Each day at the Toronto International Film Festival (September 9-19), indieWIRE is publishing a frequently updated dispatch from Toronto.
If the craze surrounding the "Moneyball" press conference is any indication for how the film will be received come awards time (and box office time), big Sony has a hit. Press frantically tried to make their way to the 6th floor of the Bell Light Box in Toronto (the stairs were closed for some God-knows reason so people jammed into the two working elevators) to see Brad Pitt, Philip Seymour Hoffman, director Bennett Miller ("Capote"), Chris Pratt and Jonah Hill Friday afternoon.
"This happens to be a baseball movie, but these [themes] could be applicable to running any business or even running a country," noted Miller. The film centers on Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) who oversees a team falling apart. He meets an out of shape statistics geek who develops a radical new system in which players are not judged in the traditional way, a system they call "moneyball."
Though outwardly the film is a "baseball movie," Miller is quick to say that the film is much more than the sport itself, though the production went to great lengths to be true to the game.
"It's very much a film about baseball, but I saw it as a film not only about a guy who wants to win baseball games but also something more," said Miller. "This is a guy whose life didn't turn out the way it was supposed to be, and it took him more than a decade toiling in failure before he accepted that things weren't going to happen the way he wanted. He could then accept that or challenge everything he knows about himself and the decisions he's made. And the [story] ends up being much more than about baseball."
"As a kid I liked the 'Bad News Bears,' said Pitt during the short afternoon conversation. "Sports films traditionally work on some level of winning and overcoming adversity. Maybe it's something in our DNA to like that. Even when there's loss, you take it on personally." He added later, "I'm a big believer that individuals should to take on different things and leave their comfort systems. This film has somethig that connects with me." [Brian Brooks]
3:00pm EDT: North American rights to “Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel” by Lisa Immordino Vreeland have been picked up by Samuel Goldwyn Films. The portrait of the fifty year reign of the “Empress of Fashion” will have a 2012 release. More here.
2:20pm EDT: Nadine Labaki’s “Where Do We Go Now?” has officially been chosen as Lebanon’s entry into the Best Foreign Language Film category for the 2012 Academy Awards. It screens at the Toronto International Film Festival tomorrow. More here.
1:30pm EDT: Chaos reigned in TIFF central and twitter exploded with complaints at an overstuffed and underorganized press conference for Brad Pitt-starrer "Moneyball."
1:00pm EDT: Mia Wasikowska, screenwriter Jason Lew, producer Bryce Dallas Howard, and American auteur Gus Van Sant were all in attendance last night for the North American premiere of their bleak teenage love film Restless. The pleasant indie-rock soundtrack and touching performance by Wasikowska hardly made up for a number of lousy lines and uninspired clichés, though the audience found many moments to laugh throughout the picture. At the Q&A afterwards writer Lew claimed he found personal therapy through his Brecht-influenced work, Van Sant remained mellow, and Wasikowska turned down an audience member's plea for a hug.
12:15pm EDT: indieWIRE @ The TIFF Filmmakers Lounge, launches tomorrow (Saturday, September 10) at the TIFF Filmmakers Lounge in the downtown Hyatt Hotel next the TIFF Bell Lightbox (mezzanine level). Among those taking part: Jane Fonda, Chace Crawford, Morgan Spurlock, Guy Maddin and Lynn Shelton. For more information go here.
11:45am EDT: criticWIRE is accumulating grades and reviews from Toronto over the next 10 days... A few have trickled in already and are available at the film page links listed on our TIFF guide.
11:05am EDT: Out of Toronto, Zeitgeist acquired U.S. rights to “Elena,” the latest from Andrei Zvyagintsev, which won a Special Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Cannes in the Un Certain Regard section.
11:00am EDT: Despite it's long journey to the screen, "Moneyball" has been receiving great notices since screening to critics yesterday. Our own Eric Kohn was a fan. "Bennett Miller has produced a warm and generally agreeable character study about the pratfalls of athletic institutions and the willingness to think outside the box," he writes. Go here to read his full take.
10:00am EDT: TIFF '11 iPOP: Bono, the Edge and Davis Guggenheim brought down the house last night, launching the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. Check out their stage appearance here.
9:30am EDT: "At its best, “Ides of March” succeeds as a leaner, more outwardly aggressive version of Mike Nichols’ “Primary Colors,” which skillfully explored the dichotomy between Bill Clinton’s charm and his private abuse of power," wrote Kohn in his review of George Clooney's latest. Go here for review and to see Kohn's grade.
9:25am EDT: Eric Kohn's verdict on Werner Herzog's latest, "Into the Abyss"? B-. "Cobbled together out of a few interviews in a relatively short period of time, “Into the Abyss” has the feeling of a rush job," he writes. Go here for full review.
9:00am EDT: The second day of the Toronto International Film Festival is underway, with lots to expect from a pretty extensive schedule: Bennett Miller's "Moneyball" and George Clooney's "The Ides of March" - a powerful pair of Sony Pictures Oscar hopefuls - will screen back-to-back as Galas tonight, while Michael Winterbottom's "Trishna," Jessica Westfeldt's "Friends With Kids," Gary Hustwit's "Urbanized" and Fernando Meirelles' "360" are among the many films having their world premieres.