Lovely Still director Nicholas “Nik” Fakler, 24, following today’s press screening at Toronto’s AMC plex. The film is very carefully shaped and toned and all of an emotional piece — the mark of a filmmaker who has something to say (or at least feel) and knows how to make it consistent and recognizable and entirely “his.”
I’ve Loved You So Long star (and all-but-certain Best Actress nominee) Kristin Scott Thomas (r.) entering Toronto’s Elgin theatre this evening — 7:55 pm. The film is as movingly acted and well written as I’ve read and been told, each and every actor brings something soulful and very special to it, and it ends very well. The iPhone camera, by the way, is a piece of shit because it can’t handle movement of any kind — it has to be rock still — and the light sensitivity levels are barely worth the name.
Sony Classics co-president Michael Barker (l.), I’ve Loved You So Long director Philippe Claudel prior to this evening’s Elgin screening
Magnolia Pictures announced today that Wayne Wang‘s The Princess of Nebraska, a year-old drama that’s been playing the festival circuit since the ’07 Telluride Film Festival, will make its world premiere on YouTube on Friday, 10.17.08.
The free release on the recently launched YouTube Screening Room (http://www.youtube.com/ytscreeningroom) is part of a larger distribution plan which will launch with Magnolia Pictures’ theatrical release on Friday, 9.19 of Wang’s A Thousand Years of Good Prayers. Magnolia, Cinetic Rights Management and YouTube worked together to plan the parallel distribution strategy.
For the last three-plus hours I’ve been trying to load a large (360 mg) mp4 video of an interview I did this morning with Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle. But the transfer rate is so slow that it’s stalled twice and I’m on the verge of giving up. For now. Tonight I’ll try editing it down into three or four segments and see what happens. I’ve also got an mp3 that I recorded simultaneously.
The Toronto Film Festival has to try and do more to provide more flat-screens for journalists to use at the Sutton Plaza headquarters, yes, but what it needs to provide more than anything else is a couple of huge rooms with super-strong wifi and a shitload of desks and chairs. They need to provide, in short, an equivalent of Cannes’ Orange Cafe and press lounge inside the Palais, which have offered reliable super-strength “air” over the past few years. (The press lounge wifi wasn’t running this year, actually, although it was last year and, as I recall, the year before.) All I know is that this festival has been marked by one wifi hassle after another, and I’m feeling worn down to the nub.
The fact that Che and The Hurt Locker have finally landed distribution deals — respectively by IFC Films and Summit Entertainment — is welcome news, of course. But the fact that they took so long to happen tells you what an oddly neutured climate we’re living in right now.
I re-watched the first half of Che last night at the Elgin, and for me it’s just as tight and special and riveting as it seemed when I saw it last May in Cannes. No diminishment, no sag, no glancing at the watch. And yet the majority (or a good portion) of those who saw it with me at the Palais du Festival have been putting out the word ever since that it’s a problem movie.
Toronto Star critic Peter Howell has actually called it “Havana’s Gate.” Pete is a friend and a good fellow, but this is a grossly unfair thing to say. Because there are few films I’ve seen in my life that are more unlike Michael Cimino‘s 1981 debacle (including potential financial loss for Vincent Maraval’s Wild Bunch), I think it verges on slander. I absolutely know when a film is a gobbler or a major misfire and Che doesn’t come close. It’s one of the most exactingly reconstructed and truthfully told historical epics ever made — an immersion rather than “drama,” cholesterol-free and believable down to the last rifle and combat boot.
All these months I’ve been asking myself “what’s going on here?” A movie of this distinction may not make mountains of money or win over each and every person who sees it, but the fact that it went begging for four or five months strikes me as almost surreal. What’s wrong with this landscape, with our moviegoing culture, with today’s audiences, with “the business”?
Same thing with The Hurt Locker, which began shooting in Jordan right after Brian DePalma‘s Redacted, which was first shown at last year’s Venice and Toronto film festivals. Kathryn Bigelow‘s Iraq-War drama is ten times the movie that Redacted is/was, and yet it was forced to ran for cover when all the otyher Iraq War dramas died late last year.
Which should matter not to anyone truly of the faith. That’s one of the big problems, I suppose. The indie-film business is in a down cycle and there are fewer and fewer “Catholic” distributors as a result. But it’s just wrong for a film as strong as Bigelow’s to have to scrounge around for someone to release it.
The alleged “excitement” about and support for Sarah Palin among the American stooge strata is a disconnect also — a huge one. Eight years of leadership by a neocon Bible worshipper who’s kowtowed to corporate interests at every turn, taken us into massive debt, mired us in a dead-end war that was launched for deep-down personal reasons (which many believe is a prosecutable offense) and ignored any semblance of progressive leadership on energy and the environment, and the Walmart moms and others in the heartland are still for Palin (and oh, yes…McCain) despite the unmistakable signs that would tell anyone over the age of seven that McCain-Palin will keep the Bush routine going full tilt .
Why the slight lead in the polls for for McCain-Palin? Because the heartland moms see her as a feisty, right-thinking, flag-saluting Bible mom whom they relate to culturally. The mind stalls. Something is terribly, terribly wrong out there.
On top of which I’m getting more and more angry at assessments of the election dynamic by MSM reporters and analysts because they won’t allow for anything more than a passing acknowledgment of the racial elephant. Whenever it comes up, which is to say infrequently, it is invariably described as a minor fringe sentiment that is to be pitied and certainly marginalized in terms of frequent or extensive discussion.
And yet every now and then someone will man up and say what “we don’t really know Obama well enough” and “we’re not sure he’s ready to be president” really means. (Bob Herbert, David Gergen…who else?) The elephant — tusks, ears, trunk and all — is standing right smack dab in the middle of every discussion and reading of what’s going on out there and nobody — not the news media and certainly not Barack himself — is permitted to say it’s the absolute front-and-center factor among the less-educated voters out there, which translates as a crucial one since their votes are big factors in the swing states.
It’s nice to fantasize about the United States and Canada agreeing to classify the saying of “oh…my…God!” in a public place as a punishable misdemeanor. Just add this to the list of other small acts that result in minor wrist-slappings, like urinating in an alley or parking in a red zone. A fine of $50, let’s say. Ordinary citizens, under this new ordinance, would be allowed or even encouraged to make citizen’s arrests, with the fine to be levied by the authorities providing (a crucial component, this) that proof contained in cell-phone videos or mp3 recordings is submitted within seven days of the offense.
Two days ago I wrote that Bill Maher and Larry Charles‘ Religulous (Lionsgate, 10.3) “hasn’t [been] shot with an especially vivid sense of style or panache of any kind,” and that Charles has “made it look and sound more or less like Morgan Spurlock‘s Where In The Hell is Osama Bin Laden?” That wasn’t entirely fair. The final 10 minutes of this vital and absorbing documentary — a serious summing-up that reiterates how religious fairy-tale beliefs are keeping humanity from progressing — have been edited like gangbusters.
Here, incidentally, is a Yahoo video piece about the film that includes a good quip from Maher. America is so under the grip of yahoo religion that the presidential race is being degraded and diverted into absurd places. Sarah Palin being one manifestation of this. “Faith and family and faith” and so on. But then, as Maher says, “Americans are not great at connecting the dots.”
This 9.9 Reuters piece by Cameron French, posted yesterday afternoon, explains the Maher press conference in more detail.
“With less than one hour to go and no restraining order in place, I feel comfortable now letting you all know that this film was the subject of legal threats and was almost not shown at all here at the festival,” William Morris agent Cassian Elwes wrote in a bulk mailing to buyers last night before the only screening of Paris, Not France at the Ryerson at 6 pm.
“This version will probably never be seen again. I am hoping that Paris will see, with the audience tonight, that there is nothing to be afraid of here. And will eventually let the film be distributed.
“What was originally conceived to be a 20-minute puff piece extra on the DVD release for her album, has in fact become a fascinating examination of what it’s like to be a star in our star-obsessed culture.
“I can guarantee you three things: you may be the only people to ever see this version, you will not be disappointed, and everyone will be asking you if you saw it.”
I was going to try and go myself, but at the last minute I asked myself, “Why are you making any kind of effort to see a doc about Paris Hilton? Where are your priorities?”
They were understandably relieved and comforted that someone had counter-balanced the curious opinions of Variety‘s Derek Elley.
Before last night’s 9 pm screening of Steven Soderbergh’s Che, Part one…which used to be called The Argentine before it gradually began to be un-called that. (l.to r.) Che producer Laura Bickford, unidentified, Benicio del Toro, Soderbrgh at the lecturn. I really despise the abysmal quality of iPhone photos. Did I mention I got my stolen iPhone back, that the thieves apparently dropped it in haste and it was found lying between two desks?
What kind of downtown culture requires the posting of such a sign in the bathroom of a Middle Eastern restaurant just north of the Elgin, about three or four blocks, on Yonge Street? What kind of animal clientele comes to this establishment? I’ll tell you what kind of animals come here. The same kind of animals who stole my Canon digital camera the other day. This town has a putrid underbelly that can’t be swept under the carpet.