Film Festival Prologue

I love films. It's an addiction that I've tried to kick many times but it keeps coming back to me ... and in Toronto tis the time where the festival circuit mayheim begins - a junkie's haven. (See Katherine's list of them here.) It's enough to make the many film reviewers of BlogTO heads spin as we scramble around rearranging our schedules for screenings and workshops. We all love its perks; the parties, the networking, the films and its manic nature - it's a very attractive drug.

That being said, after watching film after film and not getting that feeling of satisfaction. You know that feeling ... the one where you say, 'Now THAT was a good film. I enjoyed it immensely."

I haven't said that about a movie in awhile ... its enough to make a person jaded - and the drug lose its effect.

It really is difficult to review a film being a filmmaker myself. There are hundreds of thousands of variables to consider why filmmakers make the artistic decisions they do, most of which are subjective anyways.

Here at BlogTO, we tend to be rather gentle with our scathing comments as we're bound by some rather loose editorial guidelines, and because we know how difficult it is to create something and how much more work it takes to complete. Still, if something is a stinker, it's up to us to warn our readers to save their loose change for something better. Of course, being honest in our reviews there is bound to be someone who is unable to swallow its criticism.

I remember writing a not so favorable review of a much beloved feature film that won some award at Sundance. I had mentioned that it was not a bad film ... just that I didn't like it. Soon after its post the director directly contacted me pleading for me to give it another look with an audience and see if I felt differently. Ghastly ... as if I couldn't tell if I liked it or not the first time around ... Insulted I was, you bet! ... and you know ... I predicted he would react this way.

And then there was the time when both Matt and I and numerous others gave lukewarm reviews to the same film and it won an award at Sundance. Which actually sends my political-conspiracy-theory spidey sense on high alert; filmmaking walks a tight-rope between art and politics.

Different reviewers measure and judge the films differently. Reviewing is an art unto itself ... trust us on this one. For myself, I tend to look at the film in the here and now and try not to be swayed by the drama that preceeded it. Here and now means that my focus is Story ... as in ... IS THERE A STORY? followed by, HOW GOOD IS THE WRITING? and topped off with ARE THE CHARACTERS/PERFORMANCES BELIEVEABLE?

Toronto audiences can be just as judgemental, in fact, Toronto is know as being a hating-city meaning if something is sub-par we're really unimpressed. I believe this is why Toronto has some of the best critics. We're an industry of obsessed geeks masked by designer clothing and a sense of style. We are the Consumer's Guide to your cinematic entertainment!

A couple of weeks ago, I went to see the Inside Man with a couple of friends. Among the group, I and another friend were the two of 'film snob' group (ie: film/television industry folk). After the film, my fellow industry gal pal turned to me and said, "Why?" a tell-tale sign that she did not enjoy the film. I, myself, was unimpressed by it ... but we kept the comments to ourselves until the rest of the group asked us what we thought ... and so we shared. In a sort of film geekery mind meld the friends looked around at each other, deadpanned at the depth of our deconstruction. My best friend turned to me and said, "You know, I didn't mind it, but I can't enjoy just watching films when I'm with you."


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