Bill Murray, Al Pacino, Robert Downey and Dustin Hoffman highlight first weekend at Toronto film fest. The Reel Guys, Richard Crouse and Mark Breslin, give us their take on the first weekend of the festival.
Richard: Mark, no matter how prepared I think I am going into TIFF, the first weekend always bowls me over. Like I’ve been run over by a stretch limo running late for a red carpet. This year was no different. Things really kicked off on Friday with the celebration of all things Murray. Bill, that is. The great man himself was seen all over town and even did a Q&A before a screening of Ghostbusters, and appeared in the pouring rain at the gala for his new one, St Vincent. My favourite line of his? “If this is really my day, why do I have to work so hard?”
Mark: Wish I’d seen that, Richard. But I did see Al Pacino, the great Al Pacino, in the unanticipated Q&A after The Humbling. When asked why he was drawn to the material in the Philip Roth adaptation, he said that the character had a lot in common with him, as an actor on the way down and a bit of a has-been. It was an amazing moment of how one of the greatest actors in the world regards himself. Also, he said he acquired the rights to the book in 2009. Which means it took five years for Al Pacino, the great Al Pacino, to get a movie made. Yikes! I admit the material is complex, and not multiplex fare. But The Humbling also has an offbeat sense of humour and a killer script by Buck Henry.
RC: When I wasn’t at a screening, I spent the weekend interviewing people — notably, the stars of the opening night film, The Judge. Robert Downey Jr. was last year’s highest-paid movie star, and he’s also one of the most quotable. When he walked into the room he was carrying a little green box. “I have distilled socialism in this box,” he announced, “and am taking it back to America.” In a wide-ranging conversation, he talked about portraying realism on camera — “Realism is the death of cinema in many ways” — and plans for his next couple of movies. “I can tell you for sure that we are obsessively working on another Sherlock, and the Marvel universe seems to self-perpetuate.”
MB: What other star than Downey would dare to use the word socialism in an interview that could be picked up by Fox News? What a gloriously eccentric actor and human being.
RC: I also got to spend some time with Dustin Hoffman. Not only did I fix his watch — he couldn’t stop the alarm from going off every 10 minutes or so — but we talked about his film Boychoir, and why he started acting in the first place when his first love was music. “I wanted to be a musician but I wasn’t talented enough. I have small hands,” he said, which made it difficult to excel at piano. “There is no correlation between small hands and private parts,” he added, before saying, “I was told to take acting. Nobody flunks acting.” Later he said that it wasn’t such a bad choice because, for instance, “No one ever says, ‘I want to be a critic when I grow up.’”