Tag Archives: tiff

It’s Monday….what are you reading?

it's monday

Finishing up The Bachelors by Muriel Spark, an audiobook version. It’s curious little novel that involves spiritualism. relationships, and a court case. I’m not enjoying it as much as her other novels, but it has its moments.

Just digging in to Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie. It’s the last of the Books on Film series at TIFF and will be screening on June 24th with director Deepa Mehta interviewed by Eleanor Wachtel.

While I’ve finished the text bits of  VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health . . . for Good, I’ll be leafing through it this week to plan some vegan meals.

So. What are you reading? Let me know in the comments.

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Duddy’s back in town.

Last night was a CanCon lover’s dream. The screening of the newly-remastered digital print of “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz“, based on the novel by Mordecai Richler, was the TIFF Books on Film event, and as we walked in to the screening room, we immediately noticed the 30 or so seats that had been reserved for special guests. Margaret Atwood’s name was the first to catch my eye. Richler’s widow Florence and children Noah and Jacob were also in attendance.

Jesse Wente, Head of Programming at TIFF, opened the evening and introduced the CEO of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, Helga Stephenson. Her announcement that a copy of the beautiful digital print had been donated to TIFF so that it could be shown whenever possible was met with great applause. Last week, the film finally had its Cannes debut in the Cannes Classics program, and director Ted Kotcheff and Richard Dreyfuss were on the red carpet.

Svetlana and Richard Dreyfuss, Helga Stephenson, Ted Kotcheff and Laifun Kotcheff
Svetlana and Richard Dreyfuss, Helga Stephenson, Ted Kotcheff and Laifun Kotcheff

Eleanor Wachtel, our host for the Books on Film series, followed with a welcome and gave a bio of Kotcheff, our guest for the post-screening interview. (The ACCT bio is here.) Kotcheff then spoke of his 44-year friendship with Richler that started in the South of France. He wanted to make a film of Duddy for years, and finally got funding in the early days of the Canadian Film Development Corporation (now Telefilm Canada) when they covered half of the $750,000 budget for the film, with Gerald Schniederman covering the other half. Mr Schneiderman’s widow Roberta was at the screening last night and Kotcheff called her out to applause.

As Stephenson said in her remarks, the newly remastered print makes the film look like it was shot yesterday. I’ve seen the original at least twice, and Dreyfuss’ performance is amazing. Kotcheff described the casting of Duddy as a bit of a nightmare. He didn’t want to make the film until he found the perfect lead. As they got very close to the shoot date,  Kotcheff put in a call to NY casting director Lynn Stalmaster who, after reading the script, called him down to see a young guy who had a four minute scene in a previous film in which the kid had overacted. The moment he began to read for the part, Kotcheff knew he had “his Duddy”, the only issue being that Dreyfuss, a German Jew, had blue eyes.

In Cannes, Dreyfuss commented that Duddy was his best role, and that he didn’t realise this until many years later. And in my mind, when I read the novel, it is Dreyfuss who forms my mental image for Duddy.

Enjoy this little clip of the gambling scene:

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Toronto International Film Festival starts this week….

…and I’m getting ready.

After a bit of a bumpy ticket-purchasing ride, with a lot of my top picks off-sale due to my cheapness is buying a discounted Daytime Pack, I still have a pretty awesome schedule over the 10-day Festival. Zouheir is taking a few days off so that he can get to more of the screenings this year.

This Thursday, I’m seeing a live reading of American Beauty, to be directed by Jason Reitman. Actors are being announced by Reitman on Twitter and so far, we have  (as reported by Toronto Life):  

  • Adam Driver (Lena Dunham’s creepy boyfriend from Girls) as the neighbour’s son Ricky Fitts (played by Wes Bentley in the film)
  • Toronto’s Sarah Gadon as Angela, the teenage object of Lester Burnham’s (Kevin Spacey) lust (played by Mena Suvari in the film)
  • Nick Kroll as Buddy (played by Peter Gallagher in the film)

Gadon is probably best known in her role of Emma Jung in A Dangerous Method.

On Friday we’ll see a couple of documentaries:

In an unprecedented and candid series of interviews, six former heads of the Shin Bet — Israel’s intelligence and security agency — speak about their role in Israel’s decades-long counterterrorism campaign, discussing their controversial methods and whether the ends ultimately justify the means.

Apparently, there will be two (former?) generals in attendance.

On Saturday, we’re looking forward to screenings of Hotel Transylvania, Inch’Allah, and The Attack. The first is an animated feature with a star-studded cast. The second two examine the Palestinian question in the West Bank. There are quite a few films set in the Middle East at this years festival and we’re hoping to see most of them.

More to come.

    TIFF roundup: Monday

    I’m (obviously) quite far behind on my mini-reviews, but a day of film-screening leaves me wiped by the end of the day. I’ve been tweeting some thoughts, but here are my capsule summaries.

    Rampart (Dir. Oren Moverman, USA)

    Woody Harrelson stars in this rogue-cop drama set in LA. A masterful performance with strong support from the actors playing his ex-wives (who are sisters in the film and live together) and daughters. The twist (for me, who’s not really a rogue-cop-film viewer) is that this guy is very articulate and wraps his crap in big words and charming delivery. (4/5)

    (One more screening Sunday the 18th)

    Behold the Lamb (Dir. John McIlduff, UK)

    A small film (budget $200,000 and filmed in 20 days) it stars a young actress who had only done stage work and a lorry driver and amateur theatre actor. This is a gritty but somehow charming story of two people whose lives intersect over a 24 hour period. It involves a car theft, the transport of a lamb, a foster child, and a lot of beautiful, grey Irish scenery. And a lot of Catholic imagery that the director said was not originally part of the story, but was pointed out to him part way through the writing of the screenplay. (3/5)

    (One more screening on evening of Friday the 16th)


    Anonymous (Dir Roland Emmerich, Germany)

    This is soon-to-be-released in theatres (Oct 28) and there’s been lots of press about it. The premise is that there was no-one names William Shakespeare who actually wrote the plays and poetry attributed to him. Good performances and terrific cinematography. My ignorance of British history made it a bit difficult to follow the family/dynastic relationships. (4/5) ( The Official site has lots of good info that I wish I’d read before seeing the film.)

    (One more screening on Saturday the 17th, but save your cash and see it in commercial run.)

    Beloved (Les Bien-Aimés) (Dir Christophe Honoré, France)

    Starring Catherine Deneuve and her daughter Chiara Mastroianni, this musical(!) set in France, spanning decades from 1964 to the 90s, was extremely enjoyable. When asked “why a musica’l in the Q&A, Honoré claimed that he is not comfortable writing about love and it was easier for him to have his characters sing during the emotional moments of the film. Not a typical musical, there are no big theatrical moments, or much dancing. Just characters, walking down the street (or playing billiards) and singing about their feelings.

    (One more screening on Saturday the 17th)



    TIFF roundup: Weekend 1

    Well, things are off to a great start.  I saw four films this weekend and here are my thoughts.

    Friday afternoon:  Urbanized (Director: Gary Hustwit, USA/UK)

    This was the world premiere for this film and the Ryerson Theatre was filled with Jane Jacobites and other #TorontoElite (to use a hashtag favoured by Spacing editor Shawn Micallef.) Inspiring and uplifting, this is a film that should be seen by anyone interested in the future of our cities, how to make them more liveable and sustainable, and how to improve the lives of even the poorest of slumdwellers by thoughtful, citizen-centric design. A survey of cities from around the world, this film calls us to action, even in the face of a city government that seems intent on turning the clock back. Official website.  (5/5) 

    Saturday Morning: Ides of March (Director: George Clooney, USA)

    We attended the second (and last) screening of this film at the festival.  Clooney plays a presidential candidate during the Ohio primary and Ryan Gosling is his media guy. The story is good, well-paced, and interesting, and the film was very enjoyable. Clooney was fine, but I thought Gosling was slightly miscast for the part. His character didn’t come across as bright enough for the role, but I’m not sure whether it was the casting or the writing. The big buzz should go to Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Marisa Tomei for their supporting roles as campaign managers for the opposing candidates and a NY Times reporter. It was their performances that really carried the film. Official website. (4/5)

    Saturday afternoon: House of Tolerance (Director: Bertrand Bonello, France)

    A languid, sensual, two-hour film about a fin de siecle brothel in Paris, this film was carefully researched and brought to being with great care. It’s a frank look at the lives of these women, at the same time enslaved and surrounded by opulence, at the risks they encountered and the friendships they formed. There was a good Q&A with the director after the film and I asked about the use of music behind some key scenes. The opening credits have a kind of 60s blues thing (see trailer), and a climactic scene close to the end is scored with The Moody Blues’ Nights in White Satin. Bonello did not see this as any more anachronistic than using opera music not coming from a gramaphone. This was also a subject of great discussion after the premiere at Cannes. (4/5)


    Sunday noon:  Take this Waltz (Director: Sarah Polley, Canada)

    This was a stunner of a film. What hits you right from the beginning is the warm, vivid, palette she has chosen for the film, representing female desire (as Polley remarked in the Q&A after the screening.) Very well cast with Michelle Williams as a twenty-something woman Margot, married for five years to Lou (Seth Rogen). When Daniel (Luke Kirby) enters her life in one of the many comedic scenes in the film), her previously domestic situation starts to unravel. This is a film with both intense drama and high humour, handled deftly by Polley and woven into a dreamy yet realistic portrayal of what happens when the gleam starts to go off a relationship. Sarah Silverman plays Lou’s sister, a recovering alcoholic, and had vocal coaching for the film to “speak Canadian”. See this movie! Official site. (5/5)

    Here’s a shot from the Q&A after the screening.  From L to R: Sarah Polley, Luke Kirby, Sarah Silverman, Seth Rogen.


    TIFF is coming: my first weekend lineup.

    The Toronto International Film Festival, that is.

    This year, I’m jumping in with both feet, seeing 5 films with my spouse when he’s not at work, and ….ahem… 20 on my own during the day. Because we’re “castmembers” at TIFF, we got our order processed early and got 23 out of 25 of our first picks, 1 second pick, and one voucher.  I’m hoping to get another ticket (with my voucher) to Habibi so that Z can come with me to that screening (it’s a Saturday morning at 9 am.) It’s a recasting of a classical 9th century Arabic tragic love epic, Mad for Layla (Majnoun Layla), set in modern day Gaza.

    On the first weekend (Sep 9-11), this is my lineup:

    Friday afternoon:  Urbanized – Documentary on Urban Design

    Saturday morning: Ides of March – George Clooney and Ryan Gosling star in this polical drama about a presidential primary.

    Saturday afternoon: House of Tolerance – A look at a fin-de-siecle brothel in Paris. 

    Sunday noon: Take This Waltz – Sarah Polley directs (and wrote) this romantic drama.

    My fears about having to run from venue to venue have been allayed as I have at least 45 minutes between any two films, so with my TTC pass and comfy shoes, I’m good to go!