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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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“Let me try and be as direct as I possibly can with you on this. There was no relationship to repair. I didn’t intend for Harvey to buy and release The Immigrant – I thought it was a terrible idea. And I didn’t think he would want the film, and I didn’t think he would like the film. He bought the film without me knowing! He bought it from the equity people who raised the money for me in the States. And I told them it was a terrible idea, but I had no say over the matter. So they sold it to him without my say-so, and with me thinking it was a terrible idea. I was completely correct, but I couldn’t do anything about it. It was not my preference, it was not my choice, I did not want that to happen, I have no relationship with Harvey. So, it’s not like I repaired some relationship, then he screwed me again, and I’m an idiot for trusting him twice! Like I say, you try to distance yourself as much as possible from the immediate response to a movie. With The Immigrant I had final cut. So he knew he couldn’t make me change it. But he applied all the pressure he could, including shelving the film.”
James Gray

“I’m an unusual producer because I control the destiny of a lot of the films I’ve done. Most of them are in perfect states of restoration and preservation and distribution, and I aim to keep them in distribution. HanWay Films, which is my sales company, has a 500-film catalogue, which is looked after and tended like a garden. I’m still looking after my films in the catalogue and trying to get other people to look after their films, which we represent intellectually, to try to keep them alive. A film has to be run through a projector to be alive, unfortunately, and those electric shadows are few and far between now. It’s very hard to go and see films in a movie house. I was always involved with the sales and marketing of my films, right up from The Shout onwards. I’ve had good periods, but I also had a best period because the film business was in its best period then. You couldn’t make The Last Emperor today. You couldn’t make The Sheltering Sky today. You couldn’t make those films anymore as independent films. There are neither the resources nor the vision within the studios to go to them and say, “I want to make a film about China with no stars in it.”Then, twenty years ago, I thought, “OK, I’m going to sell my own films but I don’t want to make it my own sales company.” I wanted it to be for me but I wanted to make it open for every other producer, so they don’t feel that they make a film but I get the focus. So, it’s a company that is my business and I’m involved with running it in a certain way, but I’m not seen as a competitor with other people that use it. It’s used by lots of different producers apart from me. When I want to use it, however, it’s there for me and I suppose I’m planning to continue making all my films to be sold by HanWay. I don’t have to, but I do because it’s in my building and the marketing’s here, and I can do it like that. Often, it sounds like I’m being easy about things, but it’s much more difficult than it sounds. It’s just that I’ve been at it for a long time and there’s lots of fat and security around my business. I know how to make films, but it’s not easy—it’s become a very exacting life.”
~ Producer Jeremy Thomas