By Leonard Klady

Confessions Of A Film Festival Junkie – Part 3

Toronto is one of the fastest growing cities in North America, increasing population by 200,000 a year on average in the past decade with no sign of letting up. The downtown core can’t cope with mounting traffic and new subway routes to alleviate congestio are unlikely. And for locals and visitors alike, it was tougher because six blocks of King Street West (where the TIFF Lightbox sits) were turned into a pedestrian mall with food trucks, vendors, live concerts and teeming crowds. They’ve been doing it for at least three years and there’s no question it adds to the general festival experience.

But shutting down a major downtown thoroughfare has been miserable this year and the city will almost certainly not renew the policy in 2017. I’m told the mayor’s office has already begun to map out alternative space downtown as an alternative to present to fest reps at their next meeting.

On the second day of the Festival I met up with James Villeneuve who is the Canadian Consul in Los Angeles at an Ontario Film event. The first words out of his mouth were “I miss L.A. traffic.” Yes, getting around Toronto is a “bear.” I’ve been walking to venues I would normally hop into a cab to get to because it’s faster.

There were a lot of ripped from the headlines movies in the TIFF lineup including the relatively high profile Snowden on the whistleblower-forced expatriate with filmmaker Oliver Stone leaning to the left. The sentiment might be familiar but there’s not a lot of the narrative razzle-dazzle that we’ve grown to expect from Stone. Like Jobs last year, the events surrounding the personality have been well documented.

On the flipside was Denial, about the 2000 trial of Deborah Lipstadt, was charged with libel by historian David Irving for “disparaging” his research in her book “Denying the Holocaust.” The film gets extra points simply because it was a case with modest media coverage. And for a certain type of geek the detailing of British law and court procedure will be engrossing. It, like Snowden, is a well-crafted, highly dramatic production with first-rate performances throughout. All things, considered the advantage falls to the story we don’t know.

And that brings us to The Limehouse Golem, a seeming retelling of the Jack the Ripper saga that isn’t actually based on a historic murder investigation. In London of the 1880s a series of horrific murders have the city in an uproar and Inspector Kildaire (Bill Nighy) pursues a trail that involves Karl Marx and the top music hall performers of the era. The painstaking detail to the milieu along with real life characters is truly inspired and makes the picture one of the great surprises of TIFF.

And a quick note about La La Land, filmmaker Damien Chazelle’s follow-up to Whiplash. Arriving with buzz from Telluride, his film is another attempt to resurrect the classic Hollywood musical. It is a lot of fun with dashes of a wide swath of films including Singin’ in the Rain and A Star is Born as Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone come to Hollywood to make it in music and the movies. It’s a familiar yarn and a one-off movie as opposed to a breakthrough.


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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon