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SLIDESHOW: Million-dollar deals (and first-world problems) at the ritzy Art Toronto pre-sale

SLIDESHOW: First-world problems and million-dollar deals at the exclusive Art Toronto preview event

Here’s the secret about Art Toronto, this weekend’s massive downtown art fair: most of the serious transactions happen well before the show goes live. Last night’s exclusive pre-sale in benefit of the Art Gallery of Ontario looked like a regular artsy soirée, but beneath the sea of curious coifs, silk scarves and quirky eyewear, big-game art collectors were stalking their prey. Before the night was through, millions of dollars worth of art had discretely changed hands, with one gallery—the Winnipeg-based Loch Gallery—netting over $3 million in sales. Here, a rundown on the night’s best bargains, biggest flops and most exorbitant deals, plus 16 jaw-dropping photos from the festival opener.

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Nuit Blanche 2013 Recap: creepy clowns, new-age beekeepers and other bizarre sights at this year’s all-night art fest

Nuit Blanche 2013 Intro

Impassioned clowns in the PARADE zone on University Avenue (Image: Chris Hampton)

To call Scotiabank Nuit Blanche an art festival isn’t a misnomer, but it does leave out a lot of what the city actually loves (and/or hates) about the event. More than just a celebration of contemporary art, the all-night, anything-goes fête, now in its eighth year, is an enthusiastic forum for all kinds of public spectacle: impromptu busking, covert (and sometimes not-so-covert) boozing, elaborate costumery, and, of course, gleeful gawking at all the weirdness on display. We set out to soak up some of the revelry ourselves. Here, a play-by-play of how the night unfolded and a slideshow of our favourite installations.

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TIFF Talk

TIFF Red Carpet

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TIFF Red Carpet: Catherine O’Hara slips under the radar at the gala for The Right Kind of Wrong

At first we thought Catherine O’Hara stayed home. The SCTV actress, best known for roles in Home Alone, Beetlejuice and Best in Show, made quick work of Thursday’s red carpet for Jeremiah Chechik’s The Right Kind of Wrong—so quick that we only discovered after-the-fact that she was even there. We did catch glimpses of True Blood’s hunky lead Ryan Kwanten and his on-screen love interest Sarah Canning, stunning in a floor-skimming black panelled gown. Chechik said the pair’s chemistry was palpable as soon as they entered the same room—the key to every successful romantic comedy. Meanwhile, Canadian funnyman and MadTV cornerstone Will Sasso talked the joys of shooting in Banff and how it only took a few white-water rafting sessions to know it was a great cast: “It’s hard to be a prick after that. It’s the perfect asshole litmus.” The real stars of the day, though, were 9- and 10-year-old child actors Maya Samy and Mateen Devji, who looked downright adorable and handled the press like pros. Devji even shared a rap he made up about the flick—a little something he’s been practicing on the side.

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TIFF Red Carpet

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TIFF Red Carpet: Emma Thompson makes us love her even more at The Love Punch premiere

Emma Thompson, a shoe-in for TIFF’s most delightful ham, brought her ad hoc comedy act to the premiere of The Love Punch at Roy Thompson Hall last night. The star high-fived fans, pulled faces and got so silly that she actually lost a shoe, which co-star Pierce Brosnan obligingly retrieved. In Joel Hopkins’ comic caper, the pair play a divorced couple who reunite for a jewel heist when their retirement fund is stolen—a fun gig for two actors who clearly enjoy each other. That said, Thompson told us that if she were to plan a robbery in real life, she’d buddy up with late comedy legend Zero Mostel, the fast-talking con-man of Mel Brooks’s The Producers. Brosnan (who, at 60, still pulls in wolf whistles) had two potential partners-in-crime: he initially planned to tap his James Bond successor Daniel Craig, but then quickly changed his answer to wife Keely Smith. Smart guy.

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Emma Thompson is adorably goofy at the presser for heist flick The Love Punch

TIFF Press Conference: The Love Punch

(Image: George Pimentel/WireImage)

Emma Thomspon will never retire. She’d rather become a full-time thief like the one she plays in her newest flick, The Love Punch. That’s what the star claimed at today’s presser for the film, a heist movie about a divorced couple who reunite to steal back their retirement savings. Seated between co-star Pierce Brosnan and director Joel Hopkins, Thompson was decisive on the point: “Retiring? I can’t afford to retire,” she said. “It’s like asking a painter to stop painting… Look at Judy Dench. She wouldn’t dream of retiring. It’s not in our genes.” So what does the two-time Academy Award winner have on the horizon? “I’d like to play a really bad person, really evil. And I’d like to do an action movie. You know, get really ripped and get some tattoos… I really would like to do that—possibly as a mid-life crisis.” Thompson, Brosnan pointed out, did all her own stunts in The Love Punch, including some unnerving stunt-driving that brought the pair “just a hair’s breadth from flipping.” According to Brosnan, his screams in the film weren’t difficult to feign: he was “duly terrified.”

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TIFF Party: A throng of homegrown talent at the Maison Birks Women in Film party

TIFF Party: Birks Women in Film Party

At a packed bash at Maison Birks’s Bloor Street store yesterday, the jeweller and Telefilm Canada paid tribute to 10 Canadian women—five actors and five directors—who’ve each had an outstanding year. Among those being fêted: Midnight’s Children director Deepa Mehta and fellow filmmakers Alanis Obomsawin, Louise Archambault and Chloé Robichaud, as well as Orphan Black actress Évelyne Brochu. Sadly, fellow honourees Sarah PolleySarah Gadon, Jessica Paré, Geneviève Bujold and Allison Pill were all absent, though both Paul Haggis and Atom Egoyan showed up to support their colleagues (the latter singing the praises of Canada’s underappreciated talent from Quebec’s Léa Pool to Toronto-born film pioneer Mary Pickford). Hometown legend Bruce LaBruce also walked the carpet, flanked by the stars of his latest film Gerontophilia and wearing avery  tight tee paying homage to an all-girl Ramones tribute band. Finally, never missing a chance to quip, Kids in the Hall’s Scott Thompson said, “I’m all for women in film—it’s half the population. In fact, there’s a party later for the non-participation of men in film.”

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TIFF Talk

TIFF Red Carpet

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TIFF Red Carpet: The Art of the Steal screening is the festival’s biggest boys’ club

TIFF Red Carpet: Art of the Steal

It was boys’ night out on the red carpet for Jonathan Sobol’s Canadian caper, The Art of the Steal. Kurt Russell, who plays a reformed art thief in the film, man-crushed hard on co-star Matt Dillon, who sadly couldn’t make it. This is the End’s Jay Baruchel looked wilted in a wool suit—he made quick work of the press line and slipped quietly into the air-conditioned theatre. Co-star and Daily Show correspondent Jason Jones, who came without wife Samantha Bee, was in less of a rush: he chatted about the boys’ club vibe on-set and claimed that some cast members walked around in their skivvies. Hell, Dax Ravina and Twin PeaksKenneth Walsh even wrestled for a bit. Boys will be boys. 

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Olivia Wilde discusses Italian nude scenes at the presser for Third Person

TIFF Press Conference: Third Person

(Image: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Some celebrities are just itching to share. At yesterday’s presser for Third Person, Paul Haggis’s multi-story love flick set in New York, Rome and Paris, the stacked ensemble cast was looser lipped than most. On shooting in Rome, Olivia Wilde dished on the difference between Italian and American film crews (Italians are more timid), particularly with respect to nude scenes (“There, they bring you a plate of pizza. Here, they’re like, ‘Would you like a grape? Maybe not.’”) Her co-star, Liam Neeson (a.k.a. TIFF’s Grumpiest Man) was less enamored with the Italian capital—he could only reminisce about the dreadful paparazzi. The 61-year-old seemed bemused by his action-star status, but admitted that the payout is too good to turn down. Not to be outdone, Mila Kunis piped up to share her Hebrew language skills, which were limited to the phrase “I want ice cream”—possibly the cutest thing we heard all day.

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TIFF Red Carpet

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TIFF Red Carpet: first-time director Keanu Reeves talks villainy at the premiere for Man of Tai Chi

TIFF Red Carpet: Man of Tai Chi Keanu Reeves has embarked on a whole new kind of excellent adventure, making his directorial debut at TIFF with yesterday’s opening of Man of Tai Chi. The kung fu flick stars Matrix stuntman and martial artist extraordinaire Tiger Chen (who, even in his red carpet best, showed off his stock-in-trade) as a tai chi master lured into the high-stakes world of underground fighting. A scruffy-faced Reeves hit the Ryerson Theatre to talk about playing the film’s big baddie. “I enjoy playing bad guys,” he said. “Bad guys have a really uncomplicated passion. They just need, want, give. It’s fun.” And this from an actor who has made “vacant” a patented emotional pose. At any rate, we bet the fight scenes are stirring.

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TIFF Talk

Random TIFF Stuff

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TIFF GIF: Joseph Gordon-Levitt does an epic fan run-by

TIFF GIF: Joseph Gordon-Levitt does an epic fan run-by

(Images: Kayla Rocca)

Joseph Gordon-Levitt seems like a really sweet guy. Even in last night’s sweltering heat, the 500 Days of Summer star attempted to high-five the entire line of screaming fans outside the Don Jon gala. It’s like he scored the overtime winner or hit a walk-off home run—and, frankly, in our hearts, he has.

 Find this story on our Star Spotting Map, where we plot the locations of celebrities spotted around Toronto. Seen a celebrity? Let us know at tips@torontolife.com

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TIFF Red Carpet

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TIFF Red Carpet: Scarlett Johansson gives dating tips and Joseph Gordon-Levitt cops to smoking pot at the Don Jon gala

TIFF Red Carpet: Don Jon Scarlett Johansson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt turned the Don Jon red carpet at the Princess of Wales Theatre yesterday into a dating workshop. First, the newly-engaged Johansson, who plays a sexy Jersey Girl in Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut about love (and porn addiction), said you’ve gotta stop trying to take control. “I think we’re all guilty of wanting to put our partner in the sweet little box that we’ve prepared for them,” she explained. “As you get older, you recognize the benefits of learning from your partner and compromising.” Then, Gordon-Levitt offered his own sage words: “You’ve got your list of ‘Well, he’s gotta be this and she’s gotta be that blah blah blah.’ Burn it.” JGL ended with an inspiring anecdote about how, after several years, the Don Jon script finally came together when he was shooting stoner dramedy 50/50. How exactly did this moment of clarity bubble up? “Seth Rogen knows how to smoke out his employees.”

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Jude Law and Richard E. Grant get super deep at the presser for Dom Hemingway

TIFF Press Conference: Dom Hemingway

(Image: Roberto Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Jude Law and Brit co-star Richard E. Grant got a head start on the sloppy, late-night bar talk at Monday’s presser for Dom Hemingway, director Richard Sheppard’s buddy flick about two gangsters who just can’t catch a break. Law, it turns out, is something of a mystic: “I’m a great believer in the pendulum of luck,” he explained, turning to Grant and asking, “What do you think about the pendulum of luck, Richard?” For Grant, luck had nothing to do with it: “It’s the karma of character,” he said. “If you’re a shit, it’ll finally come back at you, and if you’re Judi Dench, you’ll be Oscared until your last breath. And I think there are just people in life—I know them and I’ve been them—not everybody succeeds all the time.” Deep.

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TIFF Press Conferences

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Canada’s film industry elite call on Egypt to release filmmaker John Greyson and physician Tarek Loubani

Sarah Polley, Michael Ondaatje, Alex Gibney and Atom Egoyan at the press conference (Image: Christopher Drost)

More than anything else, TIFF is about supporting people who want to tell stories. At a press conference today, festival mainstays Atom Egoyan, Sarah Polley and Alex Gibney, along with the Lightbox’s artistic director Noah Cowan and author Michael Ondaatje, presented a petition calling for the release of Toronto filmmaker John Greyson and emergency room physician Tarek Loubani, who have been detained for 25 days in a Cairo prison without charges. Greyson, a documentarian and York University professor, was invited to observe and film Loubani’s work in Gaza, where the doctor teaches critical care procedures. The two were delayed in Egypt, travelling through Cairo at a particularly unstable time, and were arrested asking for directions at a police station—a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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Julia Roberts dishes on Meryl Streep’s pot-luck parties at the presser for August: Osage County

TIFF Press Conference: August: Osage County

(Image: Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

Actors don’t just wake up brilliant—they have to work really, really hard at it. Even Meryl Streep. At least, that’s what they told us at Tuesday’s presser for family drama August: Osage County from director John Wells. Julia Roberts, Dermot Mulroney, Juliette Lewis and the rest of the ensemble cast (minus the illustrious Streep) were on hand to dish about the extraordinary effort it took to perfect the film’s dysfunctional family dynamic. “We worked our asses off,” said Roberts, “because there was no other way to do it. I’ve never worked so hard in my life, and I have given birth to three children. It was like a mountain to climb every single day and the only way to climb it, we discovered, was holding hands, whether we liked it or not.” The Pretty Woman actress called the experience the “best acting experience” of her life. As for Streep’s role in the process? She hosted nightly pot-lucks at her condo.

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TIFF Red Carpet

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TIFF Red Carpet: Mila Kunis’s plunging neckline and Liam Neeson’s dramatic exit at the Third Person premiere

TIFF Red Carpet: Third Person

Last night’s premiere of Paul Haggis’s Third Person was a master class in good genetics. Consider this lineup: Mila KunisLiam NeesonAdrien BrodyOlivia Wilde, Maria Bello and Loan Charbanol (and that’s not even counting fellow cast members Kim Basinger and James Franco, who didn’t make it to the Elgin Theatre). The film tells three interlocking love stories set in Paris, New York and Rome. While we couldn’t squeeze a love story about floppy-haired boyfriend Ashton Kutcher out of Kunis, she looked stunning in a plunging white dress by Burberry. Same goes for a yellow-clad Wilde, whose fiancé Jason Sudeikis snuck in quietly with the ticketholders. The most skillful maneuver of the night, however, belonged to Neeson, who, losing patience with the press hoopla, let himself off the red carpet and shot off into the wings. We guess making quick exits are among his very particular set of skills.

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