Tag Archives: Oscar

Cinema on the high Sees: How to save a village, a top Oscar candidate and a Churchill surprise

SOMEWHERE AT SEA: Yesterday was a beautiful day on the Atlantic ocean –warm, sunny, inviting — on the splendidly comfortable cruise ship called the Seabourn Sojourn. So naturally we spent most of it inside in the dark. But then, what else would you do on the 12th Floating Film Festival? On days when we’re at sea, we see three films. On days when we are in a port, we only screen two.

WHERE DO WE GO NOW at FFF 12

Yesterday was a three-film day, starting with a 9:30 am screening of Where Do We Go Now, a film by Caramel writer-director Nadine Labaki, about a group of Lebanese women who try to ease religious tensions between Christians and Muslims in their village. Selected by Floating Film Festival programmer Hannah Fisher, unfortunately sidelined at the last minute by foot surgery, Labaki’s film came to us with solid credentials, having already won Audience awards at film festivals in Oslo, San Sebastian and TIFF. It’s not hard to see why. Introduced by Cinefranco filmfest chief Marcelle Lean, the film is a bizarre, strangely engaging mix of pop music, death and destruction, and was very well received by our dedicated band of early-morning moviegoers.

FOOTNOTE: Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Film

After lunch we screened our second film, Footnote, which came to us with even more dazzling credentials – it swept last year’s Israeli Oscars, picked up Best Screenplay at Cannes, and was cited as one of the top foreign language films by the National Board of Review – not to mention its nomination for Best Foreign Film at Sunday night’s Oscar giveaway. Writer-director Joseph Cedar creates a scenario in which a father and son are rival professors in Talmudic Studies. When both men learn that the father is about to be lauded for his work, their complicated alpha-male relationship gets even more complicated. What makes it particularly fascinating, for me at least, is the concept of self-sacrifice — as in , no good deed goes unpunished.

CHURCHILL: Unexpected champion of Israel

Before dinner we screened our third film of the day, a documentary originally made for television by Floating filmfest commander and filmmaker Barry Avrich (The Last Mogul, Unauthorized: The Harvey Weinstein Project) and one which is seldom seen on the big screen. An Unlikely Obsession: Churchill And The Jews is a powerful celluloid spin-off of a book by Churchill biographer Sir Martin Gilbert, and details Churchill’s ultimate and unlikely obsession in becoming a supporter of Jewish causes — most notably being responsible for determining the future status of the Jewish National Home in Palestine. It’s an intriguing story, and one which both surprised and pleased Floating Film Festival patrons last night, and one which should intrigue American audiences when it premieres in the USA in May.

Today we are scheduled to see three more films: Darling Companion, from Big Chill director Larry Kasdan; Woody Harrelson’s controversial new drama Rampart; and Exporting Raymond, in which the creator of the hit TV series Everybody Loves Raymond goes to Moscow to try to help produce a Russian version for Soviet TV.  So, as we say in TV Land: Stay tuned.

DEFINITELY OVER THEIR HEADS: DNTO host Sook-Yin Lee and her guests take a dive in “over their heads” at a special live recording of CBC Radio One’s Definitely Not The Opera tonight at the Tranzac Club on Brunswick

LEE: over her head

Avenue in Toronto. Scheduled guests include Little Mosque on the Prairie creator Zarqa Nawaz, As It Happens host Carol Off, writer/performer James Gangl, comedian Ron Josol and writer-performer and motivational speaker Deborah Kimmett – all of whom will share real-life stories about how they found themselves truly in over their heads. Musical guests are Corin Raymond (crowd-funding his newest recording with Canadian Tire money donated by his fans!) and Montreal-based Little Scream. Admission is free. You can reserve a ticket by emailing CBCtorontocommunity@cbc.cawith DNTO in the subject heading … and in one of the most anticipated shows of their high-rated season, the Dragons leave their

OFF: Definitely Not

studio tonight to catch up with memorable entrepreneurs who once braved the Den. This special edition of Dragons’ Den promises to reveal what’s happened to your favourite pitchers, track down the most memorable disasters and catch up with some of the biggest success stories in the show’s history, tonight at 8 pm on CBC Television … and calling all Lighthouse fans! The band that am (and continues to be) plays tonight at Casino Nova Scotia, tomorrow night at the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown, Friday night at The Playhouse in Fredericton, Saturday night at the Imperial Theatre in Saint John NB, then on to Ontario to play March 9 at the Sound Academy in Toronto, March 10 at the Opera House in Orillia and April 4 at the Richmond Hill Arts Centre. And yes, they still meet with their fans in the lobby after the show. So catch ’em while you can!

*     *     *

Advertisement

Almodovar gets Banderas, Carrell gets a slice of Bacon, Hot Docs gets Ghomeshi and Louise gets un-stuck

OUR TOWN: Host-with-the-most Jian Ghomeshi returns to helm tomorrow night’s Hot Docs Festival awards at the Isabel Bader … after flying across the pond to premiere the new

PITRE: back to T.O.

Benny Andersson-Bjorn Ulvaeus musical Kristina at Royal Albert Hall, show-stopping stage diva Louise Pitre got ‘stuck’ in London for an extra three days due to that pesky cloud of volcanic ash. “London’s not a bad place to be stuck in!” she adds, especially since her hubby Joe Matheson had taken a week’s holiday from his on-stage gig with still-thriving Jersey Boys to join her. Mamma Mia alumnus Pitre’s now home again, safe and sound and  shooting Season 2 of Star Portraits for Bravo!popular public relations pro Shelagh O’Donnell is the ROM’s new Head Of Communications … George F. Walker’s hit comedy Featuring Loretta makes its second debut  to the Factory Theatre tonight, officially kicking off the Factory’s 40th (!!!) Anniversary celebrations. Longtime Walker cheerleader Ken Gass directs Monica Dottor, Lesley Faulker, Kevin Hanchard and Brandon McGibbon in this brand new production … and the bad news is, Yorkville haunt Michelle’s Brasserie, the café  in

FARMIGA: going outlaw

Renaissance Square just off Cumberland, has closed. Good news is, Crème, a new French bistro devised by Ricardo Sousa (Cibo, Lolo) and chef Ricardo Roque (Magna Golf Club, Bistro 990,) is now underway and is tentatively set to open June 1.

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE: Young Lily Collins, so good as Sandra Bullock‘s daughter in The Blind Side, is set to co-star with Taylor Lautner in Abduction, a new thriller … Kevin Bacon has signed on to guest star in Steve Carrell’s next project … Pedro Almodovar alumnus Antonio Banderas is set to star in the director’s next opus, La piel que habito … Up In The Air seductress Vera Farmiga

AGRON: new sci-fi role?

is set to portray a wild west outlaw in A Thousand Guns … watch for an announcement linking about-to-depart Global TV anchor Kevin Newman with a major new digital platform initiativeand don’t bother inviting Phil Collins to your Canada Day BBQ this year. He’s already booked to open the 44th annual Monteux Jazz Festival with a special July 1 concert.

NO BIZ LIKE SHOW BIZ: Glee star Dianna Agron has signed on for  a leading role in the sci-fi film I Am Number Four … living room favourites Peter Mansbridge, Brian Stewart and Adrienne Arsenault are in London today, continuing to deliver CBC’s in-depth play-by-play of today’s General Elections in the U.K. …  Shia Labeouf is set to play Charlie in the dark comedy The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman Mireille

JEAN-BAPTISTE: in Central Park

Enos (Big Love) is reportedly signed to star in AMC’s new series The Killing …  bright young things Emma Roberts and Freddie Highmore are set to co-star in a new indie feature, Homework … Nurse Jackie scene-stealer Anna Deavere Smith is taking her New York solo show Let Me Down Easy on the road. Hope she brings it here …  what becomes a legend most? Hard work. Which is howcum Ann Rhomer is still a household favourite after more than three decades on local TV. We’ll miss her after she exits CP24‘s morning show next month … and although you know her best from her role as an FBI agent in Without A Trace, did you know that Anthony LaPaglia sidekick  Marianne Jean-Baptiste was the first British black actress nominated for an Oscar, for Mike Leigh‘s 1996 drama Secrets & Lies?  Ah yes, how quickly we forget. The gifted Mme Jean-Baptiste is spending her summer vacation in rep with Al Pacino, performing Merchant Of Venice and The Winter’s Tale in Central Park..

TOMORROW:

All about Liona Boyd, Zero Mostel,

Piper Laurie (yes, Piper Laurie!) and more.


Brigitte gets some Oscar buzz, Meryl gets Teased, Buddies get Ann-Margret, Broadway gets 007 & Wolverine, and Jodie gets Mel (maybe)

BUDDY BUDDY: Best Buddies, the non-profit organization that has helped thousands of individuals with intellectual disabilities become more inclusive in everyday life, has put smiles on thousands of faces — but this week it’s Best

ANN-MARGRET:  Buddies system

ANN-MARGRET: Buddies system

Buddies Canada co-founder Danny Greenglass who’s all smiles. Why? Because bonafide screen legend Ann-Margret is coming to town. One of Hollywood’s last great triple-threat performers, she made her movie debut almost five, count ’em, five decades ago and has never stopped working. Ask her about her favourite leading men and she’ll tell you about every male movie idol from Steve McQueen to Jack Nicholson to John Wayne to Elvis. And when she isn’t tackling the gritty roles that won her all those Oscar and Emmy nominbations — she already owns five Golden Globes  —  she’s still kicking up her heels (and those still fabled gams) in her SRO stage shows. Following in Shirley MacLaiue’s footsteps last year, Ann-Margret will jet here next week with her producer husband Roger Smith to celebrate Best Buddies 15th anniversary at a gala evening at the Four Seasons in her honour. And that’s truly something to smile about.

STREEP TEASE: Yes, the American Council on Science and Health is mad at her for saying that Julia Child‘s cuisine was not exactly cholesterol-free. But Meryl Streep is so popular again — and you know how these things come and go

STREEP; comedy Tease

STREEP; comedy Tease

— that an irreverent group of guys are giving her a stand-up comedy salute this weekend in Hollywood.  Called Streep Tease, the event is the brainchild of actor-comedian Roy Cruz, who is producing and performing in the show with fellow thesps Taylor Negron, Sam Pancake, Steve Hasley,  Eddie Sanchez, Mike Rose, Trent Walker and David Dean Bottrell (Boston Legal.) All of them will try to find their inner Streep in a live stage tribute re-creating her greatest screen monologues, including memorable speeches from such Streep mega-hits as The Devil Wears Prada and The Bridges of Madison County. Bottrell chose a monologue from Out of Africa because he loves the Danish accent. Pancake chose Postcards From the Edge, and Negron is doing Sophie’s Choice. And no, I’m not making this up. The curtain lifts on this theatrical show at bang.studio in Los Angeles on Saturday, but if you’re on the east coast you can watch it from  the theater’s webcam at 11 p.m. Just don’t say I didn’t warn ya!

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE: Screen lions Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman will show up together on Broadway this fall in Keith Huff’s new

FOSTER: busy Beaver

FOSTER: busy Beaver

stage play A Heavy Rain. A deal to adapt the play as a feature, to star the same duo, is now in the works … Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway are teaming up for Love and Other DrugsCamilla Belle will play Kevin Spacey‘s daughter in his upcoming flick Father Of Invention …  and Jodie Foster will direct and co-star in The Beaver, about a man who has an unusual relationship with a beaver handpuppet. (And no, I’m not making this up.) Not only that, Jodie’s Maverick troubled but gifted co-star, Mel Gibson, is in negotiations to play the lead. So there!

PLAYBOY OF THE EASTERN FILMFEST: Only a few people have actually seen it so far, but Oscar buzz has already started for Brigitte Berman’s eye-

BERMAN: Oscar buzz

BERMAN: Oscar buzz

popping new screen biography of Hugh Hefner, which premieres at TIFF next week and reveals his next-to-forgotten life as a champion  of women and a supporter of gay rights at a time when the concept was nearly unheard of in mainstream America.

Berman, of course, already owns one Academy Award, which she won for her stunning profile of American music legend Artie Shaw.  And she admits she had some trepidation when she finally showed her film to Hefner and some of his friends in mid-July. Much to her surprise, and delight, and relief, Hefner was moved to tears at the end of the screening.  “It was,” she confides, “an extraordinary moment.” No wonder Hefner, now 83, is hoping to jet here for the Saturday Sept. 12 premiere.

TOMORROW:

Broadway’s most honoured hoofer hits the road again,

Lindsay Lohan gets a gig, Oprah packs for Toronto, and more.

-/-

As Hollywood watches, Cher finally thanks her Moonstruck mentor Jewison for her Oscar (at last!)

HOORAY FOR HOLLYWOOD:  When Nicholas Campbell, Angie Dickinson and Shawn Doyle are members of the audience, sitting a few rows ahead of Canadian uber-agent Michael Levine, Beverly Hills columnist George Christy and M.A.S.H. producer Burt Metcalfe, you know there’s something special happening on stage. And what is happening on stage at the L.A. County Museum of Art is very special indeed.

Assembled to tell tales, some tall, some small, are an illustrious clutch of Oscar winners: Classic beauty Eva Marie Saint, still-ravishing screen siren Faye Dunaway, artful cinematographer Haskell Wexler, brilliant songwriters Marilyn & Alan Bergman. Joining them is still-irrepressible funnyman Carl Reiner. Emceeing the evening is veteran film historian Leonard Maltin. And sitting between Maltin and Dunaway is the subject of all their stories, and the object of their bubbling affection: Screen director Norman Jewison.

Reiner and Saint, of course, led the all-star cast of Jewison’s classic comedy hit The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming;  even before that, Reiner had scripted Jewison’ s curious comedy about marketing immortality, The Art Of Love, with Ms. Dickinson  and Dick Van Dyke. Dunaway had co-starred with Steve McQueen in Jewison’s notorious romantic thriller, The Thomas Crown Affair.  Haskell Wexler owned the eyes behind the camera on such diverse Jewison films as In The Heat Of The Night and Other People’s Money.  And Marilyn & Alan Bergman wrote the original songs, now American standards, that graced such Jewison gems as Best Friends (How Do You Keep The Music Playing) and Thomas Crown Affair (Windmills Of Your Mind.) And all of them have some wonderful tales to tell. But the master story teller, naturally, is Jewison himself. 

When he tells us how Steve McQueen misbehaved on Thomas Crown Affair, going AWOL in a dune buggy while the cast and crew watched the light fade, Dunaway is clearly entranced. “I never knew that!” she exclaims. Thomas Crown was only her third film, she says; Warren Beattywas still locked in the editing room with Bonnie & Clyde,  and Jewison had hired her after seeing her off-Broadway in Hogan’s Goat. And when McQueen disappeared from the set, Jewison had told her to wait in her trailer until he called her. “And I did what I was told!” she adds, chuckling softly.

The  tribute to Jewison is originally slated to run 45-60 minutes, but the hush from the appreciative crowd inspires Maltin to let his all-star gabbers hold sway. Reiner, who played a leading man for the first time in his life in Jewison’s Russians Are Coming, reveals that the director had originally asked him to play the Russian sailor, a plum role that Alan Arkin eventually won. Reiner and Saint further regale the audience with tales of white-knuckle flights to Jewison locations;  Wexler reminds us of Jewison the activist and his deep commitment to U.S. civil rights; and the Bergmans praise him as one of only two directors they’ve worked with (the other, sadly, being his friend, the late Sydney Pollack) whose passion for music gives him a unique  understanding of  the potential of original music in screen storytelling.

The near-capacity crowd is clearly enthralled. Close to the front LACMA honcho Ian Birney, another transplanted Canadian, is grinning happily. Beside him sit the co-hosts of the event, Film Independent’s Dawn Hudson and Canadian Film Centre chief  Slawko Klymkiw, beaming like proud parents. Klymkiw, aided and abetted by Birney and Hudson, has initiated this event (among others) to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Toronto film centre Jewison founded two decades earlier, and celebrated alumni Christina Jennings and Clement Virgo, among others, are sitting in the theatre with the rest of his fans.

Leonard Maltin is admittedly fascinated by the fact that in addition to international megahits as Jesus Christ Superstar and Fiddler On The Roof, this Canadian director, in his opinion, has  also produced some of the most quintessentially American films ever to come out of Hollywood. And the on-stage showbiz love-in is well into its second hour when Maltin raises the subject of another polished Jewison diamond, Moonstruck, which will be screened immediately following the tribute. And then he utters the magic phrase that so many of us have been hoping to hear.

“Let’s invite Cher up here,” says Leonard Maltin.

A gasp from the audience, a truly all-ages group from 9 to 99, as a woman seated near the front of the house makes her way to the stairs leading up to the stage,  her long black hair a perfect contrast to her stylish white designer duds and funky white fedora. Cher is on stage kissing Reiner, shaking hands with Saint, embracing Dunaway — the audience is standing now, and cheering — and greets Jewison with an enormous bear hug. Cher is in the house, and an already excited crowd is now deliriously beside themselves.

The fun is just beginning. When she confesses she was a “bad kid” on Moonstruck, Jewison smiles in tacit agreement. “But,” he interjects,” you’re a good girl tonight.” Yes, she agrees, she’s a good girl tonight. And she proves it, by telling wonderful anecdotes, revealing and occasionally touching, about the fact that Jewison had to cajole, trick and at times even threaten her to enable her to do the best screen work of her career. 

She tells tales out of school, too, stories that make Jewison laugh out loud. About how he finally got Nicolas Cage to loosen up for a scene by relentlessly goading him until Cage picked up a chair and threw it across the room. “And we were all shocked,” she recalls, “and we all looked at Norman, waiting for him to say something, anything! …  and Norman said, ‘Action!’  And he got the scene he wanted.”

When she and Jewison weren’t at odds with other — a creative tension she now suspects he manufactured, to enhance her performance — they were a formidable tag team. For one thing, they both wanted Cage for her leading man. Cher had seen him in Peggy Sue Got Married, “and I thought he was terrific.”

And Jewison remembers thinking that the young actor, at that time, was clearly “the most tortured soul in Hollywood.”

“So of course Norman and I thought he’d be perfect for the role!” adds Cher, grinning.

When MGM balked at casting Cage, she huddled with Norman and then told her manager to tell the studio she would walk out on the picture if they didn’t hire Cage. “Which, of course, I had no intention of doing!” she add with a guilty grin.

But hey, she and Norman got the leading man they wanted. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Movie history, that is. Which brings me to another piece of movie history.  When Cher won her Best Actress Oscar for Moonstruck, she facetiously thanked her hairdresser and her make-up artist, but neglected to acknowledge the guardian angel of her performance.

On Friday night she makes up for that 20-year-old gaffe.  After a brief intermission she returns to the stage to introduce Moonstruck, and gives the speech she should have given 20 years ago at the Academy Awards. It is short, sweet and unmistakably sincere — a luscious cherry to top a spectacularly rich evening.

* * *

BEV ON THE BEACH: Who was the alabaster blonde walking on the sand with Norman Jewison yesterday? None other than CTV  charmer Beverly Thomson, who got up Friday at 3 a.m., co-hosted the morning edition of Canada A.M., and then hit the airport. An understandably bleary-eyed Thompson made it to Los Angeles in time to attend the tribute at LACMA and yesterday hit the beach to tape an exclusive interview with Jewison in Malibu. And you can see it too, tomorrow morning on CTV.