Daily Archives: September 6, 2014

St. Vincent – Theodore Melfi, Director

Hard to believe that this fall is the 30th anniversary of Ghostbusters, the classic Bill Murray comedy that stars Sigourney Weaver, Canadians Dan Ackroyd and Rick Moranis and the sadly missed Harold Ramis. Just to keep the record straight however there were four ghost busters and the one who is often forgotten is the black member – Ernie Hudson. However TIFF gave a full day to celebrate Murray’s film career with special showings of Ghostbusters, Stripes and Groundhog Day plus the premiere of his latest: St. Vincent. It is a wonderful film. Murray plays a curmudgeonly retired man who appears to dislike everyone and who is living on the edge of alcoholism and financial ruin. We learn more and more about him as the film evolves through his relationship with his new 12 year old neighbour. The film is funny without being silly, heartwarming without being too sweet, sad without being maudlin or melodramatic. My guess is it’s a real contender for this year’s People’s Choice Award. Bill Murray is a great actor who can move from comedy to tragedy with ease and grace and is a master of it all. This is definitely his movie although one must recognize the supporting roles of Melissa McCarthy and especially 10 year old Jaeden Lieberher who plays the twelve year old boy that Murray befriends. Tonight I will sit back and watch Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic for my own bit of Murray nostalgia.

More at: http://www.tiff.net/festivals/thefestival/programmes/specialpresentations/st-vincent-de-van-nuys


The Drop – Michael Roskam, Director

This is an excellent thriller starring Tom Hardy as a bartender working a bar used as a money drop by Chechen gangsters. The film also stars James Gandolfino in what is likely his final film release. The story and script are by Dennis Lehane. We got to see the Director and the full cast for a Q and A after the film as well. It is a dark story with a tension that builds slowly and inevitably to what should be an expected but nonetheless surprising climax. Again, like The Judge, there is strong cast all making a contribution to a tight well written script. If you are a dog lover there is a subplot in this movie that will warm your heart. The movie will come out this fall and Hardy has to be considered for award nominations and Lehane for screenplay. Highly recommended.

Go here for the film description and trailer: http://www.tiff.net/festivals/thefestival/programmes/specialpresentations/the-drop

Robert Duvall – Mavericks Program

This year I decided to try out the Mavericks Program. TIFF invites some of the stars and film makers to sit down for an hour to an hour and a half with an interviewer. This year I booked two, one with Robert Duvall and the other with Jon Stewart. So on the 5th Robert Duvall was the guest and he was great fun to listen to. The session was started with a series of short clips from his incredible career, starting with To Kill a Mockingbird to Tender Mercies to M.A.S.H. to The Judges. They really brought back memories although they did not include the napalm scene from Apocalypse Now. (so here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jts9suWIDlU ). He gave us anecdotes of the early days when he shared a Manhattan flat with Dustin Hoffman and Gene Hackman before they were stars. Told us about the making of the Godfather, The Apostle, and Tender Mercies. We got a really great insight into one of the great film actors of our time. Should you get a chance to do this at a future festival I highly recommend it.

The Judge – David Dobkin, Director

It was great to have a chance to see this year’s opening gala presentation of The Judge, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall and a stellar supporting cast. It tells the story of a hotshot criminal lawyer (Downey) who returns to his small rural home town where he finds himself defending his estranged father (Duvall), a local judge, against a murder charge. The film is being touted as going back to the way films used to be, an honest drama where who is good and who is bad is never really clear. We need to be honest about this movie. It’s really a very Hollywood movie with mega stars and excellent cinematography but the story is not particularly strong and it has but a tear jerky happy ending. That said, the acting is stunning. Duvall and Downey drive each other to ever higher heights and the supporting cast is brilliant. There are some great scenes, my favourite being one in which the jury selection is done, and will be well worth your money when it is released this fall. Also there is little doubt that there will be some Oscar nominations coming for this cast. Go here for the official description and to see a trailer: http://www.tiff.net/festivals/thefestival/programmes/galapresentations/the-judge

Welcome to TIFF 2014

Welcome to my blog for this year’s festival. Already the cranky people who loved the festival in the past are complaining that it has become elitist and no longer the wonderful experience it was back in 1975 or 1980 or whenever their own involvement started. Yes now there are memberships and members get earlier access and yes there are very expensive packages that only the 1 percenters can afford but the truth is that in the “good old days” it was way worse. There were few high quality films and getting tickets was incredibly time wasting and only the real addicts could handle the hassle. The truth is that this is still the only film festival with everything from Oscar contenders to small independent documentaries and dramas to which anyone can get tickets. The crowds on King Street are fun in themselves and yes you will see stars if you persist. Looking forward to a great week shutting out the buzz killers and seeing some great films.