breaks do­mes­tic box-of­fice record held by Ti­tanic

Cape Breton Post - - ARTS/ENTERTAINMENT - BY DAVID GER­MAIN

be­fore the release of Avatar in De­cem­ber, writer-di­rec­tor Cameron said he had the “broad strokes for two more films.”

“This is set up to be a po­ten­tial fran­chise,” Cameron had said in De­cem­ber. “It’s not like I’ve got scripts two and three teed up, ready to go, and I want to start at the end of Jan­uary. But it’s def­i­nitely part of the game plan.”

Avatar still has plenty of box­of­fice life left. It passed $600 mil­lion do­mes­ti­cally on its 47th day of release. Back in 1998, Ti­tanic was at barely half that amount — $311 mil­lion — af­ter its 47th day in the­atres.

Fac­tor­ing in to­day’s higher ad­mis­sion prices, Ti­tanic still has sold more tick­ets than Avatar.

Ad­justed for inflation, clas­sics such as Gone With the Wind, Star Wars and The Sound of Mu­sic still top the charts for most tick­ets sold.

Lan­dau, a pro­ducer on both Ti­tanic and Avatar, said he does not buy into inflation-ad­justed box­of­fice rank­ings, adding that “ev­ery movie has to stand in its own time.”

“ Gone With the Wind didn’t have to com­pete with tele­vi­sion. Star Wars didn’t have to com­pete with DVDs. Ti­tanic didn’t have to com­pete with Blu-rays and satel­lite. So I think ev­ery film has to com­pete on its own mer­its,” Lan­dau said. TORONTO — Phe­nom di­rec­tor Xavier Dolan was a smash at Cannes, con­quered the Que­bec box of­fice and is now poised to take Toronto as his break­out film, I Killed My Mother, fi­nally lands in English Canada af­ter nearly a year of hype.

Ac­claim has fol­lowed the young Que­bec film­maker since his mother-son drama de­buted last spring at the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val, where it nabbed three prizes and kicked off a cel­e­brated run on the fes­ti­val cir­cuit.

When it ar­rived at the Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val last fall, it was met by a round of ap­plause at a pri­vate screen­ing for press and in­dus­try — a staid group that typ­i­cally with­holds such un­abashed en­thu­si­asm.

Buoyed by the en­cour­ag­ing re­sponse, the 20-year-old Dolan said that all the ac­claim was none­the­less nerve-rack­ing and wor­ried that me­dia fo­cus on his age would de­tract from the film it­self.

“ Yes, I’m young but I hate to be cat­a­logued into youth — it’s a movie ... and it’s an en­tity it­self,” Dolan said in be­tween meet­ings that kept him on the go through­out TIFF.

“I tried to do a work of art, no mat­ter what. The age may be the rea­son peo­ple go see it, it may be a source of cu­rios­ity, but I hope that in the end peo­ple ap­pre­ci­ate the movie not be­cause it has been filmed by some­one who is 20.”

Dolan not only wrote and di­rected I Killed My Mother (known in Que­bec as J’ai tue ma mere) but stars in the film as Hu­bert Minel, a gay 16-year-old with a des­per­ate yearn­ing to break away from sin­gle mom, Chan­tale.

Much of the film’s spark comes from the ex­plo­sive ver­bal ex­changes that vol­ley be­tween the tur­bu­lent pair. From the open­ing scenes it’s clear that the slight­est per­ceived mis­step by Chan­tale (played by Anne Dor­val) — the way she talks, the way she eats — can set off a ti­rade of fury from her petu­lant son. Their con­stant bick­er­ing ranges from the com­i­cally triv­ial to the ag­o­niz­ingly hurt­ful, with an an­guished Hu­bert at one point claim­ing his mother died in or­der to get out of a school as­sign­ment that would have in­volved her.

Dolan said much of the di­a­logue was im­pro­vised but drawn from ac­tual con­ver­sa­tions with his own mother. In the midst of those real-life heated ar­gu­ments, Dolan says he nev­er­the­less rec­og­nized how petty they were, and he hoped to show that in the film.

“I knew I was hurt­ing my mother and I was spon­ta­neously guilt-trip­ping and I was al­ready feel­ing guilty about it,” Dolan said of their dys­func­tional de­bates.

“I was im­ma­ture and it showed ... (and) I did know where we were go­ing. I love to ob­serve hu­mans, I love to watch them very closely in all their neu­rotic re­ac­tions and habits and ev­ery­thing, and I’ve al­ways loved do­ing this. I thought I had a third eye in the back of my head, just see­ing things with an­other fil­ter, an­other brain, an­a­lyz­ing while I was fight­ing.”

That abil­ity to see from mul­ti­ple per­spec­tives car­ried over when it came time to put his story on the big screen. Al­though Dolan ad­mits to strug­gling at times with his role as di­rec­tor, he had no qualms about wear­ing mul­ti­ple hats for his first fea­ture.

“Peo­ple im­pose their point of view and their ideas on you and if you don’t know how to deal with all those in­puts you prob­a­bly go crazy,” said Dolan, whose ac­co­lades in­clude three prizes from the Van­cou­ver Film Crit­ics Cir­cle, a $5,000 prize from the Toronto Film Crit­ics As­so­ci­a­tion and the Prix Lu­mieres prize for best French-lan­guage film out­side France.

“I know what I want and I don’t want to lose con­trol. It’s im­por­tant to me that it’s my work, my work of art and I don’t want peo­ple to tell me how to do it, be­cause it’s my vi­sion and it’s my life. ... I want to hear peo­ple’s feed­back but, in the end, I want to keep con­trol on what I do.”

That’s not to say that Dolan didn’t rec­og­nize the steep learn­ing curve that lay in front of him. Al­though praised for its deft han­dling of an emo­tion­ally fraught re­la­tion­ship, I Killed My Mother has also been faulted for an un­even tone that ranges from black-and-white di­rect-to-cam­era con­fes­sions to a vi­brantly coloured sex scene.

Dolan said he wres­tled with a de­ci­sion to frame Hu­bert and Chan­tale at the ex­treme edges of the screen dur­ing some of their ex­changes, an un­usual tac­tic that he hoped would un­der­score each char­ac­ter’s lone­li­ness.

“I thought it would prob­a­bly an­noy peo­ple and then in the mid­dle of the shoot­ing I said, ‘ Well if it does an­noy them what­so­ever, I will do it any­way. It’s my vi­sion, it’s my movie and I can do this,’ ” he said.

“Some things were found in the process of shoot­ing and some other things I was afraid to do in the first place, and then I thought in the mid­dle of shoot­ing, ‘ Oh well, why not do it fi­nally? Let’s just do this and let’s dive in and take some risks and be orig­i­nal.’ ”

I Killed My Mother opens in Toronto on Fri­day and is ex­pected to screen in Van­cou­ver at a later date.`

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