In all the shattered, diminished world of people who still care about grown-up, prestigey, high-dramatical filmmaking there is one thing that matters, and that thing is George Clooney.
Classic movie star looking, quip-shooting, cause-mongering, caring deeply about the arts, a star who actually writes... Mr. Clooney's status as Hollywood's dream man has survived unscathed through uneven — at best — box office and so-so at best pet projects.
Moviegoers may not be head over in heels in love with him (no film he has made that did not also star Brad Pitt has gone over 50 million since 2000's Perfect Storm) , critics can often take or leave his films, but Clooney still soars like an eagle above the film world, unsullied by setbacks which would have brought low a dozen lesser men of the screen.
And so when Mr. Clooney arrives in Toronto, it is not as a man desperate for a comeback, but as the reining King, bringing along with him two major films with Golden Globe written all over them.
The knight of the cinema arrives direct from the Venice Festival, where the salivating of one TV reporter over George caused Indiewire to explode,
why are the journalists at film festivals so goddamned STUPID? Their questions tend to the dimmer side of sub-normal-barely one step up from "If you could be any kind of tree, what tree would you be?" — and their behaviour is either boorish, or breathtakingly ignorant, or both. Sure enough, at the end of the session, in another monotonous ritual, they rushed the stage to beg for autographs, presumably in the belief that they hadn't yet demeaned themselves or their profession enough.
The Clooney mambo train kicks off in Toronto Saturday night with the premiere of Up In The Air, a film so dripping with understated prestigeyness, you'll want to put on a tux just to watch the trailer. Directed by Jason Reitman — auteur of Oscar's beloved Juno! Based on a novel by celebrated literati Walter Kirn! About a downsizing expert, it deals with contemporary issues! And it comes certified by Telluride where it received "kudo heat" according to Variety.
The second Clooney onslaught comes with The Men Who Stare at Goats. Produced by George, directed by his long-time collaborator Grant Heslov, the film once again takes Clooney into his favorite world of national security — with a wacky twist — telling the story of a secret Defense Department psychic ops unit. The film is already being described as an "Oscar Wildcard."
Poor Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany, however, did not sweep into Toronto under a blanket of goodwill, affection and hero worship. After opening the festival with their Charles Darwin biopic Creation they are all but being run out of Canada. Anne Thompson wrote, "This movie bears all the earmarks of a group of people trying not to churn out yet another biopic, desperately searching for drama and conjuring up nothing but flapping boredom."
And Movieline declared of the plot:
their heavy investment in that father-daughter dynamic yields the stuff of exposition, not drama, and Darwin the scientist (and the husband) is reduced to a brooding, whimpering intellectual parody who wouldn't be so out of place in a Woody Allen movie.
Sucks not to be George Clooney around here.