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Toronto 2009: “Chloe” is Heated, “Whip It” Whips It Good

Toronto 2009: “Chloe” is Heated, “Whip It” Whips It Good (photo)

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Some may disagree, but I think there’s something pretty cool about Toronto’s mayor David Miller coming out to declare how proud he is of Atom Egoyan’s new erotic thriller “Chloe.” Of course, Miller was more likely taking pride in the depiction of his fair city than the film itself, which opens with Amanda Seyfried putting on a lacy black brassiere and never looks back. Egoyan has never shied away from the erotic — it’s the thrills part that has eluded his work for mainstream audiences, and when we meet Catherine (Julianne Moore) at the start of “Chloe,” she, too, is dissatisfied.

As a locally prestigious gynecologist, Catherine is smart and sophisticated, but in a foretelling scene, she informs a patient that orgasms are “just a series of muscle contractions.” When her husband (Liam Neeson) fails to return home for a surprise birthday party she has planned for him, Catherine begins to suspect he might be having an affair. The clues start mounting, to the point that when Catherine discovers the titular prostitute (Amanda Seyfried) in a posh restaurant’s bathroom stall sobbing, she senses an opportunity to confirm her suspicions about her husband’s fidelity.

In the relationship between Moore and Seyfried, Egoyan also senses an opportunity to do his usual probing of human interaction — Seyfried’s Chloe describes her dates with Catherine’s husband as if she’s giving a science report, except the testimony is sexually frank and even in monotone, she starts to turn Catherine on. What follows shouldn’t be spoiled, though the film is a remake of Anne Fontaine’s 2004 French film “Nathalie,” and amazingly, Egoyan pulls off scenes that might make Parisians blush. Catherine’s reluctant interest in her husband’s extramarital affairs spirals into something completely different and overwhelming. It’s actually the first of Egoyan’s features that he hasn’t written himself, but he found a natural partner in Erin Cressida Wilson, who straddled similarly lurid territory with her script for “Secretary” and develops two female characters as strong as Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Lee Holloway for Moore and Seyfried to play.

For a film about strange bedfellows, it was only appropriate that “Chloe” producer Ivan Reitman explained his involvement before introducing Egoyan, who confided “I’m incredibly nervous” — this was the first world premiere he’s had at Toronto since the debut of his first feature “Next of Kin.” Reitman told the crowd that he had seen “Nathalie” in the same theater (Roy Thomson Hall) four years earlier and took to “the wonderful central idea,” but thought “there’s a lot more that could be done with this.” He soon recruited Egoyan to make the film after “coming to my senses” about possibly taking a crack at the thriller himself, and the result is a film reminiscent of another Canadian — David Cronenberg, who was able with “A History of Violence” to make a film that adhered to his previous work but could enlist new fans.

09142009_whipit5.jpgFun of a more wholesome variety could be found at the Ryerson Theater, where “Whip It” premiered. After a roller derby demonstration earlier in the day, members of the Toronto Roller Derby League came by to greet the ticket line with high fives as the crowds made their way into the theater. Drew Barrymore, visibly shaking during the film’s introduction, looked like a queen bee in a yellow and black dress as she introduced her directorial debut, explaining that she put everything from her life in “a piggy bank and I crashed it all over the floor for this film.”

If Barrymore was nervous about the film’s reception, she needn’t have been. Considering the excitement in the room, it probably wouldn’t have mattered if “Whip It” was any good, but it’s as confident a directorial debut as you’ll find. Ellen Page stars as Bliss Cavandar, a Texas teen tired of spending weekends competing in beauty pageants to indulge her mother (Marcia Gay Harden) and serving up “Squealers” (one of those huge burgers you have to eat in under three minutes) as a waitress at the Oink Joint. When she takes a rare adventure out of her small town of Bodeen to buy boots, a group of turquoise-haired roller derby girls come bounding in with fliers for an exhibition match. Soon enough, Bliss is transformed into Babe Ruthless, a rising star of the circuit who makes up for her diminutive size with her speed. She also finds kindred spirits in her teammates (Barrymore, Kristen Wiig, Zoe Bell and Eve, among others), though the divide between Bliss and her real family continues to grow.

It’s not difficult to see where all of this is going, but Barrymore isn’t reinventing the wheel with “Whip It,” nor is she ever left spinning them, either. Like the smartest actors-turned-directors, she’s called in a number of favors and surrounded herself with some of the best in the business behind the camera — Wes Anderson’s cinematographer Robert Yeoman lenses the film and frequent Paul Thomas Anderson editor Dylan Tichenor, whom Barrymore dubs “Final Slut Pro” in the closing credits, give “Whip It” first-class production values. And although the film is clearly a personal story from first-time screenwriter Shauna Cross, it comes bursting at the seams as an extension of Barrymore’s infectiously bubbly personality, overstuffed with hip music, food fights and hard-hitting roller derby footage.

[Additional photo: “Whip It,” Fox Searchlight Pictures, 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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