Editor’s note: We’re thrilled to have film writer Cathleen Rountree blogging to us daily from the Toronto Film Festival, telling us the buzz on the marathon of movies and parade of movie stars in Toronto. She’ll file her dispatches daily between movie screenings.
Just attended a Press Conference for Shekhar Kapoor’s “Elizabeth: The Golden Years” starring Clive Owen, Geoffrey Rush, and Cate Blanchett, reprising her role as the Queen.
My first conference of the Festival, it was held in the Queen Victoria Conference Room.
I sat ten feet away from the panel, hosted by Elvis Mitchell, former critic of the “New York Times,” and grabbed a few shots among the pros, with their two-feet-long camera lenses and territorial elbows.
Perhaps the one word that defines this year’s Festival is POLITICAL! The most important films carry a direct political theme or an indirect political subtext.
Director Shekhar Kapoor admits that “Elizabeth: The Golden Years” can’t help but echo themes surrounding September 11: “A society that doesn’t learn from history, doesn’t learn,” he noted during his opening remarks.
Following are a few notes and quotes I jotted down during the :45 conference.
Cate Blanchett says about Elizabeth: “She has to confront and come to terms with the fact that she’s aging.”
Blanchett wore 6” black heals, a dazzling dark blue mirror-beaded mosaic top and black culottes(??). Her cheekbones practically took up the stage on their own. If possible, she’s even more stunning in person.
Kapoor on the importance of myth in the film and its place in our lives: “We live mythic lives and we loose touch without the awareness of the myths we are living. I come from a mythological culture, and I see the underlying mythologizing of all life. Even death is part of this myth. It humanizes us and makes us ordinary, because everyone dies. Beyond the dramatic, the political, the psychological, is the mythical.”
A journalist asked Blanchett (who is also in Todd Haynes’ (“Velvet Goldmine,” “Far From Heaven,” “Safe”) film “I’m Not There,” a fictional re-imagining of Bob Dylan’s life, in which she portrays the iconic troubadour) which role was harder to play: Elizabeth or Dylan. Her droll response: “Well, I don’t think they’re easily confused.”
(TBC: off to the next Press Conference for “Into the Wild” with dir, Sean Penn, and actors: Emile Hirsh, William Hurt and Marcia Gay Harden, Jena Malone, Catherine Keener.)
Falling behind on noting my daily screenings. Can take only so much time to deliver my blog posts as, naturally, they take me away from film viewing and interviews with directors (actually, setting them up is the time-consuming aspect, the interviews themselves are set for 20 minutes, but we usually push them to 30, which sets everyone back, of course).
To recap the films I’ve seen thus far:
“Ulzhan,” dir., Volker Schlöndorff, Germany/France/Kazakhstan
“Secret Sunshine,” dir., Lee Chang-dong, South Korea
*“Jar City,” dir., Baltasar Kormákur, Iceland
*“Persepolis,” dirs., Vincent Paronnaud & Marjane Satrapi, France
“Mongol,” dir., Sergei Bodrov, Russia
“Le Deuxième Souffle,” dir. Alain Corneau, France
*“Alexandra,” dir., Alexander Sokurov, Russia
“The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” (Brad Pitt,
Casey Affleck, Sam Shepard), dir., Andrew Dominik
Yesterday (9/8) was a seven-film day:
*“Into the Wild,” dir., Sean Penn, USA
“The Wild Horse Redemption,” dir.John Zaritsky, Canada
“Barçelona: A Map,” dir., Ventura Pons, Spain
“Shadows,” dir., Milcho Manchevski, Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
*“You, the Living,” dir., Roy Andersson, Sweden
“Nightwatching,” dir., Peter Greenaway, United Kingdom
*“Eastern Promises,” dir., David Cronenberg, United Kingdom/Canada
(* denotes exceptionally fine film)