Awake: 9:15 a.m.
Movies:* 10:00 a.m.: 12:08 East Of Bucharest (B+); 3:00 p.m.: Summer '04 (B); 5:45 p.m.: Taxidermia (B); 10:30 p.m.: The Black Dahlia (B)
Food: jerk chicken with rice and beans and coleslaw; fudge brownie ice cream cone (double scoop); turkey wrap with Belgian frites; handfuls of snack mix
Drink: bottle of spicy ginger beer; can of Coke; small bottle of apple juice; glass of cabernet; two glasses of water; can of gingerale
Gum: 4 rectangles Eclipse spearmint
Music: iPod shuffle: songs of 2006
Print Media: The Onion; Entertainment Weekly**
TV: none
Conversations: the usual crowd***
Bedtime: 2:30 a.m.

*More grade changes: Shortbus and Woman On The Beach are really more B+ material than A-. I liked them a lot, but they haven't stuck with me as strongly as the week's worn on.

**It took me two weeks of reading just a few pages at a time, but I finally finished EW's Fall TV Preview. (Final verdict: TV is good.) As for my stack of Onions, I'm up to mid-August. I need to take another trip so I can get caught up completely. Maybe my bosses would like to send me to the New York Film Festival in a few weeks, just for the reading.

***Exhaustion and the prospect of an early flight kept me away from the traditional post-fest post-mortem with "the usual crowd." Regrets, gang. I'll see you next year.

Movie notes: 12:08 East Of Bucharest is slight in the best way, focusing on something very small–a Romanian local TV talk show discussion about the 16th anniversary of Ceausescu's deposing–and watching closely as it moves from farce to poignancy. The first half of the movie follows the three principals as they get ready for the show, and the last half shows the broadcast, which ponders the question of whether this small city really took part in the revolution, since nobody took to the streets until after Ceausescu stepped down. 12:08 is less interested in answering that question then in watching these three men–an asshole TV host, an alcoholic teacher, and a cranky old man–as their thorny personalities prick at each other. In that way, 12:08 is primarily a performance piece, like the superb recent Romanian film The Death Of Mr. Lazarescu. It's also very funny. I may be underrating it, just because it's coming towards the end of a packed 10 days of movies. … For about the first hour or so, Summer '04 is pretty damn great, with director Stefan Krohmer working in the "creepy domesticity" vein of European directors like Haneke and Ozon. A broad-minded couple allow their teenage son to bring his girlfriend with him on holiday, but then the girl starts to take an interest in a hunky middle-aged neighbor dude, and no one's sure whether it's their responsibility to stop these two from having an affair. For as long as Krohmer keeps everything teetering on the brink, Summer '04 is gripping, and even revealing about the ways that people rationalize both their actions and their inaction. Then one of the balls that Krohmer is juggling drops to the floor, and the movie spends the rest of its running time tidying up, right up to a closing scene that deflates all the tension the movie had built up. This of course is a common problem with these "suspense of the everyday" kinds of movies, since eventually the suspense has to let up, leaving just the everyday. At least Krohmer handles the suspense parts well. Incredibly well, I'd say. … Taxidermia is one of the most disgusting movies I've ever seen, full of sexual perversity, vomiting and vivisection, all in service of one of those "humans are naught but meat and want" meditations that I don't have much use for philosophically. But I laughed a lot, especially at the imaginative minutiae surrounding Soviet Bloc eating competitions, where coaches teach the competitors to "cross-swallow" and the state pays for "throat expansions." I could see this movie being a real cult item, especially among college art-punks who like their cinema to be of the "I dare you to watch this" variety. … I closed out my filmgoing in Toronto with a movie not in the festival, The Black Dahlia. As the special feature I wrote this week should reveal, I'm a big Brian De Palma-phile, and I've learned in the past that snap decisions about his work are rarely wise, since so many De Palma films are designed to tease viewers to a state of sublime frustration, and then to satisfy them later on, once they learn to love his kind of cinematic perversity. I will say that on first pass, The Black Dahlia suffers a lot from the tussle between De Palma's need to work through his pet themes–the ineffectual voyeur, the fluidity of identity, etc.–and the need to cram in a lot of James Ellroy's historical L.A. murder plot. But at the same time, the movie offers plenty of pleasures, including a sense of beautiful melancholy. It's going to take a second viewing to figure out how this ultimately rates, especially since I was completely exhausted while watching it. Too many movies for 10 days straight will do that to a person. … Back tomorrow for a postlude.

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