TIFF in Review

Ben Affleck at the presser for The Town

It’s been over a week and I’m suffering from TIFF withdrawal but I’ve finally caught up on enough to sleep to reflect on the madness.

Movies I remember watching: Incendies, Small Town Murder Songs, Buried, Let Me In, I Am Slave, The Whistleblower, Monsters, Black Swan, 127 Hours, Last Night, Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen, Bad Faith, Break Up Club,  Never Let Me Go.

My favourites: Let Me In, I Am Slave, Black Swan, Monsters

Best comparison: Turning around in a coffin was like “what I imagine crowning would feel like. You were being shot out into another part of the world for a second; it feels strange, it feels like it shouldn’t be happening but you’re kind of glad that it did.” – Buried star Ryan Reynolds

Runner-up for best comparison: Calling Buried a horror film is like “calling Friday the 13th a sports movie because Jason wears a hockey mask.” – Screenplay writer Chris Sparling.

Coolest way to shoot a film: Director Gareth Edwards shot Monsters in Guatemala, Belize, Mexico, Costa Rica and Texas with a tiny crew and two actors. (All of the other actors were random people they pulled in off the street.) Then he digitally added the aliens into his movie on his home computer. That is badass.

Favourite interview: Edwards and the two stars of Monsters, Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able. They were so laid-back. McNairy lay in bed during the interview. Their anecdotes were hilarious.

Post photographer Tyler Anderson snaps a portrait of Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able of Monsters

Best anecdote: “We were debating the ending of the film. The producers wanted one ending, I wanted a different one. Was it going to be a happy or pessimistic ending? I had a bad back from carrying the camera…I was getting a massage in Mexico. I was contemplating how the film should finish and in the middle of the massage, the woman leaned over to my ear and she whispered: ‘Happy ending?’” – Gareth Edwards, director of Monsters

Best expression of how journalists feel during TIFF: I was sitting in a screening and a middle-aged man was talking on his cellphone behind me. He suddenly cried out: “I AM RAGGED!!!” I hear you, dude. Not that I’m complaining. It was damn fun.

Schedule of press screenings

Run-down of a single day: Wake up. Catch a screening. Record a podcast. Liveblog a press conference at the Hyatt. Interview director at the Intercontinental. Eat breakfast, lunch, dinner. Write story. Go to Playboy party. Go home and research for tomorrow. Sleep. Repeat.

Most interviews in one day: Eight interview subjects. Four different hotel rooms. Within three hours. Luckily they were all at the Intercontinental.

John Legend

Highlight of the week: Standing on the other side of the piano while John Legend sings Ordinary People at the OneXOne event.

Best party eats: The TIFF opening gala had a poutine bar. Enough said.

Best party: The Canadian Initiatives party at South of Temperance which was packed with sweet, down-to-earth Canadian talent. My friend, Kerry, was talking to another actor so I turned to the guy beside me. Me: “I’m so sorry, I don’t watch TV, so are you in a show that I’m supposed to recognize you from?” Him: “I directed a movie screening at TIFF.” That was Michael Goldbach who did Daydream Nation starring Josh Lucas, Kat Dennings and Andie MacDowell. Such a nice man.

Worst time to approach Xavier Dolan for a quote: At the tale end of a party while he lingers by the door. The young filmmaker said he was too drunk to speak. Fair enough.

Most annoying party-goers: The select number of douche bags at Hayden Christensen’s party at Ultra. These guys who clearly did not know him, were shouting at him: “Yo, Hayden!” Desperate to leave, I shouldered my way through the crowd, stuck my blackberry through a group of women and snapped a picture of Hayden talking to K-OS for the Post’s liveblog and ran for the exit. A woman beside me must have admired my determination because she yelled: “You go girl!”

My paparazzi shot of Hayden Christensen

What to say to Nicole Kidman if you meet: “Your Oscar for The Hours was well-deserved.” What not to say: “I thought the chemistry between you and that 10-year-old boy was pretty hot.”

Example of when talking to a director explains why you didn’t enjoy his movie: I loved speaking with Andrew Lau, the famous filmmaker who did the Infernal Affairs trilogy (which inspired The Departed). He was warm, frank and animated. But his redux of Chen Zhen, a character made famous by Bruce Lee in Fist of Fury, was puzzling. In Legend of the Fist, Chen Zhen returns as a war hero. A suave, piano-playing spy. A masked crime fighter. (Basically, he’s an action hero sandwich.) Lau explained that he wanted Chen Zhen to be like 007. Okay. That explains a lot.

Example of disproportionate aggression: After a mix-up on a guest list, a bouncer kept gruffly repeating: “I can’t help you.” To which, I replied: “No problem. Don’t worry about it.” I was in a good mood. And he was so angry. “I can’t help you.” “I know. That’s okay.” When it was sorted out, he was insanely nice. Jekyll and Hyde with a clipboard.

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