Friday, September 20, 2013

TIFF 2013: A Retrospective

Anne Brodie at TIFF: It’s A Wrap
The festival ends on a bright note for Anne Brodie.

September 14, 2013 Favourites

TIFF is about to go dark until September 2014. It leaves us satisfied and frankly delighted. Our Mrs. R’s demographic was beautifully represented in thought provoking films throughout the ten day film extravaganza. Some of the world’s greatest actresses came and conquered and took their rightful place as storytellers and artists.  My final interview was with the drop dead at 64 French beauty Fanny Ardant. What a pleasure.  In Toronto to promote the May December romance Bright Days Ahead she was as stunning as a bright day. That perfect face, full lipped with exotic smoky eyes and a tres chic herringbone dress accented by warm caramel and gold hair took my breath away. Ardant has a wicked wit and lively intelligence and has no patience for Hollywood’s narrow conservatism.  She plays the older lover of an instructor at a senior’s home and I’ll tell you, their scenes are hot. Hot. Hats off to TIFF for bringing us such brave stories.

Review:  Bright Days Ahead
Fanny Ardant plays a happily married French woman who is bored in retirement. Her daughters suggest she join a local senior’s arts centre but it’s a place full of “gagas” (stupid people).  Just as she is about to leave, she meets a man in his thirties and they begin a torrid affair making love in cars, utility closets and well, wherever.  It challenges both of them as well as her husband and shows May-December affairs in a bold and natural new light. Ardant’s beauty and innate intelligence makes Bright Days Ahead shine.

 Anne Brodie at TIFF
The Men of TIFF, and Jennifer Aniston busts a worthwhile career move.

September 12, 2013

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Today was all about the men. Pierce Brosnan, John Hawkes, Mos Def, Keanu Reeves, Brosnan charming as ever in The Love Punch with Emma Thompson, Hawkes, Jennifer Aniston’s unexpected love interest in Life of Crime, Mos Def, now known as Yasiin Bey as the loveable criminal mastermind. Reeves stars in and directs the martial arts fightclub drama Man of Tai Chi. Men of a certain age have always won the woman’s heart in Hollywood and we are reminded why. That appealingly maturity and life experience, those looks that have settled into their truest expression and that oh-so-attractive quality, self-confidence. They know what they’re doing and have a sense of humour about things. And in these films, that means loving women who are their peers.
Life of Crime
TIFF Closing Night Gala
Jennifer Aniston is kidnapped by a couple of greenhorn petty criminals (John Hawkes and Yasiin Bey) who hope to extract $1M from her husband (Tim Robbins). Not only does her husband not want her back, he’s serving her divorce papers and has moved on to a new, younger gal pal (Isla Fisher). Based on Elmore Leonard’s book The Switch, there is plenty to entertain and provoke conversation, like a third criminal obsessed with Nazi culture who spends most of his time eating boiled cabbage and beef and the balance of power in the criminal realm. Aniston does herself a big favour, showing range way out of what we expect, as the unwanted woman.

Anne Brodie at TIFF
Looks like 45 is the new 25 in Hollywood, and Anne's hidden gem from the Festival.
Mrs. Robinson entertainment

Anne Brodie

September 11, 2013

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Actresses who dare to pass the 45 year mark are reaping big rewards at TIFF this year. Julia Roberts, festival darling, is here for August: Osage County in which she goes head to head with Meryl Streep who plays one of those pushy broads who’s always right.
In the same age category:  Sandra Bullock’s winning raves for her heart stopping performance as an astronaut untethered and lost in space in Gravity, opposite George Clooney. Annette Bening falls in love Ed Harris’ character who looks like her late husband in The Face of Love. Nicole Kidman stars in The Railway Man opposite Colin Firth as a WWII soldier haunted by the brutal treatment he received at the hands of his Japanese captors. And Emma Thompson is divorced from Pierce Brosnan in The Love Punch but that doesn’t stop them from planning a heist.
See ladies, we get the roles and we get the man. Looks like 45 is the new 25, Hollywood style.
Empire of Dirt Capsule Review
Three generations of women are the hearts of Empire of Dirt, a powerful family drama produced by and starring Jennifer Podemski. Shot in Keswick, Innisfil and Sunderland, it follows a young Toronto mother in a vulnerable place whose daughter is starting to ride off the rails. They head to the lakeside home of her estranged mother, played by Podemski without a trace of makeup, in hopes of stitching their lives back together. It’s not so simple. The film is heartfelt, and haunting and rings true thanks to wonderful performances. Podemski spent eight years making Empire of Dirt – time well spent.

Anne Brodie at TIFF: Rush
It's just another day elbowing stars for space on the elevator...
Mrs. Robinson entertainment

September 9, 2013

At the Festival:
Newly super-slim Colin Firth worked with his old friend Atom Egoyan on Devil’s Knot, a dramatization of the infamous West Memphis murders case.  After our interview, Firth, dressed to kill in a beautifully cut suit and crisp white shirt, looking totally dapper, strode off elegantly to the elevator where he caught three grown women making googly eyes over him.  He laughed.
A block over a drop-dead beautiful Julia Louis-Dreyfus admits that she attained “monstrous” fame through Seinfeld and her other TV series, and that making only ten episodes of VEEP allows her to make movies again.
Further west in another hotel, Oscar nominated director Agnieszka Holland told me that making the four hour Burning Bush, a dramatization of the student protests against the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968 was especially poignant. As leader of the student protesters, she was arrested and served six weeks in prison. Holland works in Europe and Hollywood, directing episodes of The Wire and Corner Boys and teaching film at City University in New York.
Rush: Capsule Review
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl and Olivia Wilde
Rush is extremely loud, aggressive and male, but director Ron Howard masterfully opens it up to females (and I don’t mean by showing uber hunky Chris Hemsworth in the buff, but okay, that works) by creating two richly layered characters and setting them against the exotic, dangerous world of elite racing.  Formula I champions playboy James Hunt and the rigid Niki Lauda battled for supremacy until Lauda sustained massive head injuries in a 1976 crash.  He was so committed to winning that he got back on the track almost immediately in mythic style. They were international heroes and heartthrobs and it’s easy to see why.  Howard’s thrilling biopic is exhilarating, intelligent and at some level, primal.
**** of 5. You’ll love it and your husband will thank you for taking him.

Rush opens September 20.


Anne Brodie at TIFF
A halfway there update from the Toronto International Film Festival.

September 10, 2013

You can’t walk down the hotel hallway and not trip over Lars from Metallica (Metallica: Through the Never), Idris Elba (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom), Gordon Pinsent (The Grand Seduction), Colin Firth (Devil's Knot, Railway Man) or James Franco (Child of God).  TIFF 13 is in halfway mark full swing.  Reporters are interviewing stars in every room on several floors.  In the Presidential suite of the main hotel, Lindt chocolatiers are making personalized bars and folks are relaxing in the sky high balcony gazing down at ant-like TIFFers dashing from event to event. 

Conscientious TIFFers wear buttons that read #FREETAREKANDJOHN referring to Toronto filmmaker John Greyson and Tarek Loubani who remain in an Egyptian jail without charges since August 15th.  Atom Egoyan and Sarah Polley held a news conference this morning at TIFF Bell Lightbox to remind us how dire their situation is. 
Meanwhile, hundreds and hundreds of people continue to stream into theatres to watch films around the clock jamming sidewalks and loving every minute of it.  This is Toronto at its most engaged and vibrant, bursting at the seams with film lovers from home and around the world. 
This is where it’s all happening and the world is watching.

 Anne Brodie at TIFF: Enough Said
James Gandolfini's last film and a little TIFF gossip...
Mrs. Robinson entertainment

September 8, 2013

Let’s start with a little TIFF Gossip
It’s a rush find stars “in the wild”.  I interview stars for a living under extremely controlled conditions, so I was thrilled to meet an actor on whom I have a long standing crush just sitting in a hotel lobby today. Corey Stoll (House of Cards) happened to sit near me and we discussed what kind of tea he should order. Yowzer. Left before I could blurt out something foolish. 
Josh Brolin’s escaped convict character in Labor Day knows how to cook and bake.  Brolin says he got hooked on baking pies in his preparations to play the part and made a peach pie onset every day of the shoot.  He looks so tough but he loves a nice peach pie with a flaky crust.
Hugh Jackman goes against type in the intense Prisoners, playing a man who will stop at nothing to find his missing child, who will toss away his moral centre and do depraved things. You want to know who one of the nicest guys in Hollywood?  Hugh Jackman. He admits he’s a happy and optimistic and that’s why he had so much fun getting his evil on. 

Enough Said
Starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and the late James Gandolfini 
Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini might seem like an odd couple but boy, do they have chemistry in this romantic drama about a newly single middle-aged man and woman taking their first steps towards a relationship.  How wonderful to see Gandolfini as an ordinary guy with a sweet soul and how sad we saw so little of him in that framework.  Gandolfini was usually cast as a Tony Soprano or someone like him. This wonderfully immersive romance revels in his gentleness and romantic sensibilities and Louis-Dreyfus is a treat as an older, gentler Elaine.  Enough Said’s bittersweet nature is heightened as we mourn Gandolfini’s passing.

In theatres September 20

Anne Brodie at TIFF: Prisoners
Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal thrill in Prisoners.

September 7, 2013 the really intense drama Prisoners last night. It was so frightening my hands shook. I ran into one of the stars Terrence Howard – who is so raw and powerful in the film – in the lobby and told him how impressive it was. He smiled that gorgeous smile and then came over to me later and thanked me again. My God he’s great looking in person too. I’m meeting him later this week for a chat, so stay tuned.

Prisoners finds two middle aged couples and their children celebrating Thanksgiving dinner together. The two youngest kids go outside to play and don’t come back. Jake Gyllenhaal plays the detective who follows the case. Layer upon layer of darkness emerges in a mind bending, riveting 2 hour plus thriller that found me in a corner recuperating afterwards. Oscar caliber performances from Hugh Jackman, Gyllenhaal, Howard, Viola Davis and Maria Bello.
Prisoners opens September 20.


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