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#TIFF 16: Critic's Dispatches
Damien Chazelle's La La Land offers a deep breath filled with human notes in an urban landscape where the creative urge is often filtered and conditioned for comfort
By Katherine Monk
TORONTO — The condo tower I’m staying at affords me a view of downtown Toronto’s rooftops: squares and rectangles carving their way into the horizontal blue line of Lake Ontario. Sheer glass and steel boxes topped with trailing steel tubes that allow sealed office buildings to breathe.
It’s a necessity in an urban landscape that denies human scale, and emotionally speaking, all things human. But I didn’t even notice the ambient drone of a thousand HVAC fans whirring away over the Big Smoke until today — until I saw Damien Chazelle’s La La Land and rediscovered what true inspiration really feels like: A deep breath exhaled as song.
Sure, La La Land had already been touted as the big buzz movie at this year’s Toronto ...
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#TIFF16: Critic's Dispatches
Seasoned critic sacrifices a Blue Jays game to take in The Queen of Katwe, Planetarium and The Bleeder but finds little to celebrate beyond a sweet mid-movie slumber
By Jay Stone
TORONTO — I went to three films today, which means I didn’t get to watch the Toronto Blue Jays game on television. The films weren’t great as cinema, but they were excellent as distractions from the Toronto Blue Jays. For the record, the Boston Red Sox beat the Jays 11-8, and I went 0-for-3.
The first movie was The Queen of Katwe, a Disney movie based on a true story about a teenage Ugandan girl who lives in dire poverty on the bad side of a small African village — mud streets, bare shacks, a cacophony of people trying to sell maize to people in cars stuck in monumental traffic jams at red lights — and becomes a chess champion.
Yes, it’s that movie, which suited my fellow movie-goers to a T. They laughed and applauded on cue, which makes me think The Queen ...
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Movies: #TIFF16 American Pastoral press conference
Ewan McGregor's adaptation of Phillip Roth's novel points out the problems in bringing internal narrative to the big screen, but the actor-turned director faced the same challenge as those who braved the work of Carol Shields
By Jay Stone
TORONTO — Here’s something pretty interesting: in the Carol Shields book Unless (now a motion picture at the Toronto International Film Festival), a sensitive teenage girl sees a monk setting himself on fire and is inspired to drop out of society and become a mute beggar in front of Honest Ed’s discount emporium in Toronto. In the Philip Roth novel American Pastoral (also a movie at TIFF), a sensitive teenage girl sees a monk setting himself on fire and is inspired to drop out of society and become a domestic terrorist.
This tells us something about Canada and the United States — or perhaps just something about Carol Shields and Philip Roth, and about the film industry in general. ...
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Movies: Snowden press conference at TIFF 16
The director and stars of Snowden say they now put bandaids over the cameras on their computers and have a new appreciation for what freedom really means
By Katherine Monk
TORONTO — It didn’t take long for Oliver Stone to affirm his public reputation for being a little paranoid, calling President Obama “the most efficient managers of the surveillance world,” pointing out the presence of “rockets 200 miles in space peeking in on us” and accusing the U.S. government of “lying all the time.”
In other words, it was everything you could have wanted out of an Oliver Stone press conference. This time, the director of JFK and Nixon was speaking about Snowden, his latest feature screening at the Toronto International Film Festival starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as whistleblower Edward Snowden and Shailene Woodley as girlfriend Lindsay Mills.
“It’s out of control,” Stone said, citing Snowden’s own words from a recent ...
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Movies: Toronto International Film Festival
A veteran movie critic spends the day with Amy Adams and concludes she's Oscar bait, as well as a reminder of what Nicole Kidman used to look like before Botox
By Jay Stone
TORONTO — Let us now praise Amy Adams, and all who sail on her. I recently spent a morning with the actress — she was on screen in two movies at the Toronto International Film Festival and I was in the audience, but still — and I concluded that a) she reminds me of what Nicole Kidman would look like if she had more common sense, and b) she might be in line for a couple of Oscar nominations this fall for roles in which she plays troubled women in unhappy second marriages with doomed daughters but, nonetheless, beautiful houses with large windows overlooking vastly photogenic scenery.
Both movies — Nocturnal Animals and Arrival — have all that in them, but Adams herself couldn’t be more different and you have to remind yourself that she was also, among ...
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Movie review: Sully
Tom Hanks has enough emotional charisma to keep Clint Eastwood's hero conventions in the air, but this cinematic salute to Chesley Sullenberger's heroism loses thrust
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Movies: TIFF 16 - First Looks
Jay Stone checks out a handful of the early buzz-makers at the Toronto International Film Festival, and keeps it real and offers this tip "longer is not always better"
By Jay Stone
TORONTO — Two things about a film festival are buzz (what is everyone talking about?) and more importantly, time (how long to I have to spend so that I can talk about it too?) After all, if life were eternal, you wouldn’t worry about it. Indeed, if life were eternal, you could afford to go to see a German movie called Toni Erdmann. But more about that later.
First the buzz. Well, actually, first the fact that the escalator at the downtown theatre where Toronto International Film Festival screenings are held for the press was broken on opening day. Thus, you walk up 105 stairs (by my count) before you can even join the crowds. In film-going — as in film directing, they tell me — the knees go first.
We’re here to sample three movies on our first day, all of ...
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Movies: Interview with Claude Joli-Coeur
National Film Board Chair reaffirms original vision of 'unity through diversity' with new gender parity policy but that's just the beginning of some bold moves, including a new brick and mortar headquarters in Montreal
By Katherine Monk
VANCOUVER – “If the National Film Board were a person, how would you describe their identity?”
Claude Joli-Coeur reflects for a second with a serious look hazing over his gentle features. Then, in an instant, a gleeful burst: “Leonard Cohen!”
After serving at the board for 12 years, currently as Government Film Commissioner and Chairperson for the NFB, Joli-Coeur has spent a few all-nighters in the company of his current passion. He has the type of insight that only comes from intimacy.
“The personality. The sparks. The surprise. The iconic… He grew up in Montreal and achieved world renown. He was open to different questions of identity…. Everything, eh?”
For Joli-Coeur, a ...
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News: Canadian Media Producers Association Awards
The man who can claim responsibility for the Decline of the American Empire and picks up Canadian producers' award, Hany Ouichou wins inaugural emerging talent prize
By The Ex-Press
TORONTO — Roger Frappier, the man who enabled the crucifixion of Jesus of Montreal and had a central role in the Decline of the American Empire, was named Producer of the Year at the Canadian Media Producers Association’s annual schmooze Thursday.
Over 100 industry types packed into the CBC Glenn Gould Studio for the event that also inaugurated The Emerging Producer Award, which was handed to Hany Ouichou for “his creative vision and impressive talents as an independent producer with a promising career ahead.”
Ouichou produced two features, Ceux qui font les révolutions à moitié n'ont fait que se creuser un tombeau and Prank, both of which are part of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.
Frappier won the award ...
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News Brief: Canadian Film Industry
Telefilm Canada announces a new diversity initiative designed to increase representation within the "Canadian Film Portfolio" by 2020 through new initiatives and industry partnerships
By The Ex-Press
Right now, it's all just words on a press release, but by 2020 the Canadian film landscape will look a lot different if Telefilm makes good on a promise of "diversity" they made earlier today (Thursday, September 8) in Montreal.
Seeking to increase the field of representation to better reflect the population of Canada, Telefilm Executive Director Carolle Brabant declared the following objective: "By 2020, [to] have a more representative and diversified feature film portfolio that better reflects gender, diversity and Canada’s Indigenous communities."
To realize the long-term goal, Telefilm will partner with the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA) and the Association québécoise de la production médiatique (AQPM) to create ...