Day 9 report from TIFF (inc Hitoshi Matsumoto's Dai Nipponjin)
16th Sep 07
TIFF Day 9 (Friday)
The penultimate day of the festival and it was noticeably quieter now that most of the Press & Industry people have departed. There were just a scattering of P&I screenings available for the morning session, so I decided to check out The Babysitters, the directorial debut from David Ross.
It concerns a sixteen year old girl Shirley (the excellent Katherine Waterson) who earns cash from babysitting in the local neighbourhood. When she begins a relationship with one of the fathers (John Leguizamo) and he tips her handsomely, her business nous kicks in and she starts up a discreet call girl service with her college friends to satisfy the needs of Michael and his friends.
It's morally questionable whether such a contentious subject should be the basis on which to be entertained, yet The Babysitters is an engrossing tale full of convincing performances. It doesn't play as a broad comedy, nor does it preach a moral message, it's just a captivating drama peppered by moments of black humour. And any film that can keep me wide awake at 9:30 in the morning, battling a raging hangover, deserves my full respect.
I bumped into Ian and his Dad sitting outside the local pub at lunchtime, so joined them for a drink before we said our goodbyes and they headed for the airport.
City Hall, Toronto
I spent my afternoon walking the streets in downtown Toronto as it was such a sunny day. Having visited the city before sightseeing wasn't top of my agenda, I was simply happy to be out browsing around the shops. I found a cool little place on Queen Street West called The Darkside which specialises in horror-themed clothing and stocked a wide range of horror tees. They even had one with the artwork for Night Of The Creeps emblazoned across the front, alas they didn't have my size. Amazingly for such a movie junkie like myself I've only purchased one DVD in the whole time that I've been here - an ex-rental copy of Turistas (Paradise Lost) which I picked up for $10.
Hitoshi Matsumoto stars in Dai Nipponjin
In the evening I headed down to the Ryerson for the Midnight Madness screening of Dai Nipponjin. Offbeat and obscure, I wasn't expecting this one to be terribly busy, but boy was I mistaken! There was a huge rush line snaking along Gerard Street and apparently the ticket scalpers were demanding $100 for a $20 ticket! Thankfully Colin was on hand to get me inside and I took my place in the Reserved seating alongside the other guests - meeting up with Sanjay and Alison who I'd bumped into at the Midnight Madness party the night before.
Dai Nipponjin came as a complete surprise to me. At nearly two hours long I'd heard that it was a really slow film, but despite the late hour it held my attention from the start and seemed to breeze by in record time. The film follows Daisato (Hitoshi Matsumoto, who also directs) an unlikely Japanese superhero as he's trailed by a documentary filmmaker. His interviews are so dry and deadpan - confessing his love for umbrellas, "Because they expand when you need them" - that it comes as no surprise to discover that Matsumoto is a huge television comedy star in Japan.
The real laughs come when Daisato is called into action and transforms into the hulking purple-pants wearing Dai Nipponjin, defending the country against all manner of outlandish CGI baddies (Jumpy Baddie, Smelly Baddie etc.) culminating in an eye-wetting finale when he's forced to team up with a family of superheroes loosely based on the Ultraman characters.
It's a winning take on the genre dominated by a terrific turn by Matsumoto in the starring role. At the end of the film Colin returned to the stage with video camera in hand to record the crowd's reaction in an effort to persuade the director to fly over to Toronto in person with his next movie!