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Denis Villeneuve and other TIFF talent on their at-home pandemic viewing

Many discovered films they hadn’t seen before
Director Denis Villeneuve and actor Javier Bardem are shown on the set of the Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ action “Dune,” in a handout photo. The Montreal writer-director has made headlines lately for trumpeting the importance of the cinematic experience and saying he hopes audiences will watch his sci-fi epic “Dune” in theatres. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.-Chiabella James **MANDATORY CREDIT**

Canadian “Dune” writer-director Denis Villeneuve says for all his talk about his love of the big screen, he does enjoy watching films at home.

The Montreal filmmaker has made headlines lately for trumpeting the importance of the cinematic experience and saying he hopes audiences will watch his sci-fi epic “Dune” in theatres.

He’s also criticized Warner Bros.’ decision to put “Dune” on the HBO Max streaming service in the United States the same day it hits theatres Oct. 22, noting he shot it specifically for the IMAX format so it could be seen on the biggest screens possible. In Canada, audiences will only be able to watch “Dune” in theatres when it lands across the country Oct. 22.

But at a press conference for the Toronto International Film Festival’s upcoming TIFF Tribute Awards, which will honour Villeneuve and others, he said that doesn’t mean he shuns streaming services.

“I also deeply love streaming. That’s the truth. I use it. It saved my life during the pandemic,” Villeneuve said during Saturday’s event at Roy Thomson Hall, noting he recommends the Criterion and Mubi streamers, which cater to cinephiles.

“To have the chance to dive into cinema, story and revisit great classics, it’s absolutely beautiful. Streaming is very powerful for memory and to revisit movies.”

Villeneuve’s comments were part of a broader conversation among the TIFF Tribute Awards honourees about films they’ve discovered or rediscovered during pandemic isolation.

Jessica Chastain, who’s starring in “The Forgiven” and “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” at the fest, said she’s watched the 1987 romantic comedy “Moonstruck” “like four times” during the pandemic.

“That movie is so good and Cher is amazing in this film,” she said. “It’s a great film and it always just makes you smile. So it was on my repeat.”

Benedict Cumberbatch, star of the TIFF films “The Power of the Dog” and “The Electrical Life of Louis Wain,” said he rediscovered the 1954 Alfred Hitchcock thriller “Rear Window.”

“I watched a lot of Hitchcock, actually. And I absolutely loved ‘Jojo Rabbit,’” he said of Taika Waititi’s 2019 dramedy, about a young boy in Hitler’s army who discovers his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their home.

“I was like, ‘OK, that’s a really interesting view on a world gone terrifyingly wrong but there’s this sea of hope to see good…. It was a satire on a horrible time but it made you feel hopeful as well.”

Singer Dionne Warwick, the subject of the TIFF documentary “Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over,” said she’s binged two series during the pandemic: Netflix’s “Lucifer” and the BBC’s “Sherlock” starring Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes.

“He kept me up very, very late at night. Very late,” she said to laughter from the audience. “I started watching ‘Sherlock Holmes’ around six in the evening, and six the next morning I was getting ready to go to bed.’”

Quipped Cumberbatch: “That makes me so happy.”

The Toronto International Film Festival runs through Sept. 18. The TIFF Tribute Awards air that evening on CTV in Canada and stream to a global audience by Variety.

Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press

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