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The scene
The not-so-quiet Londoner: Caine puts his foot in it

The Globe and Mail
September 10, 2002

It could happen to anyone caught up in the buzz of the festival -- mistaking the average commoner, or worse, a journalist, for a star. But Michael Caine's faux pas yesterday at the Hotel Intercontinental was so boffo, it deserves note.

A group of journalists had just wrapped up a roundtable session at the hotel and were heading for the elevator. Caine, in town promoting The Quiet American,emerged from the lift and suddenly made a beeline to the scribes. "Hellooo," he beamed, leaning into the face of one, a little person confined to a wheelchair. Caine then blanched, stopped mid-greeting and hastily headed off down the hall. "Blimey," he said to his publicist. "I thought that was Mini-Me."

Shabby chic reigns
So many gala screenings, so little time to figure out what to wear. Or is it that impending war with Iraq and the flood of Sept. 11 anniversary glance-backs that is making this year's Toronto International Film Festival a bit of a sartorial downer?

Whatever the reason, a great many stars this season are shunning glamour gowns in favour of the dressed-down look: jeans, a T-shirt, a pair of flip-flops and hair that blows naturally in the wind spewing from their publicity machines. And so you have Sean Penn and wife Robin Wright arriving at the White Oleander premiere in a button-down shirt (him) and low-rise jeans (her) and actor Djimon Hounsou in a T-shirt barely tucked into his baggy jeans at the screening of The Four Feathers.

Even Canada's own Sarah Polley wore an oversized wrinkled shirt to Sunday night's splashy Premiere party at Prego della Piazza, in keeping with the glum antifashion trend. But not everyone's a lover of the new North American counterchic.

Foreign talent like France's Juliette Binoche (Jet Lag) and China's Bai Ling have been putting their own spin on message dressing by stopping traffic on the party circuit dressed head-to-toe in their own interpretation of screen diva-ness. With Binoche that means vintage satin-slip dresses, with Ling, idiosyncratic ensembles pairing cowboy boots with rompers and Halston-era halter tops. Both actresses have heeded the European runway decree to use fashion as a barometer of individual style.

In comparison, their North American counterparts look like shabbily dressed pack dogs. There goes the neighbourhood.

Eminem is scorching hot
Every festival has its hot ticket, but this one was scorching -- vast line-ups stretching north and south on Yonge Street, rumours of scalpers successfully working the anxious crowd. Inside the Elgin Theatre, just before the lights went down, director Curtis Hanson took the stage with a breezy, "Welcome to 8 Mile, otherwise known as The Eminem Movie." Beside him, producer cum mogul Brian Grazer -- short in stature, tall in legend -- stood silently, his suit bagging but the spikes on that trademark 'do as erect as ever.

Hanson described the one-off screening as a "work in progress," with neither the sound completely mixed nor the colours perfectly matched. In truth, the print seemed relatively polished. The Universal honchos in attendance were simply keen to confirm what they already knew -- that, when it opens in November, the picture will be a major hit, critically and commercially. Making his acting debut, Eminem plays -- go figure -- an aspiring rapper cultivating his rhymes and his conscience in the Detroit 'hood. In other words, he does on camera precisely what he's been doing on CD -- serving up a version of himself, being relentlessly autobiographical.

The good news is that he does it very well. The surprising news is that the film also contains large dollops of laughs. Hanson manages to supplement Eminem's self-regarding intensity without diluting his undeniable presence. The result is a refreshing anomaly -- a rapper rebel without a cause, but with a cutting sense of humour.

Brosnan into Bondage
Pierce Brosnan may very well die another day -- as superagent James Bond that is. In town to promote his own company's project, Evelyn, the Irish actor admitted that he thinks he'd like to do another Bond film. His licence to kill expires with his contract when the next Bond flick, Die Another Day, comes out in November.

Brosnan said the producers told him that the role of Bond is his for as long as he wants it. "There may come a time when I just get bored with it, but I can't say that has happened yet."

David's Oedipal Complex
David Cronenberg's new film Spider, starring Ralph Fiennes and Miranda Richardson, is vintage Cronenberg: dark, complicated, surreal and, some would say, downright weird.

An adaptation of a Patrick McGrath novel, it revolves around an Oedipal theme -- a boy who loves his mother ferociously but in an extreme and pathological way.

"It's pretty universal -- children do not really want to think about their parents having sex," says Cronenberg.

"Even when they're quite old, they don't want to go there. I can't tell you how many times children have said, 'Well, yeah, my parents had sex once -- when they had me. They're willing to admit that, but for kids to believe their parents should be very sensual and sex is a pleasure for them is very hard for children to believe. And that's really the structure of the film."

Blame it on the Moonlight
The mood at the press conference yesterday for Moonlight Mile, about a bereaved husband-to-be coming to terms with his grief, was set when Susan Sarandon sat down, turned to her co-star Jake Gyllenhaal and asked, "Did you just pinch my ass?"

Within two minutes, Dustin Hoffman had laid his head in the laps of both Sarandon and co-star Ellen Pompeo, played footsie with Sarandon and asked her for sexual favours. Then the cast launched into a rousing Happy Birthday for director Brad Silberling. It was, in Sarandon's words, "a bit of a love fest" on the set of this movie.

In the film, Sarandon and Hoffman play husband and wife. Before this flick, the two had never worked together before, but they talked yesterday like an old married couple. Hoffman said their marriage worked because, "She is sexually insatiable."

Sarandon says she didn't know how to explain the chemistry between their characters. "Dustin is very open, sweet, a little obsessive, very sexy and quite cuddly. I felt at home the moment we got together. We plan to now only work with each other."

At an awkward stage
The new buzz word in moviedom is "tweener," which means a film that falls between genres -- an obvious marketing trap.

Oops. Kate who?
On Sunday, a film-festival moderator unwittingly added 25 years to the age of actress Kate Hudson (The Four Feathers), when he introduced her as "the inimitable Kate Jackson." Goldie Hawn's daughter screwed up her face, and jokingly said, "Hey, could be worse. I like her."

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