Not too many people have the chance to know what it's like to see a film festival from two sides - both as critic and filmmaker. One exception is Montreal's Denis Côté who has made four films in the past four years. But for a half-dozen years before that, he was one of Montreal's more contentious critics working for Ici Weekly.
Now, he says, "I never go to movies I don't want to see any more ... That was after five or six years of seeing five movies a week, whatever they were."
He hasn't looked back. His current film, Carcasses, combines a documentary about a man who lives among his field full of car wrecks with a fable about four young people with Down syndrome. Though he's held in high-esteem in France, some reviewers have given him as good as he gave. One of those was documentary filmmaker, Pierre Falardeau, writing last June in Côté's old publication, who enthusiastically trashed the film. The column was entitled "Vengeance."
"Of course I don't like it," Cote says. But I know the game. Most filmmakers hate critics. I don't. I understand the job." Staff
One of the strongest on-screen performances at this year's TIFF comes from Amanda Seyfried playing the titular character in Atom Egoyan's Chloe. Interviewed at the Hotel Intercontinental just a few hours before Chloe had its gala premiere at Roy Thomson Hall, the 23-year-old actress confessed she wasn't nervous about its bow, in part because "it's some quality work from Atom once again ... He's way original," and in part because her biggest jitters came early on, preparing for the role and during the film's actual production in Toronto in February-March this year.
"I was scared out of my mind to do it," she said. Indeed, Chloe ain't no Mamma Mia! Seyfried plays a high-priced escort who thinks she's in control of whatever situation she's in, but finds herself ambushed by her own intense feelings for Catherine Stewart (Julianne Moore), a Yorkville gynecologist who's hired Chloe to test the loyalty of her husband of 25 years (Liam Neeson).
And because she's an escort, there's sex. And because there's sex, there's nudity. Seyfried said having to take off her clothes "was a bit of an issue" going into her audition last year. But talking with her handlers, "we felt it was something we could talk about if I got the job."
Luckily, Egoyan himself "is uncomfortable ... with nudity," Seyfried said with a smile, so when it came time, for instance, to shoot a lesbian love scene with Moore the director's relative unease "somehow made it more comfortable for me." " Staff
Bill Murray was conspicuously absent from a Sunday press conference for Get Low, the feature-film directorial debut of cinematographer and Oscar-winning short film director Aaron Schneider, which also stars Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek and Lucas Black.
Murray is well known for keeping his own schedule, and even the film's publicists admitted to having no idea whether he would turn up. "Where is he right now?" a reporter asked. "Golfing?" Spacek replied.
This and several other accounts of Murray's roguish lifestyle provided lighter moments amid a press conference that offered one memento mori after another. The film, spun out from real events, chronicles the attempts by Felix Bush (Duvall), a recluse in 1930s Tennessee, to stage a well-attended funeral party during which he will give the defining speech of his life.
"It's pretty terrific. ... The guy sets up and goes to his own funeral, to get things off his chest, to clear his conscience, to make himself right with his maker before he really dies. I think it's a great idea," Duvall said. "I personally thought it was odd," Spacek chimed in a moment later. "Myself, I want to be cremated and I'm going to get things straight before I die."