Making Bruce Springsteen laugh: I made Bruce Springsteen laugh on Thursday. We talked at a lunch for his movie “Western Stars” and I told him about my first time using a Sony Walkman. I borrowed a Walkman, used the last of my cash to buy a “Born In The USA” cassette and walked through the Eaton Centre with the thing turned up to 11. As let the music reverberated around my head I remember thinking, “This is so much easier than lugging the stereo around.” He liked the story and said, laughing, “Thanks for telling me that.” #Boss
Daniel Craig’s thick-as-gumbo accent in the stylish whodunnit “Knives Out.” As Benoit Blanc he brings a courtly charm to the role of the Southern-American Hercule Poirot. It’s worth the price of admission alone to hear his pronunciation of the word “your,” as in “Yew-our in big trouble now.”
Star selfies: Often my favorite things don’t take place on the stage or screen. I like the smaller, intimate moments that add a sense of normalcy to the chaos that reigns over the festival. This year, backstage at the press conference for “Blackbird” I watched Susan Sarandon, Sam Neill and Rainn Wilson goof it up for a selfie on the actress’s phone. It was a nice, unscripted moment at an event often built on artifice. Later Sarandon glammed it up, taking off her reading glasses in favour of dark sunglasses for an official photo shoot.
Willem DaFoe’s beard in “The Lighthouse.” The actor embodies the craggy old character who has spent his life on the ocean or at the watchtower, looking like a Royal Doulton Old Salt mug come to life, speaking like a character right out of Melville. You can almost smell the rum breath, filtered through a beard that would make Captain Morgan jealous.
The timely commentary of “Joker.” Although ripe with elements from older movies like “Death Wish,” the God’s lonely man favorites “Mean Streets” and Taxi Driver” and echoes from real-life forgotten names like Bernard Goetz, “Joker” is no period piece. It’s as timely as the yesterday’s headlines. A study of everything from alienation and disappointment to the failure of social safety nets and access to weapons, it’s a character study not just of the Joker but of a troubled time.
“Sound of Metal’s” devastating sound design. Applying immersive sound design, writer-director Darius Marder toggles between the point-of-view of a heavy metal drummer who has lost his hearing and real-world sounds. As his desperation and frustration grow the muffled sounds of the world filtered through his damaged ears hammers home the overwhelming effects of hearing loss.
David Foster’s candor. At the gala for the doc “David Foster: Off the Record” the hit-maker joked with director Barry Avrich about the artists NOT included in the film. “Where’s Boz Scaggs? Where’s NSYC? Where’s Richard Marx?” Avrich replied, “He turned us down.” With timing that Jack Benny would admire Foster paused, looked at the audience and said, “Well then, f**k Richard Marx.”
Renée Zellweger’s way with a line in “Judy.” Dressed in a colourful lamé stage costume a forty-seven-year-old Judy Garland wanders around a hip Hollywood party. When someone says, “Look, it’s the world’s greatest entertainer,” she grins and says, “Is Frank Sinatra here?” It’s a throwaway mind expertly delivered, that helps find the humour and humanity in a person often simply regarded as a tragic figure.
My most liked tweet during TIFF: “Just saw a pug on Bloor Street yawn and it gave me more pleasure than many of the movies I have seen recently. #yawningpug”
“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” quietest moment: In one nervy scene children’s television icon Mister Rogers (a remarkable Tom Hanks) and journalist Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) “take a minute to think about all the people who loved us into being.” For sixty, silent seconds they stare at one another, allowing their minds to drift. Director Marielle Heller lets the moment sink in and in the silence—even the background noise is blocked out— we are reminded how little time we all spend, day in and day out, in quiet contemplation. It may be the movie’s most telling scene, the one that details how far away society has moved away from the core values of kindness and understanding Rogers preached.
“Jojo Rabbit’s” unexpected soundtrack: “Komm, gib mir deine Hand” the German language version of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” fills the soundtrack as images of Hitler Youth pumping their fists in the air fill the screen, providing a brilliant and subversive comparison of two kinds of fanaticism, Beatlemania and National Socialism. Later David Bowie’s “Helden” (“Heroes”) provides a sentimental blast as the final credits roll.
Best take on a financial crisis: If they gave out Oscars for pole dancing the release of “Hustlers” would place Jennifer Lopez one step closer to completing her EGOT collection. But the movie is much more than its startling introductory scene. It’s also is a glitzy caper about money, friendship, and revenge against the bankers who went unpunished after a financial crisis brought the country and the dancers at the Sin City Café to their knees.
Susan Sarandon at the press conference I hosted for “Blackbird,” (with director Roger Michell, Sam Neill, Rainn Wilson, Sarandon and producer Sherryl Clark): The story of a terminally ill woman who chooses the date of her death brought out strong opinions. “I think it’s an individual choice, but it should be legal and controlled. The fact of the matter is, it is similar to abortion in that if you’re wealthy, you’ll always have access to it. So, it’s about making it more accessible to everyone now. I think taking on the process of letting go of your body takes a lot of thought and the medical profession has been behind for a long time. You should be able to die with dignity.”
Robbie Robertson’s voice: No question he’s a better guitarist than singer, but that speaking voice, on full display in the doc “Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band,” is so deep, so sonorous you’ll wish he would narrate every documentary made from now on. Also, from the same movie, rockabilly legend Ronnie Hawkins livens things up with his reminisces. “There was enough flour and sugar in that to make us sneeze biscuits,” he says of the cocaine backstage at “The Last Waltz.”