I started my Trip up to Toronto for TIFF having a conversation about the virtues of travel with a cute girl from Perth, Oz that I was seated next to. She’s done some extensive travel for someone her age but was concerned that while she was having a great time her friends where learning skills at jobs and degrees in College giving the an advantage in the coming years. I told her that she has been learning things about life and the world that you can’t learn in a classroom and that these experiences will shape her life and view of the world that most people she knows will simply never experience…Now on with the show(s)
We hit Yorkville Thursday night, it’s kinda like 5th Ave crossed with Soho. Our first stop was Hemingway’s a “Patio bar” where we enjoyed some local brews from Mill Street and a Med platter served by our lovely green eyed waitress. From here we headed over to The Oxley a good looking Gastropub with tables in front and back patios. The interior is done in green and looks very Olde English. While their menu looked good…but we only had a couple of cask beers from Beau’s Brewery before we hit the next spot on our upscale patio/pub/lounge crawl…
One is a huge space full of large high end photography pieces inside…tables outside wrap around two streets. One is bar far the trendiest place I’ve ever been in Toronto…yet everyone we spoke with was friendly and very accessible. While enjoying more local beers and eventually switching to Hendriks G&T’s we met girls from all over including Serbia,Czech Republic, Turkey, the Middle Eastern, Lithuania and even Canadians. Toronto is a bit more cosmopolitan than the rest English and French Canada…
I buy the tix on line…but for the first move at Ryerson College I end up waiting on a line to pick-up Will Call tix that doesn’t move to get tix while my friend has to walk about 3 blocks to the end of the other …why? Because their printer broke! ! Stupidest thing ever . Pick your tickets up in advance …which we did for the Rest of the movies…took 20 minute that went fast. Please note that even with tix you need to be on line 30-45 minutes before the show starts.
Rust & Bone (France)
Excellent movie…I’m falling into even deeper love with Marion Cotillard. He’s a street fighter/Security Guard w/a five yr old kid ..she trains Orca Whales…love finds a way…I’m saying very little because I highly recommend seeing this movie. Great story, great acting, and beautiful cinematography especially some scenes with the whales…did I mention Marion Cotillard was in it? Of note, doing the Q&A Marion was asked how she trained for the scenes with the whales. She stated that she almost didn’t take the role because she is so opposed to Zoo’s and Aquarium’s and cannot understand our fascination with imprisoning animals in cages. However when she met the trainers and saw their love and respect for the whales decided he would do it.
After we picked up the tix at TIFF for the rest of the movies we hit Penelope on King Street for lunch. Greek restaurant named after Odysseus wife . Beautiful interior, specious columns & fresco’s from the story. We started with 3 spreads that included Humus Tarama, and Tirokafteri (banana peppers & feta), everything was excellent, but we really loved these spreads especially the banana peppers w/feta it was awesome and the pita bread was great. We followed with grilled Octopus…very tasty and done just right (always found it bizarre how sweet octopus meat is…nothing like what you would expect) and of course a Greek Salad w/Chicken…Chicken was juicy and it was a nice classic Greek…though I would have liked a bit more feta in it…
Call Girl (Sweden)
I was disappointed in this one and my friend walked out 3/4 into it. We expected a Political Thriller/Police Drama and instead got a story about teenage prostitution with strange freaky Euro-deviants. Thing is this is based on a true story when in the 70’s Sweden’s govt almost collapsed due to a Call Girl ring. I really wished they focused on the main story with the teen prostitution in the background because I think it’s an important story that needs to be told. The Prime Minister of Sweden was running for re-election on a platform of giving greater freedom to women. While what he and his Govt did was turn women into targets for deviants. They were passing laws that no longer made Rape a crime unless it was reckless, incest legal, reducing the age of consent to barely being a teen. It was enough to make any Man or Women’s shoulders tense and fists clench.
For Dinner we hit Ciao Wine Bar . After enough beer to get Bloomberg to limit beer consumption I went with a Tuscan Sangria- Pinot Grigio, Lemoncello, Triple Sec, Orange juice, pineapple , and a slash of Ginger Ale. To start we ordered up the Black Tiger Shrimp w/white wine and garlic in a spicy tomato sauce. This was very good…more spice than expected which was welcomed. We split a brick oven Pizza w/spicy sausage, Gorgonzola , mozzarella , tomato sauce, and arugula(we substituted the arugula for the potatoes that it came with) and topped it with hot marinated peppered…which burned my lips…in a good way… Like a heated kiss .This was delish really loved it…. Taught(or so I thought) cute blond bartendress how to make a White Negroni. When the bill came she said…here’s how I charged you for your “crazy drink OK?” Sure …and you’re still cute:)
Staving for lunch after getting taken on the scenic route to the theater by my buds lovely blushing bride Rose we hit a huge line for the flick. I run around looking for something to just grab and find Ritz Caribbean Food by the theater. I grabbed beef & chicken patties for lunch and Coconut drops (more like cluster w ginger not bad) for a snack. The patties were good and perfect to chow down while waiting on the line.
Everybody Has A Plan
A film noir tale of identity that takes place in Argentina on the Bayou (who knew they had one?). Two brothers who go very different ways in life come together…right after one makes a life changing decision.The story takes off from here… Viggo Mortensen stars taking on a dual role. During the Q&A I Asked Viggo… “How do you prepare to brutally murder virtually yourself” He said his major concern was getting the two distinct personalities down. To achieve this they filmed the scenes with them “together” last.
Of note, Ana the writer/director belongs to the same Athletic club as Viggo in Argentina and one day handed him the script …he took a quick glance…kept reading it, liked it…had it made…
The Last Supper
Based on the Han Dynasty in China BC . One group tried to unite all of China…others thought this was an infringement on Freedom and broke China into 19 separate empires. It was well done and the cinematography was great. However, there were so many characters, with some many plot lines, going back in forth in time and with subtitles made it challenging to follow. My bigger issue is I was expecting some epic battles and their were none thus I felt it lacked the visceral punch it needed
Pravda -Great looking well dressed crowd, However, No sneakers…which by Bud was sporting. He went next door for a beer so his wife and I can have a Martini while waiting for her friends. His wife shares this with the bartendress who tells us hey keep spare shoes to address this(the “doormen seemed to not be aware of this). I text Cinder fella that we have glass slippers for him and we precede to work our way through their Vodka menu…
Wyprova -Polish vodka Martini
Minsakaya Belarus-on the rocks
Standard for shots and with club soda
(Think someone you know has a drinking problem…here are a couple of telltale signs. They wash down their shots with a Martini…or better yet with straight Vodka on the rocks…with a different higher end Vodka of course or so I heard)
I was pleasantly surprised how good the food was…The Smoked Salmon & creme fraiche flat bread with capers was not only was delicious but I was surprised to see how big it was for only $15 and loaded with salmon.The Tuna Tataki- was nice and rare…a hit with the ladies…we ordered two plates. Well I had to try their Pirogi w/Vodka dill cream with bacon and mushroom …heart attack in a bowl …but so worth it..it was sooooo good. From there we kept drinking and hot the dance floor to burn off Pirogi and Vodka…
All in all a great trip. Rust and Bone was our favorite of the fest followed by Everybody Has A Plan. One was our favorite lounge bar…Pravda if you want to bust out your Tony Manero/Jenn Beals dance moves, Ciao for decor and vino(this is where I would take a date) and loved Peneople’s spreads. Toronto is a fun city with friendly people from all over the world…it really is a city of relatively new immigrants and one could only wish that people the world over could come together like they do in Toronto and for that matter New York…the world would be a much better place. So go forth, put that clicker/iPad/phone, etc down, get off your couch… jump o a plane and experience the world outside the comfort zone of your home…