Postcards from the Hamptons International Film Festival: Toby Jones as Hitch, Sienna Miller as Tippi, Alec Baldwin, Meryl Streep, Alan Cumming, Brendan Fraser and more…
Our intrepid reporter Thelma Adams (right) with Toby Jones and Sienna Miller (Photo: Thelma Adams)
The Hamptons International Film Festival, now in its twentieth year, has become a destination festival in the long red carpet season that begins with Toronto in September and meanders towards the Oscars in February. The five-day festival boasts Honorary Chair Alec Baldwin doing extended one-on-ones at East Hampton's Guild Hall (this year he sat down with Richard Gere) and stepping from party to party as the festival's celebrity mayor. (He refused a cigar proffered by "The Daily's" Bill McCuddy because, the "30 Rock" star said, the new Mrs. Baldwin doesn't approve.) Over the years, the festival has had its share of local celebrities — TV anchor Rosanna Scotto and King of all Media Howard Stern can be seen in the audience — and an outpouring of bold-faced names like Meryl Streep, Nathan Lane, Alan Cumming, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Sienna Miller and future stars like Alicia Vikander.
For all the bumping into familiar faces at local watering holes — I met "The Girl" star Toby Jones at the Hunting Lodge on Friday night and compared notes over a nightcap -- the festival has emerged in recent years as an essential stop on the Awards Season trail, in some ways eclipsing the prestigious yet elitist New York Film Festival running simultaneously and now celebrating its fiftieth. This is where I saw "The King's Speech" two years ago, and contenders "Silver Linings Playbook," "Argo," "Smashed," "Rust and Bone," "The Sessions" and "Amour" are all screening this Columbus Day weekend. For me, what sets the festival apart is its intimacy, its eagerness to please, the increasing quality of the films and the talent that accompanies them, and the undeniable fact that the Hamptons are a beautiful place to be in October once those awful summer people have left.
"The Girl" has its world premiere:
Last night, in my capacity as a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and — full disclosure — a member of the festival's advisory board, I hosted the post-screening Q&A for the world premiere of "The Girl." The British film about the relationship between director Alfred Hitchcock and actress Tippi Hedren is part of the festival's inaugural Focus on UK Films event co-hosted by actress, producer and environmentalist Trudie Styler and director Michael Apted. Along with the film's stars — Toby Jones and Sienna Miller — Styler was in the audience at the UA Theater with partner Sting (at one point sharing a seat with him), as well as fashionistas Donna Karan and Calvin Klein.
The movie, from HBO films and set to air on October 20th, is a fascinating exploration of the traumatic collaboration between Hitchcock (Jones) and Hedren (Miller) during the making of his classic works, "The Birds" and "Marnie." Hedren was a single mother (Melanie Griffiths is her daughter) and model that got her big acting break when cast as the protagonist — and victim — in Hitchcock's follow-up to "Psycho." Hedren stepped into the icy blond role most recently vacated by Janet Leigh.
The drama, directed by Julian Jerrold, falls into the sub-genre of cameo, or small-scaled, biography like "The Queen" or "The Iron Lady." Like Toby Jones' other recent film, "Berberian Sound Studio," a cult favorite at Toronto, "The Girl" is also a movie about moviemaking; it climaxes with the shooting of the scene of birds attacking Hedren on the set as Hitchcock watches impassively (and sadistically) from his director's chair.