300: Rise of an Empire
In comparison with "300", this insane film is more engaging by dint of being absolutely impossible to take even a little bit seriously.
TORONTO You hurry between theaters, barely enough time between curtains, and one gift after another comes from the screen. Your only regret is that for every good film you see, the people next to you are describing three you missed. This is the payoff after a slow summer at the movies, when it sometimes seemed directors were no longer swinging for the fences, but just happy to get on base.
TORONTO -- The Dude is standing in the middle of the press office at the Toronto Film Festival. I have been out of my hotel room for four minutes and he has found me.
The 1999 Toronto Film Festival, 11 days and 319 films long, opens today with a quarter of a million moviegoers looking for next year's top Oscar winners - or maybe trying to avoid them. The films come from 52 countries, and 171 of them will be world or North American premieres. People plan their vacations around this festival; at a screening last year of a Vietnamese musical, I sat next to Barbara Strange, who planned to see 45 movies and "exist on bottled water, dried apricots and mixed nuts."
TELLURIDE, Colo. -- There are times when I wonder why I even go to the new movies at Telluride, since the special programs and retrospectives are so valuable. On Sunday I saw a surprise screening of the latest Werner Herzog documentary and then attended his birthday party on the lawn of the Mason's Hall. And an hour later I was watching a beautifully restored print of the 1931 Bela Lugosi "Dracula," with a new score composed by Philip Glass, who conducted a live performance of it with the Kronos Quintet.
TELLURIDE, Colo. -- The day began with one of the most wondrous films I ever hope to see. "Princess Mononoke," by the Japanese master of animation Hayao Miyazaki, is a symphony of action and images, a thrilling epic of warriors and monsters, forest creatures and magical spells, with an underlying allegory about the relationship of man and nature. Not a children's film, it is a film for all ages that demonstrates why, for some stories, the special effects wizards are only spinning their wheels, because some images cannot be visualized unless they are drawn.
TELLURIDE, Colo. -- It's a combination of a film festival and a ski weekend, greatly improved by the absence of snow. Moviegoers at this year's 26th Telluride Film Festival can take the ski lift to the top of the mountain, but what they find there is a little unexpected: the Chuck Jones Cinema, named for the animator who brought Bugs Bunny and Wile E. Coyote to life.
The autumn movie season begins for me on the night when the curtain goes up on the first screening at the Telluride Film Festival. After a long summer of special effects, explosions, stabbings, shootings, gross-out comedies, supernatural mystifications, horror stories and movies about the alarmingly sophisticated sex lives of teenagers, September brings relief.
TORONTO -- "American Beauty," which opens in theaters on Friday, strengthened its position as an Oscar candidate by winning the Air Canada "People's Choice" award here Sunday, on the closing day of the Toronto Film Festival.
CANNES, France -- The survivors of the 52nd Cannes Film Festival met at the Nice airport on Monday like applicants for an emergency airlift. The carnage of the awards ceremony was still fresh in our minds. A jury led by the Canadian director David Cronenberg had produced a list of awards so peculiar that it is safe to say no one understood it except Cronenberg -- and perhaps some, but not all, of his jury members. "Perverse," Variety called the verdict.
CANNES, France -- By the time I walked into my hotel after the Cannes Film Festival award ceremony Sunday night, the verdict was already in. Scandale! cried the desk clerks in unison, summarizing the television coverage. Cannes was reeling after a list of winners so unexpected and generally unpopular that the TV commentators were rolling their eyes. The instant verdict was that jury president David Cronenberg, the unorthodox Canadian director, had led his jury into the hinterlands of cinema and camped there.