The American Heritage dictionary defines pornography as: “Sexually explicit pictures, writing, or other material whose primary purpose is to cause sexual arousal” while Dictionary.com says it is “obscene writings, drawings, photographs, or the like, esp. those having little or no artistic merit.” Using those definitions, know this: despite what you might have heard or read, John Cameron Mitchell‘s brilliant new film Shortbus is most decidedly not pornographic. As Tom Lehrer wrote in his genius pro-porn tune, “Smut”: “To be smut it has to be ut-terly without redeeming social importence.” Mitchell’s film is beautiful, sexy, smart, sensitive, loving, incisive, relevant and a whole host of other adjectives, all of which fall squarly under the rubric of socially important.
The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has long been one of my favorite film events of the year and while I saw a few great films in the ten days up north, I can’t help but have emerged from the setting with a rather downbeat feeling about the event. However, rather than offer up any kind of a summary here, I’m just gonna do the blog thing and mainly post shorter entries, letting my criticism fall where it may. That said, this one’s kinda long….but there’s boobies after the jump!
This year marks my return to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) as a journalist, after five years absence. As I have remarked on many an occasion, the TIFF is my favorite North American film event and it is right up there with the Rotterdam International Film Festival and the Berlinale as one of the premiere film-related experiences in the world. While I am having fun with friends, seeing some excellent films and, I hope, doing some good work, when I come home at night it all seems like just so much bullshit. The devastation on the Gulf Coast makes all this art and commerce, vodka and tonics, seem so insignificant.
Deepa Mehta‘s Water will open the 30th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) on September 8th. The film, a world premiere, is one of 25 films announced yesterday by the festival. Others include the North American premiere of Ang Lee‘s upcoming Brokeback Mountain, which stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Heath Ledger, Michelle Williams, Anne Hathaway, Randy Quaid, Linda Cardellini and Anna Faris and will screen in the Masters section.