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Confessions of a Film Festival Junkie: Shape of Water, The Florida Project

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I was in line for a French film when it was cancelled and this was its replacement. A fellow queuer said, it’s the new Sean Baker, and people love it. I’d seen Baker’s earlier MTV series “Greg the Bunny” and his L.A.-by-iPhone Tangerine but they didn’t prepare me for this: a documentary-like view of poor people who inhabit a residential motel in Orlando, only a few miles from Disney World.

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Confessions of a Film Festival Junkie: Toronto Wrap

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TIFF is a mess! Well, that’s not exactly true, but the anarchic element that is the Toronto International Film Festival is part of its charm and vitality.

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Confessions Of A Film Festival Junkie – Part 3

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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.

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Confessions Of A Film Festival Junkie: Day Two

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The Toronto International Film Festival opening day announcement was all about the escalators not working at the Scotiabank Theaters. Film festivals are not all about the art of cinema. The Scotiabank complex, has 18 screens. The climb is the equivalent of four flights and the grade is as severe as the London Undergroun’sd. I wondered why they simply didn’t reverse the working escalator and discovered they couldn’t because the “up” escalator operates on two motors and the “down” only has a single motor. Even if this is resolved overnight, it still has to be approved by a city inspector and I’m told there’s an epidemic of broken escalators in the city.

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Confessions of A Film Festival Junkie: Toronto Day One

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I’ve attended the Toronto International Film Festival since when it was still called The Festival of Festivals, a moniker discarded in 1994. There have other changes across the years, of course. It’s been a long time since TIFF could be shorthanded as a “plucky” or “upstart” festival.

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The Torontonian reviews This Is Where I Leave You

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Wrapping TIFF 2014

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Confessions of a Film Festival Junkie: It’s a Wrap

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The Torontonian reviews It Follows

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Confessions of a Film Festival Junkie

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The Torontonian Reviews NIGHTCRAWLER

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Confessions of a Film Festival Junkie: Toronto 2014 – Getting Started

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The Torontonian reviews Eden

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Confessions Of A Film Festival Junkie: TIFF 2014 Opening Days

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The TIFF 2014 Doc Sneak: Thom Powers Lays It Out For You

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MCN Videos

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Letitia Wright, Urban Hymn

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The Insult, Ziad Doueiri

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Phantom Thread, Vicky Krieps

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Molly’s Game, Aaron Sorkin

MCN Festivals

Toronto Int’l Gala Presentations Include New Delpy, Egoyan, Emmerich, Frears, Helgeland, Mehta, Moorhouse, Scott, Sollett, Vallée

“People want to go home and have sex after your movie. Don’t make them feel urggghh. Don’t do that to your fellow sexually active people.”
In Toronto, Michael Moore Reminds Documentarians To Entertain 

“I’m telling you straight and true that Paul Dano‘s performance as the youngish Brian Wilson in Bill Pohlad‘s Love and Mercy is almost spookily great.”
Avers Jeff Wells

NY Times

“This movie was born in a blaze, and will be released in a blaze.”
Kevin Smith’s Tusk Gets Medicinal Marijuana Tie-In severe spoiler

NY Times

“People could call him a sociopath. But I wouldn’t at all. I would call it the birth of an artist. It’s poetry to him.”
Jake Gyllenhaal Tries A Festival-Friendly PR Tack For Nightcrawler

“I’m not sure if I’m allowed to talk about it yet, but screw it: I love this nasty little movie! It’s f—ing bonkers, and I can’t wait for you to see it.”
Kyle Buchanan Serves T. O. Buzz With His Starred-Up 15 Picks For The Fest

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What do you make of the criticism directed at the film that the biopic genre or format is intrinsically bourgeois? That’s the most crazy criticism. That’s an excuse for not engaging with the content of the movie. Film critics sometimes, you know, can be very lazy.

Come on, formal criticism is valuable too. But I’m amazed when this is the thing they put in front of the discourse. My situation is that I’m dealing with a highly explosive subject, a taboo subject that nobody wants to deal with.

Karl Marx? Yes, this is the first film ever in the Western world about Marx. And I managed to make an almost mainstream film out of it. You want me at the same time to play the artist and do a risky film about the way my camera moves and the way I edit? No, it’s complicated enough! The artistic challenge — and it took me ten years with Pascal to write this story — was the writing. That was the most difficult part. We were making a film about the evolution of an idea, which is impossible. To be able to have political discourse in a scene, and you can follow it, and it’s not simplified, and it’s historically true. This is the accomplishment. So when someone criticizes the formal aspects without seeing that first, for me, it’s laziness or ignorance. There’s an incapacity to deal with what’s on the table. I make political films about today, I’m not making a biopic to make a biopic. I don’t believe in being an artist just to be an artist. And by the way, this film cost $9 million. I dare anyone in the United States to make this film for $9 million.
Raoul Peck on The Young Karl Marx

“The Motion Picture Academy, at considerable expense and with great efficiency, runs all the nominated pictures at its own theater, showing each picture twice, once in the afternoon, once in the evening. A nominated picture is one in connection with which any kind of work is nominated for an award, not necessarily acting, directing, or writing; it may be a purely technical matter such as set-dressing or sound work. This running of pictures has the object of permitting the voters to look at films which they may happen to have missed or to have partly forgotten. It is an attempt to make them realize that pictures released early in the year, and since overlaid with several thicknesses of battered celluloid, are still in the running and that consideration of only those released a short time before the end of the year is not quite just.

“The effort is largely a waste. The people with votes don’t go to these showings. They send their relatives, friends, or servants. They have had enough of looking at pictures, and the voices of destiny are by no means inaudible in the Hollywood air. They have a brassy tone, but they are more than distinct.”All this is good democracy of a sort. We elect Congressmen and Presidents in much the same way, so why not actors, cameramen, writers, and all rest of the people who have to do with the making of pictures? If we permit noise, ballyhoo, and theater to influence us in the selection of the people who are to run the country, why should we object to the same methods in the selection of meritorious achievements in the film business? If we can huckster a President into the White House, why cannot we huckster the agonized Miss Joan Crawford or the hard and beautiful Miss Olivia de Havilland into possession of one of those golden statuettes which express the motion picture industry’s frantic desire to kiss itself on the back of its neck? The only answer I can think of is that the motion picture is an art. I say this with a very small voice. It is an inconsiderable statement and has a hard time not sounding a little ludicrous. Nevertheless it is a fact, not in the least diminished by the further facts that its ethos is so far pretty low and that its techniques are dominated by some pretty awful people.

“If you think most motion pictures are bad, which they are (including the foreign), find out from some initiate how they are made, and you will be astonished that any of them could be good. Making a fine motion picture is like painting “The Laughing Cavalier” in Macy’s basement, with a floorwalker to mix your colors for you. Of course most motion pictures are bad. Why wouldn’t they be?”
~ Raymond Chandler, “Oscar Night In Hollywood,” 1948