You've known him as Worm, Derek Vinyard, Monty Brogan, Eisenheim, and Bruce Banner, but get ready to know him as Ray Tierney in Pride and Glory. Every once in a while I have one of those rare opportunities to meet someone truly amazing, and this was one of them. I was lucky enough to interview Edward Norton, easily one of the most talented actors around, up in Toronto after seeing his latest film, Pride and Glory. Although it's a rather short interview, I got into a very deep level of discussion surrounding his character that rarely happens in any interview, and to me, that is a true dedication to the craft. So if you're looking forward to Pride and Glory or just want to hear from Edward Norton, then keep on reading.
It may have been a few months back that I screened RocknRolla, but I definitely haven't forgotten it. It's one of my favorite films of the past few months and that's all thanks to Guy Ritchie - the mastermind writer and director behind such previous cult classics as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. After the film premiered up in Toronto, I was lucky enough to catch up with Guy Ritchie for a chat about making movies, RocknRolla, Sherlock Holmes, and even Beowulf. Even if you're not that interested in RocknRolla, delving into the mind of a brilliant filmmaker is always an interesting experience.
It was just last year, when I caught a double dose of Assassination of Jesse James and 3:10 to Yuma in one day, that I finally realized how enjoyable westerns could be. Since then I've been exploring the genre and was admittedly excited to hear about a new film called Appaloosa. Written, directed, and starring Ed Harris, the film follows two friends hired to clean up a town of its local vermin, an outlaw named Randall Bragg. A few weeks back after the world premiere in Toronto, I had the immense honor of interviewing Ed Harris, and talked with him about all aspects of Appaloosa and westerns. If you're curious to hear about the behind-the-scenes aspects of the film and so much more, then this is an interview for you.
It was a rainy day on Saturday as I made my way to Ryerson University for a screening of What Doesn't Kill You, the last film that I had planned to see in Toronto. A full 10 days had come and gone and the Toronto Film Festival was wrapping up. As I sat waiting for the film to begin and listened to the snippet from Patrick Watson's song "Luscious Life" that's part of the intro to every movie, I tried to think back over the last few weeks. What were the highlights? Was it a great fest or was it full of boring indie films? A smile came across my face as I recalled the great times and great movies, like Darren Aronofsky's The Wreslter, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Kevin Smith's Zack and Miri Make a Porno, and even JCVD and the stop animated film Leo and Edison from my first day. Another great fest had come to an end.
Everyone knows the age old saying that what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger. In this film, that's the unquestionable truth for South Boston thug Brian (Mark Ruffalo) and his friend Paulie (Ethan Hawke), who grew up stealing and bullying fellow locals for cash. Now he's got a wife and two kids and is still making his money in dishonest ways. What Doesn't Kill You unfortunately isn't the next Departed or Gone Baby Gone, but it's another fine film in the on-going South Boston chronicles. First-time writer/director Brian Goodman pulls together quite a few great elements in the film, from the acting to the score, but it's in dire need of a script rewrite and editing overhaul before it can be called a true gem.
My very favorite experience of the entire Toronto Film Festival was meeting and interviewing Darren Aronofsky, the brilliant filmmaker behind Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, and most recently, The Wrestler. Not only is it amazing to speak with such an incredibly talented director, but it's like I was chatting with a good friend who is as big of a movie geek as I am. Aronofsky and I spoke at length about The Wrestler, my favorite film from Toronto, as well as the current state of independent cinema, RoboCop, and more. If you haven't already read my review for The Wrestler, all you've got to know is that it's another huge success for Aronofsky. And with that brief introduction, I bring to you my complete interview!
When it comes to horror, it takes quite a bit to impress me, and the same goes for westerns, but J.T. Petty's The Burrowers did just that. The concept couldn't be any more appealing: the film is a mix of western and horror that features nasty underground creatures who hunt humans. As far as I know, I don't think there has ever been a horror movie that takes place in the old west, at least not one as good as this. The Burrowers looks amazing, starts out well, and features a great cast, but as thrilling as it was, it ultimately could've been a much better film for reasons that I'm having trouble identifying. However, for an exploration into both the horror and western genres, J.T. Petty should be proud of his latest feature.
Fucked up. There's no easy way to describe Deadgirl, but that's the first thing I thought when I walked out of the theater. The concept is so ridiculous, that I was actually a bit nervous going in. But remarkably it's a great cult horror film that boasts good performances and an off-the-wall story that few cinephiles might enjoy. Deadgirl is about two high school kids who find a dead girl in the basement of an abandon insane asylum and realize that she's not actually dead. After realizing that she can't be killed and isn't really "alive" enough to escape, they turn her into their sex slave. Yep, it's that crazy, but as I mentioned, it's not actually a bad film, which says a lot about the talents of co-directors Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel.
Today is the very last day of the Toronto International Film Festival and the winners of the fest's various awards have just been announced. Although these awards don't always translate well into actual viewing interest, we mention them because they shed some additional light on films that are at least worth mentioning. This year the big winner is Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire, the film we've been talking about since Telluride. The other winners are also solid choices, so take a look. Only one of these awards is voted on by the audience, the others are chosen by various juries. The People's Choice winner here in Toronto does actually carry a lot of weight, and since it's Slumdog this time, I couldn't agree more!
Long live the revolution! I recently walked out of a nearly five hour screening session consisting of back-to-back showings of Steven Soderbergh's two films on Argentinian revolutionary Che Guevara. It was a grueling experience but one that I'm happy to have gone through - merely because having the chance these two impressive films back-to-back in theaters was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity anyway. Instead of a typical review, however, I just want to put down my thoughts, because there was so much going through my head as I watched all 262 minutes of Che and I just want to mention as much as I can. The two films are a meticulously intimate portrait of Guevara that covers three of his most memorable events in his life - the Cuban revolution in 1956, his trip to the United Nations, and his last revolutionary fight in Bolivia.
Just the other day, before my screening of The Wrestler, I was hanging out down in the Visa lounge at the Elgin Theater in Toronto. Some people that I had just met had enjoyed a free bag of popcorn courtesy of Visa and I noticed that the bag had text printed all around it. I always love to check out catchy marketing ideas and Visa had covered the bag with "Post Film Conversation Starters." After reading a couple and chuckling, I decided to keep the bag and post it up here for the world to be inspired. Their suggestions range from hilarious to actually useful to mildly amusing, and I'd actually suggest using any of these to start up real conversations. I haven't tried any myself, but I will admit I've used some of them before.
After sleeping in late, I decided to catch two screenings of two films that I had heard were good, but didn't know much about. Both seemed to be the kind of films that I was in the mood to see - American dramas that aren't overly intense or energetic, but good enough to keep me awake. Lymelife was exactly the type of film that I wanted to see, but unfortunately seems more like a Sundance drama than Toronto feature. Goodbye Solo was an incredible film built around two great characters that capped off my otherwise uneventful day. Before I even start to talk about either of these any more though, I just need to say that I would definitely suggest both of them. They're two indies that need as much love as they can get.