September 9, 2005

‘Kiss Kiss’, nude show light up Toronto festival

By Jeffrey Hodgson and Arthur Spiegelman

TORONTO (Reuters) - Two Hollywood "bad boys" on their best
behavior, the plight of widows in India, and the story of a
world-famous nude nightclub in London grabbed center stage at
the Toronto Film Festival on Friday.

Robert Downey Jr. and co-star Val Kilmer hit the festival
talk circuit to promote their comedy thriller "Kiss Kiss, Bang
Bang," which features Downey as a petty thief and Kilmer as a
gay detective who solve a grisly murder.

The film is the first on-screen pairing of the two, whose
reputations as talented actors have been overshadowed by
real-life dramas. Downey has fought drug addiction, while
Kilmer has had to combat a reputation for being hell to work
with -- a problem he now sunnily maintains he has left behind.

Both declared they worked cheap to do the low budget film
and had a ball doing it. Downey even maintained that the
movie's script parallels his own life.

"I escaped New York, came to Los Angeles, almost got killed
and felt pretty happy at the end, just like the movie," he told
a news conference.

In 1999, Downey served a year in prison for cocaine
possession and was arrested twice for the same offense within
months of his release. He has since become "clean and sober"
and has regained his reputation as one of Hollywood's most
inventive actors.

When the film's director, Shane Black, asked rhetorically
why the two had never been cast together before, both actors
laughed when a reporter quipped: "Insurance."

Meanwhile Indian-born Canadian director Deepa Mehta basked
in a cavalcade of praise for her film "Water," which tells of a
young Indian widow forced by religious strictures to live a
life of chastity and austerity.

"Water" opened the festival on Thursday and received a
standing ovation. The emotionally charged film was snapped up
quickly for sale overseas amid predictions it could be a
world-wide hit.

Mehta, who first tried to make the film in India in 2000
but was forced to cease production by rioting Hindu
fundamentalists, said she would be disappointed if the movie
was not shown in India.

"It is set in India. It is about India. It should be shown
in India," she said.


Meanwhile, British director Stephen Frears' latest film
"Mrs. Henderson Presents," received warm applause when it was
shown to the press. It stars Dame Judi Dench as a 1930s widow
who buys an abandoned theater -- The Windmill -- and launches
Britain's most famous nude revue.

Bob Hoskins stars as the theater's manager, who spends much
of the film verbally dueling with the eccentric and saucy Mrs.
Henderson. "You just wind her up and set her off," Hoskins said
of working with Dench.

The film begins as a drawing-room comedy, but takes on a
more serious tone mid-way as the outbreak of World War II turns
the theater into a refuge for blitz-weary Londoners looking for
a distraction from the carnage around them.

Hoskins, who also was executive producer of the film, said
he visited The Windmill several times as a child growing up in

"After the war it was still fabulous. It became a sort of
family show. It was really innocent, people used to take their
kids," said Hoskins, who himself strips down to the buff at one
point in the film.

Frears added, "It was very very English. It was like a sort
licensed national dirty joke."

(Additional reporting by Cameron French)