Saturday, September 6, 2008

“Bees” no buzz killer at Toronto gala


As promised in our last post, we really did spot Brad Pitt Friday night, better known as Day Two of the 33rd annual Toronto International Film Festival. As they say, however, more later.

Pitt starred in Friday’s late gala screening of “Burn After Reading,” but the first gala of the evening at a sold-out and ever-spacious Roy Thomson Hall thrilled the masses, too. It was “The Secret Life of Bees,” based on Sue Monk Kidd’s bestseller.

Director Gina Prince-Bythewood (“Love and Basketball”) introduced Kidd to polite Canadian applause, which soon turned to frenzy with the appearance of her largely female cast.

Someone yelled, “The Queen is in da House” with the introduction of Queen (Bee) Latifah, who plays the loving bee-raisin’, honey-producin’ big sister in the likable Boatwright clan in this heartfelt, coming-of-age/chick flick.

Dakota Fanning, quickly growing into a young woman and almost unrecognizable as the movie’s pivotal 14-year-old; “Dreamgirls” star Jennifer Hudson; multiple Grammy-winning Alicia Keys; and Sophie Okonedo (“Hotel Rwanda”), destined for another supporting Oscar nod as the sweet but troubled May, also joined their director on stage with co-stars Nate Parker, Tristan Wilds and producers Joe Pichirallo and Lauren Schuler Donner.

“All these people took way less (money) than they normally get because of their belief in the book and this project,” Prince-Bythewood said, adding that Paul Bettany (playing the severely distressed father of Fanning’s character) could not be there because of “a personal emergency in his family.”

Look for much more here on “The Secret Life of Bees” when it goes wide in theaters on Oct. 17.

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Before “Burn After Reading” (the latest from writers/directors Joel and Ethan Coen) opens next Friday, you can find much more, including my full review, in Thursday’s Sun News. For now, let’s just call it a very likable and engaging comedy, with quite different and fun performances from George Clooney and the aforementioned Pitt leading an all-star cast of superb players.

And, yes, I really did see the popular Mr. Pitt -- sans bride and new mother of twins Angelina Jolie – at a super cool post-screening party Friday night in Toronto. Find out where he was and who he hung out with when my latest post appears on the MovieZen blog (which goes on hiatus for a while for updating and a great new look). Look for a re-launch soon.
Of course, come back here for more from Toronto late next week.

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