Friday, November 10, 2006
Openers November 10 - It's a good year for A Good Year / Stranger Than Fiction - existential comedy or tragedy ?
Looking back at 06 Toronto International Film Festival again we culled a couple of reviews of some remarkable films that are opening in Toronto this weekend of Remembrance Day. Please remember.
We start with A Good Year - a very charming film that just makes you want to give up the hustle and bustle for the good life in Provence, France. Back at the time of the Festival with just a few moments to write while we were on the constant get-go we wrote:
A Good Year
A few vintages ago in a land far away known as France ...
Does the day start any better than the new Ridley Scott comedy with Russell Crowe as a top of the line capital trader? “Good morning labrats”, and Albert Finney as his uncle living the good life on an estate in the vineyards of Provence. The very blonde Abbie Cornish, Albert Finney's unknown American daughter? Clue in Matchstick Men. It’s a good day for A Good Year, a good film.
Then along came Day 5 which heralded a string of some very very unusual comedies including Love and Other Disasters, Stranger Than Fiction and the return of Henry Fool in Fay Grimm! Back then in September we wrote:
Love and Other Disasters
A sexy and smart with Brittany Murphy as English Vogue assistant. Think last year's clever and funny Imagine Me and You and this year's The Devil Wears Prada. A genuine crowd pleaser.
Stranger Than Fiction
Little did one know that Stranger Than Fiction would luck into a winner with Will Ferrell, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson and, of course, Maggie Gyllenhaal in this existential comedy, or is it a tragedy? Will Ferrell is Harold Crick, an IRS auditor locked into his mundane life with his methodical ways and measured timed down to the exact instant - except for one Wednesday he would be rattled from his routine. Little did he know one day he would hear the narrator's voiceover his life telling him his impending demise was at hand. Dustin Hoffman back in one of his quirkier roles continuing on from the fabulous I Heart Huckabees seen back at 04 TIFF. Continuing on in a practice started in 05 TIFF in Winter Passing, Will Ferrell plays his comedic role in an understatedly restrained way. Maggie Gyllenhaal is Ana Pascal - the baker who he has to audit and eventually falls for. He brings her flours. Maggie who is drop dead charming was a former law student who used to bake the best cookies and other desserts for her study partners so they would feel good - but eventually she would up with 27 study partners and a D average. So to make the world a better place she turned to baking. She is rebellious and drop dead charming. Harold Crick falls for her - bringing her flours. The overriding arc of Stranger Than Fiction is determining why Harold Crick is hearing the voice and he turns to Dr. Jules Hilbert [Dustin Hoffman], a literary theorist at the university to help him figure out if he is in a tragedy or a comedy. Emma Thompson is the crime author who is facing a huge case of writer's block who turns out to be the voice and whatever she writes on her typewriter becomes the reality in Harold Crick's life. Eventually Harold knows he has to die - the reason why ? Watch and find out.
Parker Posey is the indie queen and a Toronto International Film Festival without her is like no TIFF at all. Last seen we saw her was at the premiere of Personal Velocity at the 2002 film festival at the Uptown. Looking glam and gorgeous along with fellow stars Kyra Sedgwick and Fairuza Balk and director Rebecca Miller.
Eight years after 1997's Henry Fool later, director Hal Hartley and stars Parker Posey Jeff Goldblum, Saffron Burrows and the rest of the cast return to the next chapter in the story of Henry Fool. Hartley and all the main cast showed up for Q&A. The zaniest spythriller - watch Henry Fool again and head into Fay Grim, Henry's wife. Dutch framing and imposed letter blocks add to the espionage style zaniness of Fay Grimm's plot and complications arising from the discovery of what the contents are of Henry Fool's journals. Just you wait for part 3!
The Dog Problem
The surprising and charming The Dog Problem is Scott Caan's second directorial. Life is a delicate negotiation. This is so good. Giovanni Ribisi plays an indebted and loveable Solo loser on the downside after the "success" of his first novel. At his last session his psychiatrist [Don Cheadle] suggests he perhaps get a pet. The scoundrel and arch confident confidante Scott Caan is Solo's best friend Casper and his opposite. Casper abandons Solo for a beautiful girl as they go to the mall to pick up a dog from Pet Mart and obviously Solo falls for a little mutt who proves to be too untrainable and yappy for him. Casper takes Solo and dog over to his friend [ Mena Suvari ] who wants to buy the dog. Solo refuses the many offers for him, even though the sale would solve his money woes compounded by the loanshark who is after Solo who also takes a shine to the dog. At the dog park, Solo meets up with a young lady whose own dog takes a bite of Solo's dog, and he has to beg her for the money to put up with the vet bill. The lady turns out to be a stripper [with a heart of gold] and they begin to fall for each other - but the loanshark gets in the way. Then the dog escapes.
Scott Caan, Giovani Ribisi and Mena Suvari were all watching in the audience watching this first ever screening which turns out to be a clever smart funny ribald heartwarmer and showcase for Los Angeles. It's an incredible journey.
And so ends this day and night at Ryerson.