|MY E-MAIL PROGRAM WENT wonky, and re-configuring it wiped
out all my files, despite what the nice man at my ISP's technical support
centre promised. Once it became obvious that it was irretrievable, he washed
his hands of the whole matter, and told me to call Netscape.
Netscape would have charged me for any assistance, but
since I don't have a credit card, the matter rested there.
I have no more bookmarks. My address book was wiped clean
as well, along with all of my e-mail files. It's as if the last three years
of online research and correspondence never happened. Once I got over the
anger, and the panic over the inconvenience this would cause, in both the
short and long term, a strange feeling of calm, of liberation, began to
It's all new, now. The only bookmarks I have anymore are
the ones I've added in the last two weeks. If anyone I regularly talk to
really feels the need, they can e-mail me and I'll add them to my address
book, but all those old contacts -- editors long departed from their posts,
online acquaintances I haven't heard from in a year or more -- are gone,
My in-box, which had swollen to over two hundred messages
-- some of which I should have answered months ago, some of which I might
as well have deleted upon receipt -- is now empty. My irresponsibility
at answering e-mail I've been sent has now become rudeness at never answering
at all. I hope no one reading this will be too offended.
It's obvious that my sense of liberation is largely one
of liberation from my own laziness, distraction and poor organization.
I've been given a new start. I promise not to screw up again. Trust me.
I hate technology.
THE FILM FESTIVAL ENDED a week ago, and I still haven't
recovered. Once my last piece was filed, on Thursday evening over a week
ago, we got ready to spend the weekend in Georgian Bay with G. and V.,
at V.'s mother's cottage. The Festival had two days to run, but my deadlines
had been met and there was nothing more to do. I craved the rest.
I'VE WRITTEN AT LENGTH about the Festival before, but
mostly from the perspective of a photographer. This year, I was photographer
and writer, more the latter than the former, on daily deadlines, supplying
all the coverage there was in the free daily K. edits. I had to provide,
every day, an interview with an actor or director, a "festival diary" covering
some aspect of the whole spectacle, photos to illustrate them both, and
at least two or three reviews of films about to screen. All told, it meant
about a thousand words a day -- not much, really, but it damn near killed
As a result, though I was more in the thick of the festival
this year, I pretty much wrote myself out with the paying gig, and don't
have much to bring to this diary. Whatever observations I have are scattered
and barely coherent, recalled through a fog of exhaustion, mostly the result
of days that had me at a screening at 8:30am, running from hotel to theatre
to office throughout the day, ending up at some party at night till past
midnight. Repeat daily. I'm sure some people think this sounds glamourous.
I remember it as sheer hell.
DID I MEET ANY FAMOUS PEOPLE? Of course I did. I had all of five minutes with Ang
Lee, the director of my favorite film of last year. That film, Ride with the Devil, pretty much disappeared without a trace, so half of my five minutes, during which I had to take pictures while he spoke, were spent addressing what, to him, was a crushing disappointment.
For what it's worth, he was a very nice man, soft-spoken
and serious, careful with his words and obviously passionate about what
he did. The publicist shot me into the room after making a big deal about
what a favour she was doing me (I'm giving a film she's been hired to promote
publicity and she's doing me the favour? Publicist logic
at it's best.), and yanked me out like a hooked fish. Five minutes with
the one director working today that I consider to be a genius -- hardly
worth bothering to crow about one day, except with much shameful head-shaking
about the circumstances.
I talked to some other directors -- Denys
Arcand, who I'd met, interviewed, and photographed before, and with
whom it's almost impossible to have a bad interview. The man is a real
sophisticate, a bon vivant who lives an almost ideal life of travel,
observation, and occasional work. Maybe his films are a bit overrated as
far as I'm concerned -- Stardom, the one that he was hyping this year, is a shallow but entertaining film about a shallow and entertaining subject: fame -- but he's charming and funny and that forgives quite a bit in my book.
I wasn't looking forward to interviewing Joel
Schumacher, the man responsible for St. Elmo's Fire, Flatliners, Batman and Robin and Batman Forever. When K. asked me if I'd do it, after the Fox publicist called offering us twenty minutes, I shook my head and said, "Only if I can ask him if he's really Satan."
Schumacher's career -- some spectacularly bad, star-bloated
big-budget monstrosities interspersed with middling, quality "product"
-- looks like that of a competent hack, someone who knows how to stay on
the a-list and bring the project in on-time without bruising any tender
I dreaded the whole prospect, but K. said it would be
a good demographic fit, and since it filled the schedule out nicely, I
agreed. I joked about it with other writers during the week, and dragged
myself to the press screening of his film reluctantly.
film was good. I was grateful, and did a bit of research, professional
that I am, knowing that twenty minutes -- fifteen, really, with five reserved
for photos -- isn't exactly a brain-teaser to fill, even with the most
reluctant subject. Schumacher, to my surprise, was smart, in a languid,
seen-it-all kind of way, and positively crowed about how nice it was to
work on a low-budget, no-stars film shot hand-held with available light
in a few weeks. He managed to insinuate, without actually saying so, that
he thought a lot of his films were crap, too. When the interview ended,
he seemed disappointed.
"This is fun," he said, as I turned my tape recorder off.
"I could talk to you all day -- you're good."
Now, I know when smoke is being blown up my ass, but for
the moment, I let myself believe it. After all, I genuinely liked the film,
and hoped that he wasn't just putting on a show for the film-snob writer.
Warm handshakes and a pleasant exit.