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“Chloe” and Canadians

“Chloe” and Canadians (photo)

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The Toronto International Film Festival starts next Thursday! September 10! Who’s excited? Well, you should be: even if you (like me) can’t attend, Toronto unveils much of what devoted filmgoers can look forward to over the next half-year or so. I’ll be keeping an eye on the festival’s high-profile premieres (and perhaps even more so the low-profile ones, where surprising gems can emerge with little notice). But now it’s Monday morning and the salivatory pre-coverage is already flowing, so let’s start with the best film piece I read this weekend, Katrina Onstad’s profile in The New York Times on the upcoming Atom Egoyan movie Chloe.

There’s a lot to like about this piece — Onstad deftly balances where the film fits in Egoyan’s body of work, speculation on how it’ll turn out, and its now-eternal place in morbid trivia as the film Liam Neeson was working on when wife Natasha Richardson died in a skiing accident. That’s the sexiest (and most tasteless) hook for the article, and in a rare feat, she handles it as something relevant and worth discussing for non-exploitative reasons, noting “It’s now the tragic movie about marriage during which one very famous marriage ended so tragically.” Has the movie changed? Neeson says “I can’t go back there,” and Egoyan ponders the potentially “interesting overtones […] about how precious a marriage is.”

What Onstad, a Canadian journalist, doesn’t dwell on is the Canadian-centric nature of the extremely unlikely collaboration between the intellectually heady Egoyan and his new producer Ivan Reitman. Best known as the guy who made classic comedies by virtue of his casts rather than his incredibly awful technique (“Stripes” is one of Bill Murray’s best vehicles, but with anyone else, it’d be unwatchable), Reitman is also an industrious producer of indiscriminate crap: this year, he’s already attached his name to “Hotel For Dogs,” which is about as far from Egoyan’s cerebral sexual games as you can get.

Though the profile never notes precisely how this unholy alliance was first mooted — it genteelly speculates Reitman wanted to connect with whatever artistic roots he had — it seems entirely possible that the main reason Reitman and Egoyan are working together is Canadian solidarity, a force more powerful than any Hollywood hook-up. Reitman hasn’t done a purely Canadian production in a while – back in the ’70s, Reitman produced some David Cronenberg movies, which doesn’t make any more sense — but those loyalties die hard. Just look at the films produced by Egoyan, described in the article by a friend as lacking not just a “lowbrow side; he doesn’t even have even a middlebrow side.” Besides lending his name as producer to Guy Maddin, Egoyan is also credited with such unmemorable Canadian productions as, uh, “Jack & Jill.” A few years ago, he spoke enthusiastically at a tribute to Canadian über-hack Norman Jewison, whose movies — like the unbelievably sludgy “Fiddler on the Roof” — he surely knows better than to actually get seriously into.

Not that I think Reitman set up a charity production for a fellow Canadian; a $20 million budget is no joke, and Reitman somewhat crassly notes that in the aftermath of Richardson’s death, when trying to figure out the pragmatics of shooting around an absent Neeson, he had to remember that “films involve hundreds of lives.” But
I think it’s kind of sweet, really: a confluence of filmmakers with absolutely nothing in common but their nationality and the burden of representing a film scene that — like Canada as a whole — has always been hard to define to the outside world, even if it doesn’t make Reitman’s last directorial outing, “My Super Ex-Girlfriend,” anything less than a crime against humanity.

[Photo: Julianne Moore and Amanda Seyfried in “Chloe,” Studio Canal, 2009]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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