The Toronto International Film Festival is regarded as one of the premier stops for the film industry on their road to Oscar glory. Hollywood and independent cinema converge to showcase their movies.
Luckily, I was invited to partake in this year’s festivities. From one-on-one interviews with film directors and movie stars to late night screenings of their respective work, I was there to witness it all. Here are the movies that are creating major buzz in the film festival we know as TIFF.
“Anna Karenina” (Release Date: Nov. 16 -- limited)
Keira Knightley shines in the title role based on the beloved Leo Tolstoy novel. The actress reteams with her “Pride and Prejudice” and “Atonement” director, Joe Wright, for this visually dazzling spectacle. Jude Law co-stars as Anna’s husband, Karenin, and Academy Award-winning screenwriter, Tom Stoppard (“Shakespeare in Love”), adapts the book. Watch out for this movie that features the many facets of love. (Video interviews to follow soon)
“Cloud Atlas” (Release Date: Oct. 26)
Tom Twyker (“Run Lola Run”) and the Wachowskis (“The Matrix Trilogy,” “V for Vendetta”) attempt the nearly impossible by turning the unadaptable novel of David Mitchell into a fully realized cinematic work. Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, and Hugh Grant help to realize the filmmakers’ dream.
“End of Watch” (Release Date: Sept. 21)
David Ayer, the screenwriter behind the Oscar-winning “Training Day,” returns to write and direct one of the best films of 2012. “End of Watch” ditches the corrupt cops theme featured in “Training Day” and focuses instead on the trials and tribulations many police officers face in their line of duty. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena mesmerize as young LAPD officers patrolling the dangerous streets of South Central. I’ve never felt this intense in watching a movie since “Silence of the Lambs.” (Video interviews to follow soon)
“Hyde Park on Hudson” (Release Date: Dec. 7)
Bill Murray triumphs as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in this political dramedy about how hotdogs bridge the gap between the U.S. and the U.K. The King of England (King George VI from “The King’s Speech”) visit the President of the U.S. to ask for help in his country’s war against Germany. It’s a weekend full of politics, sex, and laughter that culminates in a picnic featuring hotdogs, green salad, and strawberry shortcake. Laura Linney stars as Roosevelt’s 5th cousin and paramour. Watch for the scene-stealing Olivia Williams as the feisty Eleanor Roosevelt. (Video interviews to follow soon)
“Looper” (Release Date: Sept. 28)
In 2005, writer/director Rian Johnson helmed a smoldering film called “Brick” featuring a then-untested movie star named Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Seven years later, the director and the actor reteam for this brilliant sci-fi flick about time travel co-starring Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels, and Paul Dano.
“Seven Psychopaths” (Release Date: Oct. 12)
Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, and Christopher Walken star in writer/director Martin McDonagh’s clever crime comedy. This one is an homage to writing embodied by Farrell as a writer trying to finish his screenplay called “Seven Psychopaths.”
“The Impossible” (Release Date: Dec. 21)
Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor star in this gripping true-to-life tale about a family caught in the mayhem of the deadly 2004 Tsunami in Thailand. The lead stars make this Juan Antonio Bayona (“The Orphanage”) film a truly indelible, incredible experience.
“The Master” (Release Date: Sept. 21)
Paul Thomas Anderson, the writer/director who gave us one of the best films of the last decade, “There Will Be Blood,” returns to capture humanity’s blind acceptance of idolatry masquerading as hope. Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix marvel as the master and servant, respectively, in this challenging but thought-provoking movie that may or may not be about Scientology. There are many tenets of the controversial religion in the film but Anderson’s work will not spoon-feed the answers to your nagging questions.
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” (Release Date: Sept. 21 – limited))
By now, it’s cliché to say the best coming-of-age movie but when it comes to “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” I honestly mean it. Author Stephen Chbosky adapts his own work and steps behind the camera to direct Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, and Logan Lerman in this fantastic film about the grueling 1,305 days of high school. The ensemble is in top form, the narrative is intriguing, and the film’s goal is commendable. (Video interviews to follow soon)
“The Sessions” (Release Date: Oct. 26 – limited)
Ben Lewin’s film, which won the Special Jury Prize and Audience awards at this year’s Sundance, makes a splash at the Toronto International Film Festival. This is based on the autobiographical writings of California-based journalist and poet, Mark O’Brien (played in the movie by John Hawkes). He’s 38, confined to an iron lung, and gosh darn it, he wants to lose his virginity. A priest (William H. Macy) and a sex therapist (Helen hunt) offer to help O’Brien achieve his vision.
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