David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook took top honors at the Toronto International Film Festival, winning the Blackberry People's Choice Award Sunday. Unlike most of its top tier festival brethren, TIFF does not have a formal jury competition. Also taking an audience prize was Martin McDonagh's Seven Psychopaths, which won the prize in the Midnight Madness category. The audience winner for Best Documentary went to Artifact by Bartholomew Cubbins.
Just a couple of days into the Toronto International Film Festival this year, a curious commonality was noticeable in a number of the documentaries that I screened - re-enactments. While I only managed to see just under half of the nearly 50 documentary features in the TIFF line-up, it was surprising to see the storytelling approach — where significant past events are recreated via actors and, sometimes, animation — relatively widely employed. While some notable non-fiction films have made effective use of the practice — such as The Imposter or The Thin Blue Line — re-enactments more often feel in line with television productions of the Unsolved Mysteries variety. They remain a controversial element of documentary making, potentially challenging a film's authenticity by introducing an outside, fictional element. more »
She has won a slew of awards around the worldwide festival circuit and an Indian Academy Award nomination for titles including Fire, Water and Bollywood/Hollywood, but Indian-born filmmaker Deepa Metha's latest Midnight's Children may never be available to Indian audiences because the current government's aversion to the film, which had its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival, has made the title unpalatable to distributors. The story, written by Salman Rushdie, who himself received a death Fatwa from the late Ayatollah Khomeini for another one of his novels, The Satanic Verses mirrors India's history told through the emotional coming-of-age of a young man.
One of my favorite movies to screen at the Toronto International Film Festival was Seven Psychopaths, which was written and directed by Irish playwright-turned-filmmaker Martin McDonagh. Beginning in the mid-1990s, McDonagh caused quite a stir in New York's theater world with his funny, macabre plays, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, A Behanding in Spokane and The Pillowman. And in 2008, he turned heads in the film world with his debut feature, In Bruges, which he also wrote and directed. (If you haven't seen that film, you should before CBS Films releases Seven Psychopaths on Oct. 12. It's a dark comic gem with genuine emotional depth about two hit men who go on the lam when a job goes wrong. more »
Star Johnny Depp and a former death row inmate may be an unlikely pairing, but the two have shared ink and a film at the Toronto International Film Festival. Depp is just one of a number of celebrities that came to the aid of Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin who spent 18 years in prison for the yet to be solved murders of three 8 year-old boys in Arkansas. Depp and Echols, now free as a result of a little-known legal maneuver called an Alford plea, sported matching tattoos at TIFF before the premiere of the documentary West of Memphis about the case that spawned films, media attention and calls by celebs around the country for their release.
The Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña starrer End Of Watch appears to have hooked audiences at the Toronto International Film Festival, where the police drama premiered. The fast-paced story of two LAPD officers who form a powerful bond as they patrol the mean streets of South Central Los Angeles required both actors to go through months of training and "ride-alongs" with L.A. and Inglewood police officers; the movie itself unfolds a liberal dose of gun fire, fights and some gruesome scenes. But on one patrol in the lead-up to the shoot, Jake Gyllenhaal experienced a true-life horror — a murder.
Before Twilight and even before Kristen Stewart was first approached to be in On The Road by Brazilian-born director Walter Salles, the young actress read the Jack Kerouac novel for school. She told Movieline that she picked up the book because it was an assignment given, but her experience with the now American classic evolved. "I found the book fun," she said. But after reading and studying it more, it became much more compelling and taught her personal life lessons about growing up, making choices and dealing with inhibitions. She also emphasized that while she played the comparatively wild Marylou, she does not judge her uninhibited character.
"Everything is connected," reads the tagline for Cloud Atlas. As it is with life and the history of time and humanity, so it is with film reviews; sharply divided reactions have been coming out of Toronto, where the ambitious, history-spanning epic had its world premiere. Seldom do movies garner such polarizing critical reads: Is Cloud Atlas a triumph of ambition or, as one critic spat, "a unique and totally unparalleled disaster?"
As a movie title, The Place Beyond The Pines doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but that didn’t stop the latest project from Derek Cianfrance and his Blue Valentine star Ryan Gosling from being one of the most discussed films at the Toronto International Film Festival. The picture — which tells the tale of a bank-robbing motorcycle stunt driver (Gosling), a cop (Bradley Cooper) who fatefully crosses his path and their sons, did not have a distributor when it premiered at the festival on Friday night. That changed when Deadline reported on Sunday that Focus Features had acquired the film for release.
On Saturday, Gosling and Cianfrance met with the press to discuss the making of the film, its thematic exploration of legacy, and Gosling's fantasy about robbing banks on a motorcycle — an idea that figures into the plot of film. The Pines, Cianfrance explained, "is a place where you find your demons but also where you can find your destiny."
As for that title, it doesn't sound so cumbersome when you consider that it could have been called Schenectady. Read on for the explanation. more »
Thrash metal god Frank Bells says Penn Badgley nailed his portrayal of the late singer Jeff Buckley in Greetings From Tim Buckley — and he's one to know. As unlikely as it may seem, the Anthrax bassist, who plays punk icon Richard Hell in the movie, is, as he put it, "a Jeff Buckley diehard forever." And after seeing the film for the first time at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sunday night, Bello was singing Badgley's praises. more »
Kristen Stewart fans may have been disappointed that the Twilight superstar did not make an appearance at last week's MTV Video Music Awards, but crowds here in Toronto had the chance to see the actress on the red carpet for the North American premiere of Walter Salles' On The Road along with fellow cast members Garrett Hedlund, Kirsten Dunst, Amy Adams and Sam Riley. Stewart spoke with ML about the part she had actually landed before she filmed her first Twilight installment. Stewart shared her thoughts on the steamy relationship between her character Marylou and Hedlund's Dean Moriarty — a life-long relationship that was rife with affairs, drugs and a wild ride on the road.
The two most chilling films I've seen so far in Toronto are both documentaries: Dror Moreh's The Gatekeepers and Alex Gibney's Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God." I'll be writing more about Gibney's film in the coming days, but I got a chance to briefly interview Moreh at a dinner Sony Pictures Classics threw at Creme Brasserie in the Yorkville District of Toronto, and I want to share his comments. more »
Call it the zen of Ryan.
During a roundtable interview with Ryan Gosling and filmmaker Derek Cianfrance for their latest film, The Place Beyond The Pines, I asked the actor if he felt that the media focused too much on the superficial aspects of his fame — remember the hubub over Bradley Cooper being chosen over him as People magazine's sexiest man of the year last fall? — when he keeps proving himself to be one of the finest actors working today. more »
If there is any disappointment or bitterness that The Master was set to receive the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival today, only for the top prize there to be "re-assigned" due to a rule limiting the number of awards one title can receive, then director Paul Thomas Anderson did not show it this afternoon at the Toronto International Film Festival where the film is having its North American premiere. Anderson along with actress Amy Adams and producer JoAnne Sellar spoke with reporters at the festival along with TIFF co-director Cameron Bailey.
The night began with a little celebrity-fueled silliness. As Ryan Gosling arrived at the Princess of Wales Theater in Toronto for the premiere of his latest picture, The Place Beyond The Pines, a crowd of eager fans barged across traffic-stalled King Street to swarm the object of their affection. But once Gosling's second film with filmmaker Derek Cianfrance — they made the remarkably pure heartbreaker Blue Valentine together — got started, it was clear that the two friends and a remarkable cast that included Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes and Ben Mendelsohn had made a seriously good movie. more »