Thoughtful reviews, the Boulder film scene

Winsor McCay -- The Master Edition

A new DVD offers an opportunity to see films by a master of animation —Andrea Birgers (DVD review...)

Gertie the Dinosaur, born of Winsor McCay

" This is a situation that needs to get un-fucked right now "
— Colm Meaney, Con Air

MRQE Top Critic

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My first movie, Sons of Norway, is surprisingly packed. I figure out that this is because there will be a personal appearance at the end by former Sex Pistol John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten).

It’s 1978 in Norway and Nikolaj, who is about 12, is leading a contented life with his hippy-dippy, leftist parents. What could possibly turn this happy kid into a disaffected punk rocker? And how can you be a rebel, when you have a dad who actually endorses your anti-social attitude?

Director Jens Lien and John Lydon (Johnny Rotten) answer questions in Toronto
Director Jens Lien and John Lydon (Johnny Rotten) answer questions in Toronto

I liked this movie. I enjoyed it. But I was hoping to really like it, and I didn’t. Perhaps it was the episodic nature of the plot (it was based on a novel). Perhaps I felt I could see the hand of the novelist/screenwriter at work.

I don’t regret picking this movie, but I can’t give it a whole-hearted recommendation.

My next film was A Letter to Momo, an animated movie from Japan. Having nothing else to do, I lined up an hour early. The guy ahead of me was eager to talk about movies. He was on the board of directors of a small film festival in Pennsylvania, and a festival enthusiast. We spent a good half hour comparing notes on past experiences at Telluride (me) and Sundance (him).

As in the previous film, A Letter to Momo, features a child, on the verge of adolescence, coping with the loss of a parent. I liked it better than Sons of Norway, but I was hoping to like it more. I wish the story had been tighter. I wish there had been a little more mystery at the end.

The producer told us that the movie was 100% hand-drawn, and took seven years to finish. While it didn’t reach the visually inventive peaks of Hayao Miyazaki’s films, the animation quality was still excellent, and was free of some of the preachyness of Miyazaki’s films.

I step out of the theatre and am immediately hit with the hustle and bustle of downtown Toronto on a Friday evening. At one end of Dundas square is a live musician, playing some kind of woodwind. Across the street, a guy is pounding away at a drum set. Half a block away are some sign-wielding 9/11 truthers. It’s enough to make an autistic person go catatonic. I feel like screaming myself, but instead I head to the restaurant to meet my colleagues.

I try to think of myself as a sports car, just like the day before, but the crowds are just too thick. The street around one of the big theatres is blocked off. People are crowding the sidewalk. Apparently someone famous will be walking the red carpet soon. Someone mentions Alec Baldwin. BIFF got him two years ago. Take that, TIFF!