By Brian D. Johnson - Tuesday, December 18, 2012 - 0 Comments
I bring you breaking news from the Toronto Film Critics Association—of which I’m president but do not control. It’s what they call a democratic organization; one critic, one vote. At a weekend meeting, over platters of crustless sandwiches fit for a garden party, we voted on our favorite films of 2012. There was some spirited debate, and some very close races, but no one lost an eye. Unlike the characters in the movie we liked best, we didn’t swig moonshine or wrestle each other to the ground. The Master, Paul Thomas Anderson’s 70 mm epic about a cult leader and the ravaged war veteran who falls under his spell, dominated the TFCA winner’s circle, taking four categories, including best picture, director, screenplay and supporting actor. This is the second time an Anderson film has won the TFCA’s top prize: In 1999, his Magnolia won awards for Best Picture and Best Director, and he shared the Best Screenplay prize with Being John Malkovich author Charlie Kaufman. (Anderson was also named Best Director in 2002 for Punch-Drunk Love, making this his third time winning that award.) Yes, P.T., we like you; we really like you.
The TFCA (of which I’m president) also announced today the three finalists for the newly endowed $100,000 Rogers Best Canadian Film Award: Bestiaire, directed by Denis Côté, Goon, directed by Michael Dowse, and Stories We Tell, directed by Sarah Polley. Each of these movies defies any fixed preconceptions about the character of Canadian cinema. They’re all films of a kind we haven’t seen before. Bestiaire is a visionary documentary from Montreal that explores our relationship to the animal world. Stories We Tell, a doc from Toronto, unfolds as a procedural home movie, investigating the filmmaker’s family secrets; and Goon, shot largely in Winnipeg and set across the country, is a viciously funny comedy about hockey violence.” Continue…
By Brian D. Johnson - Friday, September 21, 2012 at 1:26 PM - 0 Comments
Sometimes you want to close your eyes. Art is not always an easy ride, for one reason or another. In the aftermath of the Toronto International Film Festival, still feeling the retinal burn, we look around to see that suddenly it’s fall and three acclaimed films that lit up TIFF are now opening commercially—one American, two Canadian. Each comes with a challenge. The Master, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman as a cult leader and Joaquin Phoenix as his tormented acolyte, is close to two-and-a-half hours long. Powered by the white-hot combustion of two great actors at the top of their game, it more than earns its length, but many viewers will come out of the theatre shaking their heads, asking “WTF was that?” Laurence Anyways, the third feature from 23-year-old Quebec wunderkind, is a epic tale of a relationship between and man and a woman that is tested when the man decides become a woman. It’s almost three hours long, and pushes our patience with a dazzling virtuosity that ventures into the red zone of auteur indulgence. Rebelle, a more modest drama from a Quebec director, is the story of a pregnant teenage African girl who has been forced to shoot her parents, endure rape, and become a child soldier. Not exactly a date movie. But most of the atrocities occur off camera, as the child’s harrowing odyssey becomes a journey out of horror into innocence—it’s far more palatable than it sounds. Rebelle is Canada’s official Oscar entry for best foreign language film, and it’s a worthy candidate.
All three films are audacious and highly original: these are movies we haven’t seen before. Some thoughts . . .
The Master, perhaps the most hotly anticipated movie at TIFF, is Paul Thomas Anderson’s first feature in five years. With his previous film, There Will Be Blood, Daniel Day-Lewis won the Oscar for his portrayal of ruthless oilman carving an empire out of the ground at the dawn of the 20th century. The Master bears some resemblance to it. It’s another period epic about an American megalomaniac with a streak of Citizen Kane, but in this case he’s selling snake oil rather than fossil fuel. And while There Will Be Blood is a melodrama that steams along with locomotive linearity, The Master is a digressive cruise that messes with our heads—the same way Lancaster Dodd, the cult leader played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, plays mind games with his impressionable protegé, Freddie Quell, a Second World War veteran played by Joaquin Phoenix. Personally, I wasn’t as fond of There Will Be Blood as most critics. I found it hard to overcome my allergy to Day-Lewis’s monstrously showy performance. Not that there’s anything modest about the powerhouse performances delivered by Hoffman and Phoenix in The Master, who enact what amounts to a gladiatorial duel between the ego and the id respectively. But their work is utterly convincing and mannerism-free. And unlike Day-Lewis, who put on a virtual one-man show (pace Paul Dano), this film offers a rare example of two bravura performances joined at the hip. I don’t know how they’ll handle the Oscar nominations. Phoenix has a slightly larger part, and anchors the story’s point of view, but these are two lead performances that can’t be separated—which is why they shared the best actor prize at the Venice Film Festival.
The Master is a masterful character study. Phoenix plays a mentally unstable war vet who’s as dangerous and volatile as the homemade hootch that he spikes with gasoline. He’s seething with pent-up desire and unexplained frustration. Stuff happened during the war, and there’s girl who mattered somewhere in his past. After the war he becomes a portrait photographer in a department store, a job that ends badly when he flies into a rage and beats up a customer. Quell’s life changes in San Francisco when he wanders onto a ship bound for New York, a floating wedding party commanded by Dodd, whose daughter is getting married. The messianic founder of a movement that resembles Scientology, Dodd takes Quell under his wing, recognizing a human wreck that he can repair and make his own. He submits his recruit to a gruelling series of therapeutic interrogations, a ritual called “processing,” not unlike what Scientology calls “auditing.” Quell, the reckless skeptic, becomes an ardent acolyte, but he remains a loose cannon; there’s no telling what might set him off from one moment to the next. The two men develop a strange father-son bond laced with a homoerotic frisson. They’re not quite Oliver Reed and Alan Bates in Women in Love, but they do get on the ground and wrestle.
The Master is shaping up to be this year’s Tree of Life. Its story is far more straightforward and accessible, not to mention visceral, than the poetics of Terrence Malick. But like Malick’s epic, this is a movie that’s not afraid to baffle us. And it could have an equally polarizing effect, finding champions among film critics who embrace its double-black-diamond challenge, while leaving audiences scratching their heads. When I walked out of the theatre, I honestly didn’t know what to think. But the movie sits well in the imagination, burning on with a radioactive half-life. It’s mystery is the productive kind that pulls you back in. Like The Tree of Life, or Melancholia by Lars Von Trier, it’s a film I’m already dying to see again.
Laurence Anyways is a film I need to see again, though the prospect is less exciting. After screening it at Cannes last May, my memory of it has receded like a mirage, and couldn’t find three hours to spare during TIFF for a refresher course. This is what I remember: it’s full of brilliance, and could stand be a little less brilliant. With his third feature, Xavier Dolan has gone beyond proving he has talent to burn. Now he has to learn how to reign it in. After his semi-autobiographical tour de force, I Killed My Mother, and the impressionist watercolour of Heartbeats, with his third feature Dolan attacks a broader canvas with this sprawling portrait of a passionate relationship that runs into an impossible hurdle. What do you do when your boyfriend wants to become a woman? This is bold new ground for movie romance, something that Hollywood could turn into a godawful high-concept comedy. In Dolan’s hands, it makes for an intense yet credible drama, driven by a pair of superb performances.
A nuanced Melvil Poupaud plays Laurence, a university professor who gradually ventures out of the transsexual closet; a tempestuous Suzanne Clément co-stars as Fred, the love of his life, whose loyalty undergoes a test more daunting than mere infidelity. What has stuck with me, months after seeing the film, is that its tangential, looping narrative was more elaborate than necessary: it did not need to be so long. Most films that screen in competition in Cannes exceed two hours, so who can blame an aspiring young auteur for believing that anything less than that might disqualify him as a heavyweight contender. But it’s dangerous to make movies for festivals instead of audiences. When Dolan accepted the prize for best Canadian feature at TIFF, shaking with emotion, after apologizing to those who sat still for his film, he effusively thanked his producer and declared his love for her. But she would have done him, their movie and the audience a favour if she had not indulged his every desire. Before we vote our critics awards in December, I will give try to give Dolan the benefit of the doubt and see his movie a second time. But at this point I feel TIFF’s prize for best Canadian feature should have gone to Sarah Polley’s masterful docu-memoir Stories We Tell, or possibly Rebelle . . .
Rebelle (War Witch) is a powerful, compact, drama from another Montreal writer-director, Kim Nguyen, who spent a year bringing it to the screen. Komona (Rachel Mwanza) is a pregnant 14-year-old who tells her story to her unborn child in flashbacks, beginning with her abduction at age 12 by rebel forces, who invade her village and force her to kill her parents. Komona is put through a brutal boot camp in the jungle, trained as a child soldier, and intoxicated with a milky sap from a hallucinogenic plant. After her comrades are decimated in a battle with government troops, her miraculous survival convinces the rebel chief that Komona has powers of sorcery. Great Tiger (Mizinga Mwinga), the rebel leader, proclaims her his war witch. She, meanwhile, finds both an ally and a suitor in a fellow child soldier named Magician (Serge Kanyinda). Together they embark on a journey out of of the heart of darkness, and find some surprising moments of sweetness and light.
Nguyen shot the film entirely in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where he captures both beauty and authenticity in a landscape that he populates with ghosts. The director discovered his star, Mwanza, in the streets, a raw talent who won best actress prizes at the Berlin and TriBeCa film festivals. She’s a quietly forceful and convincing presence.
Ngyuen says he shot the movie “as though only the present moment was real. My actors were not allowed to read the screenplay before the shoot, and we shot the film in sequence. In this way, the actors never knew what was going to happen to their characters the next day.”
Between the resolute performance of his young discovery and the verité mix of magic and realism, Rebelle has obvious parallels to Beasts of the Southern Wild, starring six-year-old dynamo Quvenzhané Wallis. It’s an extraordinary year when two girls with no acting experience—an African American from Louisiana and an African from the Congo—end up starring as resilient wilderness survivors in two underdog films backed by Oscar campaigns.
By Brian D. Johnson - Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 11:36 PM - 0 Comments
The juggernaut is winding down. Proof of that came as early as Tuesday when TIFF CEO Piers Handling made a Freudian slip while introducing the Inescapable gala saying, “We’re looking forward to the last two days of the festival.” Maybe he misspoke, or I misheard and he said “last few days.” Either way, there were still five days left to go. But TIFF peaks early. The studios fly in American journalists for press junkets on the opening weekend, and by Wednesday the crowds have thinned. The movies will continue to play until Sunday, but by now it’s time to take stock.
We’ve seen some strong films—and too many mediocre ones that had no business being at this festival, any festival, except to stick mid-level stars like Greg Kinnear on a red carpet. I won’t waste your time with them. But among the heavyweight American dramas, two movies, The Master and Cloud Atlas, loomed largest. And they present polar opposites of narrative bravado. Shot on the lush retro format of 70 mm film by Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master’s story of a Second World War veteran (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls under the spell of a Scientology-like cult leader (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is an epic storm of emotion. Cloud Atlas, which splices and dices David Mitchell’s novel, is a Rubiks’s Cube of interlocking stories spanning a half dozen centuries and worlds. It’s a conceptual stunt, $100-million toy that recycles a blockbuster bin of genre tropes from films that range from The Matrix, Blade Runner, Avatar and The Lord of the Rings.
Powered by a raging duel of two terrifyingly good actors, The Master is all about character; Cloud Atlas is all about plot, an intricate gizmo of plot that’s constructed as a Transformer-like special effect. But here’s the crucial difference between the artistic ambitions of the two films: The Master examines the snake oil, shakes it up and spills it all around, leaving us disturbed and confused, infected with mystery and doubt; Cloud Atlas traffics in snake oil, drilling us with the same kind of ideological mantra about freedom, enslavement, and heroic consciousness that made movies like The Matrix and Inception much dumber than they pretended to be. Paul Thomas Anderson has made a movie about a bogus religion. The directing trio behind Cloud Atlas—Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lana (formerly Larry) Wachowski—have made a religious movie. I’m still thinking about The Master and am keen to see it again; once was enough for Cloud Atlas.
The so-called real world, meanwhile, held its own at TIFF in what turned out to be an exceptional festival for documentaries. Continue…
By Brian D. Johnson - Monday, September 10, 2012 at 9:32 AM - 0 Comments
Recovered memories from a lost weekend at the festival
Recovered memories from opening weekend at the Toronto International Flying Circus of Film. It’s like trying to recall a fever dream . . . Talking radical politics with Robert Redford as he eats potato chips . . . Watching hometown sweetheart Rachel McAdams vanish down the rabbit hole of Terrence Malick’s To the Wonder, as she searches for her lost role in an Oklahoma field with Ben Affleck . . . Then seeing her as an executive femme fatale planting a kiss on Naomi Rapace in Brian De Palma’s passionless Passion . . . Interviewing Monty Python’s Terry Jones, and having to fill in the blanks when he doesn’t have the answers . . . watching Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix give an acting master class in The Master.
Sanity was last seen at 9 a.m. Saturday as I joined a packed press screening of The Master. Had to skip the Ryan Gosling movie, The Place Beyond the Pines, which was showing at the same time. Everyone Who’s Anyone in Hollywood wants an opening weekend slot at TIFF. The result is the scheduling equivalent to overlapping dialogue in an Altman film. I chose The Master because it was buzzed as the Second Coming of Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood). And sure enough, that day it wins awards for acting and direction in Venice—as well as the runner-up Silver Lion for best picture, only because the jury wasn’t allowed to give it two prizes plus the Golden Lion.
The Master is, well, masterful. And amazing. There’s an Emperor’s New Clothes quality to the epic narrative, as if Captain Anderson is conjuring a cinematic feat no less cult-like than the Scientology-like religion created by Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman) in the film. But the period visuals and the performances are immensely charismatic. Playing Dodd’s alcoholic acolyte, Joaquin Phoenix is so good it’s scary. After the actor’s meta exile as a bearded hip-hop prophet, he’s back in the game, yet his performance as a deranged veteran of the Second World War, his volatile peformance has the same train-wreck momentum that made us concerned for his sanity in I’m Still Here. Though this time, it’s in a good way. Together he and Hoffman are like contestants in an Ultimate Fighting match staged by the Actors’ Studio. As the guru wears down the disciple in bouts of intense psychodrama, Phoenix has a vein bulging from his forehead that looks like it might explode. Continue…
By Jessica Allen - Friday, September 16, 2011 at 10:30 AM - 0 Comments
At TIFF2011, Jessica Allen learned the ins and outs of celebrity hunting. Now she’s back …
A novice navigating Toronto International Film Festival nightlife on the opening Friday and Saturday eves of the festival—the only nights, the pros will tell you, that guarantee spotting gaggles of A-list celebrities—is a comedy of errors. Mistakes are inevitable, like leaving George Strombolopolous’s party at ONE restaurant uptown on Friday night in order to get downtown to Soho House—a pop-up club sponsored by Grey Goose in an old brick building—because Twitter, the all-knowing oracle of TIFF, which was difficult to consult earlier (because there was dinner with Harvey Weinstein to report on), says that the cast of Ides of March, including George Clooney, Ryan Reynolds and Philip Seymour Hoffman, are there, not to mention Mark Wahlberg, who has got behind the bar to make cocktails for himself and his entourage, and Tilda Swinton, who is at this very moment eating dinner. Of course, upon arrival, the stars have left and Swinton is out of sight.
By Anne Kingston - Friday, March 12, 2010 at 4:19 PM - 42 Comments
Gabourey Sidibe isn’t exactly on the road to becoming an “American Cinderella”
Howard Stern can be a nasty bastard—but he’s also often the only one willing to voice unpleasant truths others won’t. So it was this week when the Sirius shock jock unleashed a tirade against the future prospects for Gabourey Sidibe, the Best Actress nominee for her role in Precious. “There’s the most enormous, fat black chick I’ve ever seen,” Stern proclaimed the day after the Academy Awards. He went on to slam Oprah Winfrey’s tribute to Sidibe during the telecast in which she called the actress “a true American Cinderella on the threshold of a brilliant new career.” Stern was having none of it: “Everyone’s pretending she’s a part of show business and she’s never going to be in another movie. She should have gotten the Best Actress award because she’s never going to have another shot. What movie is she gonna be in?”
Stern was pilloried for being racist. He was also attacked for getting his facts wrong: Sidibe has been cast in the new Showtime comedy The C Word and the upcoming movie Yelling To The Sky, though neither are leading roles. The C Word stars Laura Linney; in Yelling to the Sky Sidibe plays a bully, which is safe to say not a role Halle Barry turned down.
On Wednesday, Stern defended his comments, taking on the role of compassionate health crusader. He compared Sidibe to his co-star Artie Lange, who recently attempted to commit suicide: “Like, I kind of don’t see a difference between what our Artie did—Artie tried to kill himself. And I feel this girl, in a slower way…she’s gonna kill herself.”
Stern being Stern, he couldn’t leave it there. He went on to deride the newcomer’s acting ability, calling her a “prop” in Precious, which suggests he didn’t see the movie or slept through it. His sidekick Robin Quivers chimed in with another inaccuracy: “You don’t have to be unhealthy to do that part,” she said. But any actress playing Precious, a 16-year-old girl monstrously abused by her parents, did have to be seriously overweight. The character’s only comfort comes from scarfing down tubs of fried chicken. Her excess flesh is not only a salient class indicator but also protective armour.
Off the screen, the 26-year-old is also creating buzz for showing no indication of signing up for a celebrity weight-loss reality show. On Oprah, she revealed she has battled her weight all of her life; it wasn’t until she was in her early 20s that she finally became comfortable in her own skin, she said. That was evident on the Oscar red carpet where she was joy to watch—exuberant, confident, loving every second, very much in the character of Precious who sustained herself with fantasies of being a celebrity. The actress ordered a camera to pan back to get her entire cobalt blue Marchesa gown in the frame and told Ryan Seacrest: “If fashion was porn, this dress would be the money shot.”
Watching, one couldn’t help wish for Sidibe to luxuriate in every second because deep-down we know Stern is right: Precious was a unique role; the odds of her transitioning into an American Cinderella—at least the Cinderella created by Disney who is slender and white—are nil in today’s Hollywood where women are valued for their youth, beauty and willingness to aspire to invisibility size-wise. “Plus-sized” or “full-figured” actresses (read: anyone over size six) have a tough enough time of it. Consider Nikki Blonsky who received high praise for her performance in Hairspray but hasn’t been heard from since. The verdict remains out on Jennifer Hudson, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Dreamgirls; she just dropped 60 pounds to play Winnie Mandela in a bio-pic.
The double-standard is so ingrained, it’s tedious: when Renée Zellweger gained 20 pounds to play Bridget Jones it was a major news story (and one suspects part of the reason she won an Oscar). Yet when Jeff Bridges packed on 25 pounds for his Oscar-winning role as washed-up country singer Bad Blake, no one asked for his weight-loss secrets. Male actors can get soft and paunchy and age and still get work—and the girl. Jack Black is allowed to play romantic lead against Kate Winslet. And nobody’s complaining that Philip Seymour Hoffman isn’t buff.
But Sidibe isn’t just “full-figured,” she’s obese—which, as Stern points out, is a hot-button topic in the U.S. and also a serious health risk. In Hollywood, morbid obesity is cheap-laugh fodder—slap a fat suit on Gwyneth Paltrow (Shallow Hal) or Eddie Murphy (The Nutty Professor/Norbit) and let the pathetic yucks begin. The 500-pound Darlene Cates who starred in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape in 1993 is an exception: she went on a few other roles, all of which hinged on her weight.
People went overboard rooting for Sidibe, Stern argues, “because she’s a big fat lady.” Maybe he’s right again. Consider it the Susan Boyle effect—the righteous pleasure of being so broad-minded to see that talent can come in different-sized packages. But the craving for change, evidenced in the first U.S. Black president, is deeper than that. Hollywood is taking tiny steps: Kathryn Bigelow broke through the male Best Director Oscar barrier. Meryl Streep is hotter at age 60 than she’s ever been. Helen Mirren is an inspiration. And non-stick figure Queen Latifah is playing a romantic lead in the upcoming movie Just Wright.
Fat, however, is more impenetrable, reflected in Stern mocking Sidibe’s for saying “I’m going to hit a Chick-fil-A,” a L.A. fast-food chain, after the awards. “That’s so sad,” he said. Of course, when the slender Best Actress winner Sandra Bullock expressed similar sentiment, it was heralded as a sign of how down to earth she is: “I just want to eat!” Bullock told the press room. “I just want to sit down and take my shoes off, and take my dress off, and eat a burger—and not worry that my dress is going to bust open.” Nobody, even Howard Stern, sees anything wrong with that picture.
By Brian D. Johnson - Friday, November 13, 2009 at 1:42 PM - 3 Comments
British comedy is a funny thing. It’s famous for being smart, sharp and nuanced—unlike Yank humour, which is supposed to be dumb, crude and obvious. Or at least that’s the cliche. And it’s true that much of North American sketch comedy, from SCTV to SNL, owes its cutting edge to the outlaw absurdism of English shows like Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Beyond the Fringe. But there’s more than one kind of Brit comedy. As someone who had an English upbringing, I can recall that my first childhood experience laughing my ass off in a movie theatre was at one of the slapstick ‘Carry On . . . ‘ pictures. Don’t remember which one. Maybe Carry on Nurse. But I remember it depended heavily on toilet gags, and I couldn’t believe I was watching it with my parents. Pirate Radio offers fresh evidence that Brit humour can be as bone-headed as the American variety. It’s the latest ensemble comedy from Richard Curtis, who wrote The Tall Guy, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones’s Diary, and Notting Hill and who directed Love Actually. Perhaps more than anyone, Curtis, who has also worked with Mr. Bean, draws on the full repertoire of Brit humour, from astringent wit to broad slapstick. But in this case, despite some flashes of wit, Curtis goes off the deep end of sentimental farce, as if desperately seeking a comic tone to match the grandeur of rock’n'roll excess.
Pirate Radio looks seductive. It’s got a dynamite cast—featuring Billy Nighy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Rhys Ifans and Rhys Darby (Flight of the Concords)—you gotta love an ensemble with two Rhys’s. The soundtrack, upholstered with a wall-to-wall playlist of ’60s hits, is also quite fabulous. But the movie, which opened in the U.K. seven months ago, has been slow to wash up on these shores. And now it’s clear why. For all the talent attached to it, Pirate Radio is nowhere near as good as it should be. It purports to portray an authentic and fascinating phenomenon—the rock’n'roll outlaws who manned radio stations on boats outside Britain’s coastal jurisdiction so they could flaunt the country’s stingy broadcast standards and play non-stop rock. But the film is so safe, and silly, it does a disservice to its subject, its stars and its soundtrack. Continue…
By Brian D. Johnson - Friday, November 7, 2008 at 12:00 AM - 4 Comments
Now that it’s November, the days are getting darker and so are the movies. This weekend offers a couple of excursions into dark nights of the soul, both feature directing debuts dominated by strong female performers: Il y a longtemps que je t’aime (I’ve Loved You So Long), a French drama about a tortured ex-con, and, an American portrait of a tortured artist. The superior film is the one from France. This is, in fact, shaping up to be an exceptional year for French cinema, even if some titles are taking a while to get to the screen. This year’s Palme d’Or winner in Cannes, (due to open here in January) is a riveting verité drama set in a multi-racial French classroom. And this fall finally saw the Canadian release of the 2006 thriller Ne le dis à personne (Tell No One), one of the best films I’ve seen this year. Now this. . .
I’ve Loved You So Long
It’s been 12 years since Kristin Scott Thomas seduced audiences inThe English Patient, and although she’s done some good work since, her talent has never been properly exploited. Perhaps it’s because her severe beauty and sharp gaze never quite fit the Hollywood mold, or that, in her late 30s, she was already middle-aged according to the dog-years by which movie actresses are measured in America. Well, the French know how to appreciate Englishwomen of a certain pedigree. Just ask Jane Birkin and Charlotte Rampling. And at the age of 48, Scott Thomas— who is fluently bilingual with just a slight accent—has shown up speaking in French in two pictures: in a supporting role as a rich lesbian in Tell No One, and now generating serious Oscar buzz as the star of I’ve Loved You So Long. Continue…
By Jeff Harris - Monday, September 15, 2008 at 12:18 PM - 0 Comments
Brad Pitt was the paparazzi money shot at the Toronto International Film Festival for…
Brad Pitt was the paparazzi money shot at the Toronto International Film Festival for the third year in a row. Who noticed that his movie Burn After Reading was entirely skippable? The real stars of the festival were Ben Kingsley and Rose McGowan from the powerful Fifty Dead Men Walking, and Freida Pinto from the stunning Slumdog Millionaire.
By Brian D. Johnson - Monday, June 9, 2008 at 10:21 AM - 0 Comments
For two weeks each May, a quaint town on the French Riviera becomes a Hollywood fantasy in the flesh. Throughout the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, I blogged video clips. In the aftermath, I’ve edited a montage of highlights, an impressionist trip through the beauty, vulgarity, hysteria and chaos that is Cannes.
For more of Brian D. Johnson’s videos go to http://www.youtube.com/bdjfilms. All 2008 Cannes footage is shot on a Sony HDR-SR12 camcorder, on loan courtesy of Sony Canada.
By Brian D. Johnson - Saturday, May 24, 2008 at 9:26 AM - 0 Comments
At the press conference after the Cannes premiere of Synecdoche, New York, Charlie Kaufman’s feature directing debut, the screenwriter who hatched Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind looked understandably nervous. From the first question, asking why on earth he put a word in his title that most American won’t be able to pronounce, never mind understand, he was on the defensive. Synecdoche, in case you slept through that English class, is a figure of speech in which a part stands for a whole. It rhymes with the New York town of Schenectady—hence play on words in the title.
Here’s a video glimpse of the press conference, featuring Kaufman, Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, Catherine Keener and Philip Seymour Hoffman (rhymes with Kaufman). This is Michelle Williams’ first public appearance since the death of Heath Ledger
By Jeff Harris - Wednesday, September 13, 2006 at 12:03 PM - 0 Comments
Jeff Harris goes behind the scenes
The 2006 festival gallery is choc-o-bloc full of celebrities, including British talent James McAvoy, and everyone’s favourite “Khasakstani” tourist, Borat. Entourage star Adrien Grenier tells us about schmoozing at the fest over wine. And the ever-ambitious autograph hound gets to share a moment with Pierce Brosnan.