A Good Year

moviesA Good Year: 7 out of 10.

I spent yesterday evening attending the opening gala of the new Sir Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe film, "A Good Year". The world premiere was held at Roy Thomson Hall as part of the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival and I was lucky enough to be seated in the fourth row, completely center. My passes promised a 6:30 show time, but a certain Oscar winning Australian was running late which held things up considerably.

After a brief introduction, Ridley Scott stepped to the podium to speak about the film. He spoke about his vinyard in Provence and his friendship with Peter Mayle who wrote the book. He was well spoken and witty and upon concluding his speech he introduced us to Mayle who assumed the podium. Mayle was also quite witty, dropping the hit line of the introductions. He praised the film for not relying on special effects, violence, dismemberings and other staples of 21st century cinema. It was essentially a slag on Gladiator, the previous Ridley Scott - Russell Crowe project which was rather successful. Following Mayle, Scott introduced a number of the stars of the film who were in attendance. One, of course, was Russell Crowe.

We were warned not to take photos but at the front of the stage there was a swarm of media photographers and videographers, so I whipped out my Olympus and snapped this shot. Yeah, it sucks, but it's the best I got. Hover your mouse of the picture to learn who is who.

The movie was quite likable, although a little predictable and convenient. Although not Best Picture-worthy, it wasn't without its charm. Crowe was quite good as an Englishman who rediscovers happiness when he revisits his uncle's Provencal vinyard. There were laughs and tender moments, both complemented by a visual feast. It's two hours of beauty, and I can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday night.

I haven't read a critical review of this film yet, but I suspect they'll spin off the title and label it good, but not great. That's a fair assessment, but at this gala with stars about, a buzz in the air and a cocktail reception awaiting us at Monsoon, it was a far better than good night. It was magic.

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