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Child Actors

You probably heard the controversy surrounding Angelina Jolie’s new movie about Cambodia. In a recent article in Vanity Fair, she admitted that in order to find a Cambodian child who could play a large role, the casting directors set up a game. They put money on the table and asked the kids to think of something they needed money for, and then to snatch it away. Then the director would pretend to catch the child, and the kid would have to come up with a lie. The little girl who ultimately won the part, Srey Moch, distinguished herself by being the only kid to stare at the money for an extraordinary length of time. Jolie said: “When she was forced to give it back, she became overwhelmed with emotion. All these different things came flooding back. When she was asked later what the money was for, she said her grandfather had died, and they didn’t have enough money for a nice funeral.” You might think that’s a clever way to see a child’s range of emotions, or you might think it cruel to go into a third world country and taunt children with money. The internet seems to favour the latter.

It got me thinking though – what DO auditions look like when you’re casting a kid? Typically, not like that. Even for small children, casting directors will typically work off a script.

Something in the neighbourhood of 40 000 kids auditioned for the part of Harry Potter. Steven Spielberg had wanted Haley Joel Osment for the part and backed out of directing the project when he clashed over this with JK Rowling. Daniel Radcliffe landed the part: “My mum sent in a Polaroid of me to the BBC, because I’ve always wanted to act since I was five. My mum and dad never thought it was a very good idea. I went for about five auditions and then I got the part. The best thing about filming is going to all the different locations and staying in hotels. They have Sky and I haven’t got that at home.”

922af5a6afe0a38af48e22b17347eb8c--drew-barrymore-young-celebrity-kidsSpielberg lost that battle but he normally has a pretty keen eye for casting the right kid in his movies. Drew Barrymore recalls auditioning for him for Poltergeist: “lied my face off. I told him I was in a rock ‘n roll band. I was a drummer, of course, because drummers are the coolest, and that I was a cook.” He didn’t think she was right for Poltergeist but kept her in mind for something else…and that’s how she landed E.T.

Haley Joel Osment also went on to star in a Spielberg film – A.I. Artificial Intelligence. Osment’s acting career started by accident at the age of 4 when he and his Mom randomly ran into a talent scout at IKEA. When he got called in for his first audition, he was asked to describe the biggest thing he’d ever seen. Osment talked about seeing a movie in IMAX, and that’s how he got cast in a Pizza Hut commercial for their “Big Foot” pizza. The rest is history.

 

 

“What’s interesting about casting children is, some children understand instinctually how to be still in front of a camera,” casting director Fiona Weir explains. “That isn’t something you can teach kids; it’s something they understand or not. Acting on-camera is b0d3c2e59c77845d83baab01078af08fabout being, not about performing, the way that children often do in school plays, making something bigger. It’s not always the noisy kids that we’re looking for; it’s the quiet kids at the back.” That was very important when Weir  was casting for Room, in which a 5 year old boy and his mother escape their rapist-captor. One of those quiet kids was 7-year-old Jacob Tremblay, who caught her attention fairly early in the casting process. He had the interiority Weir and director Lenny Abrahamson wanted to see. “It was very evident how gifted Jacob was,” Weir says. “He’s a really bright and inventive child.”

Kirsty McGregor had a grueling search of her own when it came to casting the part of the young Saroo Brierly, the child from Lion. She scoured schools in Mumbai, New Delhi, and Calcutta, and spent months watching 2,000 taped auditions, conducting 200 in-person workshops, and coordinating callback after callback to get the right young Saroo for the movie. She culled the prospects from 2000 to 200 and flew to India to see them in person, with director Garth Davis. “We’d start in larger groups of 10, and we’d do workshops and rs_634x1024-170226153353-634.Sunny-Pawar-Oscrs.ms.022617play games, and we took our acting coach Miranda Harcourt, who’s amazing with kids, with us. We had an interpreter, obviously, and from those groups of 10, we narrowed it down to the final list and called them back again. It was a very thorough process. It was about four months from the time they started putting people on tape in India to when they started doing callbacks, and it was long and very intense every day, with another 100 or 200 tapes coming in. You can’t miss anybody.” Eventually they paired their top two youngsters with the top two adolescents would would play the older brother, and found the right chemistry. Anyone who’s seen Lion will know that little Sunny Pawar was a particularly bright spot in the film and he really livened up the red carpets during awards season, just as Jacob Tremblay had done the year before.

 

Have you heard any juicy stories about kids auditioning for parts? Ever auditioned for anything yourself?

 

 

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Never Work With Children

Never work with animals or children.” – W.C. Fields.

Both kids and animals can be scene-stealing and unpredictable. They’re threats on set – not just because a tantrum might hold up filming, but because the ability of a child to do good work is pretty damaging to ego-driven actors. I know for a fact that a child could not do my job. Could a kid do yours?  It was a little controversial when 9 year old cutie pie Jacob Tremblay failed to receive Jacob-Tremblay-Spirit-Awards-2016an Oscar nomination for his work in Room, but the truth is, the members of the Academy will always be reluctant to admit than a 9 year old may have out-acted Leonardo DiCaprio. Patty Duke was 16 when she won for The Miracle Worker. Keisha Castle-Hughes was just 13 when she was nominated for Whale Rider; same for Saoirse Ronan for Atonement. Quvenzhané Wallis was 9 when she was nominated for Beasts of the Southern Wild but the title of youngest nominee goes to Justin Henry who was 7 when he filmed Kramer Vs Kramer, and 8 when he attended the ceremony.

Shirley Temple: Shirley started acting when she was just 3 and broke out in the movie Bright Eyes, a film written as a vehicle for her talents. She received a special Juvenile Academy Award in 1935, at the age of 7 and remained the top shirley-temple-2box-office draw for four years running in the late 1930s, with hits like Curly Top and Heidi defining her career. Her wholesome image led to merchandising opportunities and soon she had a line of clothing, dolls and dishes, which doubled what she made in movies. She was tabloid fodder too: in American people gossiped about whether her curls were real, often tugging on her hair in person. Abroad it was thought that she was not a child at all, but a 30 year old dwarf, and even the Vatican set about confirming it. At the top of her fame she even got to meet the Roosevelts at the White House, but her popularity decreased sharply when she hit puberty, a fate all too many child stars know, but her agent didn’t see it coming and actually turned down the part of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (Judy Garland would snap it up). Several films made while she was a teenager flopped and she was retired completely at the ripe old age of 22.

Macauley Culkin:Little Mac started acting at the age of 4. John Hughes discovered him for the John Candy film Uncle Buck but it was his next film, Home Alone, that would make Culkin a star. He hosted SNL at the age of 11, starred in Michael Jackson’s music video for Black or White (and also in maxresdefaultMichael Jackson’s trial for sexual molestation), and followed up with a successful sequel, and memorable roles in My Girl, Richie Rich, and The Good Son. But guess what? Puberty! Macauley Culkin retired from acting at age 14 and nobody heard much from him except for the occasional arrest for drugs. He’s since popped back up doing very sporadic work and performing in a comedic rock band called Pizza Underground (he has previously stormed off a stage during a kazoo solo, which is not weird at all), and looking so haggard at times that fans worry he’s dying. So far, still alive.

Jodie Foster: Jodie started her career as a child model at the age of 3 (she was the Coppertone girl) and made the leap into acting a couple of years later. Her breakthrough was of course in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, in which she Jodie Foster Winner Of Palme D Or At The Cannes Festival For The Role In The Movie Taxi Driverportrayed a child prostitute. The role earned her her first Oscar nomination. She followed that up with successful turns in Freaky Friday and Bugsy Malone, making her a bona fide teen idol and the first on this list to continue working into her teens, and of course beyond. She interrupted her successful career to attend (and graduate) Yale, and though she loved her time as a student, she knew she wanted to pursue acting as a career. [Sidebar: during that time she was stalked by John Hinckley, who later attempted to assassinate Ronald Reagon in a bid to impress her.] Roles as an adult were sparse at first but she broke through for a second time playing a rape survivor in The Accused, and this time she won her Academy Award. She followed that up with The Silence of the Lambs, a wise choice that cemented her as a star, and then turned director with Little Man Tate. Her career has had some ups and downs but she’s worked consistently and just got her star on the walk of fame earlier this year, having directed George Clooney and Julia Roberts in Money Monster.

Haley Joel Osment: He got his acting start in a commerciGTY_haley_joel_osment_1_kab_140916_16x9_992al for Pizza Hut and achieved fame by the age of 11 , thanks to a starring role in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense that garnered him an Oscar nomination (though he’d also appeared in Forrest Gump). He capitalized on his fame with follow-up roles in Pay It Forward and AI: Artificial haley-joel-osmentt-forrest-gump-today-150809_882bcb0edac984d7a624db306093e62b_today-inline-largeIntelligence, earning him praise and Roger Ebert’s assessment that he was one of the finest working actors of the time. But you know what happens next: puberty, and its accompanying acting slump. He went dormant for a while, except for the obligatory child actor DUI, but is now back at it, acting in films that nobody sees.

River Phoenix: Like many, River got his start in commercials but you all know his claim to fame: Stand By Me.  He’d grown up in a weird family and never attended school, but he was gifted when it came to acting. Stand By Me made him a household name and got him on the cover of Teen Beat and its ilk, but his next few roles were duds. Sidney Lumet’s Running on Empty would earn him an Oscar nomination though and put him back on the map. His role river24opposite Keanu Reeves in My Own Private Idaho established him as an edgy heartthrob with leading man potential, but immersing himself in intense roles was taking its toll, as were his struggles with addictions. River had turned to acting in a bid to support his family but music was his first love, and he started playing in a band. He even got to play with his friend Flea (of the Red Hot Chili Peppers), which is what his siblings were there to see that night at the Viper Room. Flea was onstage playing with Johnny Depp when River was outside dying on the sidewalk. His brother Joaquin dialed 911 while his sister Rain gave him mouth to mouth. He was rushed to the hospital but died, of a drug overdose, at the age of 23. Fans were shocked – he’d had a squeaky-clean image until then (“the vegan James Dean” they called him) and the press loved the story, so much so that they broadcast Joaquin’s 911 call and snuck into the funeral home to snap pics of him in his casket. He was slated to start filming Interview With the Vampire just 2 weeks after his death – Christian Slater replaced him, and donated his salary to two of Phoenix’s favourite causes, Earth Save and Earth Trust.

2b9e3a72f7f47cedcfbd61d1ba1ca0ddAbigail Breslin: A familiar refrain: she began appearing in commercials at the age of 3. Her first film role was with Joaquin Phoenix in Signs, but of course what you really know her from is putting the sunshine into Little Miss Sunshine, for which she received an Academy Award nomination. She later teamed up with another onAbigail-breslin-attends-the-fox-fx-summer-2015-tca-party-in-west-hollywood_1 this list, Jodie Foster, for Nim’s Island, and had a fun and memorable role in Zombieland. She also took on Broadway, playing that role that Patty Duke made famous in The Miracle Worker, and acted opposite powerhouses Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep in August: Osage County.

Tatum O’Neal: She is the youngest person to have ever won an Academy Award, for starring opposite her father Ryan in Paper Moon. Did it fuck her up? Of course it did. She had a tempestuous, abusive relationship with her 1393376798_1512567_tatum-o-neal-zoomfather, which culminated in her getting molested by his drug dealer. She went on to star in The Bad News Bears and Little Darlings, and even became Michael Jackson’s first girlfriend, but she couldn’t hold on. Drugs derailed her. She made her one-time husband, volatile tennis star John McEnroe, look like the stable one in the relationship. She’s a millionaire smoking crack in her Manhattan apartment, unable to stop even when her behaviour was destroying her relationship with her own kids. Let’s hope the cycle does not repeat.

Anna Paquin: Anna is the second-youngest Oscar winner, for her role in The AnnaPaquinPiano, with her only previous credit playing a skunk in a school play. Did it fuck her up? Looks like no. She continued with moderate success as a child actress while also attending school, including one year at Columbia before roles in Almost Famous and the X-Men franchise helped her to transition into acting as a young adult. Then she hit it out of the park with her first role in television, starring in True Blood where she not only earned professional acclaim, she also met her husband, co-star Stephen Moyer. She has children who love her, step-children who tolerate her, and is managing to live scandal-free.

Judith Barsi: Perhaps not a household name, her biggest on-screen credit was Jaws 4: The Revenge, but she also provided voicework for some of my favourite 80s animated films, The Land Before Time and All Dogs Go To Heaven. By the time she was in grade 4 she was pulling in six figures, Screen-Shot-2014-08-30-at-15_32_31supporting her parents and paying their mortgage. This made her father increasingly volatile, and his abuse made Judith act out, pulling out her own eyelashes as well as her cat’s whiskers. Judith’s mother planned on leaving him but never got around to it – he shot his wife and 10 year old daughter in the head as they slept, then soaked them in gasoline and burned them before later killing himself.

Drew Barrymore: Her first job was at 11 months old – she auditioned for a dog food commercial and landed the part when the dog bit her and she didn’t cry. Drew made her debut on film at the age of 5 but was 7 when she achieved stardom, starring in Spielberg’s E.T., and becoming the youngest SNL host that year. Crazy fame and permissive parenting meant she was smoking 5e49df114616b1b0fcfc816b66c83c63.jpgcigarettes at Studio 54 at the age of 9, drinking at age 11, and baby’s first snort of coke by 13. It’s not a joke – the poor dear was in rehab at 14 and spent 18 months in a facility for the mentally ill. She attempted suicide and went back to rehab, and it wasn’t until she lived with David Crosby and his wife that she was able to turn things around, suing for emancipation at the age of 15. The rockiness continued though. She posed nude with her fiancé at the age of 17, and then again for Playboy (her godfather, Steven Spielberg, gifted her with a quilt to “cover herself up” and her Playboy photos doctored by his art department so she appeared fully clothed). Eventually she straightened herself out and went on to act, produce, and start a loving and stable family of her own.

Jake Lloyd: Jake had appeared in Jingle All The Way and Apollo 11 before star-wars-actor-jake-lloyd-s-tragic-hollywood-story-just-got-even-worse-jake-lloyd-as-you-474872appearing in the 1999 Star Wars prequel, but you can bet it was being hand-picked by George Lucas to be the young Anakin Skywalker that was his claim to fame. Citing bullying and exhaustion, he retired from acting in 2001 and we didn’t hear much from him, other than appearances at comic book festivals, until he was arrested in 2015 for reckless driving and resisting arrest. He’d been off his meds for schizophrenia and had also recently attacked his mother so Lloyd is currently in a mental health institution seeking treatment.

Danny Lloyd: On a happier note, another Lloyd is living a different kind of life.what-ever-happened-to-little-danny-from-the-shining-one-of-the-scariest-horror-films-of-546885 You may remember young Danny as Jack Nicholson’s co-star in The Shining. He was chosen for his excellent attention span and managed to film the whole thing without ever realizing he was doing a horror film. Having hit this height so early on, he retired from acting at the age of 9 and today is a biology professor in Kentucky.

 

 

Adam & Drew

Adam Sandler is not everyone’s cup of tea. His movies tend toward the juvenile and so lots of people give him a wide berth at the box office. But to know Adam Sandler is to love him; in actors’ circles, he’s known as the nicest guy in Hollywood.

A little shy, Sandler does as little press as he can get away with, almost no print, and only very occasional talk show appearances, which he usually does in character. As the head of his production company, Happy Madison, things are a little different. He’s the affable and humble centre of an awful lot of industry, loyally employing friends and family on projects skewered by critics but beloved by audiences. Sandler’s movies haven’t been box office juggernauts in years, but they are consistent earners, and his name has continually if quietly stayed among the top earners of Hollywood for the past two decades.

Sandler’s early success meant he could start doing things his way, and he’s surrounded himself with the same cast of characters, working with the directors and writers he trusts, to say nothing of the famous faces appearing in his movies. Always grateful to Saturday Night Live as his diving board to fame (he was discovered by Dennis Miller), he employs not just the SNL alums he worked with (David Spade, Rob Schneider, Chris Rock, Norm MacDonald) but many besides (Will Forte, Andy Samberg, Dan Aykroyd, Kevin Nealon, Rachel Dratch). He attracts big names to his movies (Jack Nicholson, Harvey Keitel), but always finds room for old friends (Allen Covert, Peter Dante), Sandler mainstays (Henry Winkler, Kevin James, Steve Buscemi), and his own wife and daughters.

drew sandlerOne such person who can never get enough is Drew Barrymore. In her 2015 memoir Wildflower, Barrymore describes begging for a chance to meet him after her good friend Tamra Davis (director of Billy Madison) raved about him. Barrymore was certain of his “goodness” and felt they should pair up despite them being complete opposites in their early 20s, “like a preppy and a punk set up on a bad blind date.” Her pitch worked: pretty soon he came calling with a little movie called drew-barrymore-and-adam-sandler_2The Wedding Singer in his pocket. Written by Sandler groupie Tim Herlihy, it was given an uncredited polish by Sandler’s friend and former roommate, Judd Apatow (another guy famous for working with a loyal crew, including Sandler himself of course, most notably on Funny People) and Carrie Fisher, to give equal weight to the feminine side. The movie was a hit, with Drew certifiably falling in love with the Sandler crew, calling them “real, no-bullshit friends” which I take is a high compliment in Hollywood.

People loved The Wedding Singer for many reasons – the 80s nostalgia, the cheesy music, but above all, the incredible chemistry between Adam and Drew (she refers to him as her “cinematic soulmate”).

Always intending to work with Sandler again, Barrymore knew they couldn’t settle for anything less than the greatness they’d already achieved. But life drewadammoved on. Drew worked intensely on a Penny Marshall movie called Riding in Cars with Boys, and it was around that time that she came across a romantic script that she thought was a great fit for her production company, Flower Films. Unfortunately that script was a hot commodity, and it kept changing hands, with big directors and stars attached, never becoming available to her, despite numerous attempts. Until one day she heard that it had landed at Adam’s studio, Happy Madison. By this time they each had an office just a few hundred feet apart on the Sony lot (she was doing Charlie’s Angels), so he was easy to hound. Sandler was already turningdrewbarrymore it into a comedy but welcomed Drew on board not only as a co-star but also as co-producer, and she’s responsible for keeping the important elements of the love story, the parts that turned us all to mush.

Adam and Drew took the Seattle drama and laid it out in Hawaii instead, each bringing their production families to paradise and basically turning the island into a happy party (so happy that her Angels co-star Cameron Diaz came to visit and never left). 50 First Dates opened on Valentine’s day, and I was there, butt in the seat, and actually watched it twice (the projector broke down half way through, and we had to star the thing over from the beginning). They CinemaCon 2014 - The CinemaCon Big Screen Achievement Awards Brought To You By The Coca-Cola Companybroke records that opening weekend; I’m not the only one who finds these two irresistible.

It would be another decade before they reunited on-screen again, with The Wedding Singer director Frank Coraci back at the helm for a movie about modern families called Blended. This movie would be proof of how far they each had come, personally and professionally, since first meeting as successful, hard-partying kids in the 90s. Sandler, once a “bad boy of SNL” now has a reputation for being a family man. He has always been quick to attribute credit to his parents (his highest-grossing comedy album named for them, Stan & Judy’s kid, and even one of Chris Rock’s albums a tribute to Sandler’s late father). By this time Adam and Drew had 3 daughters between them and the whole crew headed to Africa, families in tow. Barrymore has downshifted on her acting career since becoming a mother, finding it hard to strike the balance, but an Adam Sandler film “celebrates Drew-Barrymore-Adam-Sandler-reunited-promote-new-filmwives and kids” and she was able to make a family adventure out of it, even discovering on her last day of shooting that she was pregnant with a second daughter.

Still the best of friends, Adam and Drew now attend each other’s kids’ birthday parties (2 daughters apiece – Sadie and Sunnie for him, Olive and Frankie for her) and talk about their next project, whatever that may be, joking that they’ll still be making romantic comedies when they’re old and gray. (In fact, during press for the movie Blended, Adam made a very pregnant Drew cry when he sang the precious The Wedding Singer song to her “I Want to Grow Old With You”).

No matter what it is, I know I’ll be in line to see it. These two are cute as can be when they’re together, and Drew knows why: “I once knew a boy named Adam. And I hoped that we could be a team, but what I found was a true partner. I now know a man named Adam, and trust me when I say, he is as great as you want him to be.”

TIFF: The Agony and the Ecstacy

Matt wrote last week about the choices he made for his viewing pleasure (and hopefully your reading one) at the Toronto International Film Festival, slated to open with a bang (or rather, a star-studded screening of Demolition) on September 10.

I  held mine back because the truth is, the TIFF selection process was not a fun one for me. TIFF  has weird rules where it takes your money and then weeks later gives you a “randomly” selected window of just 60 minutes for making your choices – I’m seeing maybe 20 movies out of over 430, by my count, so that’s an awful lot of frantic sifting, choosing, replacing, and scheduling to do in just 60 minutes. It goes without saying that I was “randomly” selected to choose more than 24 hours later than Matt, which meant that a lot of my first, second, and third choices were “off-sale”. Off-sale doesn’t mean sold out, it means that they’re holding some tickets back for when they go on sale to the general public. And nothing against the general public, but I paid my oodles of money, I’m travelling in from out of town, and I don’t think it’s very nice or very fair to force me (since I’ve prepaid for tickets) to see movies that aren’t selling as well, when someone who pays a nominal $25 on the day of will have better luck than me.

I’ll stop my belly-aching now. We’re still pretty lucky to be going at all and I know that. So, without further whining about first world problems, my TIFF picks:

Demolition: I’m actually going to see this one with both Matt and Sean, so it’s a rarity, and I’m not only looking forward to seeing what director Jean-Marc Vallée can squeeze out of Jake Gyllenhaal, I also can’t wait to discuss it with my favourite movie-going friends.

The Lobster: This one is quirky as hell and right up my alley, and I never thought I’d be saying that about a Colin Farrell movie. Newly heartbroken, he checks into a hotel where he’s under the gun to find a mate within a super tight time period – or risk being turned into an animal and put out to pasture? It sounds more like a child’s drawing than a movie, but there you have it.

Eye in the Sky: We ‘re doing the red-carpet treatment of this one on Friday night, and Dame Helen Mirren is confirmed to attend. She’s looking less glamorous in the still from this movie, playing a Colonel who’s spent a long time tracking down a radicalized citizen who must be stopped. But when drone operator Aaron Paul reports that a small child has wandered into the kill zone, the team has to decide whether the casualty of this little girl is acceptable collateral damage. Yowza!

The Martian: You may know that I have been frothing about this movie for months now. I luuuurved the book and passed it along to all of my literate friends but then waved a flag of skepticism when I heard that a) it’s directed by Ridley Scott b) it’s a reteaming of Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain, lately seen together in Interstellar. But I hope hope HOPE that they “science the hell” out of this thing and blow my fucking socks off.

The Danish Girl: Eddie Redmayne is almost certainly in the running for a second Oscar for his portrayal of Lili Elbe, the 1920s Danish artist who was one of the first known recipients of sexual reassignment surgery. The trailer alone looks so lush that I’m drooping to see it – which is fortunate, because TIFF stuck me with TWO pairs of tickets to this. Woops! Anyone know someone who’s looking for a pair?

Freeheld: We’re seeing this one on flashy premiere night as well and will see both Julianne Moore and Ellen Page walk the red carpet. They star as a real-life couple from New Jersey who just want Moore’s pension to go to Page when Moore passes away. It was a huge case for LGBT rights and I’m betting that both of these ladies really bring it.

The Dressmaker: Funny story. I read this book recently, in anticipation of this movie. And I really, really liked it. Only: it’s about a young dressmaker who survives the sinking of the Titanic thanks to her wealthy employer. Knowing that Kate Winslet was set to star, I was shocked that she’d choose to go back to Titanic in this way. I mean, if anyone can put it off, it’s Winslet, but still. The more I read, the more I thought maybe she’s not playing the dressmaker, maybe she’s playing the plucky journalist. I still couldn’t believe the press wasn’t making a bigger deal out of this, but it wasn’t until I finished the book that I realized that I’d read the wrong Dressmaker. Same title, different author. Oopsie daisy again. But I’m confident this one’s good too, and it’s Kate Winslet, so we’re almost guaranteed to see boob.

Into the Forest: Here’s a movie that looks so familiar to me in the trailer that I believe I have read the book. I do not know for sure that it’s based on a book and I’m not looking it up. This way even I’ll be surprised (or, REALLY surprised!). Evan Rachel Wood and Ellen Page star as sisters who live in a remote cabin in the woods. The world is on the verge of the apocalypse and their location keeps them safe, but also leaves them vulnerable…

Anomalisa: This is the Charlie Kaufman-directed stop-motion animated ode to a motivational speaker and his bleak existence. I have no idea what to expect from it and that’s why I’m so crazy excited. It could go a lot of ways but no matter what, I do believe I’ll be seeing something special.

About Ray: Have you ever attended a red carpet event in the middle of the afternoon? Me neither! TIFF is so jam-packed with gliterry premieres that it starts packing them in at odd times just to get through them all. I’m tickled we got tickets to this (hard won, believe me) and I’m anxious to see if it’s as good as it looks, and if this and The Danish Girl will cancel each other out (though this one is also about a gender transition, it’s set in modern day, with Elle Fanning as the young woman who wants to be a young man, Naomi Watts as her mother, and Susan Sarandon as her mother.

Miss You Already: This might be a little too chick-flicky to be regular festival fare, but it’s Toni Collette so say what you want, but my ass will be in that seat at the ungodly hour of 8:45 in the goddamned morning. Toni and Drew Barrymore play lifelong friends whose friendship hits a bit of a roadbump when one discovers she’s pregnant just as the other gets a cancer diagnosis. Note to Sean: bring tissues, or an extra-absorbent shirt.

Maggie’s Plan: Starring the delightful Greta Gerwig, Maggie’s plan to have a baby on her own is derailed when she falls in love with a married man (Ethan Hawke) and destroys his relationship with his brilliant wife (Julianne Moore). I like Gerwig a whole lot but to be honest, I’m really wondering how this dynamic is going to work – and I’m super intrigued to find out how Bill Hader fits into the mix. Julianne Moore is going to be one busy lady at this festival!

The Family Fang: Directed by and starring Jason Bateman, he plays a brother to Nicole Kidman, both returning to the family home in search of their super-famous parents who seem to have disappeared. Jason Bateman is a little hit or miss for me but I committed on the off chance that the man playing his father – legendary Christopher MotherFucking Walken – might be in attendance. He’s not slated as far as I can tell, but I’d kick myself right in the sitter if he was and I wasn’t.

Legend: Tom Hardy plays real-life English gangsters. Yes, plural: the Kray twins. This dual role is getting a lot of buzz and since I seem to be mesmerized by Hardy in nearly everything he does, I’m super excited to check this one out.

 

Biggest TIFF regret: Missing Room. We’ll be back and forth between Ottawa and Toronto, but this particular movie only plays twice during the whole festival, and neither screening is on a day I’m there. I loved this book and am anxious to see the movie treatment. Good or bad, I want to pass judgement. I want to feast my little eyes. I am heartbroken to miss this one.

Two questions:

  1. We still have some tickets to alocate. Any suggestions?
  2. If you were in The Lobster hotel and failed to find a mate – what animal would you be turned into. Me? An otter. Definitely an otter.

We’ll be posting updates as we go, and be sure to check out our Twitter @assholemovies for photos of the red carpet premieres!

 

Fever Pitch

Two years ago for Christmas, my niece gifted me with a book – The New York Times 36 Hours (150 Hours in the USA & Canada), a nod to my ADD approach to vacationing. I love seeing new places, and old favourite places, and I’m usually planning my next vacation on the plane ride home from my current vacation. This month alone, I’ve spent time in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Montreal, so we thought, why not one more?

Which is why we’re on the way to Boston! We’ve been to Boston before of course, and covered the major Boston highlights except for one glaring omission: Fenway. Although I did once declare to a befuddled waitress that I was one my way to Fenway. This was in Chicago, and I believe they pronounce their ball park “Wrigley”, but anyway, I digress. Our last trip to Boston was more football-centric, to be fair, but we always knew we’d be back, and after having so much fun watching the Giants win in AT&T park a few weeks ago, we were inspired to cross another stadium off our bucket list.

Which is why earlier this week I watched Fever Pitch – the awful American one. Okay, maybe it’s MV5BMTUwMDA1NDUxMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjg5ODUyMw@@__V1_SX640_SY720_not so awful. I read the essay of course, an autobiographical recounting of Nick Hornby’s obsession with Arsenal football as a young man. They turned this into a movie in 1997, starring Colin Firth, and it sort of became a weird and delightful sporty romcom, about how his best girl had to compete against his best team. Then in 2005, that movie got the Farrelly brother Americanization treatment and it became  a movie obsessed with baseball, and what team better to be obsessed with than the Boston Red Sox? It just so happens that the year they filmed it, 2004, turned out to be an incredibly seminal season for the Sox, and the Farrellys had to keep rewriting the script.

I have to admit this movie is not without its charms – Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore have some great chemistry (and well they should – Jimmy Fallon was the new Adam Sandler, and thenDrew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon Shoot the Farrelly Brothers' New Film "Fever Pitch" at Fenway Park - September 16, 2004 Adam Samberg was the new Jimmy Fallon, and that’s where I lose the trail as I’ve no idea who the current Adam Sandler on SNL is, but I do know that all these guys work well together, and Drew has a surprisingly high tolerance for them). Surprisingly though, the Red Sox insist on stealing the show, and it’s unbelievably cool that they happened to be filming at precisely the right time. Upping the factor on the Boston love-in, the film cast real-life die-hard fans as seen in the previous year’s documentary Still We Believe: The Boston Red Sox Movie in various minor roles.

This film garnered no awards, and even angered some sports fans who felt this was just a chick flick wearing sheep’s clothing (or, you know, a Sox warm-up jacket), but it did earn Jimmy Fallon an honorary membership to the Red Sox Nation for playing Ben so convincingly in spite of being a lifelong Yankee fan. There’s something magical about that park and I look forward to experiencing it in person.

Frightfest 2015: Scream

scream 3With its three progressively implausible sequels and the always idiotic Scary movie franchise which it inspired, I find it easy to forget that Ghostface’s journey began with a modest and self-contained horror comedy back in 1996. It was the only movie in the Scream franchise to manage to be genuinely scary while it sumultaneously pays homage to and pokes fun at the conventions of the slasher genre.

scream

Casey (Drew Barrymore) is home alone making some popcorn and getting ready to watch some scary movie when she gets a phone call from a mysterious stranger. The phone call begins as a wrong number but soon becomes a flirtatious discussion of horror movies. Before long, though, the conversation turns to threats (“What do you want?” Casey screams. “To see what your insides look like,” he replies) and Casey may need to rely on her knowledge of horror movies to survive the night.

If you need me to tell you what Scream is about, to tell you any more would spoil the fun. Yes, people die in this movie and when they die they bleed. A lot. But there’s so much fun to be had here. Watch it for the kids of Woodsboro High, who are having way too much fun knowing that there’s a killer on the loose. Or for the bumbling Deputy Dewey (David Arquette) who is always being publicly undermined by his kidsister (Rose McGowan) while he’s on the case.

And, if you find yourself double-checking your locks at night after watching it, just be thankful for all the Rules for Suriviving a Horror Movie That You’ve Just Learnt.