2012 Toronto Film Festival About To Kick Off
It’s hard to believe that a year has passed since my trip to the 2011 Toronto Film Festival. On this day a year ago, I was in Washington DC, checking out a few sites and gearing up for my trip to the film festival that I’ve always wanted to visit. Thankfully, I have the whole experience blogged and for those new to The Film Pie, you can check it out by clicking here. In all, I managed to see 30 films in 8 days.
I won’t be there in 2012 due to time and budgetary constraints. Hopefully that’ll change in 2013 and I can’t wait to get back there.
Toronto generally marks the start of the Oscar season. A few contenders have already popped up at Venice and Telluride (both underway) but there’ll be a lot more at Toronto and there are many out there in the film community (including myself) that will be checking the tweets, blogs and reviews to see which films are worthy of the hype.
In this week’s blog, I thought I’d provide a quick overview of the films I can’t wait to see that are either getting a world or North American premiere at this year’s Toronto Film Festival. The quick plot overviews are as per the TIFF website…
Interview - Albert Brooks On Finding Nemo & Hank Scorpio
Finding Nemo is Pixar’s second most successful animated film – pulling in $339m in the United States back in 2003. That’s some serious coin.
The film is being re-released in 3D and is out in Australian cinemas from this week. I was thrilled to speak with the amazing Albert Brooks about the film, it’s re-release and a few other things.
You can download the full audio extract by clicking here.
Matt: Finding Nemo was released in Australian cinemas 9 years ago and the man I’m speaking with is obviously a fan because he’s still promoting it. I say good morning to Marlin the clownfish… also known as Mr Albert Brooks. How’s it going?
Albert: (laughs) I have been non-stop promoting this film for 9 years. Fortunately, it’s back in a theatre now and it’s starting to pay off.
Matt: Over the past few years we’ve seen so many classic animated films get upgraded to 3D and re-released like The Lion King and Beauty & The Beast. What’s going on here? Has Hollywood completely run out of ideas?
Albert: Well I can’t speak for Hollywood. I know I’ve run out of ideas. (laughs) This movie was so visually amazing that I was always assumed that they would do this. Pixar does this particular upgrade very well and with the ocean and surroundings of water, I would think this should have been out in 3D ten years ago if they had the technology.
Some movies, I do agree with you… but I don’t think Pixar takes this stuff lightly. It doesn’t take an hour to do so. This is a long, arduous process.
Matt: What are your own thoughts on 3D? Is it something that you think can enhance the film-going experience? I know some people see it as a bit of a novelty. Do you make an effort to see 3D movies over 2D?
Albert: I took my kids to see Avatar and I think that was a really good 3D experience. I won’t go to a movie just because of 3D. If something is appealing and it’s 3D, I’ll go to the 3D version. But you’re not going to trick me to see something in 3D just because of that fact.
Matt: When it comes to animation, few could argue with the success of Pixar. I’m talking about Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Ratatouille, WALL-E and Up. You had the chance to work with them so closely on Finding Nemo. What’s their secret? How do they keep churning out good movies again and again?
Albert: I don’t know. It’s really amazing. They have the best track record in the business in terms of animated movies. They’ve always said that the story is the most important thing and then everything else flatters the story. If you start with the tricks instead, it doesn’t seem to work.
Matt: Can you remember how you were approached about Finding Nemo?
Albert: Someone contacted my manager at the time. They asked if I’d like to do it and to show me what it might look like, they took a little bit of Marlin and they put a speech from a movie I wrote called Defending Your Life. So I went into a darkened theatre and I watched this fish give a speech from one of my movies. I thought this is so creepy that I have to do it! (laughs) It was very clever on their part.
Matt: I remember reading an interview with Woody Allen where he said that once he’d finished a film, that was it. He’d never go back and re-watch it. With Finding Nemo now getting a re-release, I have to ask – do you go back and watch some of your prior works, your prior films?
Albert: I don’t usually re-watch my own films. If I’m on the treadmill and something comes up, I’ll watch 10 minutes of it. The great thing about film as opposed to television is that you can leave it. You can work your head off on a project and then it’s done. You don’t have to revisit that character.
It was a little different with Nemo because with kids, it was on the television so much in our house. I’d walk into the kitchen and I’d hear them watching it with Marlin yelling at Nemo and I’d get all confused thinking that I was yelling at my own kids. (laughs)
I’m going to go to the premiere here in September and will see it in 3D because it’ll have to look amazing.
Matt: While on the subject of animation, I can’t pass up this opportunity. My favourite TV show is The Simpsons and one of my favourite episodes is You Only Move Twice where you play the head of the Globex Corporation, Hank Scorpio. Did you ever realise that episode was going to be as popular when you were doing it back in 1996?
Albert: No. no. I don’t think you ever realise when something is going to take off. That’s become one of the most talked about Simpsons episodes in its 24 year history. It’s funny about that and how the episode has endured.
Albert: It was largely ad-libbed. Even they will tell you that. They certainly had a story but the great thing about doing stuff for The Simpsons is that if you can “riff on it”, they love it. They’ll leave a tape machine on for 5 hours. By the end of that session, I don’t think I had another comedy thought in my head for a month. I said every funny thing I had as Hank Scorpio.
Matt: I travelled last year to the Toronto Film Festival and I remember my last film on the Saturday night was Drive. I know you picked up a swag of critics’ awards and were great in the film but I have to ask – where had you been hiding? We hadn’t seen you in a movie for years.
Albert: Well, I wrote a book. Amazon has funny rules that say you can only buy it in America. It’s called 2030: The Real Story Of What Happens To America and it took about 3 years to write. So I was a novelist for a while and then I got offered this part and it was too good not to take. I’m playing Paul Rudd’s father in a movie that’s coming out this Christmas – Judd Apatow’s movie This Is 40.
I’ve split my life between making my own films, and acting in other films, and now writing books. Once I get involved in something, I sort of close the world out.
Matt: And how did you miss out on an Oscar nomination this year? Was that Christopher Plummer running a smear campaign against you? It seems he won everything by the end of the season.
Albert: I’m shocked he did! He played a Nazi in The Sound Of Music! (laughs) Honestly, I don’t know how any of that happens. All of a sudden, you wake up one day and you’re a horse in the Kentucky Derby and people are betting on you and putting saddles on you. People are coming out my house and brushing my hair. Then you wake up, and it’s like “oh, too bad” and then no one talks to you again.
You know, that thing, my answer is that if you want an Oscar, you do a movie for Harvey Weinstein.
Matt: Yeah, that does seem to be the way to go. I guess I’ll finish up with one final question and I’m sure it’s one you’ve been asked before. With all you’ve done and achieved in the entertainment industry, what’s been the highlight for you? What’s been your favourite role?
Albert: Because I’ve had such varied roles, I don’t really think like that. If we had long enough time, I could tell you some that were really great experiences and some that were hell. The ones that were hell, I’d probably have a foul memory of just because of that.
I know roles that people like. I get more mail 20 years after making Defending Your Life that any movie I’ve ever done. I got 12 letters today from people trying to deal with fear and loss. They come across the movie and they write these great letters. Was it my favourite? I don’t know. I loved doing Drive last year.
I guess I’m afraid to answer the question because it means I’m going to die. (laughs)
Matt: Well hopefully I’m going to be seeing you in many, many, many more good movies.
Albert: I hope you will!
Matt: Mr Albert Brooks, it’s been an absolute honour. Thanks for talking with us this morning.
Albert: My pleasure.
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Attending The Queensland Premiere Of Mental
For this week’s blog, I thought I’d share some photos from the Australian International Movie Convention (AIMC) which opened last Sunday at Jupiters Casino on the Gold Coast.
It’s a week-long convention where the major movie studios showcase their products for the upcoming year. It’s a chance to network and it’s a chance to find out what’s happening in the industry. Most importantly, the studios use the opportunity to get their films in front of cinema owners… with the ultimate goal being that they’ll soon be seen by the public.
The convention traditionally opens with a screening of an Australian premiere and this year’s choice was Mental. It was the second time I’ve seen the film and whilst the plot is a little rough around the edges, it has some great dark comedy. I’ll review it in full when it’s released in early October.
It seems that no expense was spared for the film’s Queensland premiere and on that note, here’s what you missed out on…
Interview - Jeremy Renner Talks The Bourne Legacy
Jeremy Renner and director Tony Gilroy recently made a quick trip to Australia to promote the latest film it the Bourne franchise – The Bourne Legacy. I was lucky enough to chat with Jeremy Renner about the film and here’s how it went down…
Matt: You’ve been acting for some time and there were good films early in your career and I think about 28 Days Later for example but now it seems your access to roles has really taken off since your Oscar nominated turn in The Hurt Locker. Is that how it’s appeared to you?
Jeremy: It certainly feels that way, yeah. There have been more opportunities that came around because of it. It’s been quite a blessing to get work as an actor.
Matt: I’m guessing you get quite a lot of scripts in front of your nose, or at least in front of your agent’s nose. I’m curious to know what it is you look for in choosing a role?
Jeremy: It’s been pretty much the same throughout my career. I look for things that make me excited to go to work. Not knowing the answers, not knowing how it’s going to turn out, not knowing who I’ll learn from amongst the cast and the crew – it’s exciting. The role is also important and how I can connect with it and find a way in.
Matt: The Bourne franchise has already been made famous by Matt Damon. It’s going through somewhat of a refresh here with Jason Bourne’s character phased out and you coming in as our new hero, Aaron Cross. What was the attraction of coming into this already well-established franchise?
Jeremy: I’m a fan of the franchise, a fan of Matt Damon and a fan of the style of the cinema that they’ve reignited. It’s like a spy thriller from the 70s with great character development. What’s not to love about that?
Matt: Did you get to talk to Matt Damon at all beforehand to get a feel of what you might be getting into?
Jeremy: I’ve gotten to known Matt over the years through Ben Affleck. We didn’t get together officially to discuss the movie creatively but we had a few quick chats behind closed doors.
Matt: You’re working with Tony Gilroy who I think is one of the best writers in Hollywood today with films like Michael Clayton, Duplicity and State Of Play as well as the previous Bourne movies. Here, he’s the director as well. What was he like to work with?
Jeremy: Yeah, it’s nice to have Tony since he’s been a part of the three prior movies as a writer. He’s a plethora of resource and material that I could use if I had any questions. Also, when you work with really smart people like Tony, it elevates the game. What I loved about Tony is that he was very trusting in me with what I was going to do and bring to the film. When you have that trust, there’s a lot of fluidity and creativity that comes as a result.
Matt: As expected, it’s an extremely physical role. You’re running all over the place, there’s fight sequences, you’re shot at and there are motorcycle chases. How much preparation goes into a role like this before you get on set for the first day and start filming?
Jeremy: It was more dumb luck happening there because I had to be physically prepared for Mission: Impossible 4, Hansel & Gretel and The Avengers. The same guys that taught me how to fight in those movies were brought onto Bourne. We had a good running start with the physical preparation but each day had its own challenge to do exactly what was required for the stunts in each scene. You had to learn quickly and do the best you possibly could.
Matt: That reminds me of the very first scene in the film where you get out of a freezing lake in a snow covered landscape. Special effects or was it as cold as it looked?
Jeremy: Yes, it’s real. Something like that for instance, how do you prepare for that physically? I’m not going to sit in a bathtub with ice and say I’m really prepared for this cold water. *laughs*
Matt: A problem I often have with action films is that they feel over-the-top and cartoonish in terms of their storylines but I’ve really liked the Bourne series. Whilst this is a work of fiction, there’s always that lingering thought in the back of your mind as to whether these top-secret government programs and special agents actually exist. Is that something you’ve thought about yourself?
Jeremy: Of course. I believe this world exists but I don’t know any specific details. I believe I’d be shot if I really knew. *laughs* Yeah, that’s what makes these stories and this particular series very interesting – the integrity and authenticity is really important. You don’t want to have to suspend your disbelief in this kind of movie and I’m talking about everything from the physical action to the intelligence of the characters.
Matt: Now there were three films in the Bourne series with Matt Damon. Can we expect to see you again? Are you committed to future Bourne films?
Jeremy: Well that’s not for me to decide really. I had fun on this. Perhaps the most fun I’ve had in a long time. I’m game but people have to want to see it and there has to be an appetite for it. I can’t see far enough into the future.
Matt: I’ll finish up by asking what you’ve got in the works. What can we expect to see you in soon?
Jeremy: Hansel & Gretel comes out in the States at the beginning of next year and then James Gray’s movie should come out after that. It has Marion Cotillard and Joaquin Phoenix. Other than that, I’m kind of taking a little break to hang out with my family.
Matt: You’ve been so busy this year that it makes sense. Thanks Jeremy and we hope that The Bourne Legacy is a success at the box-office. I think it’s a great continuation of the series. Thanks for talking with us.
Jeremy: Thank you so much.
You can read by review of The Bourne Legacy by clicking here.
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