Awake: 8:00 a.m.
Movies: 9:30 a.m.: For Your Consideration (B); 11:30 a.m.: Borat (B+); 5:00 p.m.: U (B-); 7:15 p.m.: Manufactured Landscapes (C+); 8:45 p.m.: Schuss! (incomplete)
Food: container of strawberry yogurt; stir-fried beef noodles*; grilled sirloin burger with ketchup, tomatoes, onions and hot pickled peppers**; three double chocolate chewy Chips Ahoy
Drink: can of gingerale; bottle of Molson Dry; small mango-peach-pineapple smoothie; half-bottle of Coke; a few swallows of bottled water
Gum: 2 squares Eclipse spearmint
Music: iPod shuffle
Print Media: Entertainment Weekly
Conversations: the usual crowd***
Bedtime: 1:30 a.m.
*I had lunch at a restaurant called "Not Just Noodles." I got the noodles.
**Happy beef day.
***While standing in line for U, I overheard an over-serious film critic talking to a colleague about how he had yet to see anything good at the festival. When the second critic said that he'd liked Borat, the over-serious dude said, "Borat … that's the funny one, right?"
Movie notes: The big surprise about Christopher Guest's For You Consideration is that it's not in the semi-improvised "mockumentary" style that Guest is responsible for making overly popular. FYC's mostly scripted, and it's a pretty straightforward comedy, about an earnest indie film production that gets all cocked-up when Oscar buzz starts building on the world wide interweb. What's not surprising about For Your Consideration? The fact that it's just as sour as Guest's other work, and just as based on spoofing show business types that don't really exist in quite the way that Guest imagines them. Guest continues to think it's funny to put people in goofy wigs, or give them stupid names, or make them extra-Jewish. And he's right, sometimes. But FYC's satire is largely stingless, since it's jabbing at comedy stereotypes more than the real beasts of the business. … Also irrelevant, but much funnier: Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan , Sacha Baron Cohen's tour through the American south, guided by his Kazakhstan lifestyle reporter persona. Sidesplitting stuff abounds–my favorite line: "her vaj-een hang like sleeve of wizard"–but don't think that Cohen's seemingly chummy, covertly subversive Borat character is revealing anything significant about the American character. Yes, much of this country is populated by racists, homophobes and humorless P.C. types. No, setting up random yahoos so that they come off looking worse than they probably are doesn't prove anything, except that southerners are wired to be extra-accommodating to assholes. But whatever its failings as satire, again, as a comedy, Borat is a scream. … After getting shut out of a public screening of Paris, Je T'aime, I walked around town for a while and then wandered into U, a short French animated feature about a princess who falls in love with a wandering minstrel, thereby destabilizing the order of her little fantasy world. That description makes the movie sound more serious–and sensible–than it actually is. U is more low-key and rambling, built around natural-sounding conversations between idling cartoons. The movie looks pretty, and has an admirably light air, but there's not much to it, and even at 70 minutes, it's a little tiresome. … I ended the day with two experimental documentaries that I wish I'd liked more. Manufactured Landscapes tries to translate the eerily beautiful industrial landscape photography of Edward Burtynsky into cinematic form, by covering a lot of the same ground that Burtynsky does, with a moving camera. But frankly, the subject matter is more suited to stills, where the mysterious abstraction stands on its own. When put into their broader social context–specifically, when Burtynsky fills director Jennifer Baichwal in on the origins and consequences of all the waste he finds and shoots–the movie becomes another one of those "isn't it a pity" docs, where the damnable inequity of globalization provides an occasion for muted, impotent rage. This is double disappointing given that Baichwal previously made The True Meaning of Pictures: Shelby Lee Adams' Appalachia, a really tough and smart doc about art and exploitation. … My other experimental doc was Schuss!, which I abandoned an hour into the two-hour running time, feeling guilty and slightly less-than-hardcore as I slunk out of the Al Green Theater (with its ass-defeating seats hastening my exit). What can I say? I knew going in that this is an allusive essay-film about the twin histories of skiing and aluminum in Europe, and how they exemplify man's disruption of nature in the name of "communing." But while I expected abstraction, I wasn't really counting on the grainy and (to my eyes) unexceptional imagery, or the asynchronous verité soundtrack. I confess that I'm not attuned to the avant-garde necessarily, though I'm not completely ignorant of it either, and Schuss! struck me as middling A-G and less-than-middling documentary filmmaking. My biggest regret in leaving early was that I didn't get the chance to talk with my more A-G-minded pals, to see what they thought. When I hear back from them, I'll update.
Awake: 8:00 a.m.