Tag 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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TIFF 07: The Indie Crew Dines En Français

On the first night of the 2007 TIFF, a rather large group of indie film folks gathered at Toronto bistro Pastis for several hours of wine and quite delicious French food. A full pic of the gang can be found here, courtesy of indieWIRE’s Brian Brooks, but I have a few of my own. Following up on Brian’s post, the proprietor made sure that the wine was indeed flowing copiously, but seemed to be doing so sans bidding from the guests! Needless to say, the resulting bill resulted in cries of “Quelle horreur!”
Basil-Sky.jpgNewFest topper Basil Tsiokos and SILVERDOCS director of programming Sky Sitney have a chat pre-dinner.

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TIFF 07: Juno Review

Juno
Directed by Jason Reitman
Starring: Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Allison Janney, JK Simmons, Olivia Thirlby, Rainn Wilson with Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner

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?
Juno MacGuff is 16 and almost too precocious. She’s smart, funny, curious and so adorable that “cute as a button” might have been coined with Page in mind. (At 5′ 1″, according to the IMDb she was apparently given the nickname “The Tiny Canadian” by some American roommates.) Well adjusted and comfortable in her own skin, Juno is the kind of kid every parent would love to have…except that she’s pregnant, the result of a one time romp with her best friend Paulie Bleeker in a living room chair. Bleeker is played perfectly in another example of deadpan wonder by comedy god of the under 30 set, Michael Cera (Superbad) as a charmingly nerdy track star with an addiction to orange tic tacs.
Juno 1.jpg

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TIFF ’07: More On The Assassination of Jesse James

Ok, so a little more about Kiwi director Andrew Dominik’s astonishingly good sophomore outing (after 2000’s Chopper) The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. To be honest, it’s 2:10am and I have to see Sean Penn’s Into the Wild in 9 hours, so I am a little worried about getting sucked into a 1,500 word review of this film that I (and others) have called a masterpiece, but I have too long a history of letting things get away from me, so here we go….
The trades and mainstream press have been bemoaning the dearth of “buzz worthy” pics leading into Oscar season this year and well, they can all shut the fuck up right now, thank you very much. As I was leaving the theater, the editor in chief of one of the major trade dailies turned to me and said, and I paraphrase: “It’s hard to imagine a better film coming out this year,” and I fully concur. If this film gets fewer than 10 Oscar nods, I’ll eat my hat (just not one of my good ones). Right now I am willing to predict nods for: picture, actor (x2-Pitt and Affleck), screenplay and director (both Dominik), cinematography (Roger Deakins), score (Nick Cave and Bad seeds bandmate Warren Ellis), editors (Dylan Tichenor and Curtiss Clayton) and at least 1 supporting actor (too many to choose). Of course many of the “smaller” categories will come along with main category nominations.
Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford 3.JPG
I’ll be writing something more about this tomorrow, but for now, I must be brief.

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The Wombats Are Coming To The USA!

510474102_67a397af46.jpgThe Wombats are coming! The Wombats are coming!
My “discovery” band from this year’s SXSW, The Wombats, are making a return to North America, with gigs in San Francisco (Popscene), Toronto (Modclub, 8/11-buy tix), Boston (Great Scott, 8/13-buy tix) and New York (Annex, 8/15-buy tix) and I couldn’t be more fuckin’ chuffed!! Some of you may have read my (very) brief mention of them earlier this summer. I also posted a bunch of pics of this band as they went through their paces in Austin during SXSW. I only wish I’d seen some of their “proper” gigs during the festival.
Their indie pop punk is infectious and their energy and stage presence are catchy as hell. You’ll be pogo-ing and singing along in no time. Check out a few of their tunes on their MySpace page and there’s other info on their official site. And not only that, but their drummer is a dead ringer for David Gordon Green….
If you live in any of the aforementioned cities, I would do my damnest to get to one of their shows. You can bet I’ll be up front and center for the Annex show!