Thursday, September 14, 2006

Festival Fatigue

Every year I see at least 10 films at the Toronto International Film Festival. And every year, I get worn out near the end. Yah, I know... "oooo.. it's sooooo hard sitting in a dark theatre watching movies for a week!" I also tip my hat to anyone who does 25-50 movies during that span... I'd go nuts. Trust me... trying to work films into a daily schedule every day takes some effort. A 7pm start time means a swing by McDonald's on my way to the film... hardly a nutrional bounty. A 9:30pm start time means I'm not home until midnight, with work the next day. Weekends are usually a day full of films, with me getting out of one just to wander over to the next theatre and get in line for the next. It's all somewhat mitigated by me doing this solo... so I can show up with 20-30 min left before showtime and still get a seat, as opposed to the hour before I'd have to show up if I was with someone else.

Last night was a perfect example... I've been scrambling trying to book this Vegas trip next week. The seat sale's last day was yesterday, and I had no idea what would happen to prices today (as it turns out, they stayed the same for a couple more days). Toss in hotels filling up and prices rising rapidly, and I wanted to get this done before I left for my 9:30 movie. Complications were run into, and long story short - I left my place at 9:18... giving me 12 minutes to get to the theatre. I ran some of the way, powerwalked some more, and then ran the last bit.. to get to my seat with 3 min to spare... wiped out from rushing.

So, panting and sweating, I got to watch Bugmaster. A Japanese production about a man who wanders turn-of-the-20th-century Japan curing people of "Bugs." Bugs being the essence of life found in all things living and dead. They cause ailments such as deafness, blindness, or worse. They tend to become solid when they settle somewhere, and are generally harmless when in "ghost" form.

The movie is long and drawn out with awkward jumps in telling backstory. There are also too many acts trying to be told. Now, this was the very first audience screening of this film, months before its official release date, so one can hope that some serious editing will be done. The core is there, with a likeable, sympathetic cast of characters, and some intertwining of stories that works to a degree. The idea of the Bugs actually works better than it sounds on paper.

Ultimately though, I feel the film is about balance. Balance in nature, balance in people, balance in life. Its also about seeking out what is important to you and then moving on from there. An example of this balance is seen in the first Bugs encountered -- the Wn and the Ah. The Wn consume sound, and when their forest becomes silent, they move to a village seeking more sound. Here they cause deafness in one ear as they nest there, devouring the sounds. The Ah are the counterpart of the Wn... releasing sounds, causing people to go mad as they implant themselves as horns that create an endless cacophony. These horns eventually become new Wn.

There's also subtle nods to environmentalism here as well, such as a comment about how many of the Bugs aren't heard of anymore, and new species are unreported. Seeing as Bugs are in essence, the lifestram of nature, this could be seen as the result of the encroachment of man. However, this isn't heavy-handed.

Oddly enough, watching this reminded me of The Last Winter, but with a more subtle tone to the messages, a more interesting story, and better execution.

As I stated, it's need of some serious editing... but it wasn't an unenjoyable experience.

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