After the end of Thursday’s Midnight Madness, a mandatory 3 am stop for Timbits, and a lengthy trek across Toronto to a warm bed, day two of TIFF began as soon as the first had ended. Running on two hours sleep and coffee farts I hopped on a BIXI city bike and made my way into downtown for the North America premiere of the British drama series Southcliffe.
Seriously though Timbits are like delicious, doughy crack
Was Oz too upbeat and cheerful for you? Did you find The Killing a little too warm and lighthearted? Don’t worry, Southcliffe is here to fulfill all your morose desires with a dark and gripping story that never lets up. With striking similarities to the 1987 Hungerford massacre, Southcliffe takes place in a sleepy little English town as a disturbed and humiliated local man begins brutally picking off its citizens with little discernment or compassion. However, despite its calculated violence, it is not about the massacre itself, but rather the effects of such an event on the survivors left behind and the varying ways individuals deal with grief. The show will undoubtedly strike a chord with American audiences after the recent events and constant headlines of the Boston marathon bombings and the shootings at Sandy Hook and Aurora. I hope viewers are able bear the weight of Southcliffe’s darkness and embrace its resonance with real life tragedy in order to appreciate an unflinching portrayal of humanity and deeply committed performances by the entire cast.
After sitting through over three hours of Southcliffe's oppressing depression I needed to clear my head, and luckily the event I had been looking most forward to was just around the corner: Jason Reitman’s live read of Boogie Nights. Reitman has been doing live reads of everything from The Princess Bride to Breaking Bad accompanied with original script notes and a rotating mystery cast. It sounds boring, basically like watching a table read from a DVD bonus feature. No costumes, set, or action to speak of whatsoever. However with Reitman at the helm, an all-star cast, and a crowd-pleasing favorite like Boogie Nights? The dialogue sprang to life and the atmosphere bristled with laughs and nostalgia.
Rounding out the cast for this live read was Marc-André Grondin as Scotty J, Jarod Einsohn as Todd Parker, Jordan Hayes as Jessie St Vincent and Becky Barnett, Scott Thompson as The Colonel, Jason Sudeikis as Buck Swope, Dane Cook as Reed Rothchild (as well as busting out a Luis Guzmán impression for Maurice), Dakota Fanning as Rollergirl, Olivia Wilde as Amber Waves, Josh Brolin as Jack Horner, and Jesse Eisenberg as Dirk Diggler. I lost twenty bucks in a bet that George Clooney was going to play Jack, but Brolin found his groove after a few minutes and his dry deliveries got some of the night’s biggest laughs. Eisenberg, dubbed the “first Jewish Dirk Diggler” by Reitman, brought his awkward charm and made the role his own. While Olivia Wilde flawlessly channeled Julianne Moore’s original portrayal and the audience fell into a wondrous hush with every movement of her lips. The rest of the cast more than held their own with Sudeikis being the best white guy to ever play a black cowboy, and I did take a particular pleasure in watching a comedian squirm not being the center of attention as with every line Cook made sure to go way over the top for as many laughs as he could muster out of the crowd. All in all, the packed house ate up every word of what amounted to a well over two hour affair and the entire cast seemed to have a blast with it.
TIFF keeps going Saturday with a sold out morning screening of Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave, another outing with Jason Reitman and Josh Brolin for the premiere of Reitman’s new film Labor Day, and catching up on some Midnight Madness with Eli Roth’s return to the director’s chair for his cannibal flick The Green Inferno.
Nate Abernethy is a magical sprite we captured and forced to do film reviews. He somehow also wound up with a twitter account @NateAbernethy