Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Time to Get Out of Dodge

I had a fantastic last day at the Film Festival. Here's a snap of Paris waving goodbye to me as I left for the airport. She was on her way out to a screening of Yoav Paz's PHOBIDILIA, one of the controversial films from Israel.

I packed and left my belongings at the hotel and trekked over to the Cumberland to watch LEAVES OF GRASS, written by director/actor Tim Blake Nelson and starring Edward Norton playing twins who have taken very diverse paths in life. A pal at Skywalker Sound worked on it and it was great to see someone I knew on the credits. Taking the time to make sure I got in my last chicken hot dog, I headed over to the Varsity to get a place early in line to see one of the hottest films of the Festival, Tom Ford's A SINGLE MAN. Tremendous (I mean) tremendous film. Smart, sexy, nuanced, stylish - and was the first film to be bought at the festival by The Weinstein's. Set in Southern California in the early 1960's, the film tells the tale of George Falconer (Colin Firth, hot off his Venice Film Festival Best Actor win), a professor who recently lost his long-time lover in a tragic accident. The story is based on a novel by Christopher Isherwood. I am willing to bet $100 that there was at least one Don Bachardy sketch used in the set design. Look for this film at a Sundance Cinema near you.
At the airport I had my last star sighting - Colin Farrel being dropped off in a cloud of handlers, including airline personnel who made sure that his travel plans did not include mixing with the unwashed masses. I was just about to snap a shot as proof and badly needed art for the blog, when I remembered that Colin was 2 for 2 on beating up photographers at TIFF.
Great year for film - watch the Coming Soon feature on our website for our upcoming programs. Until Sundance....

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Glamous Life

Going to the Toronto Film Festival with Press and Industry passes is about as glamorous as it gets. Everyone clutches a 20 page booklet, half-sheet size, with a day by day, hour by hour grid that has us all hopping up and down Bloor Street, circling 3 movie theatres. The day starts with 9 am screenings and sadly peters out by 5 pm. Only time for 4 or 5 films per day. Today (after a brief interlude stuck in my hotel elevator with 12 or so tourists who had far too much perfume on) I began with 'Bad Lieutenant - Port of Call New Orleans'. Werner Herzog has stepped away from his recent documania to feature Nicolas Cage as a drug addicted policeman in the midst of a major murder investigation. Cage's induced delusions are handled in a most humorous way. I saw Roger Ebert coming out of the screening and he wrote in his blog about two of the films I saw today. Canada's Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter) presented 'Chloe', part one of what I am calling the 'Julianne Moore Lesbian Film Festival Day'. Sexy, steamy tale about Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore's waning marriage, and the prostitute Moore hires to test her husband - and then winds up getting involved with the luscious lipped Amanda Seyfried herself. I made a rather sad realization that this was the film Neeson was shooting in Toronto when his wife Natasha Richardson had her tragic accident in Montreal. By far my most favorite film today was 'The Private Lives of Pippa Lee', written and directed by Rebecca Miller, daughter of Arthur Miller and wife of master cobbler Daniel Day-Lewis - and I feel sorry that this most talented woman is forever having these famous men associated with her as a side note. But I digress. Super story about a beautiful woman (Robin Wright Penn) who moves with her famous and older husband (Alan Arkin) to a retirement community and begins to reflect on her unusual early days. It was a no chicken dog day.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Michael Moore Runs The Nation's Continuing Ed Department

After seeing Michael Moore's 'Capitalism' this morning, I was relieved that I wouldn't be seeing him walking around Toronto in a Borat-style butt-floss bikini. Right now he has taken it upon himself to try to educate us on the Fall of our Roman Empire (there is a hilarious bit in the film where he splices a 1950's Enclyclopedia Brittanica documentary about that time with modern news clips) as it relates to the current financial crisis. Ricky Gervais has a new film coming out soon, 'The Invention of Lying' with a great premise: What if people only spoke the truth? The biggest problem is that there can be no fictional tales in movies, so when screenwriter Gervais' character gets axed because nothing exciting happend in his era of the 13th Century, he finds himself broke and in need of a new reinvention. He comes up with the idea of lying. After wolfing down my dog, I caught Michael Douglas in 'A Solitary Man', then got a taste of my old high school days with 'Down for Life'. One chicken dog day.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Little Mosque on the Prairie

This morning started out fantastically with PRECIOUS. The film had huge word of mouth at Sundance but we missed it. Wow. Excellent script, acting (um - Mariah Carey! Mo' Nique!) and we're opening it at the Sundance Kabuki in November. This article in today's LA Times talks about the screening I was at this morning. Saw Kristin Scott Thomas in a very nice French film LEAVING[Partir]. Two hours of drama and really great looking people making love. She is on a roll, and looks and sounds as French as Pepi La Peau (a compliment). Then we saw THE ROAD, based on the Cormac McCarthy novel with Viggo Mortensen. Intense and one of the bigger films at the Festival. I finished off the day with the fabulous new Documentary DANIEL ELLSBERG: The Most Dangerous Man in America. Fantastic history lesson that might impart feelings of deja vu.

Two entities who I hope will not read this entry: 1) Canadians 2) My boss.
And two things: 1) Canada is very large and 2) It's not the United States.
I have to admit that I have some ingrained prejudices about our Neighbors to the Nanook. A lot of my prejudice revolves around the word 'boring'. There - I said it. So tonight, on my way to trying to get into a screening (here's the part that I hope my boss doesn't see), I fell into a huge crowd waiting for stars to enter a party. Gotta say the folks in Toronto get REAL excited about the festival, so any possibility for star gazing includes a mob scene.
I got pretty far up to the front surrounded by several nice ladies clutching cameras and screaming as 'stars' began to arrive. Oooooh Miss Canada! Ooooooh Joey Smith! [who is that?] Ooooooh Ricky Rumpus! [who?] Oooooh Lisa Lupus [pardon?] and finally Oooooh Carlo Ponti [whoozat? The Star of LITTLE MOSQUE ON THE PRAIRIE - huh?] and screams and a lots of photos. At that, with an hour wasted and a missed film, I began my trek back to my hotel to prepare for another day. It was a one chicken dog day.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Plenty of Porno - No Chicken Dogs

Since the red-eye got in on time, I was able to make my first film at 9 am, the Coen Brother A SERIOUS MAN. Unlike many of their recent films, the film featured none of the usual suspects, instead the cast is filled with respected actors from the Yiddish Theatre. Growing up in a fairly religious family that spoke Yiddish, there were references and language that were both familiar and a mystery in this film about a middle aged Physics Professor in the late 1960's who just can't catch a break. UP IN THE AIR, from Jason Reitman is the first film I've seen from the Recession Era. A super premise, George Clooney play's a man who flies all over the nation firing staff for management who can't stomach the evil deed. Lots of people. After Saura's long, long (at least to me) I, DON GIOVANNI we went to our sister company (The Sundance Channel's) fabulous screening of the new season of GREEN PORNO, with the ultra fabulous Isabella Rosselini in attendance - along with a bunch of whacky scientists dressed up as their favorite penises from nature. A crazy, fabulous event.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Wish List

Since I arrive in Toronto at 6:45 am, there should be plenty of time for me to get to the first screening on Friday- A SERIOUS MAN from the Coen Brothers, then Jason Reitman's UP IN THE AIR, on to Carlos Saura's I, DON GIOVANNI, teatime with LOVE AND OTHER IMPOSSIBLE PURSUITS then the evening showing of MY DOG TULIP. That's five. Count 'em. Not having to run all over town (like some other film festivals) makes it easier. I will also keep track of how many chicken dogs I eat from the street vendor.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Team Assembles

We've finalized our travel plans, purchased our Industry Passes, now we're scouring the titles and deciding how to spend our days and nights at this year's Festival.

I'm the head of our Marketing Team, so I'll be the one blogging everyday. I'll keep everyone informed about my opinion on the films, and which films we think will be the breakouts this year.

Normally what we see at Toronto winds up on the Academy lists.