Nine in the Afternoon

Huff, Mike, Troy and Jackie on the red carpet 2008

The Toronto International Film Festival recently released its film list for this year. Mike was quite upset, to say the least. This is the first year he will not be attending TIFF since we first went in 2008. It was more difficult than we thought to get five of us to go – Mike, Troy and I were in from the start, but we had some people who backed out last minute. I realize more and more that people suck when making plans in advance. Everyone always says yes when it’s something at least six months away, but when it becomes a reality, they have no problem saying no.

So last minute, we were asking everyone and anyone who would go with us. We must have already bought all the tickets, or we just couldn’t afford the trip without a group. In the end Huff and Jacquie were on board. Definitely a random bunch. (Dan) Huff is Mike’s friend from college, and Jacquie we know from high school. Actually, I’ve known her longer than that since we grew up a couple streets away from each other. We used to play house and pretend we were poor, and I’d go out and try and get us (our family: Jacquie and the twins) food. I’d come back to the family room from the kitchen with slices of Wonder bread. And we would really eat plain bread like it was the only thing we were going to eat all day.

So the five of us road trip to Canada. The drive isn’t bad – until we reach Canada. We’ve given ourselves plenty of time to get there and settle in before our first movie of the evening. We’re so frustrated driving around when the guys put on the song, America, Fuck Yeah, and we roll down the windows, jamming out. Classy. We pull up to our destination – we decided not to get a hotel because it would be too expensive. Mike found a place online where we can stay for cheap. He went back and forth with the guy (who could barely type English) through email, so we really don’t know what to expect.

It looks like a crack house. There’s a guy in the front yard who looks like a heroine addict/bum. We walk in. No one is there to greet us. We walk around the place. I feel dirty and know I do not want to sleep here. After a very quick walk-through, we’re out of there. Holiday Inn it is. We don’t care how much it’s going to cost, even though none of us really have the money. The boys walk into the hotel while Jacquie and I wait in the car. When they come back out, they’ve got news. “They’re booked solid. Only thing left is a suite. We took it. We’ll just all stay in one room to save money.” Fine by me. We just have to sort of sneak in because they wouldn’t let five of us stay in one room.

Our Holiday Inn suite

The suite is amazing. I’ve never stayed in one before. There’s a little kitchen type area, a desk, a huge area with two chairs and a pull-out couch, and a bedroom with a king size bed in it. Three of us could sleep in this thing and have room! It’s amazing. We don’t have too much time to relax and enjoy – if we don’t hurry, we might be late for the movie, and that is not happening.

There’s a long line to get in the the theatre, when Huff suddenly tells us to follow him. Um, OK. “Just look like you’re supposed to be here.” We follow him and walk past everyone in line, and then right in the front door pass the TIFF volunteers. There are certain VIP passes that let people in first, but there was no way we were going to pay for them. Apparently, we didn’t need to. We have Huff. No one stops us. Of course I get nervous, but there are no consequences. Huff will continue to sneak us in wherever he can. It’s awesome. I wonder if TIFF has since cracked down on their security.

Apaloosa stars Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen, and Renee Zellweger. We see some of them in the lobby before we go in. Ed Harris is so tiny! Viggo is so skinny! It’s a western comedy-ish film and I enjoy it. Afterwards, we wait outside to see them walk out.  I don’t see Renee but we all can’t stop making fun of her face. It’s mean, but she used to be really pretty. Now her face is all weird.

Brad Pitt is going to be walking the red carpet at one of the theaters around here and Jacquie is not going anywhere until she sees him. Fine. We walk over and wait with masses of people. I hate crowds, and I honestly don’t care about seeing Brad Pitt in person. He’s a great actor and he’s good looking, but what’s going to happen? I’m going to see him. That’s it. Big deal. I’m so ready to walk away when we start to hear the screaming. This crowd is crazy! Everyone is screaming when they see him. I’m pretty far back, but I see Brad Pitt smiling and signing autographs, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited. Wow, he is super hot in person. Even the guys are star struck and agree that he is a beautiful man.

Renee Zellweger face

After a couple beers and quick bite to eat at a bar, we finally go back to the hotel to shower and chill and get ready to go out. It’s been a long day, but you better believe we’re going out. One bad thing is that we have to take cabs everywhere, another bad thing is the cab rides are expensive, and another bad thing is the cab drivers are crazy.

Most of them are Indian, and one in particular – who speaks English – keeps saying words that we don’t understand. It’s bizarre. He keeps saying, “Ping!” Just like that, by itself. Guess you had to be there, but my stomach hurt from laughing so hard. Another guy makes a big deal about five of us being in the cab, but lets us, anyway. Jacquie is sort of on top of us, and he won’t stop yelling at her. “Get down! Get down!” Another guy tells us about this big Indian star who is starring in one of the films at TIFF. Mike and Troy obviously heard of it, but we didn’t really want to see it. In retrospect, it would have been cool to see Slumdog Millionaire before most of the country.

We make our way to some rooftop bar and meet a bunch of friendly Canadians. It’s fun, but I definitely should have turned down that cement mixer shot. The following morning is a rough one. We have two movies today. First up, Rachel Getting Married, starring Anne Hathaway and Rosemarie DeWitt. Somehow, we’re late, and rush in sweating as the movie has already started. I’d be more angry if I wasn’t so hungover.

One of many crazy cab rides

Since everything is so expensive, we make sure to have drinks in our room. To the liquor store we go, except we can’t find a liquor store anywhere. It’s like they don’t exist. Beer stores. That’s what exists. And still, there is no beer, just a list on a big wall. I easily pick the Unibroue Maudite. This is an expensive beer at home, but since it’s brewed in Canada, it costs the same as any of the other beers. It comes out on a conveyor belt. So weird.

Back at the hotel I get to work on my first MovieWiseguys review of Rachel Getting Married. Then we experience Salvia. I don’t mind writing about it because while it is a drug, it’s legal in Canada. Huff freaks out. I have a somewhat out of body experience. I’m sitting next to the hotel window and feel like I’m on the other side of the window and I’m in the movie I Heart Huckabees. And I can’t stop giggling. It’s really quick. It feels longer but I think it only lasts a couple of minutes. Weird. Definitely one and done.

Later we head to the premiere of The Wrestler, which is definitely the best movie we see. The guys get separated from us and get to shake hands with Mickey Rourke. Troy gets a picture with Adrian Brody, and Mike gives Darren Aronofsky a pat on the back. Jacquie and I maneuver past security so we’re in a spot by ourselves where the whole cast will walk by us. And I tell Rachel Weiss I love her. She laughs and says thank you to the crazy girl. I can’t believe I said that. I may have even shed a few tears.

Late night bar

We’re all pumped after the movie and can’t stop talking about its awesomeness. We go back to the hotel and get ready for another night out. I’m sure we head out after 11, which is way too late for my liking. I’m so tired by the end of it. Jacquie is an animal – she could go all night. Huff is always up for anything, too. Even though I can’t hang, I’m glad these two completed our five. They definitely made it more exciting and fun.

The next morning we see Burn after Reading, and then it’s time for the long drive home. It was a great experience. Mike and Troy enjoyed it so much they made it a tradition to go every year. Huff did, too. Jacquie and I only went that first year (the best year). I love having new experiences. I don’t need to go to the Toronto Film Festival again. I’d do Sundance or Cannes or something else, but Toronto was a one-time shot. Mostly because it’s so expensive. I hate to admit it, but Mike and Troy are more die hard about movies than I am. They have to see everything before it comes out. I’m perfectly content waiting for the DVD and watching it from my bed.

Mike has his little sad moment of realizing they’re not going to TIFF this year, but he gets over it quick. He’s going home for his annual wiffle ball tournament with all his college buddies. And of course to see his nephew, Jack, for the first time. Mike’s never held a baby. “I’m nervous to hold it.” You’re nervous to hold him. You’ll be fine.

He is.

Jack with his Uncle Mike

*Panic at the Disco

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