My tiff with TIFF
I hate everything about the Toronto International Film Festival.
But mostly, I hate people who write about it.
During TIFF, I try to avoid the newspapers and entertainment magazine shows, with their breathless accounts of where and what celebrities ate in Toronto — not to mention the vacuous interviews conducted by well-marinated and lubricated entertainment writers trying to convince the public that there is depth to a movie star’s soul.
Here’s a sample I saw today in the Ottawa Citizen.
It’s a surprise to have Anne Hathaway spilling out all her insecurities. But it seems she’s a chronic worrier — an actress who fears that every new role will be her last…Hathaway is talking with such calm, analytic assurance about the perils of her profession that you sense a contradiction here. How can someone so seemingly together really feel so vulnerable?
This drivel might be acceptable if one were writing about, say, Kristin Scott Thomas tackling an Oscar-winning role, but Anne Hathaway is a child. And the reviewer is writing about her approach to playing the complex character of Cat Woman.
A few paragraphs down, the writer talks about her body of work, which includes her turn in The Princess Bride. If he had done his research anywhere besides the open movie bar, he might have known that Anne Hathaway was in the womb when Rob Reiner brought the brilliant comedy to the screen. The writer is no doubt thinking of that other masterpiece, The Princess Diaries in which Hathaway is transformed from geek to glamor puss, the first of many such fine performances. Stereotype anyone?
This is the kind of celebrity profile that makes me absolutely gag. It follows the publication of last month’s Vanity Fair cover story which featured the musings of Emma Stone, a post-pubescent little hottie who also has the world view of a peach, no fuzz.
TIFF offers us three weeks worth of this kind of crap. It makes me long for the overlong features the newspaper runs on Bluesfest bands I’ve never heard of.
Really, it’s not the writer’s fault. It’s the material.
This gig is a drag.
In my former life as an entertainment writer, I travelled to posh places all excited to meet my favorite celebs, only to be horribly disappointed to find myself surrounded by morons. For their part, the celebrities swan in, sit at a table and answer soft ball questions about their performances. Invariably, the interviews are hijacked by some interloper who got their press pass from a friend of a friend, and only wants to know what kind of underwear the starlet is wearing.
Rarely are entertainment journalists allowed a one-on-one sit down. If they are, the gabfest rarely lasts longer than 15 minutes, and the writer is treated to the sight of a hungover or bored actor, who splays herself on a hotel couch shoeless and engages in nail-biting.
And mind-numbing. You get Renee Zellwegger, not Brigitte Jones, if you know what I’m saying.
Actors do not live interesting lives anymore. The legends — the Taylors and Burtons — are long gone. Today’s movie stars sit around film sets watching DVDs for months, then they go to the beach. Or out to eat. Or shopping.
They are not nuclear scientists. They have no plan to save the world — except, of course, for Alec Baldwin, and he only wants to save New York.
Veteran movie writers can tell you that a movie star does not want to be the writer’s pal. She wants to play Ultimate Frisbee in Malibu with other actors. And marry them, divorce them and marry others.
What’s so fascinating about Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt? They aren’t great thinkers. They are manic travellers addicted to having, or adopting, children. Might as well interview foster parents in your neighborhood; I’m sure they’d have more interesting tales to tell.
The worst thing about the film festival season is that the media insists on inflicting on us horrendous prose and breathless commentary.
I’m thinking about cancelling my newspaper and cable subscriptions until at least Thanksgiving.
I’d definitely have more fun apple picking.