2003 Milk Plus Droogies

Best Picture
Kill Bill Vol. I

Best Director
Quentin Tarantino, Kill Bill Vol. I

Best Actor (tie)
Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean

Best Actor (tie)
Bill Murray, Lost in Translation

Best Actress
Uma Thurman, Kill Bill Vol. I

Best Supporting Actor
David Hyde Pierce, Down With Love

Best Supporting Actress
Miranda Richardson, Spider

Best Screenplay
Sofia Coppola, Lost in Translation

Best Foreign Film

Best Cinematography
Harris Savides, Gerry

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The Blog:
Monday, September 15, 2003
Toronto International Film Festival 2003, preliminary notes. (Reviews of specific films to follow, starting later in the week)

Other reviewers (the CBC and the Globe and Mail among them) have noted the preponderance of films dealing with mortality during this year's TIFF. It certainly struck me, when four of my first five films (Arcand's Invasions Barbares; Thom Fitzgerald's The Event; My Life Without Me with Sarah Polley and Mark Ruffalo; Sarah Gavron's This Little Life) included: three terminal illnesses, two assisted suicides, and one very premature baby fighting for his life. Later on, there are also: one sudden disappearance (and presumed murder) of a young boy; one heart transplant, one heart failure, one case of pancreatic cancer. The dark comedy/drama Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself (from the director of Italian for Beginners) includes - surprise! - numerous suicide attempts. Margarethe von Trotta's Rosenstrasse, set in WWII Berlin, looks at lives threatened by the Holocaust; Marcelo Pineyro's Kamchatka, is set during the early months of the Argentinian military coup of 1976 - an event that left (estimates vary) 9,000-30,000 people "disappeared". Michael Haneke's Le Temps du loup, is akin to a French After 28 Days.

The theory is that this wave of films includes ones predominantly scripted in the shadow of 9/11, with screenwriters dwelling on themes of loss, death, and the question of how one lives in the shadow of death (whether one's own, or a loved one's). Whatever the merits of the theory, it was certainly a very dark crop of films. Hence, I appreciated all the more the cheerier films of the 33 seen: newcomer Jane Weinstock's Easy, Richard Curtis' ensemble piece Love Actually (both romantic comedies); and Coppola's Lost in Translation. One "smaller" film The Station Agent, and a kick-ass martial arts drama Ong Bak Muay: Thai Warrior rounded off the list of notable titles.

Special Mention to AGF, the mutual funds company and a major TIFF sponsor, for their series of trailers. In one, an airline steward, while giving the pre-flight safety instructions, segues into "full thespian" mode. A second has a legal stenographer, when requested to "read the last few lines back", giving a dramatically scripted - and entirely fictitious - account of the court proceedings. In a third, a private investigator, presenting a client with videotaped evidence of his wife's infidelity, prattles on about how he tried to do "a sort of homage to Godard...looking for an experimental quality". All finish with the (titled, but unspoken) tag lines: "What do you love to do? Why aren't you doing it?" Imaginative, humorous, and effective. I hope they give the ads wider distribution.