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Posts Tagged ‘Toronto International Film Festival’

Deathbed State of Film Criticism Plays Key Role in Endless Awards Prognostication

BanehamOscarWe joked the other day that perhaps they should just move the Oscars to the first weekend of the Toronto International Film Festival. So as to kill two North American birds with one statuette and get the whole damn awards season thing over with, at a time when pundits are shuffling the deck at a most furious Twitter pace.

But then it hit us. While film criticism as a legitimate form of journalism has been flat-lining for years, the eleven-and-a-half-month annual rigamarole through which an increasing number of film journalists calibrate the chances of this actor and that studio for a BATFA, SAG, Golden Globe and Academy Award is a phenomenon that would meet with the hearty approval of a character played by Paul Bettany, Tom Hiddleston and others. It’s survival of the aisle-seat fittest.

If you filter the enterprising work of folks like Anne Thompson, David Poland, Jeffrey Wells, Sasha Stone, Roger Friedman and Anthony Breznican through the prism of changing-with-the-film-criticism-times, awards season journalism becomes suddenly a very different animal. It’s not just an attempt to keep the ad dollars rolling in. It’s also a clever and necessary way for film journalists to keep their opinions relevant.

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Critic Rolls His Eyes at Rosario Dawson’s NYT Character

ShutterstockRosarioDawsonThough relatively limited, the pantheon of New York Times reporters committed to film and TV has included such memorable characters as Sam Waterston‘s Sydney Schanberg in 1984′s The Killing Fields and Matt Borner‘s Felix Turner in this year’s HBO drama The Normal Heart.

Another NYT movie reporter is about to hit the big screen, via Chris Rock‘s Top Five. But according to Grantland’s Wesley Morris, this newsroom derivation is memorable for entirely different reasons:

Rock stars as Andre Allen, a recovering alcoholic and comedy star being trailed by the least-likely-ever culture reporter for the New York Times. It’s not that she’s played by Rosario Dawson. It’s that the plot twist around her character doesn’t make ethical sense. Together, they visit his New York universe and hers (she’s in recovery, too)…

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Who You Gonna Call for ‘Bill Murray Day’?

Why, Bill Murray of course. However, the headline for Scott Roxborough‘s Hollywood Reporter item about today’s dedicated celebration at the Toronto International Film Festival – published a scant 24 hours before – suggests the actor’s participation was anything but a sure thing:

THRBillMurrayHeadline

Part of the reason for this is contact logistics:

“It’s going to be fun,” Ivan Reitman told THR, noting how rare an opportunity it will be to interact with Murray, who doesn’t have an agent, manager or publicist and still utilizes a mythical 800-number for voicemail. “He decided to lead this very independent, eclectic, remarkable existence. He deserves to do whatever he wants.”

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Brooklyn Journo Heads to Toronto to Ask – Do I Sound Gay?

It started, as so many independent film efforts these days do, on Kickstarter. In the case of Brooklyn journalist David Thorpe, he was able this spring to raise a very impressive total of $120,523.

The other remarkable thing about Thorpe’s feature documentary Do I Sound Gay? is how quickly it has progressed from the May 30 campaign close to a world premiere. The film will be unveiled Sunday at the Toronto International Film Festival. From the synopsis:

After a break-up with his boyfriend, Thorpe embarks on a hilarious and touching journey of self-discovery, confronting his anxiety about “sounding gay.” Enlisting acting coaches, linguists, friends, family, total strangers and celebrities, he quickly learns that many people — both gay and straight — often wish for a different voice.

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Mark Harris on the Inanity of Early Oscar Buzz

There’s something extra special about this year’s marathon Oscar handicapping season being kick-started at Telluride and Toronto by a drama titled 12 Years a Slave. Because in recent years, the once organic and more tempered process of advance film buzz has become a slave to an endless 12 months of town-cried Academy Awards prognostication.

Not that film journalists are alone in this behavior. Tom O’Neil, the grand master of Gold Derby, rightly likes to point out that many other realms besides film awards season (ex: the 2016 U.S. presidential race) lead to early and heavy odds-making by so-called media experts.

Nevertheless, on the Oscar side, it seems to get a little worse each year, amplified by social media and the return in 2012-13 of more robust studio marketing budgets. Enter Mark Harris. In a Grantland piece titled “Is 12 Years a Slave Really a Best Picture Lock?,” he makes a number of resonating observations:

The recent compulsion to anoint a Best Picture favorite around Labor Day, a full 17 weeks before the end of the eligibility period for movies, represents the convergence of several factors… [including] an infection of festival coverage by Web-driven “First!” culture.

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Blogger’s 911 Call Blows Up the Toronto Film Festival

The Sacrament arrived at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival with a lot of drama already built-in. It’s about a pair of fictitious VICE correspondents who convince a friend to visit a family member at a Jim Jones/Guyana style religious compound so they can tag along for documentary purposes.

But the real drama at a Monday press & industry screening of the movie – per the dozens and dozens of subsequent news reports- occurred when New York-based blogger Alex Billington (firstshowing.net) dialed 911 to report what he thought was someone trying to pirate the film with a cell phone. The individual appears instead to have been a boorish film buyer with a reputation for flaunting electronic devices at screenings.

Billington’s actions have become a tipping point for something many other journalists in attendance at TIFF this year have been grousing about: the festival’s lack of a defined policy governing the use of cell phones and tablets at press & industry screenings. TIFF VP of communications Jennifer Bell is on record in some of the reports as confirming that TIFF does not have an official set of such rules, other than asking at the beginning of screenings that attendees silence/turn off their devices. (And we all know how well that works.)

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Trade Round-Up: August 23, 2007

reese2.jpegThe industry is gearing up for September’s Toronto International Film Festival and THR gives the full fest lineup in today’s paper, unveiling the “most American-friendly lineup in years.” Included in the fest offerings are new pics from helmers Renny Harlin, Paul Schrader and Robin Swicord. Sure to cause a tabloid frenzy is a screening of the drama “Rendition” starring Oscar-winner Reese Witherspoon and her is-he-or-isn’t-he-boyfriend Jake Gyllenhaal.

Whoever said that crime doesn’t pay, isn’t friends with Kathryn Morris. The “Cold Case” star has just signed a deal heading into her fifth season on the hit CBC crime drama that will pay her $180,000-$190,000 per episode with a production pact to boot. THR‘s Nellie Andreeva has the scoop.

Leading up to the Sept. 16 Emmy telecast, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has installed a “more vigorous vetting process” to step up a crackdown on producer credit inflation. Variety’s Michael Schneider and Dave McNary detail the organization’s efforts to make sure that producers who are attached to awards-worthy series are worthy themselves of receiving such honors. Find out who made the cut in their front-page Var story here.

Variety’s ratings round-up doesn’t look good for Fox’s new reality series “Anchorwoman.” The show, which follows a former WWE Diva who lands a job as an anchor in a small Texas town, sunk with only 2.7 million viewers tuning in. The show is on a limited series run, the story says, so the fate of the three remaining weeks on the schedule hang in the balance. Check the rest of Variety’s ratings reporting here.
– CHRIS GARDNER