Monday, September 17, 2018


 So this is it? Robert Redford, that rare movie icon who for the best part of six decades has balanced being a respected actor as well as a golden boy sex symbol, is finally calling it quits and retiring?

 The Sundance Kid is riding into the sunset?

  His tanned face wrinkles into a smile at the question. "Well, never say never," he says. "You have to be careful about being too final because sometimes you have to change your mind. But I feel this is the right time to go out as an actor because I've been doing this since I was 21 and that’s a long time. I don’t believe in stopping because when you stop something it’s the end of a road and I think the road is long. So it’s just a question of stopping acting and moving on to something else, which would be directing and producing.

  "Will I miss it? I don't know. I'll have to wait and see."

 We are talking in a hotel suite in Toronto shortly before 82-year-old Redford walked the gauntlet of fans and photographers along the red carpet at the premiere of  his most recent--and final---movie.

  He has chosen as his last acting job The Old Man and the Gun, in which he plays the real-life character Forrest Tucker, a career bank robber who escaped from prison 18 times and was still pulling off bank robberies well into his seventies.

   "This feels like the right film to go out on as an actor because the film I had done before that---Our Souls At Night--- I was very proud of but it was very serious, kind of a heavy lift, a dramatic love story with Jane Fonda. It was a wonderful film to work on but it was very sad so I wanted the last film I act in to be uplifting.   

  "It's an incredible, bizarre story because it’s true. This guy really 
did exist, he really did rob banks, he really had a good time, he never hurt anybody, he was always smiling, enjoying it, getting put in prison, escaping from prison, getting put back in prison, escaping again. Back and forth, back and forth."

 A longtime liberal activist and environmentalist who at one time was considered a perfect candidate for political office, he adds: "It's come at a very dark time in our cultural environment. It's sad but we're living in dark times politically and the polarisation that exists with the two parties not agreeing to cross the aisle to work together is sad and depressing and we, the public, are the losers. So I thought, 'Why not do something's that very upbeat at a very dark time?'"

   His retirement from acting gives him more time for other pursuits although, he says, " Bucket list? No, I don’t think that way. I believe in living in the moment and not thinking too far ahead."

   He does, however, have a movie in mind he intends to direct---he has directed ten movies and won an Oscar for Ordinary People----but he is not yet ready to talk about it.

Thursday, September 6, 2018


 It's TIFF time again. But this is a very different Toronto Film Festival from previous years. 
 This could be called the Year of the Women. 
 The first Toronto festival to unfold in the wake of the Time's Up movement, it --along with the movie industry in general--- is enduring a period of intense soul-searching about the ways it has fallen short of its ideals.
  Last year Harvey Weinstein was still one of the leading
filmmakers at the festival but after dozens of women accused him of harassment and assault he has become a pariah.
  In response Toronto has created a hotline where festivalgoers can report instances of harassment, and signs around the festival stress its 'zero tolerance" for any kind of sexual abuse or misconduct; and on the opening weekend a women's rally was held outside TIFF's headquarter to draw attention to gender inequality and sexual harassment in t
Female festivalgoers line up for free makeup on Festival Street
he film industry. 

 The festival is also championing films with strong female protagonists: Widows, with Viola Davis as the head of a gang of female robbers; Destroyer with Nicole Kidman as a psychically damaged detective and A Star is Born with Lady Gaga as a singer on the verge of a breakdown are just a few of the movies that rise or fall on the strength of their lead actresses.
 "There are a variety of very complex women characters b,eing portrayed on screen," says Piers Handling, director and CEO of TIFF. "They're not typical heroines. They're conflicted, they're fallible and they're struggling to navigate the troubled waters of life."

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  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...