Sunday, March 16, 2008

CIFF Report: Day 3

When I got back to the hotel on Friday night, my husband, Paul, was already here—so there were two of us to get ready and out the door on Saturday morning. Fortunately, we also had an extra hour to catch breakfast, so I figured we could get up at 8 and still make it to the festival in time to park and meet up with John and Jing before our 11:45 movie.

While I was in the shower, John called to say that the valet parking was the way to go—and since I had both my media pass and a corporate pass from WCBE, that meant that the valet parking was free. So we decided to check it out. We left the hotel by 10:15, and we were out of the car and headed inside by 10:30. No standing outside, and no waiting for shuttles. It was wonderful.

Jing and John were both on their way when we got there, so we waited in the mall’s beautiful (but not necessarily comfy) atrium. Before we headed to the movie (and since we had all kinds of time), Jing got himself some Chinese food for, um, breakfast while I ran to get the dailies.

John had read a great review of Movie #1 in the local paper that morning, so we decided to get there early to get our seats. So we wandered over at 11:15 and found that there were already people in line. Apparently, there had been an early movie added to that theater, and it was getting out a little later than planned, so we’d have to hang out for a while. John doesn’t wait in lines, so he was a bit miffed by the whole thing, but I figured at least we were at the beginning of the line, so we’d get decent seats.

We ended up sitting in front of a woman with her own cushion. Clearly, she was one of the crazy regulars—because she also sang along with the festival trailer at the top of her lungs…totally off-key.

Movie #1 was Kidz in da Hood, a Swedish drama/musical. It wasn’t quite up to the level of stuff we saw on Friday, but I liked it anyway. In fact, my track record was pretty good. That was my 10th movie of the festival, and I’d only seen one that I didn’t really like. Not bad.

After the movie got out, John announced that he was going up to the VIP suite. Our corporate passes entitled us to get into the mysterious suite in the Ritz, where they had some snacks and (more importantly) some nice chairs—and (according to Clay) some great bathrooms. The problem was that, a few years ago, John and Clay got thrown out of the VIP suite because they only had media passes—and only two of the four of us had corporate passes. So we’d have to sneak the other two in. Paul seems to have a talent for sneaking into places and not getting caught, so he slipped his pass inside his jacket and followed. We told Jing to do the same. And then we went though the secret process of getting to the suite. You have to get to the Ritz and take one elevator up to the sixth floor—and then you have to take another elevator up to the seventh floor. I have no idea how John found the place, but there it was—a tiny room with a few tables and chairs and some tables of food. We didn’t have a lot of time before the next movie, so we quickly grabbed some munchies and a Coke and sat down for a few minutes. I downed mine in record time and went off to check out the infamous bathrooms (which, just for the record, were very nice). As I was walking back in from the bathroom, I noticed a sign that showed all of the passes that were allowed in the suite—and the media pass was one of them. Apparently, we didn’t need to sneak in after all. But it was fun anyway. But then it was time to leave again. We went back through all the secret passages, back to the crowds, which seemed to have grown exponentially since we’d left. The hallways were crowded with ticket-holders and stand-by moviegoers who were waiting in their lines, and we had to fight our way to get inside.

Since we’d only gotten in 15 minutes before Movie #2, the theater was already filling up. We tried to take some seats near the back, but some guy told us that media passes weren’t allowed in the passholders-only seats (which is totally not true, from what I’ve been told before), but we moved anyway. We ended up in the front of the theater, where we had to split up to get seats (unless we wanted to sit in the front row). It was only 2:00, but already, it was insane. I started to dread the evening movies.

Movie #2 was Battle in Seattle, Stuart Townsend’s movie about the 1999 World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle and the protests that got out of control. The whole thing was pretty well done, but, as I explained later, that’s why I don’t usually put dramas on my list. It was only the second movie of the day, but it was so heavy that I just wanted to leave and take a nap. If you’re seeing four movies in a day, you can’t watch a bunch of heavy dramas—because it’ll kill you.

So after a heavy drama, we all needed a drink—so we headed back to Tower 230, our restaurant from Friday, for more martinis. Jing was excited about getting another round of pickles—and we once again ordered a ton of food. I definitely needed it—since we hadn’t gotten lunch, and it was already 4. Time flies at these things.

We didn’t have three hours to hang out at the restaurant and drink martinis this time, though (though John still managed to down another three) because we knew the next round would be a busy one. So after a quick stop at the mall’s fabulous dollar store (where John buys a year’s supply of spices), we headed back to the theater. We were 45 minutes early, but we were still in line behind a handful of people. If we’d gotten there 30 minutes early, we probably would have been out the door.

Again, John, fueled by three martinis, was totally livid about having to wait in line, but we managed to keep him relatively calm. Then one of the festival staff members came up to make an announcement, and I was a bit worried that all hell would break loose. The announcement, however, wasn’t a bad one. They had gotten permission to run the movie in another theater—but only for pass-holders—so we were led to another theater across the hall. That, of course, was insane, but at least we made it in, and we got seats that weren’t in the front row, so we were completely happy.

Once we got inside, Jing decided that he wanted ice cream, so he wandered off. We wished him luck, figuring we’d never see him again—because I figured one could easily get trampled to death in the 7:00 crowds. He did, however, make it back in one piece.

Movie #3 was Priceless, a French romantic comedy that I’m not allowed to review, so I’ll just say that I liked it and move on.

After the movie, John headed back to his hotel to call it a night before getting up at the crack of dawn and heading home—so we said our good-byes in the crowded hallway. Jing wandered off to a movie I’d already seen. And Paul and I made our way through the crowd to see if we could get into Movie #4. We weren’t sure we’d be able to get in, but we did. We quickly took our seats and settled in. Then, as I was taking some notes, Paul wandered off to buy me a festival T-shirt. I got one of five remaining T-shirts.

As the festival staff got up to announce the movie, they also announced that the last time slot had been the biggest ever—and that 2800 people had been there watching movies. Pretty impressive for a little Midwestern festival, don’t you think?

Movie #4 was Gael Garcia Bernal’s Deficit. To be honest, I would have been okay if we hadn’t gotten in—because I was exhausted. The crowds and the heavy dramas and the crappy weather had worn me down—but I made it through one more movie, and then I was happy to head back to the valet stand and head back to the hotel. Then I slept like a rock.

Now it’s time for one last day—three last movies before I get to go home and sleep.



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