Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Brad Pitt talks baseball. Jason Patric works with stuffed wolverine.

Movies, movie stars. More movies, more movie stars. Reports from the front at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Brad Pitt talks baseball. Jason Patric works with stuffed wolverine.

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Pitt, Hill, "Moneyball."
Pitt, Hill, "Moneyball."

Brad Pitt is in Toronto with Moneyball, his inside-baseball bio of the Oakland A’s Billy Beane, the maverick  general manager who took a motley crew of rejects, has-beens and problem cases and led them on a historic run to the playoffs – thanks in large part to the counsel of a nerd boy statistician. Pitt is Beane, chawing tobacco, scarfing Twinkies, hurling furniture—and  deftly projecting a troubled quietude as well. Here’s his third acting Oscar nomination, no doubt. Jonah Hill plays Peter Brand, the Yale business school dweeb with a novel approach to scouting players.

In an interview Friday, Pitt talked about working with the Superbad/Funny People actor (in a way, Moneyball is an oddball buddy pic), about the long and winding road the project was on (Steven Soderbergh was originally set to direct – Bennett Miller, of Capote, finally got it made), about Angelina Jolie’s feature directing debut (In the Land of Blood and Honey), and about getting his first taste of real “autonomy” in years, riding a BMW motorcycle through the Scottish highlands for a few days unaccompanied by managers, bodyguards, publicists or anyone. Just Pitt and his bike.

Some pics screened on Saturday and Sunday:  Albert Nobbs, with Glenn Close’s poignant, pitch-perfect performance in the title role, as a late 19th century Dubliner who goes through life disguised as a man. Janet McTeer, Brendan Gleeson and Mia Wasikowska also star…. Keyhole, cinema eccentric Guy Maddin’s nutty, surrealist, black and white ghost story/retro gangster caper, with Jason Patric running around carrying a stuffed wolverine (with a pocket knife in its mouth) and Maddin muse Isabella Rossellini as a spectral presence …. Take This Waltz, Sarah Polley’s sun-burnished Toronto love story, about a late twentysomething writer (Michelle Williams) married to a cookbook writer/chef (Seth Rogen). And then she meets a handsome artist dude (Luke Kirby) who lives across the street, and embarks on a turbulent emotional affair. The film’s title comes from a Leonard Cohen song, and while the version shown at TIFF needs some serious editing, Williams and Kirby are shooting sparks. With a few smart trims, this could be another (500) Days of Summer…. The Oranges, a comedy about marriages and families falling apart, set in the suburban splendor of North Jersey and starring Hugh Laurie, Leighton Meester, Oliver Platt, Allison Janney, Catherine Keener and Alia Shawkat.

Saturday interviews: The Descendants' Alexander Payne, Albert Nobbs' Close, and Melancholia's Kirsten Dunst.

Saturday sighting: a raccoon, trying to cross Beverley Street -- probably heard about the taxidermized wolverine in Keyhole and was making a run for it.

Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
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About this blog

Steven Rea has been an Inquirer movie critic since 1992. He was born in London, raised in New York City, and has lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Iowa City, Iowa. His column, "On Movies," appears Sundays in Arts & Entertainment, his reviews appear in the Weekend section on Fridays. He is a member of the National Society of Film Critics.

Read his most recent columns and reviews, here. He is the author of the book “Hollywood Rides a Bike,” and also curates the movie stars and bicycling photo blog, Rides A Bike.

Reach Steven at srea@phillynews.com.

Steven Rea Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
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