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Toronto International Film Festival, Day Three: 'Violette,' Mystery Doc 'Finding Vivian Maier,' Holofcener's 'Enough Said' and More

Photo of Meredith Brody By Meredith Brody | Thompson on Hollywood September 10, 2013 at 12:10PM

There are many ways of threading one's way through a film festival with 366 films, of which 288 are features. Sometimes I envy my friends who are monomaniacs, partisans of Asian or experimental films, or those whose jobs and deadlines dictate which films they have to see. I am greedy and want to see more than I possibly can.

"Love Is the Perfect Crime"
"Love Is the Perfect Crime"

I stay in France for "Love is the Perfect Crime," which sounds promising, with Mathieu Almaric well-cast as a professor (in the world's most architecturally stunning college, with nowhere-to-hide glass-walled classrooms overlooking a picturesque lake ringed by mountains). He is sexual catnip to his nubile students as well as equally stunning older women (and perhaps also his sister, with whom he lives in a cozy ski chalet). Its increasingly loopy plot paints Almaric into another picturesque corner from which he sees only one way out.  I grew a bit fatigued - the film is 111 minutes long -- but I guess I could categorize it as a guilty pleasure.

I was considering dashing out of the hothouse confines of the Press & Industry screenings to join the real world (or what passes for it during the festival, which is the reel world) at a Gala presentation of "Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon," with the extra added attraction of a conversation onstage between beloved Mike Myers, the director of the documentary, and its subject, the famed manager of rock and roll legends and sometime movie producer. 

Finding Vivian Maier

But I run into a friend, Maureen O'Donnell, longtime Toronto publicist who was once head of communications for TIFF, who is en route to another documentary I'm dying to see, "Finding Vivian Maier," about the mysterious and fortuitous discovery of the life's work -- hundreds of thousands of photo negatives and undeveloped rolls of film -- of a supremely gifted and eccentric street photographer whose oeuvre was completely unknown during her career as a nanny.  Because I have already bought two books about Maier, "Vivian Maier Street Photographer," (with text by polymath Geoff Dyer) and "Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows," by Richard Cahan, Amazon now stuffs my recommendations list with photography books, so this movie suits me right down to the ground: an amazing story, with stunning images.

Afterwards we join a long lineup for "Enough Said," a romantic comedy by the dependable Nicole Holofcener, with Julia Louis-Dreyfus -- so good in "Veep," so Emmied for "Seinfeld," "The New Adventures of Old Christine," and "Veep," that it's a surprise to realize it's her first role in a feature since 1997.  She plays a divorced masseuse, whose daughter is about to leave for college, who starts dating a big teddy bear of a guy (the charming James Gandolfini, in his next-to-last film role), also with a daughter heading off to school, not knowing that he's the ex of her new best friend, a popular poet (Catherine Keener, Holofcener's favorite actress and lucky charm, with good reason).  Complications ensue, satisfyingly resolved. Slight but graceful and engaging.

I'm left on my own as most of the P&I screenings are over, and I haven't scored a ticket to a public screening.  I try a movie that wasn't on my initial list-of-one-hundred, "The Immoral," a Norwegian movie described as "one of the funniest, most provocative comedies you'll see this year."  I sit next to a friend who spends more time telling me about what his wife and kids have been up to since we last saw each other than he does at the movie, which sends a single mother, her infant, and her foul-mouthed ex-army boyfriend on the run from child welfare services and the police. Sounds like a laugh riot, right?  It's shot with an incredibly shaky-cam, more of a jagged-cam, that makes the hand-held work on "LAPD Blue" look like a steadicam by comparison. I give it more than half-an-hour before I, too, am on the run.

This article is related to: Festivals, Toronto

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.