How I Used Godzilla To Crash The Toronto International Film Festival

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
how i used godzilla to crash the toronto international film festival

For one week every September, the residents of Toronto are paralyzed with awe, any notion of rational thought gone with the proverbial wind, as The Centre of the Universe braces for an influx of Hollywood A-Listers, B-Listers and A-List hanger-on types during the Toronto International Film Festival. TIFF, as it’s known, is a great attraction for the city, bringing in free-spending tourists and some mild cultural cachet to a city that still battles a wicked inferiority complex.

Not that said inferiority complex isn’t still warranted. Any illusions harbored anywhere that Toronto is a “world-class city” on par with New York, Paris or London are immediately shattered by the presence of throngs of starfuckers, stacked six-deep outside the city’s luxury hotels. Wide-eyed, open-mouthed, cameras (some of the mobile phone variety) in hand, waiting to catch a glimpse of somebody, anybody famous. Naturally, I just drove right past them and pulled up to the damn door.

The GT-R may not wear the most prestigious badge in the wuuurrrrrllddd, but the general public all knows what it is. Well, let’s be real. Men between the ages of 18 and 34 all know what it is. Our ride to the Ritz was plagued by bad timing at the stop lights, and every single halt brought an onslaught of catcalls from this demographic, with some combination of “sick” “ride” and “bro” used each time. The adoration of the Axe-washed masses was gratifying. The ride quality, not so much.

Toronto’s roads, perpetually pockmarked and pot holed, are the great undoing of the GT-R’s chassis. Even with the shocks set to “Comfort”, it rides like the back of a short bus, with the bumpstops seemingly made of limestone. “Damping” is a theoretical concept here, since the car seems to crash over every single imperfection in the road.

It took some time to get out of the downtown core and escape its busted roads, but once we were free, the GT-R’s mythical performance characteristics duly emerged, and revealed a resemblance to another Japanese legend; the Mitsubishi Evo MR. It makes sense, really. Both the Nissan and the Mitsu have turbocharged powerplants, twin-clutch transmissions and all-wheel drive. Both have their roots in much more pedestrian offerings — the Evo is a tarted up Lancer, while previous GT-Rs were tarted up Skyline family sedans and the current car shares some aspects of the Infiniti G37’s platform which are deliberately ignored by the majority of the Internet. And, of course, both offer superlative driving experiences.

They’re not that different either. In the Evo, you hit the paddle to execute a downshift, wait for the decidedly non-best-of-breed dual clutch gearbox to downshift, wait again for the turbo to spool, and soon you’re propelled down the road at speeds that endanger the lives of everyone in your vicinity. There is more turbo-and-intake wooshing and driveline whine than actual engine growling, but it seems appropriate for a car that is more digital than analog.

The GT-R is much bigger, and much faster, but the gearbox still feels a little slow and antiquated, and it doesn’t project it’s voice in the way a Z06 ‘Vette or a European exotic would. Did I mention it’s fast, planted and utterly foolproof to drive quickly? My initial drives in a GT-R were a little underwhelming, in that it felt like a point-and-shoot sports car that required zero finesse or skill. After many miles on the road and a few on a road course, I still feel that way, but boy is it fun to stomp the throttle and annihilate everything in sight. The Mitsubishi claws back some of the quantitative gap in the qualitative aspects; where the Evo has a steering system that can be adjusted in microns, the GT-R feels a little ponderous and numb. Porsche may need to look over their shoulder with regards to Nuburgring lap times, but even the EPAS in the 991 (wrongly despised by those who don’t know better) has the GT-R beat hands down.

From the anonymous crush of the Gardiner Expressway, it was a quick hop to the Ritz, where we pulled in to the driveway and were greeted by an onslaught of valets. They didn’t take us for anybody important (all the VIPs are being shuttled in black Audis, courtesy of the brand’s sponsorship agreement with TIFF), but they were excited to see the GT-R. It ended up being parked in a row with an all original Acura NSX, a C5 Corvette and a McLaren MP4-12C. Anyone looking for an example of model bloat should put these three in a row. My crappy iPhone camera couldn’t capture them all properly, but the GT-R is absolutely gargantuan next to the lithe aluminum Acura.

The crowds nestled behind the barricades weren’t as astute as the valets. As my co-driver and I prepared to exit the car, we saw rows and rows of cameras and camera phones at the ready, waiting for someone important to exit the GT-R. When they saw our hairless scalps emerge from the cockpit, there was a barely audible sigh as they realized we were merely a couple of shmucks looking to quaff a couple of overpriced Mojitos. Before we could process our 15 microseconds of public adoration, all cameraphones swung in unison to catch Kate Hudson popping out of the hotel’s front door. We headed inside to the bar. The crowd of nobodies seeking somebodies was thick enough that we were forced to stand next to a table and drink. The patron next to us was wearing a vulgar Breitling chronograph. He complained incessantly that we were casting shadows over him and his companion, who was a veritable R35 GT-R in proportion to Ms. Hudson’s slim R33. Will we return to the TIFF next year? Possibly not. Even when you’re driving the star of Japan’s A-list, celebrity is overrated.

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3 of 20 comments
  • Les Les on Sep 17, 2012

    For extra points, did you have Blue Oyster Cult on the stereo?

  • NMGOM NMGOM on Sep 17, 2012

    Derek, I certainly agree about the GT-R. A bit robotic and anesthetized. But its suspension problems are common with many high-performance, semi-super cars nowadays, except McLaren, apparently. Part of the blame can be assigned to extremely low-profile tires: deadly on tar-strips, expansion joints, rough pavement, and potholes. The rest of the suspension hardly has time to react! You mentioned: "Porsche may need to look over their shoulder with regards to Nuburgring lap times, but even the EPAS in the 991 (wrongly despised by those who don’t know better) has the GT-R beat hands down." I don't think Porsche will have to worry too much about looking over its shoulder except through binoculars. Here are Horst von Saurma-Jeltsch's Nürburgring lap-times under controlled conditions: 1 Porsche 911 GT2 RS Mk2 620 .......7:24 2 Gumpert Apollo Sport 700.............. 7:24 3 McLaren MP4-12C 592 ..................7:28 4 Porsche 911GT3 RS 4.0 500..........7:30 5 Porsche Carrera GT 612 ................7:32 6 Porsche 911 GT2 Mk1 530 ..............7:33 7 Porsche 911 GT3 RS Mk2 450 .......7:33 8 Pagani Zonda F 602 .........................7:33 9 Audi R8 GT 560 ................................7:34 10 Koenigsegg CCR 806 .....................7:34 11 Nissan GT-R R35 Mk2 530 ..............7:34 12 RUF Rt12 997 650 .........................7:35 13 Nissan GT-R R35 Mk2 530 ............7:36 14 Lambo G. LP570-4 S.L. 570 .......7:38 15 Corvette ZR-1 647 .........................7:38 16 Lexus LFA 560 ................................7:38 17 Ferrari 458 Italia 570 .....................7:38 18 Nissan GT-R R35 Mk1 486 ..............7:38 19 Techart GTStreet 997 Mk1 630 .......7:39 20 Ferrari 430 Scuderdia 510 ................7:39 Yes, the 530-HP Nissan is creeping up, but can't even overcome a Porsche 911 GT3 RS Mk2 with "only" 450 HP. As you said, Porsche has it beat hands down. Now, next year's 600-HP GT-R may be a different story. But I don't expect Porsche to be sitting on its hands all this time either.... BTW: For EPAS, did you mean PASM (Porsche Active Stability Management), DEMS (Dynamic Engine Mount System), PDCC (Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control), and PTV-P (Porsche Torque-Vectoring Plus)? ref's - - - -; (Watch video); -------------------------

  • Syke Son of a Chevrolet dealer back then, grew up in the showroom. To this day, I cannot get the appeal of the '57 Chevy, must less it being the poster car of the rock and roll Fifties. The '55 was gorgeous, the '56 wasn't hurt too badly by the dealer-demanded restyle (full width grilles were in style, and the '55 didn't have one, so the dealers panicked), but the '57? A bad attempt to keep up with Ford and Plymouth, redeemed only by the continuation of the Tri-Five build quality (exceptional for it's day) while the '57 Ford and Plymouth turned out to be rust buckets.$35,000? No. Freaking. Way.Oh, by the way, that was the year Ford outsold Chevy for the first time since pre-WWII. Style was everything back then. As the son of the Ford dealer (in my grade school class) was more than happy to remind me constantly.All was redeemed by 1958. Even if the '58's weren't as well built as a Tri-Fives.
  • Pianoboy57 Green is my favorite color but I never owned an actual green car. Then I got a Subaru Outback in Wilderness green.
  • SCE to AUX Will Toyota be building a Superfiller network to support its vast fleet of FCVs?Didn't think so.
  • MaintenanceCosts I have an irrational weakness for Biarritz and d'Elegance packages of this era and the button tufted seats that came with them. We're sort of getting back there with the current quilted leather fad, but only sort of.
  • Ajla Do journalists ever ask the automakers that like building hydrogen cars to acknowledge that there is no place to fill them? And where they expect future filling stations to come from?