Festival lunacy set to smother city once again

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This article first appeared in The Varsity (page 9) on Sep 4, 1990

by Ray Deonandan,
Varsity Staff

Break out that cappuccino maker and those twenty bucks you’ve been saving for silly selfish things like food – it’s Festival of Festival time again! From September 6th to 15th, the world’s film elite converges upon poor little Toronto to celebrate one of the industry’s biggest and most important events: The Fifteenth Annual Festival of Festivals.

With possible in-the-flesh appearances by tabloid legends such as Clint Eastwood, Donald Sutherland, Jeremy Irons, Peter Falk, and Glenn Close, this year’s offering is shaping up to be a true cinematic spectacle. We can look forward to machine sex, undead hookers, large-nosed Frenchmen, and murdering spouses, to name but a few intriguing prospects.

Here is a very small sampling of the films expected to create a buzz: White Hunter, Black Heart (Clint Eastwood): This will undoubtedly be the favorite among average unpretentious moviegoers, if only for the big man whose name will probably be billed before the title. As well as producing and directing the film, Eastwood stars as a larger-than-life director trying to make a film in Africa, while trying to deal with an obsession to hint the African bull elephant. It is based on John Huston’s experiences filming The African Queen, and will open in an evening gala screening.

Cyrano de Bergerac (Jean-Paul Rappeneau) is also slated for a gala opening. All galas are scheduled to be held at the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre. Cyrano is the classic romantic tale of the great French swordsman whose nose was as big as his heart. Most North Americans are probably more familiar with the story from Steve Martin’s Roxanne, or maybe from a certain episode of The Brady Bunch. Regardless, the film is enjoying unprecedented success in Paris, and is a favorite of both the French public and critics.

Bethune: The Making of a Hero (Phillip Borsos) is the story of the legendary hero of military medicine, Dr. Norman Bethune. It traces his remarkable career from Montreal, to the Spanish civil war, and to China where he is still hailed by that nation as a great hero they call “White Speaking Grace.” In these times of a rapidly decaying Canadian identity, remembering our international heroes is not a bad idea. A noteworthy lead performance by Donald Sutherland is expected.

Perfectly Normal (Yves Simoneau): While Simoneau is a familiar name and face at the Festival, this will be his first English-language entry. It is a comedy which should be of a typically twisted European flavour, especially considering its star is Robbie Coltrane, a noted British comedian whose acting credits include Mona Lisa and Nuns on the Run.

White Room (Patricia Rozema) is an eagerly anticipated encore from the woman who brought us I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing, the big hit of the 1987 Festival. This film is part of Perspectives Canada, the self- proclaimed “most important international platform for Canadian cinema”, and will enjoy its world premier at the Festival. The plot, as far as can be elucidated from unspecific press releases, involves a nice young man who witnesses the rape and murder of a famous singer (Margot Kidder) and then falls in love with the victim’s weird friend (Kate Nelligan). You figure it out

Reversal of Fortune (Barbet Schroeder) is another Hollywood release based on real-life tabloid doings. It is the compelling tale of the immensely wealthy Claus Von Bulow and his plot to murder his immensely wealthy wife Sunny. No doubt someone will become immensely wealthy as a result of this movie. The lead roles are portrayed by Jeremy Irons (Dead Ringers) and Glenn Close (Fatal Attraction), both already immensely wealthy. Schroeder is best known for his English-language offering, Barfly, a former Festival entry.

The Bride of Re-Animator (Brian Yuzma) looks to be one of my personal favorites. It follows on the heels of 1985’s Re-Animator, a largely overlooked horror flick based on a chilling Lovecraft yarn. If Bride is anything like its prequel, it promises to be an intelligent, elegant and tremendously gross production. From the same hit of acid, it seems, comes Frankenhooker (Frank Hermenlotter), the everyday tale of a man who tries to reconstruct his dead wife from bits and pieces of Times Square hookers. Believe it or not, it’s supposedly filled with “mondo special effects and biting social satire.” Yes, I can see how a film about fucking corpses could influence our social mores and the upcoming provincial elections.

Iron Man (Shinya Tsukamoto) jumps on the superhero bandwagon from, finally, a Japanese point of view. The Japanese have more or less ruled the comic book and to industries for the last ten years; it’s about time they followed Batman and took their toys to the big screen. In this black and white “industrial adventure”. Iron Man is attacked by a deranged woman and sodomized by a metal demon — all set to the latest in Japanese fringe music.

Tune in Tomorrow…(Jon Amiel) appears to be a promising and innocent little entry about a New Orleans family sex scandal turned into a radio soap opera. Starring Barbara Hershey, Keanu Reeves and Peter Falk, this film should prove to be popular with the non-critics among us. Entries like this are important to dispel the image of the Festival as solely a venue for bizarre foreign video experimentation. Let’s not forget that normal mainstream movies like The Princess Bride and Earth Girls Are Easy were Festival favorites as well.

This is a cinematic experience not to be missed, especially since it’s happening right in our front yard. And remember, viewers even get to participate in the dispensing of the awards, through the casting of votes. It’s also an opportunity to see some of next year’s box office blockbusters many months in advance of their official release dates.

Besides, it’s worth the price just to see Iron Man sodomized by a metal demon. Okay, okay, maybe it’s not.

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