Let me tell you about the Varsity VIP.
The majority of the press screenings are held in the Varsity, an eight-screen multiplex in the Manulife Centre at Bloor and Yonge. There are a handful of screenings in the Varsity VIP, and until this year I never knew what it was.
It’s three tiny theatres, like a little loft apartment above the rest of the big boys, ranging from 30 to 50 seats each. I first went in there three days ago for a film I can’t even remember now (I have Festival Brain, like when you get pregnant but with movies instead of a kid), and was astonished to find leather seats with little tables between them, a purple curtain fluffed around a screen that wasn’t standard stadium size, it was standard screening room size. Like if you have a house in the Hollywood Hills and InStyle reports on it and lists all the things in it, and one of them is a screening room? It’s one of these rooms.
I don’t know anything at all about the rooms’ provenance, but I’m guessing they’re there for the Toronto press, which gets regular pressers throughout the year, and maybe for directors in town to screen dailies?
Well the AC hasn’t been working all week. In fact I think the heat has been on. And so I speak to you now one movie short of my goal of 25, because I have had my last bits of energy sapped by the majesty and the heat wave of the Varsity VIP.
But first, the final update.
Today begins with another documentary, Trumbo, about the screenwriter Dalton Trumbo who was blacklisted in the 50s. He died in 1976. He was a big letter-writer, so to bridge the gap between the impossibility of new interviews and the lack of archival footage (though there’s a pretty good amount considering the era), the director Peter Askin has gotten a stellar line-up of actors to read his correspondence aloud. They include Joan Allen, Josh Lucas, Donald Sutherland and Michael Douglas. I love old Hollywood shit so it is fascinating to me, though there are a considerable number of walkouts.
(People get testy at the end. Like no one claps for the ad about how they couldn’t have the festival without volunteers. If anything it starts conversations like “There’s this one volunteer I’ll totally fucking kill if he points that scan gun at me again....”)
That was followed by a wild card pick, The Take, which turns out to be a genre crime thriller starring John Leguizamo and Rosie Perez. Zzzzzz. Although Bobby Cannavale does appear as a hot cop. But still. Not film festival fare.
My final movie of the festival, back in the hot VIP, sitting next to Colm Feore and his perfect enunciation, is The Tracey Fragments. This kid Ellen Page is alright, isn’t she? A fucked-up film from Bruce McDonald, it’s an editing marvel, with between two and a dozen different screens coming at you constantly. (Like Time Code on speed.) Page plays the titular Tracey, who can’t find her lost brother, and the film jumps around in time building the events that get us to the start, which is Tracey on a Winnipeg city bus under a shower curtain in her underwear.
All I want to do is nap but it’s such a frenetic film it practically demands you watch it – there are tonnes of editing tricks, so you can’t close an eye or you could miss a piece of the puzzle.
It’s a fitting end for me – pieces forming a blur, just like this festival has been.
Here are some “around Toronto” photos I haven’t posted. Thanks for reading.