Posts Tagged ‘The Edge’

Confessions of a Film Festival Junkie

Friday, September 10th, 2010

There’s a sliver of confusion that permeates the air between Queen and King and East of University in Toronto. That’s the new hub of the Toronto International Film Festival – about four subway stops South of where it resided for three decades. Reasonably speaking it shouldn’t exist and one imagines the wafting of anxiety will dissipate in a day or two. It’s just tough for some to break old routines and one can imagine veterans organizing a ceremonial march from the Sutton Place to the ManuLife Centre to commemorate miles logged in pursuit of the hot new film.

I’ve been told by people who know this sort of thing that orange is the most disturbing hue in the color spectrum. They say that it’s a shade that the eye naturally travels to and if you rest there too long it will make you ill at ease. So, the festival isn’t doing itself a favor by selecting orange for the t-shirts its hundreds of volunteers sport. It’s particularly disconcerting this year with the temporary staffers going out into the streets to distribute flyers on fest events and the organization’s new home – The Bell Lightbox – that opens officially this weekend.

“Have you been inside?” asked local filmmaker (and opera director) Atom Egoyan who I ran into on the street. “It’s great,” he enthused.

I confessed that I wasn’t yet at his enthusiasm level. However, my Lightbox experience to date had largely consisted on trying to get from point A to point B without being thwarted by confused throngs.

Still I’m favorably disposed to the new venue and reminded that TIFF has evolved into the template for what a contemporary film festival can and should be doing. I’ve read too many pieces (including a clutch by this scribe) over the years about the evolution and relevance of film festivals.

Pondering on those questions today, I’ve become convinced that film festivals ought to be the engine for other pursuits during the 50 weeks between annual programs. Sundance (even though its festival followed several years after the Institute’s establishment) does this rather well with such things as an eco-friendly consumer catalogue and selling its brand to cinemas and the like to maintain workshops and outreach programs all over the world.

Toronto has also evolved along these lines. It runs arguably the best programmed cinematheque in North America, touring film programs and underwrites scholarly research and publications that otherwise would be marginalized. The Lightbox marketing employs the catch phrase: The House That Film Built and, considering past good works, it should be a home base that’s both state of the art and sturdy.

Meanwhile back at this year’s festival, the opening day program proved to be quite half hearted in large part the result of its un-serendipitous alignment with the Jewish New Year. The official curtain raiser Score: A Hockey Musical strived to be Glee on ice but it’s one of those unfortunate tuners that lacks a single memorable song. It also doesn’t help that its writer-director Michael McGowan decided to write the song lyrics. My most haunting memory of the picture is trying to remember what word he chose to rhyme with “saliva.”

Considerably more compelling was an unheralded Russian film titled The Edge that cannot be easily log lined. Set in Siberia after the Second World War, it truly conveys the physical and emotional devastation that lingered after the German surrender. It’s hard to explain how an abandoned train engine threads through the story and gives this complex tale cohesion … but it does.

Black Swan, like such diverse films of recent time as Brokeback Mountain, Redacted and Slumdog Millionaire, arrived in Toronto fresh from heated (mostly positive) response in Venice. One can carp at some of the metaphoric devices employed in the staging of a re-imagined Swan Lake, but the film’s very audacity is essential to what makes the it work. Ballet is cinema’s short hand for obsessive, often destructive, artistic behavior and the intensity filmmaker Darren Aronofsky exacts is both difficult to watch and brilliantly realized. If there’s a more original and potent vision this year, I haven’t seen it.

Kiss The Girls was the surprise of the weekend

Monday, October 13th, 1997

Kiss The Girls was the surprise of the weekend, holding onto the top spot with $11.1 million. Dropping just 16 percent is an extraordinary accomplishment for any wide release, much less a thriller. Then again, it’s clearly Adult Time at the box office, with Seven Years In Tibet (second place: $10 million), Soul Food (third: $5.4 million) and In & Out (fourth: $5.3 million) topping the chart. The only true kids’ film out there, Rocket Man, opened weakly, in sixth place with just $4.4 million.
Seven Years (Do you think it was Eight Years before Pitt got involved?) had a per-screen average of just $4,755, which doesn’t bode well for the future of Time Magazine’s Sexiest Film Alive. I’ve been touting Soul Food as a possible ethnic crossover film for weeks, but Fox has now decided to go the other way, launching a “You go, girl!” campaign, assuring that Soul Food will be a happy cable surprise to the bulk of white audiences. And In & Out will have to wait until next weekend to pass the magic (for the fall season, at least) $50 million mark.
Rounding out the Top 10 were: The Peacemaker in fifth with $5.2 million; L.A. Confidential dropping to seventh with $3.7; The Edge in eighth with $3.3; Most Wanted — my one dead-on estimate — grossing $3 for ninth spot; and Gang Related, proving to be the made-for-cable movie it was meant to be (and should have stayed, out of respect to Tupac), taking 10 with just $2.5 million.
Strong competition on the top of the charts this Friday, with The Devil’s Advocate and I Know What You Did Last Summer hitting tons of screens. More about that on Friday.
Reader RJW2000 emailed to challenge my box office predictions. His Top 5: Most Wanted ($10m), Soul Food ($6m), Kiss The Girls ($5m), L.A. Confidential ($3.5m) and Seven Years In Tibet ($2m), He added, “I bet a million dollars Seven Years does not come in first, let alone take in double digits!” You owe Morgan Freeman big time, since he saved you a million bucks. Keenen!
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Bart the Bear

Wednesday, October 1st, 1997

Bart makes as much as $10,000 a day for his movie work, before residuals. He’s had major parts in over 20 movies to date, yet has never had to learn a line of dialogue. And he contributes a part of his earning to charity every year, but never signs a check. Sounds like a guy who you’d want your daughter or sister to date, huh? I forgot to mention that he weighs 1,800 pounds and eats his sushi with the skin on. Bart is the bear who hunts Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin in The Edge. Good thing he can’t fit in a Beemer or he’d be tooling around Rodeo Drive, cruising for fur coats. But, he can get you Sir Anthony Hopkins‘ home phone number.
Stone is back and it ain’t Sharon! Twentieth Century Fox is bringing the Romancing the Stone series back, probably as a Michael Douglas vehicle. Given the fact that Douglas is now old enough to be the stone, let’s try some new titles: “Romancing Alone,” “My Hair Has Stopped Grow’n,” “Romancing Old Crones,” “I’d Like To Be Prone,” “Romancing The Clone” or “Romance Without Bone.” Please feel free to email your new titles.
The proliferation of meteor films — Armageddon and Deep Impact — is no longer concentrated on U.S. shores. Continuing a diverse acting repertoire, Mike Myers has agreed to star with Brenda Fricker and Boogie Nights star Alfred Molina in Meteor, a drama written and directed by Irish playwright Joe O’Byrne. Variety says it’s a dark coming-of-age story about three children in a Dublin slum whose lives are changed when a huge meteor crashes into their backyard. Shooting starts November 10, when Myers completes his work as disco denizen Steve Rubell in 54, and before he stars in MGM’s remake of The Court Jester.
The Whole Picture delves into the dark side of entertainment journalism this week.
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Weekend Wrap-Up, The Peacemaker, The Edge

Monday, September 29th, 1997

The shock of the weekend wasn’t the explosion of The Peacemaker (more like a firecracker, with a decent, but hardly exciting $12.5 million for number one). It wasn’t the weak opening of The Edge (it was ahead of The Game with $8.2 million, as I predicted on Friday). It wasn’t even that I hit the L.A. Confidential box office draw exactly right ($4.5 million for sixth place)!
The shock of the weekend was Soul Food! An African-American dramedy that did serious business. If Soul Food ends up doing $45 million domestically, it will be a much bigger hit for Fox than The Peacemaker will be at $55 million for DreamWorks. In fact, at a cost of only $7 million, it would be a bigger hit than Waiting To Exhale, which grossed $66 million domestically, but cost $15 million. There are going to be a lot of executives spending their mornings trying to figure out why Soul Food is a hit and the wonderful love jones and A Family Thing missed. Could it be that Vivica Fox is a legitimate movie star? Since Independence Day, this is the fourth straight film she has done that has “opened.” Set It Off (opened at $11.8 million), Booty Call ($8.5 million), Batman & Robin (a Vivica-irrelevant $43 million) and now Soul Food. As good as Vanessa Williams is, her track record is a lot less clear. Congrats to you, Viv. Your price just went up.
In the rest of the box office news, In & Out held up, taking third spot with $11.3 million, dropping only 26 percent. The Game took another 45 percent plunge to $5.1 million and fifth place. Wishmaster hit seventh place with $3.3 million after its take was cut in half, while A Thousand Acres continues to get plowed under and G.I. Jane disappears off the AWAC screens.
Finally, my current pet peeve, L.A. Confidential, and its limited release distribution plan continues to allow the film to dip before it expands out next week, dropping well under $6,000 per screen from $7,100. Here’s a movie with the potential to be a bigger Usual Suspects, but at this rate, it will need Oscar nominations aplenty to match last year’s sleeper’s $46 million domestic gross.
Tomorrow, The Hot Button tackles the news, including some eyewitness Tori Spelling gossip. I’m such a media whore!
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Weekend Preview, In & Out Will Likely Stay on Top

Friday, September 26th, 1997

In & Out will likely stay in the top spot with about $11.5 million. L.A. Confidential’s bizarre choice to stay on just about 800 screens will cost it again, leaving number two to Batman & Redhead in The Peacemaker, the first film from DreamWorks. As if anyone cared. The Game and The Edge will fight it out for the number three and number four spots — gotta give it to Hanibal Lechter vs. The Baldwin & The Bear over Mikey, whose third week of release is like the third hour of Monopoly. Tired. Look for LAC to drop to number five with about $4.5 million. Spots 6-8 are going to be a battle between the African-American family dramedy, Soul Food, the Midwestern American family drama, A Thousand Acres, and the Depantsed English Unemployed comedy, The Full Monty. If you were wishing that Wishmaster would drop from third to ninth, you may be in luck… or Wishmaster could conjure up the sixth spot, beating out the high quality/low audience-interest trio above.
Also hitting theaters is The Assignment, with Aidan Quinn playing an undercover agent pretending to be the most evil assassin in the world and Ben Kingsley and Donald Sutherland as his handlers. And stinking of low budget edginess is Kicked In The Head, the indie-star-cameo laden (Linda Fiorentino, Michael Rapaport, Lili Taylor and James Woods) comedy from Sundance’s 1995 Best Director winner, Matthew Harrison, and starring last year’s Indie Spirit Award winner for Best Supporting Actor in Walking and Talking, Kevin Corrigan. See you on video, boys!
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