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The Argument: In Take This Waltz, Sarah Polley transforms Toronto into a brightly coloured urban fantasy

The Argument | Unreal City

The urban fantasy depicted in Take This Waltz is as as beguiling and instantly nostalgic as an Instagram pic (Image: Mongrel Media)

In the middle of directing Take This Waltz, recently released in theatres, Sarah Polley hit a snag. She desperately wanted to get Leslie Feist to record a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Closing Time” for the soundtrack. Given how in demand the singer-songwriter is, it was almost impossible to pin her down—even for Polley, a bona fide Canadian celebrity herself. And then one night, around 2 a.m., while Polley and her crew were shooting on a small street in Little Portugal, she heard someone call her name. It was Feist—she and fellow singer Howie Beck, both on bicycles, were on their way to Trinity Bellwoods Park to play glow-in-the-dark Frisbee. Polley asked about the Cohen cover, Feist agreed, and her version of the song is heard at a pivotal point in the film. “That kind of moment is very specific to Toronto,” Polley says now. “It’s a really special place that way.”

The whole scenario sounds like a parody of the lives of hip, young downtowners—the punch line for a skit from a rejected Torontolandia pilot, maybe. But it’s exactly the kind of bohemian and pleasantly casual community that Polley, who also wrote the film’s screenplay, set out to capture.

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Sarah Polley’s Take This Waltz presents a twee interactive art project

In celebration of  Sarah Polley’s Toronto-based film Take This Waltz, starring Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen, Mongrel Media and other supporting partners have started “The Conversation About Love,” an interactive art project inspired by the film that asks people on the Internet to submit conclusions to thoughts like “It takes courage to,” “My heart is,” and “When I let go.” Filtered Instagram photos and poetry (some of it not very good) have already flooded the project’s website, but we warn you, it is fairly saccharine (on the flip side, some people have decided to upload artful nudes).

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VIDEO: check out Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen in the official Take This Waltz teaser trailer

The trailer for Sarah Polley’s Take This Waltz has arrived, complete with Michelle Williams taking an aquafit class with Sarah Silverman, hanging out on a ferry boat (which island is she going to? Ward’s?), fraternizing with three gentlemen (Seth Rogen, Aaron Abrams and Luke Kirby), running by Clafouti and then taking a rickshaw down Queen Street West. We can tell we’re in for a pretty wild journey.

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TIFF PHOTO GALLERY: Seth Rogen and Sarah Silverman hold court at the press conference for Sarah Polley’s Take This Waltz

(Image: Lia Grainger)

The press conference for Sarah Polley’s Take This Waltz was an uproarious mix of masturbation humour and Jewish references, and, really, we expect nothing less when Seth Rogen and Sarah Silverman share the stage (they might have even stolen the crown for funniest press conference duo from Ryan Gosling and George Clooney). Silverman quickly referred to herself as “Jew” so the assembled press could easily differentiate between her and director Polley, who seemed thoroughly amused by the proceedings, and Rogen, for his part, responded to the repeat questions on his approach to a serious, dramatic role with sarcasm, lots of it. “I do say the word cocksucker decidedly less in this movie,” he pointed out, and he also noted, “I approached it the same way I approached Fart Cops” (it’s not a real movie, we checked). Michelle Williams was absent (sigh)—but actor Luke Kirby was there, although he seemed extremely spaced out, taking excruciatingly long pauses mid-sentence and then coming up with…nothing. See the photo gallery, after the jump.

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SPOTTED: Sarah Silverman at the Alliance Films soiree last night

The very funny Sarah Silverman showed her face at the very exclusive Alliance Films party last night wearing a suit-inspired blazer-and-shorts combo. Silverman is in town promoting Sarah Polley’s Take This Waltz, which premieres tonight at 9:30 at Roy Thomson Hall and co-stars Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen and Luke Kirby. Despite looking demure at the party, Silverman’s not shy: she has a nude shower scene with Williams in Waltz, for which she has jokingly urged fans to lower their expectations.

Find this story on our Star Spotting Map, where we plot the locations of celebrities spotted around Toronto.

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50 buzziest films of TIFF 2011: we slice through the hype so you don’t have to

We’ve already told you about the celebs filing into town for TIFF and the extended-licence nightspots they’ll be frequenting. But with more than 300 movies being screened, the actual “film” part of the festival can be hard to navigate. Enter our handy guide, in which we scope out the buzz on the most hotly anticipated flicks of the fest.

See all our picks and rejects »

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TIFF Teaser: Take This Waltz, Sarah Polley’s first feature in five years

It’s hard to believe that it’s been half a decade since Sarah Polley made her feature-length directorial debut with 2006’s Away from Her, an adaptation of the Alice Munro short story “The Bear Came Over the Mountain.” Her new film, Take This Waltz, is the story of Margot (Michelle Williams) trying her darndest not to get seduced away from her stolid cookbook author of a husband Lou (Seth Rogen) by her neighbour Daniel (Luke Kirby), who, judging from the clip above, drives a rickshaw. The TIFF programmer’s note explains that despite their best intentions, “the sweltering Toronto summer has a way of making certain desires more urgent.” In the Mood for Love meets Little Italy? Yes please.

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CONFIRMED: Michelle Williams to attend TIFF 2011


Publicists for Michelle Williams have confirmed that the star will be in town to promote her film Take this Waltz at TIFF 2011. Co-starring funnyman Seth Rogen, let’s hope this love story works out better than her last one.

(Image: Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen, Take this Waltz)

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Ryan Gosling off the market? He was spotted in Cincinnati with “sexiest woman alive”

Yesterday Lainey Gossip broke the story that Ryan Gosling may be off the market once again. The Blue Valentine star has recently been linked to co-star Michelle Williams and Gossip Girl’s Blake Lively, but it seems he’s found a new partner in recently single House and TRON: Legacy star Olivia Wilde. Yes, you read that correctly—London, Ontario’s finest is dating Maxim’s 2009 Sexiest Woman Alive.

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Why the NHL trade deadline is the sports equivalent of the Oscars

Is it just us, or do the Oscars and the National Hockey League trade deadline have a lot in common? The Academy Awards were an absolute snoozefest on Sunday night, and hockey’s deadline day bonanza on Monday had us snoring straight through till Tuesday. What gives? The one-two combo of Hollywood’s biggest night and the most ballyhooed single-day event in hockey has left us with one heck of a hype hangover this week. Here, a quick look at how the NHL trade deadline was just like the Oscars.

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TIFF to Tinseltown: a tour of the 14 Oscar-nominated films that screened at TIFF

The Toronto International Film Festival may not have the glamour of Cannes, the street cred of Berlin or the skiing of Sundance, but it does have one thing going for it: it’s the unofficial kickoff of Oscar season. The filmmakers who come here every September to show and sell—a full five months before the awards ceremony—are well aware that they’re already in the race to the Kodak Theatre. The early jockeying often pays off: 14 of the 36 feature films nominated for Academy Awards this year screened here (the dubious likes of TRON: Legacy and Salt, for the record, did not). Before the big tally on Sunday night, we take a look at the films that embarked on their trip to the golden boy’s antechamber right here in our backyard.

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Best Actress Oscar Curse: a U of T study shows there’s some truth to it, but can it predict this Sunday’s winner?

Our ears perked up last month when we heard about a study out of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management that gave scientific credence to the so-called Best Actress Academy Award Curse. For the uninitiated, the curse refers to how Best Actress Oscar winners seem more likely to split from their spouses than fellow nominees (see: Sandra Bullock, Reese Witherspoon, Kate Winslet, Hilary Swank and Halle Berry, as well as old Hollywood icons Bette Davis and Joan Crawford). At first, we wondered if crunching Hollywood heartbreak numbers is the most effective use of our city’s most beautiful minds (doubtful), but soon we moved onto more useful thoughts, such as: could the Rotman findings be used to help predict this Sunday’s Best Actress Oscar winner?

The Toronto study looks at what happens post-Oscar, but apply a little Freakonomics-style chicken-and-egg skepticism and all of a sudden it’s unclear what came first: the golden statue or the marital strife. Perhaps a troubled personal life is more likely to inspire an Oscar-worthy performance. With this hypothesis in mind, we examine this year’s nominees »

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Shafted! (Or, our requisite article on how Canada fared in the 2011 Oscar nominations)

Incendies (bottom) got the nod; Ryan Gosling didn't

When the Oscar nominations came out this morning, we scrolled right past the laundry list of best picture nods (that 10-picture system still irks us) to the best actor category. Despite all of our hopes, Ryan Gosling was unlisted. We weren’t the only ones who thought the Academy would tap the Goz for his portrayal of a hard-living husband in Blue Valentine. Early Vegas odds had given the young actor +5,000 odds of taking home the trophy on the big night (not the greatest odds, but at least he had odds). Instead, it’s a showdown between Javier Bardem, Jeff Bridges, Jesse Eisenberg, James Franco and Colin Firth.

The way we see it, James Franco stole Gosling’s spot. On paper, they’re kind of the same actor—quirky, drawn to challenging roles despite their leading-man looks—and with Eisenberg also under 30 31, it’s possible Oscar was in danger of appearing a bit short in the tooth. In related news, Blue Valentine was overlooked for best picture (presumably to leave room for Toy Story 3), but Gosling’s co-star, Michelle Williams, was nominated. So at least if she wins, we can expect to hear the Ontario boy’s name in her acceptance speech.

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Justin Bieber gets new hair, plus top five Canada moments at the Golden Globes

Justin Bieber on the red carpet (Image: Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty)

Moment 1: The kid is all right
He’s just growing up, that’s all. Justin Bieber presented an award sporting a brand new hairdo that’s choppier than his signature style. The snip is further evidence of Bieber’s move into manhood—the guy can’t stay 16 forever. Based on his slick three-piece suit and his command of come-hither eyes on the red carpet, we’d say the transition is running pretty smoothly. If nothing else, the new chop means hair professionals the world over should prepare for a rush of young customers requesting the Bieber 2.0.

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Q&A with Derek Cianfrance: Blue Valentine director says Williams and Gosling’s Oscar potential was clear from the get-go

Derek Cianfrance doesn’t need to hear Mo’Nique announce the Oscar nominations on January 25. He knew his lead actors, 30-year-old Ontarian Ryan Gosling and 30-year-old Michelle Williams, were giving Oscar-worthy performances from their first day on the set of the romantic drama Blue Valentine. For the 36-year-old, relaxed in a snap-button plaid shirt and scuffed-up white leather dress shoes at Toronto’s InterContinental hotel, the awards buzz began “the first time that Ryan and Michelle were together [on-set].”

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