Even though my first screening wasn’t until 2:15pm and it’s not yet midnight, I’ve managed to make this a four-movie day.
And, in a particularly banner twist, three of them were directed by women. Imagine. They’re movies, not a delicious Thanksgiving dinner.
But first there is the Juno press conference, which starts late because Blowhard McWorkingMan, aka multi-millionaire Michael Moore, has the 10am slot. He has a documentary here called Captain Mike Across America, aka a rip-off of An Evening with Kevin Smith, where he had a crew follow him to college campuses.
The paps in the line-up are whining about the back-to-back Brad Pitt/George Clooney press conferences this afternoon. (You will find no such coverage here.) One lady is considering skipping it in order to catch the red carpet tonight, where the money shot (Brangelina) is rumoured to be appearing.
Inside you can tell this is the cool indie-rock film because of the outfits. Allison Janney and Jennifer Garner wear lovely dresses (you’ll have to take my word for it), but everyone else wears a pair of cool shoes and jeans. Jason Bateman sports Adidas, director Jason Reitman is rocking Nikes, star and north end fixture Ellen Page has on purple low-cut Chucks, Michael Cera goes with navy Vans, and writer Diablo Cody (seriously, I think), has the same model of footwear I am currently sporting, the Vans checkerboard, though hers are in black and mine are all-Canadian red.
The panel is hosted by eye’s Jason Anderson, who does a good job but is too much of an obvious Arrested Development nerd for my comfort level, pushing the idea of a Bluth family reunion for too many questions (Bateman and Cera don’t have any scenes).
Afterwards I walk up a Yonge-bound side street for a coffee when Garner, Page and Cera exit through a side door.
If I knew how to post video I would do it HERE so you can see some huffy nerds who think they're owed something. (If you know how I can post video, email firstname.lastname@example.org would ya?)
Then I run into my colleague Shayla Howell, who’s here with IFC, and we shop half-assedly for a minute before retiring to a Mexican place on Bloor where the service is surly and I nearly get taken out twice by a giant plastic palm tree. Seriously, it’s like I’ve been shot in the shoulder.
She has to interview Guy Maddin and I have to see The Jane Austen Book Club so we part ways. Outside a fancy store on Bloor I see a woman taking photos of two Asian kids who I think she thinks are – and very well could be – Maddox and Pax, half of the Jolie-Pitt melting pot.
I think it’s gross I can recognize celebrity kids by their faces. That’s not cool, right?
I run into AFCOOP’s Walter Forsyth in the lobby and he’s going to the movie too. It’s a very Hollywood chick flick with a great cast -- Kathy Baker, Amy Brennaman, Hugh Dancy, Jimmy Smits (officially past hotness and into old-age spread), and Maria Bello, who I kind of fell in love with after A History of Violence. If someone put her and Vera Farmiga in a movie together I don’t even know what I would do.
The film is written and directed by screenwriter Robin Swicord from an existing book. The Austen device is a little too present for me – fans will dig it; I kept flashing back to the third and final year of my unfinished English degree at SMU – and the movie suffers from a major case of Happy Ending Disease, but it will be a fine sleeper hit come October. It’s very well-acted and almost atones for the shitpile awesome-lady-movie-that-should’ve-been, Evening.
As the credits are rolling I dash out of there and down the hall to the next theatre for my festival wild card pick, White Lies, Black Sheep. If hipsters didn’t already make me want to shoot myself in the face, this movie would’ve driven me to Canadian Tire for a gun. (Or wherever you buy guns.) It’s shot faux-documentary style and is about AJ, one of the few black kids in the predominantly rich white kid hipster party scene in New York. As a “documentary” the performances are too staged, as a film the performances are too shitty. There’s a mass exodus. I stay because I have no back-up plan.
After that I grab some yogurt from the basement grocery store and hit wild card #2 (aka the time killer), a Danish movie called With Your Permission, directed by Paprika Steen, who is a big-time actress in Denmark (you might remember her from such art-house favourites as Thomas Vinterberg’s The Celebration aka Festen and a boatload of Dogme 95 movies but don’t hold that against her).
It’s a somehow light comedy about domestic abuse – the joke is the woman is beating up the man, so he goes to a class for wife-beaters (too embarrassed to admit he is the beatee), then hires two guys from the class to kill her, but she wins them over, then becomes an opera star.
It’s too long but entertaining enough for two hours of time-killing. Also another unfulfilling ending.
A quick dash to Harvey’s – official restaurant of Tara Thorne’s TIFF experience – and I’m back for Then She Found Me.
America turned against Helen Hunt at one of two times: when she became the first and only actress to win the Emmy, Golden Globe and Oscar in the same year (back in 1998, the height of As Good As It Gets/Mad About You); or when she had four movies released almost simultaneously in 2000: Cast Away, What Women Want (because it always must be said: shut up, Nancy Meyers), Dr T and the Women and Pay it Forward.
The point is, she was once a favourite but then overreached. She does not receive much kindness anymore. I happen to think she's very good, but it surprises me her screening is packed out.
Then She Found Me is her directorial debut. She also stars in it and co-wrote the screenplay. It’s a huge undertaking. Good cast, too: Colin Firth as love interest one, Matthew Broderick as love interest two (facilitating a 20-year Project X reunion!), Bette Midler as her birth mother, and just for the hell of it, Salman Rushdie as her doctor.
It’s a film about motherhood and what it means – Hunt’s character, April, was adopted, and when her adoptive mother dies, her birth mother reaches out (it’s Midler and she’s a pathological liar). April is 39 and desperately wants a baby, and gets knocked up via goodbye sex as her husband (Broderick) is walking out the door. Firth has been similarly abandoned and left with two children. It’s very complex and earnest but clearly a passion project (Hunt has a two-year-old) directed with heart. It gets a smattering of applause at the end. It doesn’t blow me away, but I can totally see watching it on TBS some Sunday afternoon around 2009.