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TIFF 2005

I've been pretty busy lately, so my involvement with the Toronto International Film Festival was rather limited this year. I only ended up seeing four movies. And, since I decided not to buy the program book this year, I picked my movies without knowing the whole selection. (I also did poorly in the lottery.)

Anyway, I did have a good time with the movies that I did see.

Sa-Kwa was a typical foreign film-fest picture. It was a Korean movie about relationships and learning how to make them work. It was okay. I chose it because I have enjoyed a lot of Korean movies in past TIFFs, but there was nothing outstanding here.

51 Birch Street was a remarkable documentary by Doug Block. It is about his family and features some interviews with his parents, including footage of their 50th wedding anniversary. Then his mom dies. Suddenly his silent 82-year-old father announces he has met his former secretary (from 35 years ago) and they will be marrying. Dad is transformed into a happy, expressive person, but the kids have questions. Then Doug finds Mom's diaries and discover a lot more about what his parents' marriage was like. It's an unusual exploration for a son, but it leads to a better understanding of his parents, and a closer relationship with his dad. The cool thing about seeing this at TIFF 2005 was that the whole family was there, seeing it for the first time.

Linda Linda Linda is just a fun Japanese movie about a group of high school girls with a band, preparing for the big end-of-school gig. There's nothing complicated about this movie, but I enjoyed it and liked the music... covers from 1980s Japanese punk band The Blue Hearts.

Do U Cry 4 Me Argentina? didn't live up to its promise, which is too bad because the director seemed like a really nice, interesting guy. It is a movie about disillusioned Korean youth in families that have emigrated to Argentina. I thought this premise had potential, and was struck by the innovative music-video style that was used. However, I found too much of the plot to be over-the-top. The depiction of what this generation's life is like was sensationalized, and could have been better with a more subtle treatment.

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