Started off the morning by going to an appearance at Fort Worth Public Library by the one and only T-Bone Burnett. His legendary discomfort with interviews showed, but he was quite gracious. He talked up his recently released albums with Elvis Costello (National Ransom) and Elton John and Leon Russell (The Union). He wasn't that revealing on his work in films, but he's not too high on the digitalization of music. He said that he happened to be very close to a digital TV that had a World Cup match on last summer, and he noticed that the ball looked square from his viewing position. "That's what digital is," he said. "A square ball."
The shorts program this afternoon was rather undistinguished compared with the other two I've seen. Lauren Wolkstein's Cigarette Candy didn't say much new in its story about a Marine returning home, though it had a fine lead performance by Jonny Orsini. Daniel Trevino's Amateur was very slight, too, about a guy who freaks out during an encounter with a girl in a bikini who turns out to have a penis. Jonathan Shepard's documentary The Sharecropper interviews a series of chicken farmers who were screwed over by Pilgrim's Pride. I wanted more rigorous journalism from this piece. The only short that really impressed me was Pablo Larcuen's Mi Amigo Invisible, a Spanish-language comedy about a fat nerdy young man who's so pathologically shy that he can't even speak to his own parents. (He never speaks on camera, but he narrates the story in voiceover.) That changes when an invisible friend comes to him, a shirtless dude wearing tight shorts, a cape, and an Admiral Ackbar mask. Nice piece of deadpan humor.
I'm left to speculate on the secret screening I'm supposed to see in less than two hours. I thought I had it pegged; with Jeff Bridges in town for a tribute, I figured it might be the Coen brothers' remake of True Grit, which would be a huge get for LSIFF. (Using similar logic, my second choice was Tron: Legacy, which would be a huge get for entirely different reasons.) However, my picks were blown out of the water by a note in the program saying that our mystery film played at the Toronto Film Festival earlier this year. That scratches both of the Bridges films. It also rules out Country Strong, which would have made a nice companion with the screenings of Crazy Heart and The Blind Side that played at the festival earlier today. It also would have made sense because writer-director Shana Feste had her debut film The Greatest unveiled at last year's LSIFF.
So what are the possibilities? Most of Toronto's bigger items have already hit the movie theaters, but the ones that haven't include John Cameron Mitchell's Rabbit Hole, a heavy drama starring Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart as a couple dealing with the death of their young son. Then there's Derek Cianfrance's Blue Valentine, starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams as a couple who fall in and out of love. (The movie recently got rated R by the MPAA, which caused everyone who had seen the film to go "Whuh?") There's also Robert Redford's The Conspirator, a period piece about the criminals who took part in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in the days immediately after the president's shooting. Tom Hooper's The King's Speech has been getting all sorts of Oscar buzz lately, starring Colin Firth as King Edward VI of Britain and Geoffrey Rush as the speech therapist who taught him to overcome his stutter. My fondest wish, though, is that the mystery film might be Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan, with Natalie Portman as a star ballerina who's going insane. If LSIFF has that one, I'm going to bow down to them. We'll find out soon, and I'll let you all know how it turned out.