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Movie Reviews

Festival Roundup: “Toronto International Film Festival 2010”

Regina travels to the Land of the Maple Leaf in search of new movies, and happens to find them at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival.

The Toronto International Film Festival is now the biggest festival in the world.  This year was full of pleasures!  Moviegoers and the press were abuzz with the news that several directors who rarely make appearances on the festival circuit, including Robert Redford and Clint Eastwood, would be present to show their new films.  (Well, Bob is busy with his own little festival out there in Utah.)  I watched Robert Redford, in his first visit to Toronto in 18 years, introduce The Conspirator (Roadside Attractions), which deals with the Lincoln assassination.  He brought out some of his cast, including Kevin Kline, Robin Wright, Justin Long, James McAvoy, and Alexis Bledel.  In the lobby afterwards I met actor Xander Berkeley, who was quite charming, and impressed that (a) I knew his name, and (b) I could name several of his more obscure roles (“Weren’t you in the last scene of Mommie Dearest?”).

Another veteran director, Jean-Luc Godard, wasn’t present but I did catch his plot-light but visually-stunning Film Socialism, in French with limited English subtitles.  (In fact, I’d call them more “impressions” than “subtitles.”)  It showed at Cannes and heads to the New York Film Festival in October.  I needed something on a lighter note amongst all the dramas, and It’s Kind of a Funny Story (Focus Features) filled the bill.  Directed by Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden, the plot concerns a depressed high-schooler (Keir Gilchrist) who ends up getting committed to an adult hospital psych ward.  Sounds like a downer but is actually pretty good-natured (the very-busy Zach Galifianakis is one of the patients, if that’s any indication).

Ben Affleck, recently reinvented as a director, avoids a sophomore slump with another Boston-based crime drama, The Town (Warner Brothers).  It’s not as powerful as his first effort, Gone Baby Gone, but it has its virtues.  (See review below.)  Ben and company (Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Blake Lively, Rebecca Hall, and Chris Cooper) were all on hand to face the press.  I asked Ben if he remembered telling the story once that early on, a casting director or agent told him he was too tall to be a leading man (he’s around 6’3″).  Ben’s reply:  “I’m sure it was only one of the many ugly things said to me over the years!”

I also saw You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, (Sony Classics), the latest fluffy comedy from Woody Allen.  The Woodman made the scene, along with Sir Anthony Hopkins, Gemma Jones, Lucy Punch, Josh Brolin, and Frieda Pinto.  Sir Tony goes through a late-midlife crisis, divorcing his wife (Jones) after 40 years and taking up with an ex-hooker (Punch), to the bewilderment of their daughter (Naomi Watts) and son-in-law (Brolin).  I missed seeing Woody, though, as I was attending a last-minute press screening of Hereafter (Warner Brothers).  In this latest offering from Clint Eastwood, there are three stories all dealing with death: the concept of it, and the reality.  One of the stories has Matt Damon as a psychic.  (Yeah, that’s what I said too at first.)  Hereafter turned out to be my favorite movie of the festival.  But everyone was asking:  where’s The Man?  There was no press conference.  No interviews, said Warner Bros.  Then Clint agreed to do one sit-down interview with Matt Damon and a few members of the Canadian press (be nice to the host country, I always say), and he asked to include one American journalist.  Guess who that one was?  (Yes, I took the picture of Clint and Matt.)  I told you it was a good festival.