The official start of the Academy Award hunt begins in Toronto
It’s the time of the moviegoing season when the stars fly north in search of positive Oscar buzz for their movies. The 34th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) will be even more crucial as an award launching pad now that the rules have changed and 10 movies will be nominated for best picture. This change is perhaps reflected in the number of stars attending this year’s fest.
This will be my 21st year covering TIFF for Atlantic City Weekly. Joining me up in Hollywood North will be George Clooney, a festival regular, who has two movies showing — a war satire called The Men Who Stares at Goats, and the latest film from Jason Reitman (Juno), Up In The Air. In the latter, Clooney plays a corporate downsizing expert whose cherished life on the road is threatened just as he is on the cusp of reaching 10 million frequent flyer miles and just after he’s met the frequent-traveler woman of his dreams.
Clooney’s Ocean’s Eleven and Syriana co-star Matt Damon will be in town to plug his latest film, directed by Steven Soderbergh, The Informant! The film is based on the true tale of a corporate whistle blower who takes industrial espionage to a new level.
The Coen brothers have been regulars in Toronto from the beginning of their careers with Blood Simple, and more recently for the Oscar-winning No Country For Old Men and Burn After Reading. Their latest is a comedy drama set in their native Minnesota called A Simple Man. A period piece set in 1967, it is about a man whose suburban bliss is turning into a nightmare of Coen-esque proportions.
The festival will present the North American premiere of Michael Moore’s new documentary, Capitalism: A Love Story. His latest is a cautionary tale that confronts an issue he’s been examining throughout his career: the disastrous impact of corporate dominance on the everyday lives of Americans.
Drew Barrymore presents the world premiere of her directorial debut, Whip-It, starring Juno’s Ellen Page as Bliss, a rebellious Texas teen who tosses aside her small-town beauty pageant crown for the rowdy world of roller-derby.
In the documentary division, music fans should dig The White Stripes: Under Great White Northern Lights, an intimate look inside The White Stripes’ cross-Canada tour. Cleanflix is about a Mormon community where several Utah-based entrepreneurs started offering “clean” versions of Hollywood movies at specialty DVD stores. But the thriving industry runs into legal problems and its own sex scandal.
The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers is about Ellsberg, a valued strategist inside the American government until he leaked the Pentagon Papers and exposed the lies of the Vietnam War.
In the Mavericks segment of the festival, filmmakers discuss their careers. “In Conversation with Michael Caine” will be a highlight this year. I’ve had the chance to interview Caine in the past and he is a fabulous talent and a terrific conversationalist.
This is just the tip of the star power iceberg. Other performers and directors scheduled to be hawking their cinematic wares in Toronto include: Robert Duvall, Michael Cera, Nicolas Cage, Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Mariah Carey, Jack White, Penelope Cruz, Clive Owen, Hugh Hefner, Chris Rock, Edward Norton, Jennifer Connolly, Jennifer Garner, Liam Neeson, Megan Fox, Ellen Page, Sir Ridley Scott, Demi Moore, Julianne Moore, Viggo Mortensen, Guy Pearce, Natalie Portman, and Charlize Theron.
Look for my festival reports on the Atlantic City Weekly Web site and blog. The Festival runs from Sept. 10-19, featuring 335 movies from 64 countries.
To read more about movies and other topics covered by movie critic Lori Hoffman under her blog alias Moviejunkie, visit http://blog.acweekly.com/
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.