Sunday, September 27, 2015


  It doesn't come close to being one of the best movies of the year but it certainly contains some of the most hair-raising and hard-to-watch scenes ever filmed.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt on the high wire
  I watched  The Walk, the story of  French wire-walker Philippe Petit’s gutsy, secret and unauthorized 1974 high-wire walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 3D and IMAX and felt I was out on a limb with Petit as he crossed and re-crossed the wire.
 Although the build-up to the walk itself is slow-moving and the dialogue could do with some improvement, once Petit, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt with a thick French accent,  starts on his walk the tension is breath-taking. 
  It held particular interest for me because I too, attempted to walk the wire between the Twin Towers via virtual reality arranged by Sony a couple of months ago.
I couldn't manage one step
  But with the Hudson River a mere ribbon of water way to my left, the traffic and people just dots far below and the wind howling in my ears I couldn't even manage one step. Even though my mind knew I was only walking along a line on the floor. I really felt I was stepping out above New York. It was that real to me.
  But safely grounded in Santa Monica, with a sumptuous Four Seasons Sunday brunch following the screening and a (hardly visible) Super Moon to gaze at in the evening, it was an interesting day.  

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


at the Soho House
Slightly surprising to me that the drama Room won the best movie award at the Toronto Film Festival, beating out other contenders such as The Martian, the Danish Girl, Black Mass, Legend and Spotlight.
  I thought it was an okay movie but it could have ended halfway through. Without giving away any secrets, the whole second half of the movie was unnecessary, I felt.
  There is no doubt though that it's star, the lovely Brie Larson is one of the hottest young actresses in Hollywood and is heading for great things. I met and chatted with Brie at a party at Soho House and we talked again the next morning in the more formal surroundings of the Fairmont Hotel.
At Fairmont Hotel
  Since the critics' praise for her performance, she has been chosen to replace Emma Stone as tennis ace Billie Jean King in Battle of the Sexes, the movie about the 1973 tennis match in which King, the No 2 female player, was challenged by retired former Wimbledon champion Bobby Riggs.
  Brie is also a musician, singer and songwriter and has been performing in live concerts throughout the United States since 2005.
  She is also, she tells me, planning to make her directing debut soon.
 Quite a talented girl!

Friday, September 18, 2015


  It's good to know there are still a few really nice people in the film business and I met a couple of them in Toronto at the film festival.
  Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander are starring together in The Danish Girl and they are a genuinely lovely couple.
  I have known Eddie for a while, having first met him on the Pinewood set of Les Miserables, then at a party at the British Consul-General's house in Los Angeles and later on the red carpet at the Golden Globes.  He is friendly and outgoing and always has time for a chat, despite the hordes of publicists and photographers that seem to surround him nowadays.
  He could be in line for another Oscar nomination for his role in The Danish Girl, in which he plays Danish painter Einar Wegener who, in 1931, became the first man to undergo a sex-change operation. 
 He had just flown in from London where he tells me he is filming  J.K. Rowling's story Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them. "It's set in New York but we're actually filming it in Watford," he laughs.  
  I had never previously met his co-star, Swedish-born Alicia Vikander, who plays his wife in The Danish Girl,  but she proved to be charming and down-to-earth as well as beautiful. She previously starred in Ex Machina and The Man From U.N.C.L.E and after we chatted she was due to fly back to the Canary Islands where she and Matt Damon are filming the new Jason Bourne adventure, called Bourne 5.  

Saturday, September 12, 2015


  The Toronto film festival is always a mad whirl of premieres, parties and interviews but this year seems even madder than ever. More than 400 movies are being screened over 11 days with half a dozen or more premieres a day, all followed by parties.

Matt Damon at the premiere of The Martian
   This year is an even bigger British invasion than usual, led by a trio of Old Etonians all playing real people and all tipped for Oscar nominations ---Eddie Redmayne (transgender man/woman Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl), Benedict Cumberbatch (Billy Bulger in Black Mass) and Tom Hiddleston (country legend Hank Williams in I Saw the Light).
Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen at the post-premiere party 

  I asked the very serious Hiddleston why Eton, which used to be known for producing politicians is now is producing actors instead ---Damian Lewis and Dominic West are also Old Etonians---but he confessed he didn't know and didn't seem to want to expand on the topic.

  James McAvoy, however, has no qualms about it. The Scottish actor, who paid his way through drama school by working in a bakery, says: "There's a lot of posh actors that have been to boarding school."
Fans waiting in line for tickets in Toronto
   He's concerned that people from all walks of life are not getting the same opportunities to work in the arts, and his chief worry is about how this will become a bigger problem five or ten years from now.
  If the trends are allowed to continue, McAvoy says: "That's a frightening world to live in, because as soon as you get one tiny pocket of society creating all the arts, or culture starts to become representative not of everybody but of one tiny part, that's not fair to begin with, but it's also damaging for society."



  It's always a pleasure seeing Nicole Kidman, whom I first met 21 years ago on Batman Forever. A lot of water under the bridge si...