2011 Toronto International Film Festival

DailyXY’s TIFF coverage is sponsored by the Alliance film, The Ides of March.

Looking at the top and bottom of this post, you will notice that one of the films I am about to discuss is, entirely by coincidence, “sponsoring” my TIFF blog. Thanks and all that but, for the record, my opinions are my own and the films I cover are my own choice. I really wish I’d had time to run the following look at The Ides of March last week — not to seem less “suspect,” but because…well, read on!

Early in the fest, Ides is a clear TIFF 2011 highlight. It generated high wattage media attention because it is directed and co-written by paparazzi-fave George Clooney, who also stars. The anticipation around its press screening was such we had to line up 45 minutes early. Thankfully, the film lived up to its preceding hype.

A political thriller, Ides is full of Mamet-like plot twists and turns. Ryan Gosling shines as the conflicted campaign manager for Clooney’s Democratic primary campaign. Quite the TIFF for Canuck favorite Gosling, as he also stars in another popular fest film, Drive.

The snappy dialogue in Ides also leans Mamet, to great effect. (“The trouble with Democrats is they are afraid to get in the mud with the Republican elephants.”) Also noteworthy is the work of superb character actors Paul Giammati and Philip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood. Clooney is typically charming and convincing in his role, cementing his status as this generation’s Clark Gable or Cary Grant. Don’t be surprised to hear Oscar buzz around this ensemble.

Plenty of American scribes, reportedly including Roger Ebert, and industry types attended Ides. They’re the ones who’ll often brush by you without a word as they take their seat, or, even worse, yap on their cellphones while at the urinal. (Yes, even in 2011.) We’d hoped to bring you highlights of The Ides Of March press conference, but the delays in and generally chaotic organization around the preceding U2 presser stymied that.

Also half an hour late starting was Pearl Jam (if rock stars can start arena shows on time, why not hotel meeting-room press conferences?), representing, obviously, Pearl Jam Twenty. Still, this one ran quite smoothly. All five band members showed, alongside director Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous, Jerry Maguire) and the group came across far more warmer and less pretentious than Bono and The Edge.

Just as you’d expect, right? PJ20 is a two-hour long retrospective of the career of the grunge heroes. It will delight the band’s loyal fans, as will the soundtrack CDs and the lavish coffeetable tome that accompanies it (the latter of which qualifies as our best TIFF swag to date)

At the chatfest, Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder, long-known for his reluctance to embrace fame (a concept alien to Bono) reflected, “It was different [in the early-to-mid ’90s]. I don’t know how people survive now, with all the media, social media and that B.S. I can’t imagine it for a second. It was way too much for me as a human. But I’m not still moaning about it. We had to take responsibility and manicure it [fame] to a level you can deal with. Now I’m proud we have lives we can live, as parents and community members. We appreciate the relationship we have with our audience now.”

With Twenty as a retrospective, what does the future hold for Pearl Jam? “We’ll do the same things, but get better,” Vedder pledged. “We may try to push the borders musically. I don’t see stopping, as this seems to be working. We want to stay healthy and be dependable to each other and our audience.”

We’ll check in during Pearl Jam Forty to see what comes of that. Given Vedder’s propensity for honest self-evaluation, it might just work out…

Image courtesy of TIFF.

DailyXY’s TIFFtown blog is sponsored by the Alliance film, The Ides of March.
"TIFFtown" is sponsored by the Alliance film, The Ides of March.

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