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Toronto Weekend: Minute By Minute

Toronto Weekend: Minute By Minute

Each day at the Toronto International Film Festival (September 9-19), indieWIRE is publishing a frequently updated dispatch from Toronto.

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Sunday, September 11

1:20pm: Director Julian Farino’s comedy, “The Oranges,” received tremendous laughter at its world premiere on Saturday. Following the scandalous entanglement of two suburban New Jersey families, the film prompted a viewer, during the Q and A, to express her discomfort with its “morality.” Farino responded by saying, “Life isn’t always so straightforward.” Hugh Laurie, a leading actor in the film, further capitalized on this point by stating that the love and forgiveness exemplified within “The Oranges” are qualities of the utmost morality. [Claire Morse]

12:50pm: Before launching into the world premiere of “The Descendants” last night at the Visa Screening Room, Alexander Payne coyly referred to his leading man George Clooney as “the President of TIFF.” He wasn’t kidding.

The heartbreaking and hilarious drama about a father (Clooney) forced to cope with the loss of his wife, only to find out she was cheating, earned a standing ovation for Payne and his cast.

Payne and Clooney onstage at the Visa Screening Room. Photo by Eric Kohn.

Once folks returned to their seats, Clooney wasted no time in making himself the center of attention. Looking dapper in a fitted suit and sporting slickly groomed hair, Clooney brought his signature suave demeanor to the room.

When someone from the audience asked a question others couldn’t hear, Clooney said, “He was saying because he’s in the front row, how much younger I look.” He then posed, winked and gave the audience what they wanted: that Cheshire million-dollar grin.

Another member of the crowd didn’t have a question, but praised a touching scene Clooney shares with his comatose wife. “The wonderful actress who was playing my dying wife, she would take something before she laid in bed,” Clooney said. “We’d leave her, go for lunch. It felt bad after a while.” [Nigel M. Smith]

12:35pm: TORONTO REVIEW | Todd Solondz Takes A Fresh Path To More of the Same With Kafkaesque “Dark Horse” | The universe of damaged characters Todd Solondz has created in his movies is generally considered a cruel and angry place, even by his biggest fans. His latest feature, “Dark Horse,” plays by those same rules and thus won’t convert any committed Solondz haters. At the same time, it carves a fresh path that deviates from existing patterns in his work with a more accessible narrative.

12:34pm: TORONTO REVIEW | “The Descendants” Lets Alexander Payne Warm Up | Family dramas based around the recent or impending death of a relative tend to aim for easy sentimentality or wallow in grief. Alexander Payne courts these dangers many times in “The Descendants,” but manages to avoid the trappings of formula. Because it’s Payne, a director both derided and acclaimed for surrounding his sad, seemingly hopeless characters with a deviant sense of humor, “The Descendants” constantly hovers on the brink of a dark comedy.

James Franco and Gus Van Sant sat down with TIFF’s Noah Cowan this afternoon at the Bell Lightbox to talk about “Memories of Idaho,” Franco’s mediation on Van Sant’s “My Own Private Idaho.”

12:32pm: Pearl Jam continued its anniversary celebration with the raucous premiere of “Pearl Jam Twenty” over the weekend in Toronto. Proclaimed the “hottest ticket of the festival” by TIFF’s Thom Powers, the movie is an exhilarating ride with the band through their amazingly well-documented history. Director Cameron Crowe introduced the film by bringing each of the bandmembers on stage but almost forgot lead guitarist Mike McCready — until the roaring fans in the audience quickly reminded him. More here.

Saturday, September 10

3:55pm: In an iW exclusive, click here to check out the international poster for “The Deep Blue Sea,” starring Rachel Weisz. It world premieres tomorrow.

3:00pm: “Shame,” which got picked up by Fox Searchlight last night out of the festival, has another reason to brag. Its lead, Michael Fassbender, was just awarded the Best Actor prize in Venice. Aleksander Sokurov’s “Faust” won Best Film. Go here for full list of winners.

12:45pm indieWIRE has three lovely interns here in Toronto – Derek, Oliver and Claire – all of whom are alums of Picton Picturefest’s youth retreat. Since I’m kind of overwhelmed with work outside of keeping this blog up to date, I’m going to hand it over to them to write basically whatever they want. First off, Derek takes on Werner Herzog’s “Into The Abyss” in this review. [Peter Knegt]

12:15 pm: When Werner Herzog’s “Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, A Tale of Life” premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on Thursday, the director surprised many audiences by confessing that he had no protocol for interviewing prisoners on death row. He speaks to one of them in the film, but will soon complete a four-part miniseries for Investigation Discovery with more. Budding filmmakers might think Herzog makes the job look easy.

But even if he doesn’t prepare in a conventional fashion, he still has a unique modus operandi, which he has shared with select crowds for his traveling Rogue Film School over the last few years. The weekend seminar, which has occurred around the country, provides unique access to Herzog’s way of seeing the world. He shared with indieWIRE a few essential lessons from the program. [Eric Kohn]

11:30 am: Sundance Selects has acquired North American rights to Christophe Honoré’s “Beloved,” which is currently screening at the Toronto International Film Festival. Full story here.

10:45 am: TORONTO REVIEW | The Flawed Thinking of “Sarah Palin – You Betcha!” – Palin hasn’t exactly faded from view since her sudden arrival on the world stage during the 2008 election, but with the way Broomfield treats her as fresh material for an exposé of her Wasilla roots, one might think she did.

10:00 am: indieWIRE begins its live conversations today in the Filmmakers’ Lounge at the Hyatt downtown Toronto (next to the Bell Light Box) on the Mezzanine Level. Today’s conversations include director Stephen Kessler and subject Paul Williams from TIFF Real to Reel doc, “Paul Williams Still Alive” at 4pm and directors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky from “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory” at 4:30pm. For the full schedule of events iW is co-hosting with TIFF through Tuesday, click here.

10:00am EDT: At the world premiere of “Think of Me,” actress Lauren Ambrose delivered an authentic and emotionally charged performance as a struggling single mother. In the Q and A, director/writer Brian Wizeman revealed that his film was largely inspired by a novel about a woman who sold her children. “I wanted to explore how an audience might identify with that choice,” said Wizeman. [Claire Morse]

9:00am EDT: The second day of the Toronto International Film Festival is underway, with lots to expect from a pretty extensive schedule: Homegrown directors Sarah Polley and David Cronenberg will screen their “Take This Waltz” and “A Dangerous Method” as galas; Lasse Hallstrom’s “Salmon Fishing In Yemen,” Oren Moverman’s “Rampart,” Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia,” Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Drive” and Derick Martini’s “Hick.”

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