I’d heard during Cannes that the Toronto Film Festival was going to back away from last year’s get-tough-with-Telluride policy, and now the change is confirmed with The Hollywood Reporter‘s Scott Feinberg reporting that “in a major reversal” Toronto has more or less folded that tent. Last year’s Toronto policy stipulated that hot-ticket films which had premiered at the smallish but influential Telluride Film Festival, which always happens over Labor Day weekend or a few days before Toronto starts, couldn’t be screened in Toronto during the first four days. As this policy pissed off some indie-level/arthouse distributors, it can be presumed that Toronto figured the hard-ass posture was more trouble than it was worth. Boiled down, the new policy stipulates that films which have played Telluride will be eligible to screen during Toronto’s opening weekend, but not at any of the city’s three super-deluxe venues — the Elgin Theatre, the Princess of Wales theatre and Roy Thomson Hall. Which is fine. Toronto has decent venues besides these (Bell Lightbox, Scotiabank, Ryerson) plus the sound at the Princess of Wales theatre was awful last year so this is actually a partial plus. Deadline‘s Pete Hammond: “Clever TIFF. You managed to get some press saying you have ‘reversed’ this policy when in fact you’ve simply told a lot of players…that they can premiere whenever they want in Toronto but they may have to settle for going coach, not first class.” More precisely: “Telluride first? Fine, but you’ll have to ride coach in Toronto during the first four days.” Private TIFF Translation: “Sorry but our sense of Canadian pride insists on this policy. We’re still peeved about Telluride-first premieres and try as we might we can’t — won’t! — just roll over and play along like we used to do. We must apply a certain degree of punishment for Telluride-firsters. Besides the new deal isn’t that bad. They can live with those secondary venues.”
Five days after opening and tanking last weekend, Aloha is already a withered flower, pressed between the pages of history — essentially dead and buried and conversationally a non-starter. I can’t imagine anyone at this stage having the slightest interest in director-writer Cameron Crowe having apologized yesterday (6.2) about his having miscast Emma Stone as Allison Ng, a fighter pilot said to be one-quarter Asian-Hawaiian…who cares? I was in Prague for the cycle and missed the whole thing, period. But I’m 100% committed to seeing it sometime tomorrow in Los Angeles. (I’m writing this on a JFK-to-LAX Virgin America flight, around 3:40 pm Pacific.) I’m in fact looking forward to what I presume will…okay, could feel like something more than a run-of-the-mill disaster. Disaster mixed with goofy tunes or mushrooms or mescaline, something seriously bent and over-the-cliff. I’m probably the last guy in the world who has an interest in seeing this thing, much less a sense of intrigue about it.
Where does this feeling come from? Why, from a 5.29 review by Film Drunk‘s Vince Mancini — easily the funniest I’ve read so far.
Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig‘s Mistress America (Fox Searchlight, 8.14) is “a delightfully whipsmart, acrid, His Girl Friday-like comedy. Comedy is hard to begin with but making the fast, rat-a-tat-tat kind is, I’m guessing, all the more difficult, especially when you’ve managed to fortify it with serious character shadings and a touch of pathos. And it’s not some remote exercise — it’s tethered to an obsessive Type-A female personality (i.e., Gerwig’s) who feels relatively fresh and certainly unpredictable, and to any number of neurotic obsessions and distractions of the moment, or at least as they’ve manifested over the last two or three years in New York City and all the other hip burghs. I’ve loved almost everything that Gerwig’s done in recent years, each and every time — no exception here.” — filed from Sundance Film Festival on 1.25.15.
From my 9.2.14 Telluride Film Festival review of Ramin Bahrani‘s 99 Homes (Broad Green, 9.25): “It’s obvious from the get-go that Andrew Garfield, known for his sensitive, doe-eyed expressions and an apparent preference for playing alpha good guys who would rather be fucked over than vice versa, is going to rebel against Michael Shannon‘s foreclosure shark and the surrounding venality. This is what people do in films like this — they stand up and cleanse their souls. It’s a cliche that is telegraphed, trust me, from the get-go.
“But the worst moment of all comes when mom Laura Dern and son Noah Lomax find out what Garfield’s job is, and they shun him. This is when I really bailed on this film. Dern: ‘My God…you have no morals! I can’t live with you…I’m going to move in with someone else!’ Lomax: ‘How could you take a job that makes people like us miserable, dad? That’s so awful! I’m going to sit on the couch and avoid eye contact with you!’
“Again, only in the realm of manipulative bullshit.
I for one don’t believe that the Caitlin Jenner hoopla (Vanity Fair cover, reality show) is a metaphor for the fall for the Roman empire, as some righties have been saying. It’s a major media parable about acceptance, compassion, personal dignity and equality. It’s obvious, however, that she was seriously impressed by the improvements brought about by a makeup person who helped her prepare for the Vanity Fair shoot, and in that light…I’m losing steam here. This is what life in Malibu is like a lot of the time. Maybe I should keep a certain distance from the Caitlin thing for a while. I’m starting to shake my head a bit. How would Caitlin fare if her jeep broke down in the middle of the Sonoran desert?
Last night a friend asked how I might play my Love & Mercy cards if I was Roadside Attractions and looking for a little award-season traction. Specifically who would I push for Best Actor — Paul Dano, who plays the genius-exploding Brian Wilson in the mid ’60, or John Cusack, who plays the 40ish, somewhat unsteady Wilson in a kind of health-recovery mode but suffering under a harsh psychological regimen imposed by Dr. Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti) but is then gradually saved from this by his future wife, Linda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks).
young Brian Wilson, Paul Dano in Love & Mercy.
40ish Brian, John Cusack.
My basic response was that Cusack and Dano give a single astonishing performance comprised of two parts — it’s not a question of one over the other but a unified effort…a complementary twosome with equal screen time, equal weight, equal value. Brothers.
Here’s how I put it this morning: “Dano vs. Cusack? Does it have to be an either/or? It’s a tough one, almost as tough as how to campaign the two completely equal leads of Carol. The truth is that Rooney Mara‘s performance is completely equal to Cate Blanchett‘s and is arguably more central and a bit more commanding and plot-driving, even though you’re inclined to believe at the beginning that Blanchett is the lead because she’s playing the titular character and all.
“Determining the answer to the Dano-Cusack problem is no less thorny.
“What are you gonna do? Lock us all up? We’re in every home. We’re half the human race. You can’t stop us all.” Do you love Carey Mulligan‘s working-class accent or what? She’s playing Maud, a working mother who becomes a convert to the women’s suffrage cause with Meryl Streep playing what looks to be a distinctive supporting role as “outlaw fugitive” Emmeline Pankhurst. But to really rate with the cool kidz Suffragette has to do more than just tell “the story of a movement.” It has to achieve a little more than what last year’s voting rights struggle film (i.e., Selma) did.