I arrived in Toronto around 5:00 pm Thursday, which gave me four hours to check in, find the TIFF box office to pick up my tickets, and get to my first film at 8:00. No problem, right?
Eventually that’s right; I found my way to every place I needed to be. But it wasn’t easy. I took the subway from my hotel to the College station, expecting to see the box office location immediately. Instead I had to wander around the food court and down lonely hallways, asking directions where I could. Finally at one point I saw a series of TIFF posters in a set of windows across from the lobby I was in, and followed the hallways to where the office seemed to me. Eureka! A short 20-minute wait and I had my tickets–and luckily, I got all my first choice films.
The first film last night at 8:00 was Deliver Us from Evil, directed by Amy Berg. The film focuses on Oliver O’Grady (“Father Ollie”), who was for many years a priest in the Los Angeles diocese, and a few of his victims. A number of things were surprising about this story. First, in its focus on Los Angeles, rather than the Boston cases that drew so much media attention a couple of years ago, it suggested that the media have lost interest–and simultaneously that the reported cases of priest pedophilia are only the tip of the iceberg. O’Grady is suspected of having raped dozens, possibly hundreds of children–both boys and girls (the second surprise). The third surprise is that O’Grady cooperated fully and eagerly in the filming.
The final surprise is really a series of surprises: this is a documentary on what I thought was a familiar story, but that turned out to have several shocking plot twists. I really did not know, at several points, what was coming next. I’m not going to reveal any of it; you need to see it for yourself, from the tearful anger (mixed with guilt) of the parents, to the chillingly matter-of-fact recounting by O’Grady. At the end of the showing, director Amy Berg answered questions. The film will be released widely in the US in late October, through Lionsgate Films.
An hour ago I saw Big Bang Love, Juvenile A, directed by Takashi Miike (of Ichi the Killer, Audition, The Happiness of the Katakuries, the Dead or Alive series, and scores of others). Like many of Miike’s films, this one defies description. After a prologue consisting of a smoking man in a starkly lit studio reading from a script that appears to be talking about space travel, and then an interlude shot against a lurid red backdrop in which a young boy is instructed by an old man in an obscure but clearly homoerotic rite of passage, we see a brutal murder in what appears to be a prision. From that point on the story hops back and forth in time and space, focusing on two young men in what appears to be a futuristic or otherworldly juvenile prison, located anomalously between a rocket launch pad and a Mayan pyramid. What at first looks like a straightforward case of prison violence, the film becomes an exploration of the enormous gap between law and truth. Again, like most of Miike’s films, it is beautifully shot, with lingering extreme closeups alternating with explosive violence.
Miike was not there for the showing, and I don’t know whether the film will be available in North America outside of film festivals. He has directed over 70 films in the last 15 years, and only about a dozen of them are available on DVD–but Netflix has a lot of them.
My next film is at 9:30 tonight. I might try to get last-minute tickets to another film, or I might do some sightseeing or shopping. I rarely take the time for clothes shopping when I’m home, and I need a new pair of cargo pants.