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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Toronto 08 Preview, Pt 1

I am now working my way through the TIFF list… here is the first part of what I am finding that I think might be particularly interesting…
Appaloosa – Ed Harris takes on the western… fingers crossed.
Blindness – Fernando Meirelles took a beating in Cannes… but I trust him more than I trust “them.”
The Brothers Bloom – Rian Johnson’s first, Brick, was a cult phenom… and little seen by mainstream movie lovers. Here, he has indie beloved Ruffalo and Brody as brothers/con artists, working Rachel Weisz. Fingers crossed.
Burn After Reading – A Coen Bros comedy. ‘Nuff said.
Burning Plain – The soul of the dramas with Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Guillermo Arriaga gets behind the camera for the first time with Charlize Theron and Kim Basinger on board in lustful, ripe roles. The only question is whether it will entertain as much as it punches you in the face.
Che’ – I can’t wait to see it. Again, I trust few critics, especially when impatience was the leading theme of most slams. Maybe it really does need to be cut… maybe not. We’ll see.
Disgrace – A remarkably quiet production, given that it adapts a very popular J.M. Coetzee book and stars John Malkovich as the professor whose disgrace starts the story rolling. It could be the fact that the filmmakers, the Aussie husband and wife directing/writing team Steve Jacobs and Anna Maria Monticelli, are little known commodities. But this one smells of being one of those that surprises at the fest.
The Duchess – More pretty dresses, on and off.
Easy Virtue – Stephen Elliot, the man who put Guy Pearce, Terrance Stamp, and Mr. Smith in drag, is back at the movies with a Noel Coward romp. Finding the right speed for movies of this tone is very difficult.
Flash Of Genius – Universal is quite serious about their variation on Tucker: A Man & His Dream with Greg Kinnear in the Jeff Bridges role.
Girl From Monaco – I have become an Anne Fontaine fan, mostly from exposure at TIFF. Once again, she works in the arena of people who don’t belong together, but just can’t help but to be drawn into trouble.
The Good, The Bad & The Weird – Billed as “the first kimchi western,” it comes on the heels of Takshi Miike’s Sukiyaki Wastern Django. Word of mouth is good on this one.
Il Divo – A political film with passionately mixed response at Cannes, at least as far as whether it will play in North America.
Inju, The Beast In the Shadow – A Barbet Schroeder thriller, he is usually a sure bet for a good time in this mode, if the not the most subtle experience.
The Lucky Ones – Veterans cross America on way home… it’s been in the can a while…
Miracle at St Anna – Spike Lee’s black Saving Private Ryan. Hopeful.
Nothing But The Truth – Rod Lurie’s recently delayed tale based on the Valerie Plame scandal, from the POV of the reporter who was jailed for not giving up her source. Lurie risked casting Kate Beckinsale, who has been known for her vinyl pants instead of her acting in recent years, looking to score some serious points, along with Vera Farmiga as the glam CIA agent and Lurie regular Alan Alda in a showy role.
Other Man – Richard Eyre’s follow-up to the very successful and underrated Notes on a Scandal, this is another intrigue with Liam Neeson seeking out the truth about his wife’s secret relationship. Sounds a little like one of my beloveds, Damage.
Pride & Glory – Gavin O’Conner tries not to fall into cliché with the story of NY police family tested by… blah blah blah. The thing is, when those clichés are overcome, the results can be very exciting.
Public Enemy No. 1 – The French version of a familiar tale stars the always fun to watch Vincent Cassel and Depardieu. I’m willing to give this one a chance with hopes for great fun.
Rachel Getting Married – Jon Demme’s tribute to Altman adds in Demme’s love of music with the daring choice to tell a real, human story and not to rely on easy Hollywood answers to every dramatic question. A festival film that will cause fights between friends.
Rocknrolla – Guy Ritchie doesn’t suck… a key theme when his last film was the career-horror Revolver. But this time out, the film works and has a cult star turning bigger and bigger in Gerard Butler.
The Wrestler – Darren Aronofsky has gotten the CG ambitions out of the way and is back to hard core, personal storytelling with style. Mickey Rourke has a shot at being a big story at this year’s fest.
Zack & Miri Make A Porno – As raunchy as this one sounds, word is that it has a degree of sweetness more like Chasing Amy than Clerks, with skills that Kevin Smith has built over the years.
(Director mistake corrected, 8:45p)

One Response to “Toronto 08 Preview, Pt 1”

  1. doobiedoo says:

    Stephan Elliot. Not Stephen.

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“I suddenly couldn’t say anything about some of the movies. They were just so terrible, and I’d already written about so many terrible movies. I love writing about movies when I can discover something in them – when I can get something out of them that I can share with people. The week I quit, I hadn’t planned on it. But I wrote up a couple of movies, and I read what I’d written, and it was just incredibly depressing. I thought, I’ve got nothing to share from this. One of them was of that movie with Woody Allen and Bette Midler, Scenes From a Mall. I couldn’t write another bad review of Bette Midler. I thought she was so brilliant, and when I saw her in that terrible production of ‘Gypsy’ on television, my heart sank. And I’d already panned her in Beaches. How can you go on panning people in picture after picture when you know they were great just a few years before? You have so much emotional investment in praising people that when you have to pan the same people a few years later, it tears your spirits apart.”
~ Pauline Kael On Quitting

“My father was a Jerome. My daughter’s middle name is Jerome. But my most vexing and vexed relationship with a Jerome was with Jerome Levitch, the subject of my first book under his stage and screen name, Jerry Lewis.

I have a lot of strong and complex feelings about the man, who passed away today in Las Vegas at age 91. Suffice to say he was a brilliant talent, an immense humanitarian, a difficult boss/interview, and a quixotic sort of genius, as often inspired as insipid, as often tender as caustic.

I wrote all about it in my 1996 book, “King of Comedy,” which is available on Kindle. With all due humility, it’s kinda definitive — the good and the bad — even though it’s two decades old. My favorite review, and one I begged St. Martin’s (unsuccessfully) to put on the paperback jacket, came from “Screw” magazine, which called it “A remarkably fair portrait of a great American asshole.”

Jerry and I met twice while I was working on the book and spoke/wrote to each other perhaps a dozen times. Like many of his relationships with the press and his partners/subordinates, it ended badly, with Jerry hollering profanities at me in the cabin of his yacht in San Diego. I wrote about it in the epilogue to my book, and over the years I’ve had the scene quoted back to me by Steve Martin, Harry Shearer, Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette. Tom Hanks once told me that he had a dinner with Paul Reiser and Martin Short at which Short spent the night imitating Jerry throwing me off the boat.

Jerry was a lot of things: father, husband, chum, businessman, philanthropist, artist, innovator, clown, tyrant. He was at various times in his life the highest-ever-paid performer on TV, in movies, and on Broadway. He raised BILLIONS for charity, invented filmmaking techniques, made perhaps a dozen classic comedies, turned in a terrific dramatic performance in Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy,” and left the world altered and even enhanced with his time and his work in it.

That’s an estimable achievement and one worth pausing to commemorate.

#RIP to Le Roi du Crazy

~ Biographer Shawn Levy on Jerry Lewis on Facebook