The global world of film and Oscar-hunting American flicks converge in Hollywood North
When you are passionate about film as an art form and a vibrant, visceral form of expression, this summer’s weak collection of bad comedies, disappointing tent pole films and assorted other by-the-numbers flicks provided about as much nourishment as day old table scraps. Inception was a full meal for the movie lover’s soul, but little else made my fellow movie fanatics perk up and say, “That was memorable.”
This is exactly why I spend my working vacation every year at the Toronto International Film Festival. The 35th TIFF takes place this year from Sept. 9-19. This will be my 23rd trip to cover the global cinematic feast. The festival has grown from an understated, unpretentious celebration of emerging filmmakers, to a film festival that officially launches the Oscar buzz season with an obscene number of major film stars abandoning the Hollywood hills for Hollywood North.
At this 35th edition of TIFF, my game plan will be the same as previous years — striking a balance between American made pictures trolling for Oscar buzz, exploring the vast world of international cinema for hidden gems and checking out the latest films from established directors and major stars.
And, by the way you subtitle haters, if you think TIFF is only about prestige pictures, think again. Beyond the big name American films and the highbrow European films, Toronto presents lots of alternative cinema in their Midnight Madness, Discovery and Vanguard programs including horror and martial arts flicks.
As much as I disliked Will Ferrell’s summer comedy The Others, I’m looking forward to his dramedy Everything Must Go, about a man who turns a yard sale into a new career direction. I really liked Ben Affleck’s directorial debut Gone Baby Gone, so I’ll be seeing his latest, in which he also stars, The Town, about a crew of bank robbers in Boston. The film opens locally right after its debut in Toronto.
Other films with big name stars in Toronto include The Debt (Helen Mirren, Sam Worthington); Conviction (Hilary Swank, Sam Rockwell); Never Let Me Go (Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan); Hereafter (directed by Clint Eastwood starring Matt Damon); Henry’s Crime (Keanu Reeves, James Caan, Vera Farmiga) and Woody Allen’s You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger (Anthony Hopkins, Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, Gemma Jones, Naomi Watts).
Asian cinema always provides a major chunk of my TIFF schedule, which so far includes the martial arts flicks, The Butcher, The Chef and The Swordsman and 13 Assassins; a 10th century detective flick, Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame, and two dramas, one about a true life disaster, Aftershock, and Confessions, about a teacher who knows two of her students murdered her child.
Check in at acweekly.com beginning Sept. 10 for my reports from the festival.
TIFF Guest List
As a Jersey girl I’m thrilled that Bruce Springsteen will be in town to promote the documentary The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town. Clint Eastwood is back with his film Hereafter, his first trip to the fest since 1990. Bill Gates will also be in town, and the list of Academy Award winners scheduled includes Nicole Kidman, Matt Damon, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Helen Mirren, Hilary Swank, Robert De Niro, Jennifer Connelly and Javier Bardem.
Here are some more of my favorites from the list: Aaron Eckhart, Abigail Breslin, Amy Madigan, Bob Hoskins, Bruce Greenwood, Dwight Yoakam, Edward Norton, Ellen Page, Harvey Keitel, James Caan, Jeremy Renner, Carey Mulligan, Catherine Keener, Keanu Reeves, Kevin Spacey, Kristin Scott Thomas, Laura Dern, Martin Sheen, Mary Steenburgen, Natalie Portman, Paul Giamatti, Ryan Reynolds, Temuera Morrison, Uma Thurman, Vera Farmiga, Will Ferrell, Zach Braff and Zach Galifianakis. And, from the filmmakers list: Ben Affleck, Danny Boyle, Darren Aronofsky, Errol Morris, Woody Allen, Mike Leigh, John Carpenter, Doug Liman, John Sayles, John Turturro and Ken Loach.
Yoakam on his new album: "We built the thing in a very organic way, a spontaneous way, which is what pure musical expression is really about.”
This writer is in the minority in calling the film a reasonably entertaining, but not all-that-exciting, recreation of this joint Canadian-CIA operation that wasn’t declassified until 1997.
After five days and 18 movies viewed at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, I’ve got a few favorites and a little Oscar buzz. David O. Russell, writer-director of Three Kings and more recently, The Fighter, introduced his latest, Silver Linings Playbook.
Brad Pitt: "As a kid I loved 'The Bad News Bears. I loved 'North Dallas Forty' with Nick Nolte. That was the first R-rated movie I saw so it has a special place. Sports films work on some level at overcoming adversity."
When Brad Pitt and George Clooney are in Hollywood North to promote movies, the media blitz hits the frenzy button and rarely dies down. And so it was on the opening weekend of the Toronto International Film Festival with Pitt in town to promote the baseball movie Moneyball, and Clooney ...
So, which movie will emerge from the Toronto International Film Festival this year as an Oscar frontrunner? Last year it was The King’s Speech, and previous seasons have launched Slumdog Millionaire, Precious, and American Beauty to Oscar glory.
In the final analysis, it is the quality of the movies that count the most during the annual Toronto Film Festival, but it is the stars who come to tout their movies that generate all the fan worship and celebrity hunting. This year’s festival has been top heavy with major stars, as early arrivals included Matt Damon, George Clooney, Oprah Winfrey (for a film she produced), and Drew Barrymore, for her directorial debut.
TORONTO, ONTARIO -- In five days of intense moviegoing and star watching, the first half of the Toronto International Film Festival has earned a big thumbs up. The films that have impressed so far ...
for movie showtimes, click here for movie capsules, click here TORONTO, ONTARIO -- Toronto's annual moviefest, the Toronto International Film Festival, would be hard-pressed to match the excellence ...
for movie showtimes, click here for movie capsules, click here George Clooney has earned well-deserved praise for his new, politically charged film Michael Clayton. At the Toronto International Fi...
for movie showtimes, click here for movie capsules, click here TORONTO, ONTARIO--My final movie at the 32nd Toronto International Film Festival was the best of the fest, in both content and exec...
Toronto, Ont. -- I'm on stakeout at the Toronto International Film Festival. My mission: to find movies that will make a big splash once they arrive stateside, and to uncover cinematic gems that deserve to find an audience. It is always important to start out with a positive note. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang jump-started my Toronto experience nicely. Written and directed by Shane Black, the Hollywood veteran who wrote Lethal Weapon, this sharply observed piece of detective pulp fiction set in Hollywood, features excellent performances by Robert Downey, Jr., and Val Kilmer. The black comedy features a particularly entertaining Kilmer as gay Perry, a private detective who flaunts his sexual orientation because he is tough enough to back it up. Imagine Me and You is, at first glance, a conventional British romantic comedy with that Four Weddings and a Funeral vibe. However, the twist is that at her wedding, Rachel (Piper Perabo), glances across the aisle and locks eyes with Luce (Lena Headly), the woman doing the flowers for her nuptials. Rachel is stuck with a feeling that won't go away, a feeling that will put her family in a tizzy. Brooklyn Lobster is a sweet slice of life comedy starring Danny Aiello...
While 'The King’s Speech' was my only 3.5-star movie from TIFF, there were a lot of three and 2.5-star movies, and very few total stiffs. So while the highs weren’t as high, there weren’t many low points either.