Monday, September 16, 2013

Toronto Quick Reaction

     The Toronto International Film Festival concluded yesterday, September 15th, and a cavalcade of films had world and North American premieres this year. The big winner and the film that won the People's Choice Award was Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave. The film continues its streak of positive reactions since its premiere at Telluride and appears to be on its way too many more. The question is will it get the reaction and appreciation from the everyday audience or will it be too graphic and real to appreciate the craft and in-your-face honest of slavery. I know I will love the film since I have admired his previous two efforts, but how will it be received by the non-cinephiles and non-critical elite. Right now it is the critics darling of 2013 and hopefully will ride it all the way to the Oscars. McQueen, Ejiofor and Fassbender are top quality and deserve a much notoriety. Newcomer Lupita Nyong'o is also suppose to be outstanding in the film and will be someone to watch out for in the future.
     Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity continued its allure and appreciation with more positive notices from Toronto. I think enough has been said and seen by the critics and festival goers that I just want to see the picture. It is my most anticipated film of the year and I have stopped watching trailers and reading any sort of commentary or review of the film. I want to be wowed when I see it and I believe Cuaron will deliver.
     Another film I am really intrigued by is Jonathan Glazer's alien-in-human-form picture Under The Skin starring Scarlett Johansson. The film seems to be highly polarizing but beautifully made. An existential challenge and filmmaking that is bold and different than the usual. I like that and I am hoping a release date is announced soon.
    Prisoners, which also screened at Telluride, received very high marks and I am seeing this film this weekend. I love a good thriller and any film photographed by the great Roger Deakins is a must. Ron Howard's racing drama Rush received good notices as well and if the film is as good as people are boasting, it will be good to see Howard back in the good graces of film goers after his last couple of weaker efforts. Enough DaVinci Code shit. Get back to making interesting films. Going to watch this one at the end of this month.
     Not all the films got good reviews though. They never do. Atom Egoyan's Devil's Knot about the West Memphis Three trial got pummelled and even before I had read the film was being made I had a feeling there is no way it could be anywhere near as engrossing and terrifying as the series of HBO documentaries on the subject called Paradise Lost. Another film I was interested in seeing and still will, but my anticipation has died down a bit was Bill Condon's The Fifth Estate starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Daniel Bruhl (also in Rush). The film appears to be sloppy, with a wonderful performance from Cumberbatch, but just a meandering mess. Sad to hear and I will still go see it, if nothing else for Cumberbatch's performance as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
     The one film with a big, impressive cast that had its premiere at Toronto was John Wells' film of Tracey Letts' Tony award-winning play August: Osage County. A cast that includes Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Benedict Cumberbatch and Chris Cooper has to be good but reactions were mixed. Maybe a top-notch director would have made the reactions better, but it is also hard to turn a play into a movie. Word is that Streep is phenomenal as always, but Margo Martindale and Juliette Lewis are amazing as well. Dysfunctional family drama will still be a must-see in December.
     There are always films that will not be seen until next year that get good reactions. Films like Jim Jarmusch's Only Lover's Left Alive, cannot wait for that one since I am a huge Jarmusch fan and reactions are very positive, Richard Shephard's Dom Hemingway, starring a foul mouthed, drunken Jude Law and David Gordon Green's Joe, with Tye Sheridan and, apparently, a grizzled, fine performance from Nicolas Cage. We need the old Cage back anyways. Enough with the crappy choices and movies to get yourself out of debt. Do some quality work again and hopefully Joe is a start.
     That is it from this side. There were a lot of films I did not mention, but check out a plethora of movie websites or TIFF site and you can read about all the films. I just mentioned a few that peaked my interest and look forward to seeing all of these films as soon as possible.

Credits by TIFF.

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