Monday, September 14, 2009

By George, Toronto certainly loves Clooney


George Clooney may be one of "The Men Who Stare at Goats," but one helluva slew of Canadians stared back at him over the weekend. Smartly, with "Up in the Air" also premiering at the 34th Toronto International Film Festival, Clooney even brought the right words to different audiences.
Before his offbeat "Goats" enjoyed its premiere screening the other night, Clooney simply waltzed on stage with co-star Jeff Bridges, acting more like a comedy team than major movie stars. After an introduction by pal and director Grant Heslov, whose movie is a bizarre tale indeed, Clooney simply said, "There will be free drugs at the end of the evening -- and a barf bag."
Naturally, the corporate crowd attending the gala event at spacious Roy Thomson Hall just howled. I mean, festival-goers love everything the guy says.
The next night at raucous Ryerson (University) Hall -- where "Up" director Jason Reitman said "the real film fans reside" -- the Canadian filmmaker actually had to quiet the Clooney crazies so that a festival programmer could introduce his very entertaining film.
"Look, we gotta get this movie started," Reitman shouted sternly. "You guys sit down, OK?"
They did, the film rolled -- to wild cheers -- and then everyone stood up again afterwards to watch Reitman introduce his cast, saving Clooney for last with the words: "He's a generous, brilliant actor who thinks like a director. We all should hope to be as good as George Clooney."
In no time, the actor walked on stage with a microphone and mimicked a priest -- if not the Pope -- pretending to bless his now-frantic admirers with invisible Holy Water.
"Thank you all for coming to my intervention," Clooney said to ear-splitting noise.
Then came a brief question-answer session with one smart guy asking what just everyone had to be wondering: "Mr. Clooney, how do you relate to this character (a very successful businessman who constantly shies away from commitment and marriage)?"
The seemingly shocked actor responded: "That's it? That's the first question of the night? OK, same heart, same hair, thanks for asking."
Obviously extremely thrilled to have seen The Man, the masses soon filed out peacefully, only to face unusually heavy traffic -- whether walking or driving -- since local authorities closed streets and footpaths to avoid more public affection for Clooney.

Ryerson's fondness for Drew Barrymore, who showed off her directorial debut of "Whip It" in world premiere fashion Sunday night, also bordered on gushing.
The sweet, happy-go-lucky Barrymore soaked it all up, staying on stage for what seemed like forever. That said, most of her time came introducing her large cast, including "fierce"Marcia Gay Harden, "national treasure" Kristen Wiig, "important actress" Juliette Lewis and "heart and soul" Ellen Page.
By the way, counting the diminutive Barrymore, who plays a roller derby queen in her film alongside the tiny Page, skinny Wiig, and super-slender Lewis, the skating quartet certainly seemed incapable of throwing around what little weight they have in such a rough-and-tumble sport. Then the film unreeled and the crowd seemed to love it all, uh, lightweight though it may be.
Festival Pick of the Day: "A Single Man," from fashion designer-turned director/producer/co-writer Tom Ford, is played by a very sad and brilliant Colin Firth, grieving over the death of his longtime companion (Matthew Goode).
Firth already won Best Acting honors at last week's Venice Film Festival, and Julianne Moore seems destined for many supporting actress plaudits, too, in this elegantly shot, eloquently written film.

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