Tuesday, August 28, 2007

2007 "Dialogues" Series Features Von Sydow, Loach, Attenborough, Burstyn

As a film buff old enough to remember when "audio commentaries" were something provided by chatty imbeciles sitting directly behind me in the theatre, I once welcomed any and all opportunities to listen to a director talk intelligently about his/her film from a production and/or philosophical perspective. Mags like "Starlog", "Film Comment", and "Cinefantastique" assuaged my obsessive geekdom until the pioneering folks at the Criterion Collection conceived of the commentary track, the first ever of which was included on their 1984 special edition of the original King Kong. Of course, by the time I could afford to buy laserdiscs, the format was pretty much dead.

These days, DVDs make it easy: everything from J'Accuse! to Just My Luck give their fans the joy of knowing just how great the assistant grip was to work with...

As a film student, live seminars were rare, and usually unenlightening--the odd disgruntled local director complaining about the Hollywood studio system and there not being enough work...

TIFF's "Dialogues: Talking With Pictures" sessions are unique events that offer a screening of a classic or influential title selected and introduced by an esteemed filmmaker, and followed with a lively Q & A (a live, feature length commentary is something I've yet to hear of being performed anywhere...but who knows?). The personality of the hour could also be one of the film's cast members, producers, or writers, or, an admirer from the fields of cinema history or academic study.

Over the years, I've enjoyed countless entertaining and informative discussions: John Sayles on The Organizer (I Compagni), David Cronenberg on Tod Browning's Freaks (although his first choice was Disney's Bambi!), Richard Linklater on Monte Hellman's Two Lane Blacktop, George A. Romero on Powell and Pressburger's Tales Of Hoffman , Bernard Rose on Cammell's Performance, Robert Towne on P & P's The Four Feathers , John Boorman on P & P's The Life And Times Of Colonel Blimp, Don McKellar on Cronenberg's The Brood, and my favorite, a riotous afternoon with John Waters pleading for tolerance for Joseph Losey's notorious Burton/Taylor debacle, Boom!

This year's Dialogues programme is one of the strongest since its inception: confirmed are Ken Loach on Menzel's Closely Watched Trains , Max Von Sydow on Bergman's The Virgin Spring (his sixth collaboration with the late director), Sir Richard Attenborough on his own How I Won The War, Ellen Burstyn on Scorsese's Alice Doesn't Live Here Any More (in which she stars), Sidney Lumet on Wyler's The Best Years Of Our Lives, Peter Bogdanovich on John Ford's silent rarity Bucking Broadway, and actors Nancy Kwan and Arthur Dong on Koster's Rodgers & Hammerstein's Flower Drum Song.

As usual, the screenings will be held at the Alliance/Atlantis Cinemas on Cumberland, where seating is extremely limited, so be sure to get your tickets here at the TIFF box office before they're gone!