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Toronto 2008: The End (P.S. Adrien Brody is magic!)

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Adrienbrody_lIt never fails, PopWatchers — at every film festival I’ve covered of late, I’ve always managed to miss catching the flicks that hit the big buzz bulls-eye, which, in the case of the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival, were easily The Wrestler, Rachel Getting Married and Slumdog Millionaire. I’m not too worried, though: Since the first and third were acquired by Fox Searchlight either during or right before the fest, and the second came to Canada with Sony Pictures Classics at its arm, I’m sure I’ll get to see all of ’em in short order.

And I certainly had plenty to take in around that bulls-eye’s periphery, even during the festival’s waning days — and I do mean waning, what with so many festival-goers including most of my colleagues, skipping town well before me. EW.com video mastermind Jason Averett was among them, which is why I’m can’t pop in the embed code for my latest vlog discussing aforementioned Toronto activities — Averett took the webcam with him. So it’s back the ole reliable written word for me; if you jump-cut your way past the jump with me (get it?!), I’ll unspool a montage of my final three days at the fest, including why the makers of The Hurt Locker would prefer I not conflate it with 2007’s failed Iraq war films, why the star and director of Pride & Glory think spending a year on the shelf was a good thing, and how Adrien Brody made a lemon wedge disappear before my very eyes.

The Hurt Locker — On paper, director Kathryn Bigalow’s The Hurt Lockermay seem like a tricky prospect: It arrived in Toronto without U.S.distribution in an indie film landscape that feels grimmer by the day,and with a subject — the current war in Iraq — that proved unpalatableto audiences just last year. Well, hold up there soldier; when Ibrought this conundrum up with director Kathryn Bigelow andscreenwriter Mark Boal, they wearily pointed out that their Iraq filmis different for the simple reason that it’s the first to be set in Iraq and in actual combat. Actually, Brian DePalma’s Redacted beat them to that punch in Nov. 2007, but that film was in many ways an avant garde experiment (Box Office Mojohas it grossing only $65K), whereas Bigelow’s film is a straightforwardthriller about an elite bomb diffusing unit, so I take their point.More important, so did Summit Entertainment, which picked up The Hurt Locker onWednesday morning for reportedly between $1 and 2 million, one of therare acquisitions of the festival. Bigelow and Boal thought the filmwould probably make it to theaters next spring.

Pride and Glory — I had a similar conversation with Edward Norton and Gavin O’Connor, the respective star and co-writer/director of Pride and Glory. The NYC cop/crime drama missed its release date lastfall and then got shelved by New Line Cinema amid the swirlinguncertainty about that mini-studio’s future. That’s a frustratingsituation for any filmmaker, since Hollywood reflexively believes thatany film that sees its release date delayed is a “problem movie.” ButNorton and O’Connor now think they may have actually hit the jackpot,since Warner Bros. — which absorbed New Line earlier this year — is nowapparently set to give the film a full-court press marketing blitz andwide release (on Oct. 24). 

The Brothers Bloom and Tennessee Williams’ The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond — After seeing The Brothers Bloomafreewheeling and whimsical con caper starring Rachel Weisz, AdrienBrody and Mark Ruffalo — I had a feeling it’d be best to interview thecast together along with writer-director Rian Johnson (Brick), since it looked like they all just had so much funmaking the thing. They didn’t disappoint; when Ruffalo said he hadn’tseen the film and hoped he hadn’t been cut out, Johnson deadpanned”Well, you’re in it.” They all marveled over a scene in which Weiszpulls off a complicated card trick while delivering a complicatedmonologue, all in one take, and then Johnson remarked that it’s a shameBrody — once a professional magician, it seems — never got to do anytricks himself. Without missing a beat, Brody grabbed a lemon wedge,put it near my ear and then (poof!) it was gone. 

But my favorite interview of the festival may have been my last one, with Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Evans, the stars of Tennessee Williams’ The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond.Yep, the screenplay is a heretofore unproduced work by the legendaryplaywright, about a cosmopolitan Memphis lass (Howard), the tall drinkof water who works her estranged father’s land (Evans), and a pair ofvaluable teardrop diamond earrings that come between them. The film,quite frankly, hasn’t had the best buzz; I heard a lot of peoplemuttering “pretentious” as I left the Wednesday morning pressscreening. But Howard and Evans could not have been more delightful totalk to, heaping genuine praise upon each other and expressing realexcitement for the chance to originate Tennessee Williams characters.(And, no, Howard has heard no news about whether she’ll be included inthe new Spider-Man movies.) Of course, I could just beresponding to the fact that they bothered to ask me what movies I mostliked here, and didn’t even seem disappointed when I told them, no, I hadn’t seen The Wrestler, Rachel Getting Married or Slumdog Millionaire.

Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd scene, PopWatchers! Now that you’ve read andwatched our coverage of this year’s Toronto film festival, what filmsare you most looking forward to seeing?