Tonight Tracy Wright's final film premieres at theToronto International Film Festival. It's also the premiere of the Bell Lightbox Theater, the new center for the Festival that has been under construction for the past couple of years. Bruce McDonald's TRIGGER tells the story of a rock duo who reunite after their band call it quits, and stars Tracy and another Chlotrudis favorite, Molly Parker. Wish I could be there, but Beth C. is there and will report back to us. We're hoping to screen TRIGGER in Boston sometime, but until then you can enjoy this terrific short but awesome trailer for the film. | Read more »
So a lot has already been said here and here about BLINDNESS, the new film due out this year by Fernando Meirelles, adapted from a Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Jose Saramago. Lots of people are looking forward to Meirelles' follow-up to CITY OF GOD. Others are excited about Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, or Gael Garcia Bernal, three of the more well-known cast members. Of course, Chlotrudis is all over BLINDNESS because it was adapted for the screen by our pal, and Chlotrudis Advisory Board member, Don McKellar, who also appears in the film, as does our other Canadian pal, Tracy Wright!(And to sweeten the Chlotrudis punch just that much more, it also features appearances by Sandra Oh, Maury Chaykin, Martha Burns (form "Slings & Arrows"), AFTER LIFE's Yusuke Iseya, Susan Coyne (also from "Slings & Arrows"), and Chlotrudis Award winner Nadia Litz! What more could you possibly ask for?
How about a creepy trailer? While you're vibrating with anticipation about everything I just told you, take a peek at the trailer for this film which is due to open this fall in the U.S. Originally we had thought the film would premiere at Cannes (and it still might) but it sure looks like they're setting it up for Toronto as well. Whooee! Wouldn't that be fun?
Eight days is a long time to be spending watching movies, and I saw a respectable 24 films in that time frame. A little lighter than previous years, but I am getting older, and there were people to see and hang out with (far more important to me). Even though we were leaving Friday evening, we did manage to squeeze in two more films, and while we started the day with something of a dud, we did end the festival on a high note.
director: Auraeus Solito
cast: Elijah Castillo, Gammy Lopez, Eugene Domingo, EJ Jalorrina, Shayne Fajutagana
Drawing on his own experiences as a science geek in high school, director Auraeus Solito draws a sweet film about an accelerated science and math high school in the Philippines. Solito caught my eye at 2006's Provincetown International Film Festival with his film about nascent gay desire, THE BLOSSOMING OF MAXIMO OLIVEROS which maintained a facade of innocent even when exploring the gritty streets of Manilla. In PHILIPPINE SCIENCE, Solito jettisons the grit (despite the inclusion of the atmosphere of martial law of the time) and the result is very similar to an after school special.
Like FAME, PHILIPPINE SCIENCE is broken up into four parts, freshman, sophomore, junior and senior. There's a core group of students, and each year focuses on a different set. The issues that arise vary: Freshmen, don't waste your time on a girlfriend if you want to be in the Top 5; Sophomores, just because you can't cut it at Philippine Science, doesn't mean you're still not a winner... etc. Unfortunately, while the screenplay is a little clumsy, much of the acting is incapable of lifting the film higher. There are a few good performances, especially the woman who plays the freshman year science teacher, but many of the actors playing the students seem fairly amateurish. Still, I always enjoy seeing films from The Philippines, the country where my mother was born and raised.
director: Todd Haynes
cast: Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Marcus Carl Franklin, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, Ben Whishaw, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Julianne Moore, David Cross
There's been a lot of buzz about Todd Hayne's Bob Dylan biopic, especially after it's debut in Venice. Those who know me know that I am not a fan of the biopic, but ever the experimenter, Haynes turns the life of Dylan into something magical, complex, and mind-boggling. In I'm not there, seven stages of Dylan's is portrayed by six different actors, including a woman (Cate Blanchett) and a young, African-American boy (Marcus Carl Franklin). The different Dylans aren't literal representations of the legendary singer/songwriter, but representative of his persona at the time. Haynes offers scenarios that attempt to give some possible insight into a celebrity whose evolution challenged everyone, especially his truest fans.
I'm not sure if being a fan of Dylan, or knowing next to nothing about him will serve you better at this film. I knew next to nothing and I loved the film. I don't feel I know all that much more about Dylan after seeing the film, but that's not why I went to see the film. As a film, Haynes challenges the viewer visually, aurally, and through the intricate screenplay he co-wrote with Owen Moverman. There are touches of his earlier films peeking through in I'M NOT THERE, in fact, with this film it seems that Haynes wanted to correct the missteps he took with VELVET GOLDMINE.
A word about the acting. The hype is true. Cate Blanchett is simply phenomenal. As Haynes said in his introduction, Blanchett took a bit of stunt casting and elevated it to such heights that you can't imagine anyone else playing the part. She's that good. Franklin is also terrific as the young, rail-traveling Dylan, and Christian Bale gives an astonishingly strong performance as the man-of-the-people Dylan of the early 60's. British actor Ben Whishaw captures his part well, and Heath Ledger does a pretty good job with one of the lest interesting incarnations of Dylan. The weak link, both performance-wise and screenplay-wise is Dylan the legend as played by Richard Gere. Gere just doesn't have the complexity or range to pull off the role. Other actors put in great turns in supporting roles. These include the divine Charlotte Gainsbourg as Dylan's wife, Julianne Moore as the folksinger (re: Joan Baex) who discovered him), Bruce Greenwood as a British journalist, and Michelle Williams as Coco (Warhol muse Edie Sedgwick.
Technically and artuflly, Haynes wins all the way through. His use of music, both Dylan's and others complements the film marvelously. After such stellar films as POISON, SAFE, VELVET GOLDMINE, and FAR FROM HEAVEN, I'M NOT THERE is a natural and accomplished progression comining an ambitious stretch and a prodigious talent. While I don't think I'M NOT THERE is going to be a universal crowd-pleaser, it's a strong piece of cinematic art that shouldn't be missed.
After the movies wrapped, Scot, Beth and I met Tracy Wright for one last farewell dinner. We spent a lovely late afternoon chatting and reminiscing about the festival. This year's festival was certainly the most stress-free and relaxed festival for me, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I will post pictures from the Q&A's that I attended soon.
So filming on Fernando Meirelles' BLINDNESS continues in Uruguay and Brazil next week. We got the inside scoop from Don McKellar (who adapted the screenplay) last week in Toronto. As you probably know from reading this earlier blog post (or this one), I'm very excited about BLINDNESS, having read the book, and loving the terrific international (and fairly heavily Canadian) cast. BLINDNESS became even more of a can't wait for me last week when I found out from Tracy Wright (pictured left) that she is scheduled scheduled to appear in the film as originally reported, despite not appearing on the Internet Movie Database's cast list. What's more (and I hope this isn't a trade secret) but Tracy is going to appear as a blonde! That's right... she decided she wants to bleach her hair for the role! I. Can't. Wait.
So anyway, Fernando Meirelles has a blog and he's talking about the shooting of BLINDNESS. Unfortunatley, it's all in Portuguese. Fortunately, Twitch has posted Fernando's latest post translated into English! Fernando talks about how Sandra Oh (yep, another great Canadian) got involved in the production. Go read it!
And could someone please add Tracy Wright to the cast list on imdb?
Mewsings reported earlier about BLINDNESS, the currently-in-production feature directed by Fernando Meirelles (CITY OF GOD), and adapted from José Saramago's award-winning novel by our Chlotrudis-buddy Don McKellar. I'm currently reading the novel, and it's going to be pretty intense when they bring this to the big screen. Blindness tells the story of an unnamed city whose inhabitants start to go inexplicably blind. Julianne Moore has the leading role, and as reported before, Mark Ruffalo has stepped in to replace Daniel Craig in the male lead.
BLINDNESS is currently shooting in Guelph, Ontario, and a quick check of the Internet Movie Database reveals a pretty compelling, international, supporting cast. In addition to Moore and Ruffalo, there are a couple more names from the movie biz including Danny Glover, and Gael Garcia Bernal, who was last seen in the Chlotrudis-nominated leading role in THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP. I was also pleased to see another past-Chlotrudis honoree getting a role; Canadian mainstay Maury Chaykin. Don McKellar gets a brief but pivotal role as "The Thief." Fans of Hirozaku Koreeda will be pleased to see Yusuke Iseya, one of the leads from his beloved AFTER LIFE in the role of the "first blind man." Finally, for fans of the Canadian television dramedy "Slings & Arrows" (and there are a handful of you out there) two delightfully talented actresses from that show, Martha Burns and Susan Coyne also have roles.
The one name I didn't see in the credits who we were hoping would be involved is Chlotrudis honoree Tracy Wright. Hopefully there is something bigger and better in her future.
A few weeks ago, new James Bond Daniel Craig pulled out of BLINDNESS, Don McKellar's adaptation of the award-winning novel by Jose Saramago. The film, directed by Fernando Meirelles (CITY OF GOD), about a doctor's wife, played by Julianne Moore, who becomes the only person with the ability to see in a town where everyone is struck with a mysterious case of sudden blindness. Now it has been announced that Mark Ruffalo will step in to replace Craig, and despite the fact that he seems a little young for the role, it's an interesting choice for a film of this caliber. In addition to adapting the screenplay, Chlotrudis-pal McKellar also has a role in the film, as does our other pal Tracy Wright. This one's sure to be a Chlotrudis crowd-pleaser when it is released in 2008.
I'd also like to point out that Chlotrudis members are not the only people who appreciate the talented Mr. Don McKellar. After originally writing this post, I found this post at The Reeler. It's entitled "Six Degrees of Don McKellar," although author Michelle Orange does lose points with me for calling Don "unfriendly."
With the kick-off just over a month away, the Independent Film Festival of Boston has announced the impressive line-up for its 5th Annual Festival. I'm truly looking forward to MONKEY WARFARE, Reg Harkema's look at aging hipsters in Toronto that stars recent Chlotrudis guests Don McKellar and Tracy Wright. In a similar Canadian vein, I can't wait to check out Sarah Polley's feature narrative directorial debut, AWAY FROM HER. Hal Hartley is back with FAY GRIM, a sequel of sorts to HENRY FOOL. As has been the case in the past, the IFFB offers an outstanding batch of documentaries as well, with PROTAGONIST leading the pack for me... that's Jessica Yu's follow up to Chlotrudis nominee IN THE REALM OF THE UNREAL. Go check out the list!
Over at GreenCine Daily, there's a report on Opening Night at SXSW which features Reg Harkema's MONKEY WARFARE, starring this year's Chlotrudis guests Don McKellar and Tracy Wright. Chlotrudis Board members Beth Curran and Nancy Campbell caught MONKEY WARFARE in Toronto, and through Nancy and Chlotrudis member Brian Tamm's efforts, we will be lucky enough to catch this film in April at the Indepedent Film Festival of Boston. With 2006 being a slight year for Canadian films, here's hoping that 2007 yields a better batch. MONKEY WARFARE also stars Nadia Litz, who won a Chlotrudis Award for Best Supporting Actress way back in 2001 for her work in THE FIVE SENSES.
Speaking of SXSW, Chlotrudis members Ned Hinkle, Gil Cordova, and Amanda Doran are all enjoying the festival this week. Let's hope they see some terrific new films to bring to Boston!
A few weeks ago, Scot reported to the Chlotrudis membership that our beloved Canadian TV sitcom, "Twitch City," was finally being released in the U.S. (it was finally released in Canada last fall). Now it hasn't yet appeared in Netflix, but it is available for purchase over at Amazon. We were wondering if the commentary on the U.S. version would be the same as the Canadian, and judging from the description on Amazon, it does sound like it will be. This is actually an exciting bit of news for Chlotrudis. The commentary is done by Don McKellar, this year's Chlotrudis special guest, and lead actor from the show, who calls his co-stars on the phone for assistance. When he reaches Daniel McIvor, past Chlotrudis "Body-of-Work" Award winner, the two have a rather amusing conversation while watching the debut episode. When they get to the "job wheel" scene (one that Chlotrudis members should know well) Daniel actually starts talking about coming to Boston to receive an award for his body of work, and the fact that we showed this clip. It's pretty cool and pretty funny, even though he doesn't mention us by name.
In related news, we have now confirmed our second guest for the 13th Annual Chlotrudis Awards coming up soon. This is an unofficial announcement, as a press release will follow, but I'm just so excited I couldn't contain myself any longer. She's got "cat-i-tude!" Tracy Wright will be honored at the Awards Ceremony for her "career-so-far!" Tracy is best known in the U.S. for being part of the Chlotrudis Awards-winning Ensemble Cast of ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW. She has done extensive work in Canadian film and tv, including the wacky Dizelle in the afore-mentioned "Twitch City," a major part in Don McKellar's ensemble piece, LAST NIGHT, and a lead role in the upcoming MONKEY WARFARE, co-starring McKellar and Nadia Litz. She most recently appeared off-Broadway in "A Beautiful View" at the Public Theatre, a play written and directed by Daniel McIvor (see how synchronistic this post is?) Tracy Wright makes every movie she is in better, and I can't wait to meet her. Look for the official word on the front page of this website very soon.