Jake Cole

National Post (Latest Edition) - - SATURDAY FEATURE - Week­end Post

Jake Cole flew into Toronto from At­lanta last Wed­nes­day and has hardly slowed since he ar­rived. He’s seen nearly 30 fea­ture films over the course of the last nine days: three per day, some in­ter­minable.

Cole is at TIFF as a film critic, which means he must not only watch a lot of movies but re­main alert, thought­ful and, where pos­si­ble, sober while watch­ing — eas­ier said than done af­ter the sus­tained as­sault of a week and a half. He has ed­i­tors and pub­li­cists with which to co­or­di­nate and press lines to stand in for hours. He has col­leagues to see and im­por­tant peo­ple to meet. And some­where in all this — between free sand­wiches in the press lounge and com­pli­men­tary cock­tails at af­ter-par­ties among the stars — he has to find time to write.

No one wants to hear a film critic com­plain about his lot in life: there are worse de­mands on any­one’s time than hav­ing to sit through a bunch of movies. But cov­er­ing a ma­jor in­ter­na­tional film fes­ti­val, as Cole can well at­test, does tend to get in­tense. “The other morn­ing I woke up at 7:00 a.m. af­ter a late night to stand in line for an hour to see a ter­ri­ble biopic about Mary Shel­ley,” he re­flects mid-fest. “Then I lined up for another hour to see Three Bill­boards Out­side of Eb­bing, Mis­souri, which I liked but which opens in about a month, and then I lined up again to see the ter­ri­ble new Wim Wen­ders movie. Some­where in there I wrote and filed a re­view of the first movie and my day didn’t wrap un­til nine.”

There is a cer­tain irony, to be sure, in trav­el­ling more than 1,500 kilo­me­tres to another city so you can sit in­side a dark room for six or seven hours a day. “It’s the strangest thing, be­ing in the dark so much,” Cole says. “Es­pe­cially when you get out and try to talk to peo­ple.” In­deed, so­cial­iz­ing is another odd rit­ual of the fes­ti­val ex­pe­ri­ence: it’s like an an­nual sum­mit that brings to­gether friends and col­leagues from around the world only to iso­late them from one another for most of it.

“I know a bunch of crit­ics who travel to the fes­ti­val ev­ery year,” Cole says. “We all know each other on Twit­ter and ob­vi­ously we all talk shit about movies on there — but it’s nice to have an ac­tual con­ver­sa­tion with them, to ac­tu­ally catch up with them face-to-face, and, if at all pos­si­ble, to talk about any­thing other than movies.”

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