Category Archives: Toronto

Juno: Marketing, The Dancing Elks And…Oscar?

As many have mentioned, Fox Searchlight might just reap gold with the possibly counter programming genius, that being the release of Juno in December when theaters are otherwise jammed with serious “awards films” and some movie goers simply want some diversion from the onslaught of There Will be Blood, Charlie Wilson’s War, The Kite Runner and No Country For Old Men. Not to disparage these films, of course. I’ve seen the Coen Brothers’ pic (genius), will be seeing Blood on Friday and am looking forward to seeing the others, but sometimes you need something….else. Juno fills the “funny and smart” niche to a T. You know what else? It’s also a bona fide Oscar contender for best original screenplay and has an outside chance at best actress, as well. I’ll definitely continue to be watching and posting on the awards buzz for this and the rest of the “contenders” as the winter unfolds!
Word of mouth on this film is overwhelmingly positive and so far it has an 81 on Metacritic but it ain’t just the critics who are pushing this pic. While the film is indeed worthy of praise (but there are two critics on the Metacritic list I am ashamed of agreeing with…guess who!) the studio has been pretty smart in building buzz at fests, in part by employing local teams of “Dancing Elks,” dressed like Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera) the progenitor of the “sea monkey” (Juno’s phrase, not mine!) being carried by the title character. They even hand out orange tic tacs, a favorite of Bleeker’s. No one knows what’s going on, so of course they ask and then are intrigued. Seems to be working at the three places I’ve seen it, Toronto, AFI and Denver. I wonder what they made of it in Thessaloniki and Gijón?
After the jump, some pics from Toronto, AFI and Denver:

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Review Redux: Juno Opens Today

The following is an excerpt of, update to and further thoughts on, a review that originally ran on September 13th, as part of our Toronto International Film Festival coverage. Needless to say, since I wrote that review fresh off the film’s bow in Telluride, Fox Searchlight’s Juno Juggernaut’s been going full steam and I fully expect it to have a smash 5 day opening. I’ve since seen it a second time (and soon will a third, I am sure) and every person I mention the film to, and I mean every one, is looking forward to seeing it, ages 16-60. At AFI a table of 3 male film writers who were probably pushing 200 years old combined were all gushing about it. A typical “teen” film, this is not. That’s not to say it’s not appropriate for teens, it most certainly is, but it’s far more than that.
From my original review:
While the tendency might be to lump Juno, the sophomore feature from director Jason Reitman (Thank You For Smoking) and first-time writer Diablo Cody into the group (new genre?) of quirky comedies, a la I *Heart* Huckabees, Napoleon Dynamite and Rushmore, don’t. The thing is, while it contains elements of those oddball-laden films, Juno is its own animal in that it’s smart, funny and above all, real. The film should mark the coming out of several major talents, including writer Cody and Juno herself, Ellen Page. While I won’t shoot myself if Cody doesn’t get an Oscar nomination, I will be gobsmacked. While we’re at it, how about one for Page, too?
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The New York Times’ A.O. Scott writes that Juno “respects the idiosyncrasies of its characters rather than exaggerating them or holding them up for ridicule. And like Juno herself, the film outgrows its own mannerisms and defenses, evolving from a coy, knowing farce into a heartfelt, serious comedy.” That hits the nail on the head just about as well as any other review out there and relates to something I wrote in my original piece. In short, there are teenagers this smart and smart-mouthed, there are parents as cool and understanding, eventually, as Juno’s dad and stepmom and there are indeed teenage pregnancies that don’t end in utter disaster. That said, don’t think this film shies away from portraying that everything is not hunky dory in pregnant Juno land. Juno describes herself as a “cautionary whale” and while it’s a clever line, it also speaks to the point behind the laughs. Being pregnant at 16 is no joke and as Scott remarks in his review “Kids, please! Heed the cautionary whale. But in the meantime, have a good time at Juno. Bring your parents, too.”
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Photos TM and © 2006 Fox and its related entities. All rights reserved.

TIFF 07 Roundtable Interviews: Sleuth’s Branagh & Caine and Law

In two Toronto International Film Festival roundtable interviews, director Kenneth Branagh, actor Michael Cane and actor/producer Jude Law discuss the upcoming Sony Pictures Classics film Sleuth. Brannagh and Caine get into everything from pre-production, Caine’s history with Pinter (they went to the same school!), art direction, how the film isn’t really a remake and even a little bit about Christopher Nolan’s upcoming Batman film, The Dark Knight!
Law discusses his role as a producer on the film, his next role and some of the…well, secret elements of Sleuth. If you haven’t seen the original Sleuth, there are some minor spoilers in these clips.
BTW, listen to the Caine and Branagh clip, first.
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TIFF 07 Review: Jimmy Carter Man From Plains

Jimmy Carter Man From Plains (Sony Pictures Classics, October 26, 2007-selected cities)
Dir. Jonathan Demme
Let me start right off the bat by saying that Jimmy Carter is a personal hero of mine. He is a deeply soulful, peaceful and intelligent man who manages to exist and flourish in this, the most complex and potentially dangerous of all possible worlds. Not only that, but he leads his life as an exemplar of modern man. How so? He has just tuned 83 years of age and is spending his birthday in the Sudan, trying to help end the crisis in Darfur. That’s what he does when he’s not helping run the not-for-profit Carter Center, leading sermons, writing books (21 and counting), building houses, monitoring elections and oh yeah, being married to one of the strongest, most interesting women of the last hundred years, his wife Rosalynn. He is a religious man whose faith inspires him to continue his good works both within and outside of the political arena. A steadfastly devout born again Christian, he firmly believes in the separation of church and state and in this sense is the very picture of integrity.
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TIFF 07: No Sex In The Champagne Room… And No Champagne, Either

There wasn’t much in the way of sex in the offing at the party for ThinkFilm’s TIFF entry Young People Fucking at Toronto’s Club Wicked and once again I was reminded that I had missed the REAL fucking party two years ago. True, there were scantily clad women covered in cellophane and sushi, a couple of bored-looking pole dancers and a few of the club’s regulars walking around, but it was hardly a particularly erotic party and no one I know got even slightly moist. More’s the pity, because upstairs at Shlomo’s Penthouse, there was definitely the equipment for enjoying one’s self, including swings and cuffs, as demonstrated by the Sarasota Film Festival’s director of programming Tom Hall and the fest’s managing director Jen Weiss.
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After the swing/cuffs alcove came the day beds with rubber sheets (ick!) the sweaty Jacuzzi area and the shower room. None of them, except maybe the Jacuzzi, prompted any thoughts of getting’ nekkid, although there were a few of us in the crowd (H.H., I’m talking to you) who are prone to disrobing at festival events. Alas, there are some rules to be followed that are definitely buzz kills.
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But then again, does “Shlomo’s Penthouse” REALLY made you wanna strip down, oil up and start rubbin’? As an aside, how many films with “Fuck” in the title has Mark Urman released @ Think, anyway?
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