Fall's prestige-picture season kicks off at Toronto International Film Festival
A preview of the Toronto International Film Festival, or TIFF, which traditionally kicks off the prestige-movie season. On the lineup this year: "Looper," "Argo," "Anna Karenina," "Cloud Atlas," "The Paperboy," "Rust and Bone" and more.
Seattle Times movie critic
Local release datesMANY OF THE FILMS mentioned in this TIFF preview do not yet have Seattle-area release dates (which doesn't mean they won't come here; most eventually will). Here are those whose local openings have been tentatively set:
"Anna Karenina" Nov. 16.
"Argo" Oct. 12.
"Cloud Atlas" Oct. 26.
"Looper" Sept. 28.
"The Master" Sept. 21.
"The Paperboy" Oct. 5.
"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" Sept. 28.
"Rust and Bone" December TBD.
"The Silver Linings Playbook" Nov. 21.
"West of Memphis" Early 2013.
Toronto InternationalFilm FestivalSept. 6-16 in Toronto (www.tiff.net). Seattle Times movie critic Moira Macdonald will blog daily from the festival at www.seattletimes.com/moviesblog.
Deciding which press screenings to attend at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is one of the pleasures — and frustrations — of the early-September event, long a signpost for the beginning of the fall movie season.
Should I see festival opener "Looper," a time-travel thriller starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a mob hit man, or the French drama "Rust and Bone," featuring what's being called a sure-to-be-Oscar-nominated performance by Marion Cotillard? Both screen at the same time. Other options, all overlapping: the Peter Jackson-produced documentary "West of Memphis"; Joe Wright's lavish-looking "Anna Karenina," adapted by Tom Stoppard and starring Keira Knightley and Jude Law; Ben Affleck's latest directorial effort, "Argo," a CIA thriller based on true events in 1979; Walter Salles' long-awaited film of Jack Kerouac's "On the Road"; and "Do Not Disturb," a French remake of Seattle filmmaker Lynn Shelton's comedy "Humpday."
And that's just the first day.
TIFF, now in its 37th year, is second only to the Cannes Film Festival in prestige. Its arrival Sept. 6 means that summer silliness at the movies has ended; the award-worthy fall season is under way. The last five Academy Award winners for Best Picture played at TIFF before beginning their theatrical runs; two of them ("Slumdog Millionaire," "The King's Speech") won the festival's coveted Audience Award. It's an enormous festival — dozens of screens all over downtown, and an army of filmmakers, movie stars and publicists descending on the city for a 10-day cinematic lovefest.
Hanging out in downtown Toronto during the fest is like being part of a big party; strangers (not just in movie lines, but anywhere) ask what you've seen and whom you've met, stores feature movie-themed window displays and crowds form outside the fancy hotels hoping to catch a glimpse of a star. Everyone seems to get caught up in TIFF fever, even a guy who came up to me in a coffeehouse once during the fest and asked whether anyone had ever told me that I looked like Nicole Kidman — who happened to be in town. (Um, no, because I don't. Hope he had better luck selling that line elsewhere.)
So, beyond that overstuffed first day, what else does TIFF have to offer? I'm particularly looking forward to Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master," starring Philip Seymour Hoffman (whose star turn in "Capote" was at TIFF a few years back) as the charismatic leader of a new religion — which, depending on what you read, may or may not be Scientology. The reclusive Terrence Malick won't attend the festival, but his new film "To the Wonder" will, with Rachel McAdams, Javier Bardem, Affleck and Olga Kurylenko. David O. Russell follows up "The Fighter" with the drama "The Silver Linings Playbook," featuring the potentially dynamic duo of Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence.
Affleck's not the only actor/director at the fest. Robert Redford returns with the political thriller "The Company You Keep"; Billy Bob Thornton comes with "Jayne Mansfield's Car"; and Dustin Hoffman presents his directing debut "Quartet," about four retired opera singers — which should not be confused (but probably will be) with "A Late Quartet," about a veteran string quartet. (Maggie Smith, Tom Courtnay, Billy Connolly and Pauline Collins are the opera singers; Christopher Walken, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener and Mark Ivanir are the string players; not sure which of these dream teams I'd back in a fight.)
A trio of directors — Tom Tykwer ("Run Lola Run," "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer") and Andy and Lana Wachowski ("The Matrix") — take on David Mitchell's trippy novel "Cloud Atlas," with a cast headed by Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Jim Broadbent. Other intriguing-sounding adaptations: a new "Dangerous Liaisons" set in 1930s Shanghai and starring Zhang Ziyi; Joss Whedon's contemporary take on Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing"; the Southern gothic drama "The Paperboy," starring Nicole Kidman and Matthew McConaughey and based on Pete Dexter's novel; Stephen Chbosky's screen version of his young-adult novel "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," starring Emma Watson; Mike Newell's new version of Dickens' "Great Expectations," featuring the perfect-sounding cast of Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham; and Deepa Mehta's adaptation of Salman Rushdie's "Midnight's Children."
That's just a small sampling of what's in store for TIFF 2012 ... and I'll be there, racing through the humid streets, catching as many movies as I can, keeping an eye out for movie stars and weird pickup artists, and blogging all the way. Daily reports start Thursday at www.seattletimes.com/moviesblog; see you then.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or email@example.com