TORONTO – True story: Literally stepping out the door for a 9 o’clock press screening this morning at the 43rd annual international film festival here, I was immediately struck by perhaps the worst gale-size blast of air and rain ever.
The movie I was headed to watch? The Wind, slated for tonight’s “Midnight Madness” showing and described as a frontier horror story about “a festering evil permeating the pastures.”
Uh, with my jacket and jeans now revolving in the dryer – and a never-used-before (or ever again!) umbrella sitting in a lobby waste basket, maybe it’s best just to stay back at the homestead and report on a few memorable weekend moments from TIFF.
In a similarly supernatural vein, more wild, wooly and certainly perfectly orchestrated “Midnight” fun came during a pair of sold-out screenings of Halloween, a nifty continuation of the franchise initiated 40 years ago next month by John Carpenter.
This time around, TIFF-favorite David Gordon Green directs and co-writes, with the grand Jamie Lee Curtis returning as Laurie Strode, who’s again facing off with knife-happy serial killer Michael Myers.
After some pre-screening introductions, Curtis put her arm around Green’s shoulders and explained why she came back for more legendary gore:
“This guy here simply called me and said, “I’ve got an idea,” and I said, “Let’s do it.”
Then, when the theater lights went down, an equally dark visage seemed to appear out of nowhere as the movie began to flicker behind him. Of course, it was the increasingly visible Myers himself, staring at an audience crowd going absolutely bonkers as he slowly walked off the stage.
That same crazy crowd also reacted with equal enthusiasm throughout a film (co-written by Danny McBride) that’s a legitimate hoot and certainly destined to re-energize the long-running slasher movies.
The best part: As the end credits began to roll, Myers appeared again from the shadowy corner of the ancient Elgin Theater balcony. Of course, he stared down at the crazies who couldn’t believe what they were seeing. It was all just so masterfully creepy.
Other memorable weekend images:
Lady Gaga glamorously fascinating press types at a members-only Broadcast Film Critics Association meet-and-greet for A Star Is Born, which grabs you early on and just won’t let go. Co-star and first-time director Bradley Cooper visited, too, with superior supporting actors Sam Elliott and Anthony Ramos (of “Hamilton” Broadway fame).
Melissa McCarthy bounding onto to the Winter Garden Theater stage in pursuit of co-star Richard E. Grant before a screening of their Can You Ever Forgive Me? The two play early ‘90s New York oddballs in a well-written and nicely acted forgery story (based on fact) from director Marielle Heller.
Oscar-winning actress Geena Davis (“The Accidental Tourist”) and producer Cathy Schulman (“Crash”) among many powerful females speaking passionately at a TIFF-initiated “Share Her Journey” rally to advance women’s progress behind the camera. Hundreds of film-industry employees and fans attended to gather support for equal pay standards in a business where women remain under-represented in key management and filmmaking positions.
Meanwhile, other actresses on hand for their festival films remain too numerous to mention. Some of the most notable include Julia Roberts (for both Ben is Back and Homecoming, a TIFF “Primetime” program offering); Viola Davis (Widows); Julian Moore (Gloria Bell); Penelope Cruz (Everybody Knows); Regina Hall (If Beale Street Could Talk); Annette Bening (Life Itself); Carey Mulligan (Wildlife); Salma Hayek (The Hummingbird Project); and Kate Beckinsale (Farming).
Look for more information on any of the above names and movies at www.tiff.net and return here Wednesday for more on the festival, which continues through Sunday.