Dazzlingly sunny Sunday morning brought my radio show (shameless plug time: “The Love & Hate Movie Show” on CKDU, 88.1FM every Sunday at 11am) which, of course, was an AFF special edition.
Wandering over to the Academy Luncheon at The Lord Nelson to hear Peter Greenaway speak, I passed the Greyhound club’s meeting in Victoria Park. Lots of tall, slim, good-natured hounds loitered with their chatty people. It was really cool.
Greenaway is a larger-than-life character… not someone easy to interview, as Jan Miller, the director of Strategic Partners discovered. Mike Clattenburg was to have been the point man, but had a scheduling conflict and so Jan stepped in. Greenaway, who has helmed such peculiar films as Prospero’s Books, The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, A Zed and Two Noughts, Belly Of An Architect, The Pillow Book and Drowing By Numbers, had his own agenda and took an hour to use the questions as a jumping off point for his various fascinations, ranging from a film set in (or just about, I wasn’t certain which) the virtual world of Second Life to image versus text. The natural paradox of a filmmaker espousing the art of painting, declaring film dead in one breath and presenting his brand new film in another, wasn’t lost on a few in the audience. He was certainly entertaining, every thought framed with quotable pith. Children these days are “born with buttons in their mouths,” he said, then went on to proclaim: “I don’t want to be an illustrator, I want to be an originator. I want to be a composer, not a conductor.” He then illustrated (hah, see what I did there?) his Four Tyrannies of the Cinema: Text, the frame, that it’s not a playground for Sharon Stone, and the camera. I gather his plan is to try and do away with it all. Good luck with that, Peter.
I caught a bit of his Q&A after the evening screening of Nightwatching at The Oxford, but, realizing that the next film, Lust, Caution was going to be over two hours, and that would keep me from seeing the Danish horror picture called Room 205, I bailed on the Ang Lee movie very likely to get a theatrical release this fall to catch the Late Shift screening… and in the meantime had a drink with a friend in from Toronto for the festival. My friend had just seen Nightwatching and wasn’t altogether impressed by it. He fell asleep mid-film. The drink was restorative.
Room 205 took me by surprise. I don’t see a lot of horror these days in general. The Saw movies leave me unstirred, though I enjoyed Hostel, but it didn’t scare me. This Danish genre entry is one of the best scares I’ve had the good fortune to experience in the cinema. The story of a girl moving into a dorm (the direct translation of the film’s Danish title Kollegiet is “dorm”) and discovering it haunted is driven by some fun character writing, though the plot’s ghost story conventions are way over the line into ridiculous. The direction, by Martin Barnewitz, is masterful, creating a sense of creeping claustrophobia and sudden fright using high-decibel sound, music, light strobes and cross-cutting. This is the kind of film that won’t have nearly the impact on DVD unless you like your TV volume high, so I’m glad to have seen it in the theatre. (CK)