'HAPPY VALLEY' SCREENWRITER DAVID MCKENNA ALSO INDICATES HE IS AT THE FESTIVAL
Brian De Palma is pictured here with his friend Greta Gerwig, who appears with Al Pacino in Barry Levinson's The Humbling, which had its North American premiere at the Toronto Film Festival Thursday. The photo is one of several taken by Jemal Countess that appear on the WireImage page of pics from the event. We can bet that Gerwig and De Palma will be in attendance for tonight's world premiere of Noah Baumbach's While We're Young.
Another interesting note: Pacino and De Palma are working on bringing the Joe Paterno story Happy Valley to the screen, and in a message posted on his Twitter page Friday, that film's screenwriter, David McKenna, wrote, "Bill Murray Day here in Toronto." And indeed, Friday September 5th was Bill Murray Day at TIFF, during which it held free screenings of three Bill Murray classics, leading up to last night's world premiere of Murray's new film, Theodore Melfi's St. Vincent. Seriously wowed, Deadline's Pete Hammond says it has the best performance of Murray's career.
According to a tweet posted by Ethaniel Vestby, De Palma also attended a Friday morning screening of Ruben Östlund's Force Majeure, which has been well-received by critics. "Östlund masterfully manages the marital tensions that drive the film's plot forward," writes The House Next Door's Tomas Hachard, "while imbuing the scenario with these carefully layered philosophical reflections. He tells us as much visually as through the dialogue and is all the more powerful for that restraint. The static and uncut shot of the avalanche lets Tomas's dash stand out within the larger panic of the situation without grossly accentuating it. Throughout the film, Östlund contrasts wide-angle, magisterial outdoor shots of Tomas and his family skiing—free, as it were, in the grand isolation of nature—with tightly framed shots of the family together inside the hotel, cramped against each other and breaking through the margins of the frame. There's hardly a moment when Östlund's command of tone and pacing, his clarity of expression, isn't on display, all of which makes Force Majeure thrilling, intellectual, and beautiful at once. With time, the film digs ever deeper into the frayed psyches of its characters, and if the finale doesn't leave us mired in a confused battle of humans against their worst instincts, it certainly leaves us wrangling with any illusion that civilized behavior is a natural instinct."
A couple of TIFF reviews so far have briefly mentioned De Palma in interesting ways (or at least, in ways that may be of interest). CraveOnline's Brian Formo says that "Jake Gyllenhaal is creepy, and very funny" in Dan Gilroy's Nightcrawler. Formo writes that "while an 'it bleeds it leads' tv news critique has been done numerous times, Gilroy has his sights set on a film that’s more Brian De Palma than Network. As [Gyllenhaal's] Lou works exclusively at night to feed Nina’s late night segments, he becomes a scavenger, searching for bodies and consuming their last breaths with his camera. In a world where people feel like access to everything private will create a better story he begins entering the homes of the victims. He becomes interested in framing shots. It starts with moving family photos on a fridge to being placed in between two bullet holes. It will escalate to creating shootout situations so that he can be there to film the high speed pursuit. And he legitimizes everything because they’re all a means to expand his business model.
"Gyllenhaal lost weight for Nighcrawler. He’s slender as a snake. His eyes are puffy. We never see him eat. Even when he takes Nina out to a Mexican restaurant in an uncomfortable quid pro quos scene (maybe he’s been reading some men’s rights blogs). The reason why he’s closer to De Niro’s Pupkin than Travis Bickle is that, while he is lonely, he’s aware that one has to try to be likable in order to succeed. So he smiles a lot and often at the wrong time. He’s extra-composed and aware when he’s being filmed by a security camera. And he performs for people like he’s always mugging for an uncaring camera.
"What makes Nightcrawler enjoyable is that Gyllenhaal finds humor in his role without ever making fun of his character. It’s actually a very funny performance. Lou can convince people that his methods are sound because he delivers them with a soft voice that can also aggregate various quick-source news articles on the spot for some sort of leverage. And longtime screenwriter, first-time director Gilroy (here armed with Paul Thomas Anderson’s main cinematographer Robert Elswit) films one hell of a meta shootout and police chase. Lou already seemed uncomfortably desensitized to dead bodies. But his interest in finding the right mis en scene for his increasingly staged scenarios that has dead bodies created in front of him is deliciously macabre."
PLAY WITHIN 'CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA' RESEMBLES 'LOVE CRIME'
Meanwhile, Twitch's Kurt Halfyard notes the story of Olivier Assayas' Clouds of Sils Maria includes a play that "bears remarkable similarity to Alain Corneau's final film, Love Crime (which was recently remade by Brian De Palma as Passion.)" Rado points out for us that Sylvie Barthet, who has worked as a producer on several of Assayas' films, was also a producer on De Palma's Passion. Describing the plot of Assayas' latest, Halfyard writes, "In Clouds of Sils Maria, he has Juliette Binoche playing a fictional version of herself named Maria Enders. An actress at a point in her career where she is an international movie [star] who did a stint in Hollywood blockbusters before returning to the European art house and stage. A young director asks her to appear in his revival of the play that made her famous, only this time she will be playing the broken-down wealthy businesswoman part instead of the aggressive and domineering young personal assistant who sexually dominates the stage...
"The middle portion of Clouds of Sils Maria, the best portion of the film, sees Enders living in isolation in the Swiss mountains, negotiating a messy divorce and occasionally going for a hike all the while rehearsing the part with her own personal assistant. Kristen Stewart in tangled hair and random tattoos, exuding the casual confidence and 'above-it-all' attitude that often gets the Twilight-actress excruciated by the media at Awards shows, delivers a convincing, performance as the personal assistant, Valentine.
"The rehearsal starts to mimic the content of the play, in subtle ways, only with many more messy complications. Enders is trying to play the older part, but cannot shake her desire and her memories of the younger. There is possible sexual attraction between Binoche and Stewart, but really it is more about the envy of unfettered freedom of youth, as opposed to the obligation and baggage of age.
"An overly simple read of the film would be that the personal assistant is merely a figment of the actress's psyche. Assays peppers the visual language of the film with many hints and visual cues, notably strange cellphone reception on a train in the films opening, and a stylized double-exposed driving sequence when Stewart returns from a sexual tryst with a photographer and vomits on the side of the road. Clouds of Sils Maria would make a curious double-bill with Binoche's other recent breezy self-reflective puzzle, Certified Copy. You can try to parse the details of what is going on in both films, but really you should just sit back and take in the universal human bits that make both films great. The truth however, that cinema is an object, and our own perspective, and viewpoints shape what is perceived to be going on, is the brain of the film, while Juliette Binoche essaying an aging actress grappling with this, is the heart.
"The emotionally vulnerable aging actress is also obsessed with the young Hollywood tabloid train wreck who is cast in the role that made Enders famous. A small role occupied by Chloe-Grace Moretz has some fun with TMZ internet celebrity, old-timer european paparazzo, and pop-blockbuster cinema. There is even a silly, sci-fi action movie created in the film, featuring Moretz's character that is exposition heavy to the point of hilarity."