‘Foxcatcher’ – directed by ‘Moneyball’ director Bennett Miller – premiered Monday at the Toronto International Film Festival after a highly successful debut at Cannes earlier this year. It’s the true story of the intricate relationship between two brothers and Olympic wrestlers -- Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo) and Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) – with their wrestling team financier and sort of coach, John du Pont (Carell), of the famed and extremely wealthy du Pont family … a relationship that ends in paranoia and disaster.
“Do you want to do an interview in bed? It’s never happened. Come on. It’ll be fun.” These are the words Rene Russo said to me when I entered her hotel room to interview her at the Toronto International Film Festival for the movie ‘Nightcrawler’ -- which just happens to be written and directed by her husband, Dan Gilroy, who (A) I had just met and (B) who had just left the room.
I am fascinated by Adam Sandler’s career. More specifically, I’m fascinated by Sandler when he decides to challenge himself with more “serious” roles, or at least work with directors that aren’t Dennis Dugan. Sandler has two movies at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. The first is Jason Reitman’s ‘Men, Women and Children,’ in which Sandler gives what is the most understated performance of his career. The second is Thomas McCarthy’s ‘The Cobbler,’ which is bone-headedly awful.
“If this were a TV show, I’d watch it every single week.” These were the words I spoke right after watching Antoine Fuqua’s theatrical version of ‘The Equalizer,’ which is kind of a dumb thing to say considering that ‘The Equalizer’ was a TV show. Though, this updated version of ‘The Equalizer’ bears little resemblance to the mid-‘80s version, even though it kind of has everything to do with it.
It was interesting that when Jason Reitman and I discussed the recent merits of Adam Sandler – who stars in Reitman’s new film, ‘Men, Women & Children’ – Reitman turned the tables back on himself, mentioning the box office failure of ‘Labor Day.’ And, surprisingly, openly talking about the failures of ‘Labor Day.’ Reitman’s point is that even if it looks like Sandler might not care about a movie like, say, ‘Jack & Jill,’ Sandler still desperately cares about that movie. Because, as Reitman points out, people picked on ‘Labor Day,’ but that doesn’t mean Reitman wasn’t trying to make his best movie. Sure, that didn’t happen, but you don’t know until it’s made.
It’s a weird thing to openly root for a movie that you find yourself not enjoying. This is how I felt while watching Bill Murray in ‘St. Vincent’ on the second day of the Toronto International Film Festival. I can’t be the only one who does this, right? It’s a situation in which you deeply admire the actors in a movie – in this case, Murray and Melissa McCarthy – and for the first, say, 45 minutes, you’re trying to convince yourself what you’re watching is “good.”
A few weeks ago, I was in a local drug store by my apartment in New York City. Near the back of the store, there’s a discount rack where everything is 25 percent off its the original price. Mixed in with overstocked seasonal items was a LEGO set for the 2010 movie ‘Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.’ Included in the set was a mini LEGO figure of Jake Gyllenhaal. He’s riding an ostrich. As I stared in disbelief at LEGO Jake Gyllenhaal riding an ostrich, it was like staring into an alternate future where these were the kind of movies that Gyllenhaal was still making … instead of a glorious movie like ‘Nightcrawler.’
There’s a scene in ‘Clouds of Sils Maria’ where Val (Kristen Stewart) is trying to vouch for the popularity of a troubled, hellion of a starlet named Jo-Ann Ellis (Chloë Moretz). Maria (Juliette Binoche), a veteran and acclaimed actor who may star alongside Ellis, is the person who needs convincing. In Ellis’ defense, Val, Maria’s assistant, mentions that Ellis is very popular among pre-teens. Maria laughs at this statement before Val cuts her off and says, “Watch out, there are a shit-ton of them.”
‘Maps to the Stars’ is not a very good movie – but there’s a difference between a bad movie and an interesting bad movie. ‘Maps to the Stars’ is the latter. It is certainly interesting. And it’s apparent that Toronto’s favorite son, Cronenberg, does not care too much for Hollywood -- but that’s such a tired sentiment, and beating it over our heads that everyone is terrible doesn’t really bring anything new to anything. ‘Maps to the Stars’ portrays itself as edgy and weird, but it just all feels so obvious.
This was my second time watching with ‘Whiplash,’ Damien Chazelle’s film about basically two sociopaths and their terrible relationship. One of these sociopaths (I’m exaggerating a little, but not by much) is played by Miles Teller as an up-and-coming jazz drummer trying to make it at the best school in the country. The other is played by J.K. Simmons, his jazz instructor. Both of these people are assholes. Both of these people hate each other. Both of these people kind of need each other, but in the process, both do awful, awful things to each other. There’s no real reconciliation for these two. ‘Whiplash’ will never have these two characters put apart their differences and form a friendship. The dynamic between these two assholes is just what makes ‘Whiplash’ so incredible to watch.