TORONTO FESTIVAL: Hurricanes, Similar Chick Flicks, and Women Talking Dirty
by Beth Pinsker
Even with the sun shining and a light breeze making the weather in
Toronto glorious, Hurricane Floyd was taking its toll on the film
festival. Among the casualties: Meryl Streep and her real-life alter ego
Roberta Guspari couldn't get out of New York to make the festival for
their gala film, "Music of the Heart." Danny DeVito got to his screening
of "The Big Kahuna" just in time to make a grand entrance. Elton John
had to charter a plane to get here for the premiere of the film he
executive produced and scored, "Coky Giedroyc's Women Talking Dirty."
In the other direction, the cast of "Jakob the Liar" was stranded in
Toronto, searching for rooms at the last minute at the Four Seasons
because they couldn't get back into New York. Alec Baldwin, who was seen
around town everywhere this week, looked like he had been in town so
long that he ran out of clean clothes to wear - what else could explain
his outfit on Friday of white short shorts, white t-shirt, white socks
and sandals that made him look like a cabana boy?
One group that was put together very well despite the weather and the
travel circumstances was the one from "Anywhere But Here." The 20th Century Fox
team had the festival routine down to a science, shepherding Susan
Sarandon, Natalie Portman and Wayne Wang through a stiff press
conference and into a tightly controlled pre-premiere cocktail party.
Portman, for instance, bristled at questions about starting college last
week. She didn't want to say where it was she was going. Is Harvard
really such a big deal? The only time things got a little light and
off-script was when Sarandon started talking about the daring of
Fox to, "push this little chick flick through, as opposed to the
big dick films."
What Sarandon didn't mention was that there was another film at the
festival that was much more the epitome of the daring independent chick
flick. "Tumbleweeds" has an eerily similar plot to "Anywhere But Here,"
with a kooky and man-hungry mom taking a teenage daughter from a small
town to California. Even more eerie is the fact that both stories are
autobiographical, with "Tumbleweeds" based on Angela Shelton's
childhood, and "Anywhere But Here" based on Mona Simpson's
The "Tumbleweeds" group hadn't seen the other film as of Friday, but
they were all curious. "Isn't that weird?" Shelton asked. "I'm nervous
to see it." The big money is going to go to the studio film for sure,
considering the marketing push it will get and the draw of Sarandon and
Portman. But for my money, the better story is "Tumbleweeds." And
British actress Janet McTeer gets a lot more meat out of her role than
Sarandon does in hers.
Both films, however, had nothing on an unfinished film in the festival:
Norman Jewison's "Hurricane" got a huge standing ovation at its
rough-cut premiere on Friday night. Based in Toronto, Jewison is always
a festival favorite, but this time the praise was for the film. The
ovation was not just for Denzel Washington's performance, but also for
Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, the middleweight boxing champ who was unjustly
imprisoned for 20 years as the victim of prejudice and was in the audience.
That made events run late at the other big premiere of the night, "Women Talking Dirty." The bash was big largely because of Elton John's presence, since the Helena Bonham Carter starrer doesn't have an American distribution deal in place yet. The National Post sponsored the evening, and they invited so many people that the
post-premiere party turned into the biggest zoo of the entire festival,
with massive crowds moving between the rooms of the lush Courthouse