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TIFF 2010. LIVE FROM THE GREEN ROOM: IT’S THURSDAY

And so it’s the final post from 2010’s Green Room. Fest doesn’t end until Saturday, but for many Jews it’s over. High Holidays strike again!

And speaking of Jews, both movies were very very Tribe-related. And yet couldn’t be more different.

First up, CASINO JACK.

True tale of “Superlobbyist” Jack Abramoff. Washington. Corruption. Greed. Politics….Yawn. Wake me when it’s over.

No, seriously, I wanted to be woken when it ended. I was exhausted. After bobble-heading (and possibly sleeping) for 30 minutes or so I woke up to find myself lost in a movie I cared nothing about. Not a thing. Apparently people enjoyed the film. I recognized an awesome performance from Kevin Spacey and a…less awesome one from the very strange looking Barry Pepper. His hair matched his skin. Weird. Maury Chaykin was excellent in one of his last roles. And John Luvitz was pretty funny. But I didn’t get the appeal of the film going in, and it remains a mystery coming out…

Green Room was chilled. Kelly Preston arrived, 7 months pregnant and 47 years old and gorgeous. And nice! We discussed November babies – her baby, a boy, is due end of November – and she was quite smiley. Pregnancy seems to be the great equalizer.

Pregnant in belly only.

Lots of actors from the film who I’d never seen before and may not recognize again. And Kevin Spacey. Charming and, dare I say, somewhat attractive.

Not bad, right?

I know, I know crazy, right? But he’s very smiley, wears his suit well, and looks better in person than on screen. Another strange, but true-ism.

Finally, my last festival film: SARAH’S KEY.

Based on one of the most devastating and amazing books and a personal fave (click here for a reminder) this was the film I was told to look out for before the festival began.

But first, the Green Room. It was a nervous group in there. Perhaps because there’s a lot of pressure to make such a beloved book’s transition to screen a good ‘un. Kristen Scott Thomas is quite the lady. Very regal looking, tho’ probably more a girl’s girl. Men I’ve spoken to her (ok, mine) find her a bit stark.

I should be so stark.

Aidan Quinn arrived next. EYES!!!

Demin. And beads.

Wasn’t so into his shirt: denim. Under a suit jacket. But it brought out those baby blues enough to make a grown woman (photographer) blush. And break into a sweat.

Film, as expected, was gut-wrenching. I don’t want to give away too much, but remember the premise of the book? Again, click here for refresher. Writer/director (who looked about 30) did a very sensitive, beautiful adaptation. He chose to make this less a typical “holocaust” film and more a story of identity and history – ie it’s just about the present-life story as it is about Sarah. The book, on the other hand, dwelled far more on the past. Some folks I spoke to didn’t give a rat’s ass about Kristen Scott Thomas’ character, Julia, or her issues. I guess the filmmaker felt that watching a harrowing, heartbreaking life for 2 hours would simply be too much too handle. As it was there were scenes of such emotional devastation that thinking of them now gets me welly.

There’s a very fine line when it comes to reading, hearing and watching these stories about the Holocaust. They’re grisly scenes from which it’s impossible to avert your eyes. I think the director gave us a break when he flashed forward. We got a chance to breath, to wipe our tears, and to brace ourselves for more. I loved the book. I loved the film. Bravo.

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September 17, 2010   No Comments

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MOAM Book Club

Tick tock. Can you hear it? The sounds of panic – and relief – as the kiddies get ready to go back to school and the summer draws to a close. Some are no doubt looking forward to the return of boots, sleeves and structure. While others will continue to milk the September sunshine for all it’s worth. Many of you will stop reading books.

Huh? Why?!?!

For some reason, summer is the season of the book. Lots of folks only read in the summer. Or on holiday. So before the summer unofficially ends on Labour Day, might I present some more MOAM Book Club faves.

Warning: these are not what some would consider “beach reads”. They’re utterly depressing and devastating. In the best possible way.

SARAH’S KEY – Tatiana De Rosnay
I started reading this book one night….and went to sleep after I’d finished it a few hours later. In a nutshell? Paris, WWII. A young Jewish girl locks her 4-year-old brother under the stairs to keep him safe as the Nazis begin their round-up. She promises she’ll be back but… When I talk about the very premise of this book, I cry. Kristen-Scott Thomas movie version coming soon…..

STILL ALICE – Lisa Genova
A 50-year-old Harvard professor is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Written in her voice, this one is gut-wrenching. And while you’ll start terrified – and convinced you too have Alzheimer’s – you’ll finish heartbroken and amazed at the powerful voice of this first-time writer. And no, it’s not remotely Movie of the Week-ish.

BEFORE I DIE – Jenny Downham
A 16-year old girl with terminal Cancer makes a list of things she’d like to do before she dies. Like, erm, get laid. No treatment for this chick, it’s all sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. Depressing AND uplifting. Kind of. Ultimately it avoids the cheese by erring on the bleak side. You’d never guess this is a Young Adult title…

LITTLE BEE – Chris Cleave
A Nigerian refugee and a British magazine editor find themselves irretrievably bound together after a horrific and shocking event. Any further plot description would just be full of major spoilers. Seriously – even the dust jacket says “we don’t want to tell you what happens in the book”. But a lot does. A LOT.

THE WINTER VAULT – Anne Michaels
This is no Fugitive Pieces (the author’s first BRILLIANT book) but her writing is so magnificent that it makes me cry. And I want to make all of you read ’em and weep so I’m including it. Two lovers, torn apart. Set in Egypt, Canada, Warsaw. Poetic and intense.

LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN – Collum McCann
Interconnecting stories set in NYC in the 70’s… Some ordinary, some extraordinary, each is linked in the most surprising and compelling ways. This book was a slow-burn… And haunted me for days.

BENNY AND SHRIMP – KATARINA MAZETTI
Two eccentrics meet in a cemetery and fall in love. A simple story, right? Wrong! Making it work, is a lot more complicated. Set in Sweden (is Sweden the new Britain??), this one is actually quirky and funny (with, yes, a hint of sadness). I had to lighten things up a little or you’d drown in the bleakness of the other books.

So forget the sunscreen. Grab some tissues and hang out in the shadows with these fabulously heartbreaking summer reads. And that little Amazon box you’re looking at? Yes. You. Can. Buy your books right here, right now!

Happy Reading!

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September 1, 2010   3 Comments

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