TIFF 2008 offers big-name stars and Oscar hopefuls
The 33rd Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) begins Thursday, Sept. 4, and runs through Saturday, Sept. 13. This year marks my 21st year attending the TIFF. And, while looking for Oscar-worthy fare will be my first priority, I'm not immune to the allure of the star power that congregates every season for the biggest film festival this side of Cannes.
As a film critic, another part of the fun of doing the festival is finding new and exciting filmmakers. Quentin Tarantino was an unknown when he brought Reservoir Dogs to Toronto in 1992. Second-time filmmaker Jason Reitman (Thank You For Smoking) and novice screenwriter Diablo Cody were the hot new faces who emerged last year thanks to their collaboration, Juno. It is also fun to see movies from around the globe that will never make it to U.S. screens.
What are the hot tickets announced so far? The Coen brothers return to Toronto with Burn After Reading, their comedic follow-up to their Oscar-winning No Country For Old Men. Joining them in Toronto will be the film's stars Brad Pitt, Francis McDormand, Tilda Swinton and John Malkovich. Rachel Getting Married is the latest film by Jonathan Demme, starring Anne Hathaway. And New Jersey's own Kevin Smith is bringing Zack and Miri Make A Porno, starring Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks.
Dean Spanley is an acclaimed film from New Zealand starring Peter O'Toole, Sam Neill and Bryan Brown. Rod Lurie's latest political drama, Nothing But the Truth, stars Kate Beckinsale, Vera Farmiga, Alan Alda, David Schwimmer, Noah Wyle and Angela Bassett. A tribute to the Big Apple by 12 filmmakers, New York, I Love You, will be screened as a work-in-progress. In the style of Paris, Je T'Aime, the 2006 collection of short films about Paris, a dozen filmmakers have participated in this Big Apple tribute, including Mira Nair, Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson.
I'm anticipating a guilty pleasure experience from Jean-Claude Van Damme in JCVD, from the festival's "midnight madness" movies, about the actor being caught in the middle of a real crime and expected to act like a superhero. Another intriguing midnight madness title is The Burrowers, a western with a horror flick twist.
In the documentary division, I'm looking forward to the real kung fu of The Real Shaolin; the Aussie flick Not Quite Hollywood, a documentary on Australian genre cinema, and More Than a Game, about LeBron James's high school basketball team. James will attend the festival straight from picking up Olympic gold in Beijing.
Here is just a partial list of the stars that will be walking the red carpet not already mentioned above: Matt Damon, Renee Zellweger, Spike Lee, Steven Soderbergh, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Viggo Mortensen, Alec Baldwin, Ben Kingsley, Charlize Theron, Christopher Walken, Colin Ferrell, Colin Firth, Ed Harris, Edward Norton, Evangeline Lilly, Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Hudson, Jeremy Irons, Laura Linney, Sir Michael Caine, Queen Latifah, Peter O'Toole, Ralph Fiennes, Vincent D'Onofrio and Tom Wilkinson.
In addition to my reports in these pages Sept. 11 and Sept. 18, I'll be providing festival updates on our blog at http://blogs.atlanticcityweekly.com.
OPENING THIS WEEK
Babylon A.D. Vin Diesel stars in this post-apocalyptic thriller as a mercenary who must deliver a special package in the midst of a crumbling world. With Michelle Yeoh, Melanie Thierry.
College Three high school seniors visit a college campus and find sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. Stars Drake Bell, Andrew Caldwell and former American Idol contestant Kevin Covais.
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 ...