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Posts from — September 2011

TIFF 2011….THE GREEN ROOM IS NOW CLOSED

In with a bang, and out with a whimper…That’s how I’d describe my TIFF experience this year. At the start is was all jacked-up, testosterone- fuelled machismo. Next, came lighter lady fare and, finally, quiet and clever understated films. At least the ones I saw!!

I skipped out on Thursday night’s screening of Franco-film “A Happy Event” – which is a real shame. It’s about all the happiness and joy having a baby brings – except of course, when it doesn’t. According to those who were there (ie not me), it was moving and awesome and a must-see movie for those with (or wanting) children. That was followed, in an odd programming move, by “Hysteria” – the one about the invention of the vibrator! Apparently, it too was, um, a pleasure.

What I did see, however, was “The Awakening” a bone-chilling ghost story that had my mother nearly crapping her drawers! We’d heard it was a terrifying gothic thriller. It was. We arrived thinking there was no way we’d be sitting through anything remotely frightening – until we heard the director, Nick Murphy, speak. Charming and funny, he made us want to see his film. And guess what? Despite – or maybe because of – our reluctance, we both loved it. Great performances all-round, especially by Rebecca Hall and the little boy from Game of Thrones (Isaac Hempstead Wright). The whole thing was super smart, atmospheric, and creepy in all the right ways, “The Awakening” is definitely one not to be missed.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona....now it's stuck in your head too!

Next up was Jennifer Hudson as “Winnie” (Winnie Mandela, that is). I couldn’t wait to see JHud. In my mind, I discovered her years ago on Idol when (again, in my head) I cast her as Effie in Dreamgirls. She’s also my Weight Watchers hero. And a no show. Grrrr. But handsome Terence Howard worked the room quite nicely, dazzling everyone in his path….

No baby wipes here...

Despite being denounced by Winnie Mandela herself, people I know who saw it, liked it. Personally, I haven’t a clue. Gutted by Ms. Hudson’s absence, the maven left the building.

Finally, the closing night. It’s a well-known secret among film goers that the final gala film is usually a dud. In this case, a British (gasp) television movie was selected to close out the fest. Written and directed by (Sir) David Hare it’s a veritable who’s who of UK cinema: Bill Nighy, Michael Gambon and Rachel Weisz star, with appearances by Ralph Fiennes, Ewan Bremner and Judy Davis (Aussie….but close enough). This time, it was a spy flick!!

Don't let the pursed lips fool you...HILARIOUS...and on film, mysterious....

In “Page 8”, espionage and intrigue reign supreme as a secret file threatens to take down Her Majesty’s government. My Man and my Mom loved it. Thought it was gripping and smart with a cool, jazz-hand soundtrack. I, on the other hand, was so consumed fending off a carb-coma that I got lost somewhere on the wet grey streets of London….Useless (me, not the film).

All in all, good times had by all….HUGE thanks to photographer extraordinaire, Rosemary Goldhar. If you think these pics were good, you should see her REAL work….

For now, it’s ta-ta, TIFF….And hellooo fall TV….. Are your PVR’s ready?!

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September 19, 2011   1 Comment

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TIFF 2011: NOT QUITE LIVE – IT AIN’T WEDNESDAY.

Wednesday night brought with it a screening of “Starbuck”, a French Canadian film about a sperm donor who learns he’s fathered over 500 children. Watching the preview, I thought it could go either way. It looked pretty funny, but you never know how the humour translates, right? The seats in Roy Thompson are OK. At first. After several 4-hour-seating nights, I was beginning to get a bit antsy. And hungry. Movie corn and isagenix bars were taking their toll.

Instead of Roy Thompson Hall and this:

Patrick Huard, star of Starbuck

We hit the Thompson Hotel and this:

Wabora Sushi Fest

This was after starters of Summer Rolls (ish), Popcorn shrimp (nish) and a Tuna Tower (delish).

But back to the real festival. Next up was Joel Schumacher’s psychological thriller, “Trespass”. Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman play a couple whose home is invaded and….

And I don’t know. This was post-sushi. Pants felt too tight to sit down for 2 more hours. Feet were beginning to exhibit Post-Soy-Sauce Swelling Disorder. The flick will be in theatres any minute. We passed. But only after Nicolas Cage stopped by.

ALVA! There you are!

I’m a long-time fan. Valley Girl & Vampire’s Kiss are my faves. The desert series – Raising Arizona, Wild at Heart, Honeymoon in – and Leaving – Las Vegas… I even liked Face/Off and Con Air. We won’t mention the many less impressive films in his oeuvre. Despite cracking me up, he exudes such a sweet sweet sadness… I’ll always have a soft spot for Nic Cage. Or, after eating obnoxiously, several soft spots.

September 16, 2011   No Comments

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TIFF 2011: LIVE FROM THE GREEN ROOM IT’S TUESDAY

The men have left the building.

But the boys are still here. With Kyle MacLachlan.

2-halves and a Man.

Nat Wolff (the guy in the middle) is adorable as the young budding filmmaker in Bruce Beresford’s Peace, Love & Misunderstanding. (He’s also incredibly appealing: totally excited to be there. And brought his grandparents. Love that.) The flick’s about an uptight, soon-to-be divorced woman who takes her teenage kids to visit their hippy grandmama in Woodstock. Cute and simple, right? Um… Too right. Jane Fonda as the pot-smoking, drug-dealing Bubby got all the best bits. Who doesn’t want to hear a grandmother telling her daughter not to be a cock-block? Catherine Keener was fine but, sadly, didn’t have enough to work with. Her character was as two-dimensional as they come. Uptight? Straighten your hair and wear a suit. Feeling groovy? Air dry your tresses and open your shirt. There were some great lines but they got lost among the cliches. Forgettable even with eye-candy Chace Crawford. No ogling, oldies. He’s a child!

One for the youngsters.

Speaking of eye-candy, there were some real beauties in the room for the next movie.

No "butter face" here. Director Jim Smith Field and his ladies.

Look at these ladies: stunning!!! And their film was terrific! Set against the backdrop of a butter-carving competition (that’s right), this film was quirky and funny and totally worth seeing. Jennifer Garner is perfect as a tightly-wound trophy wife who is determined to win the competition at any cost – even if it means sabotaging her opponent: a 10-yr old foster child, played with casual aplomb by young Yara Shahidi who, unlike most child actors, wasn’t cringe-worthy in the least. Ty Burrell plays Jennifer Garner’s whipped husband – but, sadly, he was a no-show. As was Hugh Jackman, who’s cameo was the only part of the film that felt forced. Rounding out the cast were: Alicia Silverstone (lovely), Ashley Greene (too trying for such a young girlie) and magnificent Olivia Wilde who stole the show – on and off the screen. Hilarious.

Funny AND stunning AND nice. Bitch.

September 14, 2011   No Comments

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TIFF 2011 LIVE FROM THE GREEN ROOM – IT’S MONDAY

She came. She saw. She conquered.

Her Madgesty

In town to promote her flick W.E. Madonna swept through the room, causing a near riot among this city’s fashion elite. Or at least a stampede. A photo-op with Madonna?? Grown women reduced to girls gone wild. She looks terrific. Snarky and funny on the red carpet, she brought graciousness to the podium where the fans were out of their seats the minute she stepped foot in the place.

The movie….oh, the movie……it’s not as bad as the critics in Venice would have you believe. They were predetermined to loathe it, so they did. It was, as one wise woman noted, completely over directed. And the two-tiered storyline didn’t help. At all. With such amazing material, choices were made in the telling that were, um, interesting… But – hey – it looked great. The outfits!!!! Andrea Riseborough was excellent playing Mrs. Simpson. Abbie Cornish, playing a modern day woman obsessed with the Duke and Duchess, less so. By the end both actresses started looking like a dark-haired, red-lipped incarnation of Madonna. It was all quite strange.

When the movie ended, the true blue fans expressed their adoration on the feet, complete with standing O, whistles, yells. Blinded by the ray of light of their Madge, they thought the film was fabulous. Madonna was. The film, not so much.

September 13, 2011   1 Comment

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TIFF 2011 – LIVE FROM THE GREEN ROOM: IT’S SUNDAY!

Gorgeous.

Let me start by saying this: if you’re not a Gerard Butler fan,I understand. Neither am I. Or should I say, neither was I. But all that’s changed now. Because his movie, Machine Gun Preacher, was amazing. Completely and utterly incredible.

Superb - the performer and the real deal.

This was one of those “you can’t make this shit up” tales: Ex-con, druggie biker gets clean, finds god, and saves the world one Sudanese orphan at a time. Pretty farfetched, right? But the real deal, Sam Childers, was in the green room as the audience went completely nuts for the story of his life on the big screen. So much more than Rambo in Africa, this is an unforgettable, completely awe-inspiring story. Not mere hero-worship, we’re privvy to this guy’s demons and downfalls as he devotes his entire life to maintaining and protecting the orphanage he built with his own hands in war-torn Sudan.

(Aside: Chris Cornell wrote a song for it. And is very very tall.)

Beautiful rock star...

A real lady.

Far less compelling was Albert Nobbs. The one where Glenn Close plays a woman dressed as a man in 19th century Dublin. I don’t know if it’s because it came hot on the heels of the first flick or if it really was a snore, but for me, it was “ish” at best. I felt like Albert was played more like a savant of some kind than a woman trying to live her life as best she can. She/he remained an enigma not just to the other characters but to the audience as well which was disapointing. Janet McTeer, on the other hand, was fabulous. Her character was so much more interesting, keeping me much more interested.

Ms McTeer

And, seeing as this was a film set in Dublin, what better way to ring in the film that to have in the green room a shining example of Irish charm.

Meltdown in aisle 3....

I.Have.Never. Here’s a man who speaks like a poet (seriously), makes you feel like there’s no one else in the room, and gets a blush rising out of everyone – regardless of gender, sexual preference or age. By the time he cleared out we were all convinced we’d slept with the guy. Yep, he’s that smooooth.

September 12, 2011   No Comments

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TIFF 2011. LIVE FROM THE GREEN ROOM – IT’S SATURDAY

How do you top Brangelina/Clooney/U2 Friday?

With Canadiana Saturday.

First up, David Cronenberg’s “A Dangerous Method”. Everything about the movie was beautiful. From the cast to the sets to the magnificent antiques. Each scene gave us time to itemize the silver (that roll top! The match holder! The stemware!) and covet the costumes. Because this flick was slo-o-o-o-w. Michael Fassbinder was mesmerizing. And absent. Kiera Knightly, Viggo Mortensen and newbie beauty Sarah Gadon all showed up. It was, needless to say, a great looking green room with those 3 in it. Even if no one likes to smile for the camera.

Ooooh Viggo. So handsome.

Skinny stunner

In keeping with the Canadian vibe, it was a subdued, quiet room. For the most part.

Vigo and newcomer Sarah Gadon caught in a rare moment of levity

Next up was local darling Sarah Polley’s “Take This Waltz”. This is her follow up to the acclaimed “Away from Her” and she was quite nervous. But very cute, doing what every lady in the room was dying to do (no, not stalk Viggo!). She – ahem – waltzed in and kicked off her shoes.

Happy feet, happy girl.

As she headed off to calm her nerves and practise her speech, the movie’s stars filed in. Some of them.

Funny people.

I really liked this movie – tho’ heard a couple of philistines bashing it as they hit the streets. A very sensitive and astute story, it centres around a young married woman (Michelle Williams – not here) who falls for her (very hot) neighbour (Luke Kirby).

Smoldered on the big screen.

Just when we thought the story was over, it kept going. And going. And going. Interesting journeys with room for interpretation. The kind of flick you want to discuss afterwards. At least the ladies will. Except for one particularly sexy, fully clothed scene which you’ll probably want to think about privately.

Finally, who shows up to support his main man Seth? Why, Jonah Hill of course. Are they the newer, younger (leaner) Matt ‘n Ben? Not sure. But I have a newfound affection for Jonah Hill. It’s not like my “we’d be friends” connection with Matt Damon – I really do think we’d be friends. This one is more like, not really maternal, but like a concerned Auntie. First off, he introduced himself. As if I didn’t know who he was. And second, when I gushed over his performance – what? he was really really good in Moneyball! – and acknowledged that not many comedians can make that trek over to “serious actor” territory, he welled. Honest to goodness welling! Maybe he’s good at improv. Or maybe he’s just a sweetie. I’m hoping for the second.

Feeling like an Amazon with wee Jonah Hill

September 11, 2011   1 Comment

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TIFF 2011. LIVE FROM THE GREEN ROOM – IT’S FRIDAY!

It was a double whammy in the green room on this sultry Friday night.

First stop, Brangelina. And no, they’re not as beautiful in real life…they’re more beautiful. Especially Angie. She looks like a porcelain doll and is beyond stunning. And young! She was gracious and lovely but wasn’t having any (more) photos taken. She was there to support her man, Brad – also much younger looking in the flesh than in the pics. Especially this pic.

Doesn't do him justice.....

His latest flick is “Moneyball”. Co-starring Jonah Hill – in his old body. Now, he is teeny tiny – was dying to ask him how he did it…Weight watchers? Isagenix? Tummy tuck? He’s one of those that shrinks 5 sizes and then you’re not sure if it suits him. And then you see him in his former fleshy glory and you think it’s fake. Will the real Mr Hill please stand up?

The movie itself was good, whether you’re a baseball fan or not. Great script. Great performances. Pre-slim Jonah Hill was fantastic in his role as geeky brain trust and the baseball bits were very intense and exciting. Mr Pitt was good, but for me it kinda felt like he was calling it in. He’s gunning for an Oscar so watch this space.

Happy Cast

BTW – the second Brad entered the room, he beelined to Angie to kiss her. Very very attentive. I totally buy it. They’re perfect.

Next stop: Clooney-town.

He co-wrote, directed and starred in Ides of March, which I really liked. Idealist young staffer, slick political candidate, everybody getting down ‘n dirty…..Very very well done. Only problem is I now think George Clooney is his alter ego from the film…

Ryan Gosling was there. Crowds of girls waiting outside – varying ages. Some for Clooney, some for Gosling. After seeing him in person, I’m with the youth.

Hot

Philip Seymour Hoffman had a double header. By the time I saw him at the second flick, we were old pals…

Palorinis

The Clooney greenroom was packed packed packed with strange random stars. Stacy Kiebler (GC’s new piece), Jimmy Iovine (music guy) and….um…..Bono and Edge. This time, they were far more approachable. Too bad I couldn’t keep it together. At all.

Couldn't take the rock royalty.....

I barely help it together. But Bono was divine. Kissed my hand, was very sweet and friendly. As was his bandmate, with whom I was far more comfortable. Kind of.

The Edge and the weak-kneed....

Meeting a movie man is a thrill, sure. But a rock star? That’s a whole other story….Sigh…..

September 10, 2011   2 Comments

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TIFF 2011. LIVE FROM THE GREEN ROOM – IT’S OPENING NIGHT!

The Toronto Int’l Film Fest is baaaaaack. As am I, loud ‘n proud in the Roy Thompson Hall Gala Green room. Last year was awesome, lots of star-spotting, photo-bombing and good times had by all…What will this year bring?

So far, not much.

Except, maybe this:

Yes, those are cake pops

The U2 doc, “From the Sky Down” was being screened, both at RTH and at the Elgin Theatre. And 2 of the 4 lads from Dublin were on hand to work the red carpet. And the stage. At both venues, no less. But, alas, no sneak peeks inside the green room. They preferred to be where the streets have no name (I can’t help it) with the gen pop. And I kinda love them for it. They’d rather shake hands and sign pics than stand for photo ops with ministers and sponsors. Bravo! Also, to be honest, I wasn’t that bothered since Larry was a no show. It meant I could relax without fear of passing out. Or, um, throwing myself at him like a lunatic teeny bopper. See, I’ve had an unrealistic fan-girl crush on drummer boy Larry Mullen Jr for as long as I can remember. If he showed his face in the green room, I don’t know if I could keep it together. And by “it” I mean both my composure and my marriage!

Top of my Allowable-Adultery List.

Right??

Anyhoo, it was Bono and The Edge who came, saw and conquered Toronto. And don’t let the earnestness fool you – Bono is funny! “Watching this film is like finding out what’s inside a sausage. Once you know, you don’t want to eat it”. Granted, he used the same line at both venues but what the hell – he’s Bono, right?

Funny Front Man

The movie itself was interesting. Anyone looking for sensation won’t find it in this film. Instead of being too up-close and personal, it’s all about the artistic process: a thoughtful portrait of the band as they make “Achtung Baby” when – apparently- they almost broke up. To be honest, I didn’t really get a sense of urgency, nor did I feel that they were truly on the brink of break up. But I enjoyed it because I grew up with them. Loved’ em then, and love ’em now. Do I feel like we know them better after seeing the movie? Absolutely not. But throw in some old skool tunes and video footage and you can’t go wrong. I think it’s a musicians’ movie. Or my mother’s – she knows nothing of the band but loved it. And was rewarded with hugs and kisses from Bono. While I was stuck waiting by the car. With Edge.

His friends call him Edge. No "The".

OK. Not really with him. But with the cars. And the bodyguards. And the other screaming fans. Who actually got autographs….

September 9, 2011   3 Comments

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