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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

September 11, 2011 at 7:17 PM

At TIFF: World premiere of Lynn Shelton’s latest

TORONTO — Since last blogging, I’ve seen three movies, done four interviews, and nearly walked right into Darth Vader. First things first: Heading out after a screening yesterday at the Scotiabank, I vaguely registered the presence of a costumed Stormtrooper and didn’t think about it too much (it’ s a festival, weird stuff happens), then swerved to narrowly miss the aforementioned D.V., then noticed with amusement that the vast staircase that parallels the very long escalators leading into the theater was peppered with costumed folk: Spider-Man, Superman, various women in mysterious skimpy costumes. All this was for the premiere of the latest documentary from Morgan Spurlock (“Super Size Me”): “Comic Con, Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope.” Haven’t seen the movie, but the spectacle gets thumbs-up; I’ve never been to Comic Con, but standing around in costume in an organized yet vague way sounds about right.
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Nobody was in costume for the world premiere of Seattle filmmaker Lynn Shelton’s latest, “Your Sister’s Sister”; Shelton herself looked smashing on the red carpet in a gray dress, silver shoes and a wonderfully cobwebby shawl. A small, character-driven tale, in the same vein as “Humpday” (but less claustrophobically filmed), “Your Sister’s Sister” stars Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt as a pair of siblings and Mark Duplass (“Humpday”) as the man who unintentionally comes between them during a retreat at the sisters’ family’s island cabin. (It’s shot almost entirely in the San Juans — Orcas, I think, but will confirm tomorrow when interviewing Shelton — with a few beginning/ending scenes in Seattle.) Like “Humpday,” it s a drama filled with funny moments; like “Humpday,” it’s wonderfully acted, by a trio of performers who never hit a false note. Shelton told the enthusiastic audience at the Ryerson Theatre that the “vast majority” of the film was improvised by the actors (with the guidance of a 70-page “scriptment” she had written), and that the original idea came from Duplass — who called her up wanting her to cast him in another movie. (That’s Duplass, Shelton and Blunt in the photo, left to right, at a TIFF party at Soho House Pop Up Club. Taken by Alexandra Wyman/Getty Images.)
Quite possibly “Your Sister’s Sister” will get picked up by a distributor at the festival — it’s a charmer and a crowd pleaser — but so far, according to Deadline.com, acquisitions at TIFF have been slow. Among the more high-profile titles, Steve McQueen’s “Shame” was picked up earlier and Lasse Hallstrom’s “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” (also starring Blunt) got acquired today by CBS Films, but not much other news. I’ve heard good things about WIlliam Farino’s comedy “The Oranges,” starring Hugh Laurie, Allison Janney and Oliver Platt, but it’s still without a buyer as far as I know; as is “Wuthering Heights” (which won a well-deserved cinematography award at the Venice Film Festival, announced yesterday).
Screenings for me have been catch-as-catch-can for Saturday and today, due to having so many interviews set — I’m choosing movies based on what fits into holes in my schedule, rather than arranging my schedule around the movies. This doesn’t always work out (“Elles,” a French film I saw yesterday with Juliette Binoche, was disappointingly dull, despite plenty of sex scenes), but sometimes it does: “Headhunters,” a Norwegian thriller based on the best selling novel by Jo Nesbo, was snappy, smart, and thoroughly bloody. The story of a corporate headhunter who moonlights as an art thief until a heist goes terribly wrong (an irresistible premise, no?), it’s already been acquired by Magnolia and should be in U.S. theaters in 2012.
More movies tomorrow, as my Toronto sojourn winds down (I’m heading home Tuesday night, by which time I devoutly hope the Seattle heat wave will be over). And I’m still keeping an eye on the mysterious stair-tripping situation at the Scotiabank, described yesterday: Today I watched no fewer than four people fall up the stairs in Cinema 11 at the Scotiabank (for the record: all men, all sensibly shod). And I overheard a woman in line explaining to friends that the reason her arm was in a sling and cast was because of a stumble on the stairs at a screening the day before. (Couldn’t tell if she was talking about the Scotiabank; I try to be discreet while eavesdropping but it doesn’t always serve me well.) Clearly this situation requires further monitoring — from the safety of my aisle seat where I’m trying to remain alert, in case I have to catch somebody. Who knew TIFF brought such peril?

Comments | More in Books-to-movies | Topics: Emily Blunt, Lynn Shelton, Mark Duplass

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