Thursday, September 11, 2008

TIFF 2008: Day 8

Now's the time of the festival where I start to re-think my grades on the previous films. See, let me explain something about my grading system: I don't really have one. Yes, I give a score on a one to ten scale, but it's mostly relative. In other words, these are my grades within this particular festival. If I give something a ten, it's not better than, let's say, The Godfather (Pt. 1 or 2)--it's just the best thing in this particular festival.

I could give you all sorts of convoluted, needlessly drawn-out explanations for why I do that, but it's really simple: I hate grading movies. Hate, hate, hate. I hate trying to sum up the experience of watching a film mere hours (or minutes) after watching it, as though any great film can be properly processed in that short a time span. This isn't to say that some people don't have a knack for using grades to summarize their movie experiences--it's just that I don't, not even a little. Plus, for me, there is nothing more damaging to my film experience than trying to dissect it, chop it up and neatly package it into a grade. I recognize the need for it as a shorthand, but I hate with a passion.

So,'s some grades for today's movies:

Gomorrah (Matteo Garrone) - 7/10

Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufmann) - 10/10

My favorite film of the festival so far and one of the best things I've seen all year. What's weird about it is that I can understand why a lot of people hate it (and a lot of people really hate this thing, if my crowd is any indication). For one thing, it's strange. Very, very strange. And all the strangeness is played perfectly straight, which makes it wildly funny (at times, it's Kaufman's funniest film). But then, as things start to descend further and further into weirdness, it starts to get more serious. All of which leads to an ending that socked me (and everyone else with me) and left me reeling, tears in my eyes. I can't say much more without spoiling it, so I'll leave it there. See it.

Les Plages d'Agnes (Agnes Varda) - 7/10,

35 Rhums (Claire Denis) - 7/10

Tomorrow: Revolutions! Sonatas! Suburbia (maybe)!

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