea what they're selling for fall, although judging from the white shearling on the mannequin, I'd say Halloween sheep costumes? I'm sure the designer had a 6 foot tall, thin-as-a-rail model type in mind when he or she concocted it. Even still, it'd look truly ridiculous on anyone walking down our city streets.

Costa Blanca opened up not too long ago. Their clothes are cheap price-wise & cheaply-made, as in threads still unknotted & they don't fit well to the body, but occasionally I find something I need that's got a little style to it. Hey, when you're on a budget you can't afford to be picky.

Holt Renfrew is Toronto's equivalent to New York City's Saks Fifth Avenue. They're expensive. The only time I've been in there was to buy foundation makeup that I never use because it doesn't match my skintone. FYI: makeup counter lighting is flattering but in no way does it give you an accurate reading of your complexion, especially if it gradates from dark to light & back again like mine does.
If you're ever in the neighborhood during Boxing Week sales, you'll see people milling around toting hot pink shopping bags with a large white H on them, a telltale sign they got some goodies from Holt's.

Personal Edge in the Holt Renfrew Centre sells electric shavers, irons & other small appliances. I bought a rechargeable Philips Ladyshave 2 weeks ago & it's dead already! They'll repair it for free but I think I'll exchange it because there's no excuse for that.

Further down the hall is The Gap Body for my cotton panty & sleepwear needs; upstairs is The Gap at 60 Bloor West. I don't shop for clothes there because I find their selection a bit too conservative for my taste. None of this section of the concourse is part of The Holt Renfrew Centre so let's backtrack & make our way to the Manulife Centre.

As you round the corner into the Manulife Centre, brace yourself: you'll be knocked back 10 feet by an odour so pungent it can only be described as "liquid fart". Here, you'll find the pretty but offensively aromatic Alex Farm Delicatessen. Let's see, you want to open a business in a poorly-ventilated underground concourse & sell stinky cheese? Brilliant! "Who cut the cheese?" will be your motto!

Jacob sells conservative - but not frumpy - women's business & casualwear. The prices are great & the quality of the clothes I've bought here? Superlative. The stitching on 2 raincoats (one trench, the other A-line) was what it should be: intact & discreetly knotted. No hanging threads, holes in the armpits or stuck zippers. H&M, American Apparel, Costa Blanca & the ilk: please take your cue from Jacob - they do it right & they're affordable! I've since given away the coats because I'm into jackets now but the point is their businesswear line is usually of a higher standard than is to be expected for the price & what they lack in pizzazz they make up for in quality. Use accessories to dress 'em up & you're good to go from day to evening.

My pics above show one of two underground LCBO stores - the other one is in the Hudson's Bay Centre. I don't drink alcohol because I'm allergic to it, so the only time I stop by the LCBO is to pick up beer to stock my fridge for any guests who happen to stop by, as any good host should.
Here are some fun facts courtesy of Wikipedia:
LCBO stores are generally the only stores allowed to sell hard liquor in Ontario. Currently, the LCBO is one of the world's largest single purchasers of beverage alcohol products. Beer is also sold by Brewers Retail Inc., which goes by the name The Beer Store. Wine can also be found in a number of stores operated by wineries and licensed to sell their own brands, however the LCBO is by far the largest wine retailer in the province.
Licensed bars and restaurants may resell alcoholic beverages, but they must be consumed on the establishment's premises. The bars and restaurants themselves must buy their products from the LCBO, The Beer Store, or directly from Ontario wineries and breweries.

Indigo Books & Music is housed in a large, airy space that could become your second home if you hung around long enough. I, personally, would camp out in the decor & art book section if I could afford all those big, beautiful coffeetable books. Otherwise, what's the point perusing selections you can't have? That'd be like smelling coffee you can't drink or bacon you can't eat - torture!

Next stop on the missdelite tour of the Bloor St. centres that lie between Yonge St. & Bay St., is William Ashley China. Not much I can say about it at this point as I've never had reason to go inside (they're out of my price range & if I break something I'll have to sell a kidney) but from the outside it's bright, colourful & sparkles like a Christmas ornament. Their large street windows always attract my attention & just last week, people gathered around to watch Olympic events broadcasted on a big screen TV they had on display, & when I say people, I mean mostly men who looked like they'd rather roll around in hot tar than enter William Ashley for anything. I talk in stereotypes, of course. Who knows, maybe one of those construction worker-looking type of guys hit up WA for an Alessi knife rack? Mr. Stabby makes one helluva conversation piece!

Finally, I'll mention Panorama, a resto-lounge on the 51st floor of the Manulife Centre. It has "the city's highest licensed patio", which in warm weather, is quite pleasant for a romantic dinner. After 10pm, the indoor lounge area gets busy & loud with young people, some of whom are from the chic 44 Charles St. condos occupying the floors below.
I like the decor: it's clean, simple & modern in black, white, grey & chrome. The service is attentive without being overbearing & the roasted chicken I had (few months back when I still ate animal products) was divine.
(Updated Oct.3-2008: I can eat chicken again - yay!)

So there you have it. My take on the "underground scene" (get it?) in my neighbourhood. It's warm & convenient in the winter, a mad dash during rush hours, & stinky at various junctures.
Only thing I've left to say is that I'm grateful I don't have to work underground all day because goshdarnit, you need the sun!