David O. Russell out-Scorseses Martin Scorsese himself with "American Hustle," a rollicking '70s crime romp that’s ridiculously entertaining in all the best possible ways.
The bottom line: Casey Affleck thinks of it as a performance and not as an act, and he thinks of "I'm Still Here" as a film, and not a hoax. In an interview where he revealed details behind the making of his controversial film with and about Joaquin Phoenix, he also said:
• David Letterman was not in on the performance, and what you saw on his show was really happening.
• Phoenix dropped out of character when he was not being filmed or in public.
• The drugs and the hookers were staged. The vomiting was real.
• Toronto Report # 7
"There must be directors at Toronto other than Werner Herzog and Errol Morris," one reader wrote impatiently. "Try reviewing someone else's films for a change." Point taken. I intend to do that below, and say in my defense that I have already written about eight films not by my heroes. Actually, that's not so many, is it? I saw 26 of the films but feel no need to write about all of them; in a few cases, I don't want to say negative things about those still searching for buyers.
• Toronto Report #6
We now have it on Casey Affleck's word that "I'm Still Here," the film about Joaquin Phoenix's apparent descent into self-destruction, was a hoax. We cannot doubt this. Well, perhaps we can; the possibility exists that Affleck caught so much shit after the release that he decided to back off from his devastating portrait of his brother-in-law. But let's agree it is a hoax.
• Toronto Report #5
It's little wonder Errol Morris and Werner Herzog are good friends. They have this in common: They make strange, brilliant films, and they have strange, brilliant minds. I've never had the pleasure of observing either one at those "round tables" they convene at film festivals to give a dozen critics the experience of sitting for a dozen minutes at the same table with a great person, and the opportunity to judge the great person's ability to generate sound bites. I don't even know if Errol does round tables to promote his films. But if he does, I'm pretty sure he would take the entire twelve minutes to answer the first question.
• Toronto Report #4
About 32,000 years ago, in a limestone cave above the Ardèche River in Southern France, humans created the oldest cave paintings known to exist. They spring from the walls with boldness and confidence, as if the artists were already sure what they wanted to paint and how to paint it. Perhaps 25,000 years ago, a child visited the cave and left a footprint, the oldest human footprint that can be accurately dated. At some time after the child's visit, a rock slide sealed the entrance to the cave. In 1994, French archeologists, searching for air plumes that might reveal the presence of a cave, found it again.
• Toronto Report #3
Werner Herzog and Errol Morris have been friends for a very long time, from the days in the 1970s when Morris saw Herzog's first films at the Univ. of Wisconsin and decided to become a filmmaker. Errol told Herzog of a film he wanted to shoot, but kept delaying. Herzog told him he needed more self-discipline. He added: "If you make this film, I'll eat my shoe."
• Toronto Report #2
Clint Eastwood's Hereafter considers the possibility of an afterlife with tenderness, beauty and a gentle tact. I was surprised how enthralling I found it. I don't believe in woo-woo, but there's no woo-woo anywhere to be seen. It doesn't even properly suppose an afterlife, but only the possibility of consciousness after apparent death. This is plausible. Many near-death survivors report the same memories, of the white light, the waiting figures and a feeling of peace.
Claude Chabrol, who died Sunday, Sept. 12 at 80, was a founder of the New Wave and a giant of French cinema. This interview, which took place during the 1970 New York Film Festival, shows him at midpoint in his life, just as he had emerged from a period of neglect and was making some of his best films.
Claude Chabrol's "This Man Must Die" is advertised as a thriller, but I found it more of a macabre study of human behavior. There's no doubt as to the villain's identity, and little doubt that he will die (although how he dies is left deliciously ambiguous).
Unlike previous masters of thrillers like Hitchcock, Chabrol goes for mood and tone more than for plot. You get the notion that his killings and revenges are choreographed for a terribly observant camera and an ear that hears the slightest change in human speech.
• Toronto Report #1
I walk out the hotel door and don't know where I am. I've spent almost ten months in Toronto, one film festival at a time, and I know my way around. So where am I? The concierge says the district is "near the Entertainment District."
Not far away are some of the big Toronto legit houses. Turn a corner and I realize
"Roger Ebert Presents At the Movies," a weekly half-hour film review program, was announced today by its producers, Chaz and Roger Ebert. The program continues the 35-year-old run of a reviewing format first introduced by Gene Siskel and Ebert and later by Ebert and Richard Roeper.