September 2009 Archives

This year's TIFF: Precious, indeed


And thus ends this year's TIFF: the emotionally wrenching Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire wins the People's Choice Award, and Cairo Time gets the nod for Best Canadian Feature.

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TIFF: Day 10 lookahead

Sigh. Sniffle. Yawn. Apply cold water to face. Yes, it’s the last day of TIFF ’09 and intense fatigue has set in. It seems like eons since Matt Damon was here to promote The Informant! But really, it was just eight days ago. Last weekend, hundreds of Toronto movie fans spent upwards of $40 each to see his movie at a gala presentation. Now you can go to your local multiplex and see it for 12 bucks. Yes, things move fast in the movie biz.

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Cleanflix: One way to sanitize Hollywood movies

Cleanflix is about a highly profitable business that sprung up in Utah about 10 years ago – several video-DVD rental outlets started to provide cleaned-up versions of Hollywood favourites for Mormons who liked movies but didn’t want their families exposed to any sex, violence or swearing.

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TIFF: Day 9 lookahead

The second-last day of TIFF delivers a couple of films we’ve been hearing about for what seems like forever: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and the White Stripes documentary.

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Looking ahead to closing night: a video mash-up of movie history

The festival has invited renowned video mash-up artists Eclectic Method to remix scenes from the top 100 films of all time at the public wrap party, this Saturday night at Yonge-Dundas Square.

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TIFF: Day 8 lookahead

Hey, the hurricane of American stars has been downgraded to a mere trickle, so this edition of the TIFF lookahead is going to focus on some interesting non-Hollywood product.

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Indiewire’s TIFF critics poll

The website Indiewire is conducting an ongoing TIFF critics poll, getting some of the assembled experts to grade their responses to 34 films (because it’s the fest’s 34th birthday, they say).

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Mio Adilman’s Unlocked

“Canada has produced a lot of films about isolation and distance and I live in downtown Toronto,” says Mio Adilman, director of the short film Unlocked, which screens at TIFF today.

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TIFF: Day 7 lookahead

Clooney, Damon, Soderbergh et al. have long since left town. If it’s star power you’re after, I regret to inform you that we’re into the back half of TIFF ’09, and the wattage has dimmed considerably.

Still, this is shaping up as one of the strongest festivals in years, and there are many tasty offerings left on the table. Here’s a sampling of them, all premiering today: Cooking with Stella, The Unloved and My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done.

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Signs of the times at this year's TIFF

Curiously absent from this year’s TIFF is news of that one breakout hit (a Slumdog Millionaire or Whale Rider) that inspires unanimous audience devotion and feverish all-night bidding wars amongst studio heads. Thus far, A Single Man, the queer-themed 60s period piece starring Colin Firth, is the only film to emerge as an early favourite, triggering a late-night deal yesterday.

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Multi-layered Collapse

Part of the fun of watching dozens of films in a short span of time is looking for the zeitgeist. See enough films and certain themes start to appear. This year, the economy seems to be on many minds.

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TIFF: Day 6 lookahead

Hello again, cinephiles! Welcome to the festival’s midway point: TIFF day 6, often nicknamed “terrible Tuesday” for its ability to induce the sorts of “hitting the wall” symptoms normally experienced by marathon runners in beleaguered movie viewers.

For those of you who feel you can’t go on now that Oprah’s left the city, I’m here to tell you, “Yes, you can!” There are still some high-wattage stars in town and, more importantly, there are some quality gems to be discovered on Day 6: Youth in Revolt, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, J’ai tué ma mere...

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Neil Young: still a no-show, Toronto

It sounded too good to be true, and, well, it was. TIFF publicity material had promised that Can-rock icon Neil Young would appear at a free outdoor screening of the new Jonathan Demme concert film, Neil Young Trunk Show.

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Photos from the Whip It roller derby event at Yonge-Dundas Square

Watching women clobber each other on a circular track doesn't seem like a natural fit for TIFF. But then this year, the festival is showing Drew Barrymore's Whip It, about a young girl (Ellen Page) who abandons the life of beauty pageants to join a roller derby league. Timothy Neesam shot photos of a roller derby event at Toronto's Yonge-Dundas Square.

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TIFF: Day 5 lookahead

Congratulations, festivalgoers! You have survived the star-studded, sleep-depriving frenzy that is TIFF’s opening weekend. With that out of the way, it’s time to sneak in a power nap, stuff some granola bars in your knapsacks and prepare for the remainder of this year’s slate of films. For those of you who lost your program books while partying this past weekend, here are some things to look out for on day 5: A Single Man, Lebanon, The Invention of Lying...

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The Coen brothers get candid – sort of

You go into an interview with the Coen brothers forewarned. Judging from their past encounters with the media, you fully expect Joel – the taller, older one – to do all the talking, while shy Ethan will at best mutter “Yeah, uh-huh” and stare at his shoes. They’ll be elliptical, evasive and in the end – to quote fellow Minnesota native Bob Dylan – nothing will be revealed.

Or so I’d been told.

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TIFF: Day 4 lookahead

The dawn of an exciting day at ye olde TIFFe – some of the highest-profile titles at this year’s event are premiering today: Chloe, Capitalism: A Love Story, The Road...

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The best, worst, strangest film titles at TIFF

It’s premature to be giving awards at this year’s TIFF, with the festival only in its third day. However, there’s one batch of prizes we can safely dole out right now. Those are the unofficial TIFF Title Awards – awards I just made up for festival movies with the best, worst, strangest, silliest, etc. titles.

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Will the filmmakers behind The Art of the Steal steal away to Canada?

Part art lesson, part expose, The Art of the Steal explores a conspiracy by the city of Philadelphia and numerous charitable organizations to capture (and relocate) the Barnes art collection. Assembled by Dr. Albert Barnes in the 1920s, the private collection includes paintings by Renoir, Cezanne and Picasso, and is estimated to be worth $25 million to $30 billion.

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Standing in the shadow of Tilda Swinton

I had an honest-to-goodness celebrity sighting last night, and it was a doozy. As I was ducking out of a very long lineup at the Scotiabank Theatre, I ran smack dab into none other than Oscar winner Tilda Swinton, undoubtedly arriving to promote her role in the Italian TIFF entry, I Am Love. Now I understand why people get starstruck!

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Me, a TIFF partier -- who'd have thunk it?

I do not rate as a person of interest in the Canadian film world. As a result, I have never been privy to film-fest soirees. And yet last night, I was orbiting the TIFF party universe like a jittery little planet.

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TIFF: Day Three lookahead

Oh, happy day. I mean, it’s got to be a great day when a first-rate Coen brothers film launches at TIFF. And advance buzz places A Serious Man squarely in that category.

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Jennifer Connelly's tearful press conference

At the Creation press conference this afternoon, Connelly was reduced to tears while relating a histrionic moment at Astral Media’s swanky TIFF gala soiree Thursday night.

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Megan Fox: tamer than usual

Jennifer's Body has a sexy promo and rockin’ sensibility, but the mood at the film’s noon-hour TIFF press conference at the Sutton Place Hotel on Friday was surprisingly somber.

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The Men Who Stare at Goats: Clooney’s folly

I had high hopes for Grant Heslov’s The Men Who Stare at Goats. It’s got great source material (Jon Ronson’s non-fiction tome about the U.S. military’s post-Vietnam experimentation with telepathy, psychic powers and all kinds of paranormal stuff), and a killer cast (George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey).

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Isabella Rossellini brings her playful “green pornos” to TIFF

This year, cinephiles are in for a special treat: impish goddess-turned-director Isabella Rossellini is stopping in town to share some of the playful props and best-loved shorts from her acclaimed Green Porno series at the Royal Ontario Museum’s Spirit House, and presenting the world premiere of three new Green Porno films tonight.

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Women directors at TIFF: a banner year?

Here’s an interesting NY Times article. Writer Michael Cieply claims there are more female directors than usual at this year’s TIFF.

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TIFF: Day Two lookahead

As always, TIFF is front-loaded with high-profile screenings and celestial entities. This weekend is chock-a-block with premieres that’ll make autograph hunters salivate.

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Don't ask Jennifer Connelly about religion

Jennifer Connelly was lovely as always last night, speaking about the joy of working with her real life-husband, Paul Bettany, in TIFF’s opening film, Creation, about Charles Darwin. I then asked her how making the film affected her own beliefs on religion vs. evolution. BAM! The publicist jumped in.

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Campion, interrupted: Blurry Bright Star

The scene: Thursday afternoon, at a TIFF press screening. The room was crammed with critics, producers and buyers sitting down to enjoy the triumphant return of Australian director Jane Campion.

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An Education: capsule review

Arriving tonight at TIFF with big Sundance buzz, director Lone Scherfig’s An Education is an absolute delight, a safe bet to leave the festival with some serious award season momentum.

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Opening night musings: where’s the maple flava?

In a few hours the TIFF madness officially begins. Brit director Jon Amiel’s Creation – a drama about Charles Darwin cranking out On the Origin of Species – is the opening night film, a prestigious slot normally reserved for Canadian product.

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Ray of light

Some unsettling news passing around TIFF yesterday and today. Fest stalwart Lisa Ray – here this year for Dilip Mehta’s Cooking With Stella and Peter Stebbing’s Defendor – has revealed she’s fighting a rare form of blood cancer, multiple myeloma.

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Let the shenanigans begin

It’s that time of year again, when Torontonians let their freak flags fly and actually start talking to strangers in film lineups. Yes, it’s TIFF 09: the gods shall walk among us and otherwise sane Canadians will genuflect in front of grade-A Hollywood flesh.

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