Day in the Life of TIFF: Opening Night
Torontoist has been acquired by Daily Hive Toronto - Your City. Now. Click here to learn more.




Day in the Life of TIFF: Opening Night

The best and worst of the fest's opening night—featuring bike valets, Bill Murray Day, and a soppy Robert Downey, Jr. drama.

Every morning during TIFF 2014, we’ll recap the best (What Rules) and worst (What Sucks) of the festival. And also some tweets. For the full weight of our TIFF coverage go here.

Robert Downey, Jr  stars in upmarket Hallmark movie, The Judge

Robert Downey, Jr. stars in upmarket Hallmark movie, The Judge.


The Judge: When TIFF started rolling out their 2014 slate in July, it was weird that they didn’t name an opening gala premiere. After all, a big, meaty, opening film launching a fest sets a tone. It was weirder yet when The Judge, a soppy drama about a fancy-pants big-city lawyer (Robert Downey, Jr.) who returns to his small town to clear the name of his curmudgeonly dad (Robert Duvall) after he’s charged with murder, was promoted to the opening-night spot. Sure, these are good actors. But by all appearances The Judge is an upmarket Hallmark movie. Well the jury’s in, with The Judge being accused of “hackiness” and elsewhere tapped as “assertively not good.” (One writer I know who saw it described it as “literally the worst fucking piece of shit I’ve ever seen.”) TIFF has long puffed out its chest about being the launching pad for Oscar season. I mean, how else would anyone hear about tiny little-movies-that-could like The King’s Speech, right? But coming off last year’s disastrous opener with the awful Wikileaks drama The Fifth Estate, it seems like TIFF is more responsible for debasing even the already plenty-debased Awards Season scrambling.

The “Festival Street Initiative”: In order to make TIFF seem, well, more Festival-y, this year they shut down King Street West from about Peter Street to University Avenue in order to erect a kind of festival village. Presumably this is meant to evoke Sundance, or even the Berlinale, but so far all that’s really there is a giant mock-up of HAL from 2001 (tied into TIFF’s forthcoming Stanley Kubrick exhibition), people handing out free Pepsi (lord knows nobody will buy it), and extended patios for la-di-da King West restos like The Kit Kat Bar and Gabby’s. Everyone swears it’ll get better today. We’ll see. In the meantime, ahhh, disgusting, thick Pepsi.

I lost my wallet: After the marathon screening of the Palme d’Or winning Winter Sleep, I somehow lost my wallet.


I found my wallet: The Cineplex cleaning staff, very friendly, helped me as I swore compulsively while combing through disgusting cinema streets. Bless them.

The bike valet: Bike parking is becoming increasingly more difficult to find around the Lightbox, so it’s cool to see TIFF partner with Cycle Toronto to offer a bike valet service until Sunday, located right at King and Simcoe. Basically, you leave your bike, go to some movies, come back and your bike is waiting for you. So, yeah, it’s like a valet. But for your bike.

Bill Murray Day: That’s right, all you Groundhogheads, all you Broken Flower fanatics, all ye apostles bowing at the altar of St. Vincent! It’s time to show your “stripes” (like the movie, Stripes), because today is Bill Murray Day in Toronto, for some reason. Take a moment to overpraise Ghostbusters and remember the man who you’d think invented sarcasm before reviving his late career as a living, breathing meme. Who knows what’ll happen!? Maybe Bill Murray will pop up at your bachelor party and raise a toast to you? Maybe he’ll hop over the bar somewhere on Dundas West and start slinging tequila? Maybe you’ll come home after a long day’s TIFF-ing to find him in bed with your wife? With Manic Pixie Dream Murray, the possibilities are quite literally endless. Reports suggest that TIFF accidentally oversold tickets to the actual Bill Murray movie premieres, but so what?! Isn’t keeping Bill Murray in your heart enough. I’m saying: it is.

@tofilmcritic: We wrote about this fun mystery yesterday. The account is gaining followers. And still “killing it”! Like this:

Anyway, we’re back into the thick of it today, with more reviews, coverage, photos, and all manner of miscellaneous TIFF-ery.