Awake: 10:15 a.m.
Movies: 11:00 a.m.: Summercamp! (C+); 12:45 p.m.: Pan's Labyrinth (A-); 2:45 p.m.: Deliver Us From Evil (incomplete); 5:30 p.m.: All The King's Men (D+); 9:00 p.m.: Venus (B+)
Food: container of strawberry yogurt; roast beef sandwich on soft garlic roll with carmelized onions; Aero chocolate mousse ice cream cone; Vietnamese spicy grilled chicken with rice and boiled cabbage; crackers, salami and cheese
Drink: can of gingerale; bottle of sweetened Green Tea; can of Labatt's Blue; can of apple soda
Gum: 2 squares Eclipse spearmint
Music: iPod shuffle**
Print Media: Entertainment Weekly
Conversations: the usual crowd
Bedtime: 2 a.m.
*It's my birthday, by the way. The big 3-6.
**Highlight of today's mix: U2's "I Threw A Brick Through A Window," a great walking through the city song.
Movie notes: I was significantly disappointed with Summercamp, which falls into a genre that I carry a deep affection for: the no-big-deal, fly-on-the-wall doc about American work/recreation/habitation. There's a lot of good footage here of kids grinding their way through three weeks of camp, having fun in their individualized ways while dealing with the onset of puberty and adult attempts to socialize them. But it's not given enough of a shape, and co-directors Bradley Beesley and Sarah Price fall prey to the dreaded "cut away from every interview as soon as the subject says something funny or ironic" strategy. In their efforts to keep the audience entertained, they leave a lot on the shelf. … For about the first hour, Pan's Labyrinth plays like another handsome-looking-but-kind-of-inert Gullermo Del Toro genre pastiche, better in concept than execution. Then its twin storylines–one about rebels and fascists fighting in the mountains during the Spanish Civil War, and one about a little girl finding out from a woodland faun that she's an immortal princess with three mystical tasks to complete–begin to swap meanings back and forth, and Del Toro starts to ratchet up the tension, the action, and the repulsive ooze. By the end–by the last line, to be exact–it becomes startlingly clear what Del Toro means to say about how history keeps re-judging our actions with each new generation. It's not perfect by any means, but in the ways that count, Pan's Labyrinth is the first great movie I've seen at this year's festival. … I have to take a pass on Deliver Us From Evil, which I watched about an hour of before I decided that I didn't really need to confront the hard facts of what pedophile priests do to their victims. I was also beginning to question documentarian Amy Berg's approach, which relied a lot on lets-make-the-audience-squirm staged bits, like having the pedophile priest in question go visit a playground. But ultimately, I can't really grade this film. When I left, it was doing what it set out to do, which is to question Catholic authority and the wisdom of vows of celibacy, while describing how a sexual predator was allowed to run amok in a California diocese for two decades. When it got to the baby-raping, I decided enough's enough. … What to say about All The King's Men? Consider this: at what we thought was the end of the movie, myself and the strangers next to me gathered our belongings and breathed a sight of relief that this excruciating slog was finally done. When it turned out that the movie wasn't over yet, so we sank back into our seats, with a groan and a loud laugh. Nobody shushed us. … After staring dead-eyed at two hours of bad southern accents, overwritten dialogue and warmed-over political commentary, it was a double-treat to see Venus, a spry, moving British comedy about a decrepit, beloved actor (played by Peter O'Toole) and his crush on the 17-year-old grand-niece of one of his cronies. There are some Grumpy Old Men-style isn't-it-funny-when-the-elderly-swear? shenanigans afoot, and there's a lot of why-don't-these-young-folks-respect-their-history moralizing. But both are acceptable given the purpose to which director Roger Michell and writer Hanif Kureshi put them. Essentially, Venus asks the audience to pay their respects to O'Toole and his whole brilliant generation, as they leave us for good, and leave us poorer in their absence. This is a job worth doing, and this movie does it delightfully well.
Awake: 10:15 a.m.